Saturday, April 30, 2011

Jane Yolen - The Alphabet: A Found Poem

The Alphabet: A Found Poem
Jane Yolen

The 24 letters
of the alphabet
may be transposed
All the inhabitants of the globe
could not
in a thousand million years
write out all the transpositions
of the 24 letters,
even supposing
each wrote 40 pages daily,
each page containing 40 different
transpositions of the letters.

JY notes: My alphabet contains
26 letters.
And I have a computer.
Do you think that changes the game?

Found in: Anecdotes of Books and Authors,
London, Orr and Smith, Paternoster Row, MDCCCXXXVI

© 2011 Jane Yolen. All rights reserved.

Jane Yolen sent me poem choices. Oh, yes she did. I agonized (okay... fine... in a fun way!) before settling on The Alphabet which, I think, is a fitting send off to 30 Poets/30 Days and National Poetry Month. The possibilities of language may not be infinite mathematically... though that's one eyepoppingly big number... yet when you add in meaning and interpretation, I'd make the argument that we'll never run out of stories to tell or poems to write.

I'd also make that argument about Jane Yolen herself. Author over over 300 books (stop for a second and absorb that. 300 books!), she is also an incredible speaker, mentor, blogger, editor, anthologist, and so much more. I am an unabashed fan and, just like last time she came by, I am thrilled to have her here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday ended with Kristine O'Connell George and Daze of the Week. Tomorrow... Kathi Appelt's What Was She Thinking.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kristine O'Connell George - Daze of the Week

Daze of the Week
Kristine O'Connell George

Little sister tells me
     today is Two's Day
     and two morrows away,
     from yesternight
     will be When's Day—

     her birthday.

© Kristine O'Connell George. All rights reserved.

Kristine O'Connell George has that poet's gift with words, I tell you. She can play with them, mold them, shape them, make them say whatever she wants to say in the exact way she wants to say it to get us readers to see things we might not otherwise see (or to laugh (like she did last time she was here) or think or or or). Lucky us!

The above poem could easily be in Kristine O' Connell George's new book Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems which features sisters Emma and Jess. (I can speak as an expert here, too, and say that this poem could be a brother poem, too!) The link between sisters is such rich territory in her poems and beyond and, in fact, the book has a Facebook page where folks are leaving stories and photos of and about their sisters. Good times, indeed, from a poet I'm so happy to have here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Earlier today,  Linda Sue Park was Explaining Baseball to an Alien. Tomorrow, 30 Poets/30 Days finishes off with Jane Yolen! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Linda Sue Park - Explaining Baseball to an Alien

Explaining Baseball to an Alien
Linda Sue Park

This poem is a sijo. Sijo is a traditional Korean form of poetry. Like a Japanese haiku, a sijo is written using a syllabic structure. In its most common form, a sijo in English has three lines of fourteen to sixteen syllables. Each line in a sijo has a special purpose. The first line introduces the topic. The second line develops the topic further. And the third line always contains some kind of twist--humor or irony, an unexpected image, a pun, or a play on words.

(Description adapted from TAP DANCING ON THE ROOF, by Linda Sue Park, which contains many more examples of sijo and a fuller explanation of the form.)

Hmmm, where to start? There are nine players in the field—but wait,
the game’s starting, Mets-Yankees! We’ll watch it together.
When you have a question, just poke me with one of your tentacles.

© Linda Sue Park. All rights reserved.

Linda Sue Park had me at "hello" - or really with her poem's title. I'm a big baseball fan, for starters, and since I tend to find her writing out of this world, there was an extra level of satisfaction already. Up until this poem, the only other sijo I'd read had been from Tap Dancing on the Roof (illustrated by Istvan Banyai)... and I have to say the whole experience has made me a fan of the form. I love humor, twists, and unexpected imagery, and, well, now baseball pushes me to start writing 'em myself. Or trying, anyway!

This is interesting, actually, because often when I read Linda Sue Park's work (her novels or even her villanelle last time she was here), my first reaction after absorbing the story is "whoa! I wish I could write like that!" I know I'm not alone in that reaction, but, of course, she is one of a kind... and I'm thrilled to have her here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

And hey... it's Poetry Friday, with this week's roundup of poetic goodies at The Opposite of Indifference. Go on and check it out!

Yesterday we ended with Kurt Cyrus and The Mummy and the Mermaid. Later today, Kristine O'Connell George with Daze of the Week! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kurt Cyrus - The Mummy and the Mermaid

The Mummy and the Mermaid
Kurt Cyrus

"Sure I'm dead," the mummy said,
"but look at what we've got--
a bride, a groom, a desert tomb
impervious to rot.
Oh, come away from all that spray,
the water and the waves.
Forget the tide. Get mummified,
and join me in my caves."
Sadly, she was wild and free
and far too fond of water.
So, with a sassy "Pardon me"
she slipped into the silver sea
to giggle with a manatee
and frolic with an otter.
"When she's dead," the mummy said,
"the sea will surely rot her."
And with a dry and dusty cough
the ancient fossil wandered off
and instantly forgot her.

© 2011 Kurt Cyrus. All rights reserved.

Kurt Cyrus has the type of mind I love. I mean, what type of crazy brilliant mind comes up with a mummy in love with a mermaid and then rhymes otter with rot her? Right. The type of mind I love. Just like last time he was here and gave us The Big Snore, I simply love his ability to create utterly unique turns of phrase and make me laugh.

Beyond his delicious way with words, Kurt Cyrus also has a remarkable way with pictures. His illustrations, whether he's written the book or someone else has, are remarkable. Check out his books or even the outtakes page on his website and you'll see what I mean. I doubly admire the double threats among us, and that means I'm doubly happy to have Kurt Cyrus here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

We had three tanka from Nikki Grimes earlier today. Tomorrow kicks off with Linda Sue Park with Explaining Baseball to an Alien! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.

Nikki Grimes - Busted/Closet/Someone Like Me (three tanka)

Busted / Closet / Someone Like Me
Three Tanka
Nikki Grimes


Best thing about friends:
They know you inside and out.
Worst thing about friends:
They know you inside and out.
My turtle shell is useless.


I flip through my shirts,
tan, brown, grey, black, colors that
make me disappear.
If nobody knows I'm here,
it's hard for them to hurt me.

Someone Like Me

I surf the channels,
spy network and cable kids
parading like sticks.
Where's the star who looks like me?
I want to be special, too.

© Nikki Grimes. All rights reserved.

I'm a big Nikki Grimes fan... which I think made today very hard. You see, she had sent me other poems besides these three tanka. Other tanka, a riddle, a... well... the point is, I wanted to run them all. (And yes, I kept stalling with the hope she'd send me MORE poems to choose from. Can you blame me?). In the end, I picked these three because they show how she can nail truths in a way that looks effortless. Plus, I got to share three poems!

Nikki Grimes has a new book coming out in September called Planet Middle School. It's a novel in poems and, having just finished an advanced copy today, I can safely say that it's fantastic. It's funny, emotional, and exceedingly real. And, yes, it's poetry! Make sure you're looking for it in the fall. In the meantime, grab some of her poetry, sit down and enjoy, and you'll know why I'm so happy to have her here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

We ended yesterday with Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Skating Pond. Up next... Kurt Cyrus and The Mummy and the Mermaid! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rebecca Kai Dotlich - Skating Pond

Skating Pond
Rebecca Kai Dotlich

It was the year of ice, they said,
the year of slip and slide and fall --
so what was a girl to do but put the hose
to her yard, lace up her skates,
ballerina glide, slice figure eights
while brother and cousins
caught dozens of flakes, falling
onto their tongues, then they
formed mitten-chains, chilled circles
in winter. How now she hears echoes
of wind-white years storming her dreams
come December; full-frosted sky
and chimney smoke above. And love,
from such a long, long time away
from here.

©2011 Rebecca Kai Dotlich. All rights reserved.

Can Rebecca Kai Dotlich turn a phrase or what?! The images she paints, the feelings she evokes in the reader, the sense of time and place... and, yeah, I know. I'm falling into fanboy mode again, but what can you do? Just like last time, with Midnight Stray (who one commenter called "pretty much a perfect poem"), she's packed so much in so little space that I'm left scratching my head figuring out how she did it.

Of course, it's not a surprise. If you've read her poems anywhere or read Bella & Bean, her most recent picture book, you run into the same wonderful use of language no matter the subject. And if you haven't read her... well, fix that ASAP! Then, I know, you'll see why I'm so excited to have Rebecca Kai Dotlich here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Earlier we had The Voice of the Voiceless by J. Patrick Lewis. Tomorrow we start off with three tanka from Nikki Grimes! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

J. Patrick Lewis - The Voice of the Voiceless

The Voice of the Voiceless
by J. Patrick Lewis

    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
    Political and spiritual leader of India
    1869 –1948

The outcast sits and prays, or sleeps,
Untroubled by a human’s touch.
From his oppressive seat, he keeps
Away from you at least as much.

His house is on the street: the curb.
His body signifies, Beware.
The flag he waves, Do Not Disturb,
No one can see, and still it’s there.

Such savage rites, decreed by caste,
Divined by birth, and quick with rot,
Insure one hostage to the past
Will be this godforsaken lot.

My children, I shall end my days
Reminding you: Your greatest sin
Done to these humble castaways
Is to forget the state you’re in.

For we are not the ones to say
What will erode and what endure,
Where the iron, where the clay,
Who the foul and who the pure.

(The poem above will appear in the as yet untitled collection,
subtitled Poems for the Civil Righteous, Harcourt, 2012 or 2013.)

© J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

I once again state that J. Patrick Lewis can write wonderful poetry about any topic. Whether he's creating a powerful piece about Mahatma Gandhi or telling the story of a house through the ages (The House, with amazing illustrations by Roberto Innocenti) or telling stories about the First Dog or writing about the poet of the world, his utter mastery of language and form is always apparent. Don't tell him, but I read his books first for enjoyment and then, at some point, I study them to try and improve my own craft.

I've had the great fun of reading Pat's Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles aloud while wearing my volunteer-librarian hat. My experience (documented here and repeated yearly) is that kids cheer, talk, laugh, and want to write poetry after hearing it. The only other thing I'll say is that it's a BLAST, and you must try it. And I want a sequel. OK, fine. I said more. The truth is, though, you can grab any of J. Patrick Lewis's books or read any of his poems and you're likely to get that same reaction of joy from someone in your audience. In fact, it's a guarantee if I'm there, and that's why it's such a joy for me to have him here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday ended with I Put Each Carrot In a Suit by Greg Pincus. Up next... Skating Pond by Rebecca Kai Dotlich! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Greg Pincus - I Put Each Carrot In a Suit

I Put Each Carrot In a Suit
Greg Pincus

I put each carrot in a suit.
The lettuce in a scarf (how cute!).
Tomatoes? Ribbons in their hair.
The celery's in underwear.
Sneakers for the kidney beans.
The cucumber's in new blue jeans.
The avocado wore a dress.
The onion's in a tux (oh, yes!).
The jicama's in high-heeled shoes.
The mushroom? Any belt I choose.
The apple is a naked guy.
The olive's in a shirt and tie.
I put the radish in a vest.
There, I think the salad's dressed.

©2011 Greg Pincus. All rights reserved.

Some of you know me as Greg Pincus and some of you know me as Gregory K., but we're one and the same and very happy to have you visiting our... err... my blog today. Besides being a blogger and a poetry fan, I also write poetry of my own. You can see a lot of my poems linked along the right hand side of the blog or check out my last entry to 30 Poets/30 Days here. Food, it seems, remains a major theme of my work. I'll mull the significance of that after I get a snack....

I love bringing poetry to kids (and in fact, launched Poetry: Spread the Word to enable me to do more of that), and I can't tell you how many times I've read aloud a poem by one of the 59 other poets who've been part of 30 Poets/30 Days and seen kids come alive with laughter, conversation, recognition... the works. It's inspiring, as is the passion so many of you who read the blog have about poetry. I love getting to hang out with all of you, even if it's just virtually, and I look forward to sharing the rest of April and everything that lies beyond that with you, too.

Earlier we had Charles Waters' I Wear Mommy's Dress. Tomorrow we kick off with J. Patrick Lewis with The Voice of the Voiceless. For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.
Logo by Mary Peterson

Charles Waters - I Wear Mommy's Dress

I Wear Mommy's Dress
Charles Waters

I wear Mommy’s dress,
I wear Mommy’s heels,
I wear Mommy’s hats
To feel how Mommy feels …

I wear Mommy’s rings,
I wear Mommy’s purse,
I wear Mommy’s gloves,
I now feel even worse!

©2011 Charles Waters. All rights reserved.

When I read Charles Waters' poetry, I get the sense that he could put himself in any child's mind and give us their point of view. He captures moments and feelings (like he did last year here with I Love Being Me) that are so honest and real. It makes you think he's still a kid himself.

Charles has had a wonderfully busy poetic year (you can see details over at David L. Harrison's blog), and just this past week did his first one man show of his own poetry. The lucky students at Southwest Middle School saw Poetry Time with Uncle Charles... and they saw a natural performer with the voice, energy, and passion to make anyone a poetry lover. I've been so glad to see continuing success for him, and I'm so excited to have Charles Waters here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we had On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon/El lunes me siento como un dragón by Francisco X. Alarcón. Next up, I Put Each Carrot In a Suit by Greg Pincus! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Chatty Non-Poem Post

Hard to believe April's almost at an end, though there's still a heaping batch of poetry still to come here. In the meantime...

I'm hosting #YALitchat on Twitter this Wednesday (at 9PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific). We'll be talking about non-traditional, non-waiting-around ways of moving our careers forward (such as I'm attempting with my Poetry: Spread the Word project). #YALitchat, founded by Georgia McBride, is always worth a visit.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) night as usual, at 9/6 also, I'll be co-hosting #kidlitchat with Bonnie Adamson. We're gonna be talking about agents and clients and what makes a good match and all sorts of agenty stuff like that.

For info about Twitter chats and how to participate in them and get the most out of them, I highly recommend this Debbie Ridpath Ohi article.

Hope to see you at one or both chats... and hope to see you kicking around here, too!

Francisco X. Alarcón - On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon/El lunes me siento como un dragón

On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon/El lunes me siento como un dragón
Francisco X. Alarcón

On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon

early on Monday
my hair stands out
like a sea urchin

I can barely open
the shut oysters
of my sleepy eyes

Monday morning
I’m a wild porcupine
with a real bad humor

this trail of smoke
you see following me
it’s the dragon in me

ready to let go
at any moment
a big blazing roar

but a friendly
“good morning!” is
enough to douse its fire

after I greet and chat
laughing aloud with
many of my classmates

by mid-morning
I’m so happy to be
at school on Monday
El lunes me siento como un dragón

el lunes temprano
tengo el pelo parado
como erizo de mar

las ostras cerradas
de mis ojos dormilones
apenas las puedo abrir

el lunes de mañana
soy un puercoespín
de muy mal humor

esta cola de humo
que ven dejo al pasar
es el dragón en mí

listo para rugir
en cualquier momento
un gran llamarón

pero un amistoso
“¡buenos días!” basta
para su fuego apagar

después de saludar
charlar y reírme con
compañeros del salón

a media mañana estoy
muy feliz de estar
en la escuela el lunes

© 2011 Francisco X. Alarcón. All rights reserved.

Well, Francisco X. Alarcón has just nailed Monday mornings, all the dragon-breath and porcupine hairiness of it... and the forces that chase the dragon feeling away, too. While music may be the universal language, I suspect the feeling this poem captures is shared wherever kids go back to school (or, dare I say it, adults go back to work) on a Monday... and I bet that's within and outside of our universe, for that matter!

If you follow this link, you'll be able to watch a handful of videos in which Francisco X. Alarcón discusses everything from his writing process to being a bilingual, binational, bicultural poet and what that means. You'll hear his poetry, too, and, if you're like me, you'll start off saying "I'll watch one or two" and you'll watch and listen to them all. He's a natural storyteller and fabulous poet (as you can see via his last entry here, too), and I'm thrilled to have him here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we had ONE LANGUAGE: Listening to Saint-Saens' The Swan by Joan Bransfield Graham. Tomorrow we start with Charles Waters and I Wear Mommy's Dress! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joan Bransfield Graham - ONE LANGUAGE: Listening to Saint-Saens' "The Swan"

Listening to Saint-Saens’ “The Swan”
Joan Bransfield Graham

The cello holds,
curved in its cave,
secrets that the
world would save.

Coaxed to share,
with eager ear—
watch the boundaries

While sighing strings,
harp, violin,
strum on something
deep within,

pluck a faint,
remembered chord,
where our fondest
thoughts are stored.

Notes that capture
wind through trees,
the lull of time,
an autumn breeze.

Rhythms echo,
lift us high--
anticipate . . .

time suspended,
lush terrain—
music’s peaks,
piano rain.

Same planet, sky,
moon, and sun . . .
feel the whole world
breathe as one.

© Joan Bransfield Graham. All rights reserved.

I love Joan Bransfield Graham's poetic paean to music as a universal language. Like poetry, music can pull us all together... but music doesn't have a language barrier. Since she was inspired by and wrote this poem while listening to Saint-Saens' The Swan, I think we should all listen to it... which we can via the magic of YouTube and Yo Yo Ma... and see if we can't find someone to share the combo of music and poetry with, too.

This isn't the first time Joan's mixed poetry and music. In fact, she has a CD called The Song We Chose to Sing that's full of her poetry and her photographs both set to music (and you can see the trailer right here, in fact!). Frankly, I find her poetry itself musical as she weaves words and makes the reader see so clearly (like she did last time she was here with I am the Poem). And that's just one reason I sing with happiness about having Joan Bransfield Graham here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday ended with Alan Katz and 101 Donations. Tomorrow, Francisco X. Alarcón with On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon/El lunes me siento como un dragón!  For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Alan Katz - 101 Donations

101 Donations
Alan Katz

If you have prosperity,
it’s nice to give to charity.
A cent,
a buck,
a ten,
a mil.
Give what you can,
give what you will.

If those who have
help those who’ve not,
then those who’ve not
will have a lot.
And if the ones who had then lack,
the ones who got
can give some back.

From POEMS I WROTE WHEN NO ONE WAS LOOKING (Fall 2012, McElderry Books)

© Alan Katz. All rights reserved.

As an author, Alan Katz is probably best known for being silly - something he embraces, as his own website calls him "A Silly Dilly Man" in tribute to his books of "silly dilly" songs - but I think of him as funny, clever, generous-of-spirit, and, yes, silly. And today's poem surely shows those middle facets off for all to see, just in case anyone disagreed with me. :-)

I'm quite fond of his picture book, Stalling (illustrated by Elwood H. Smith and which came out last year), and its focus on a kid who is NOT ready for bed and is a master staller. OK, fine... the book rang far too true to me. But getting over that, I realized how well Alan Katz knows kids and how they think and is able to turn that around to make such appealing books and poetry. Just last time, when he gave us Ch-ch-ch-check, Please, I'm thrilled to have Alan Katz here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Earlier we had Haiku for a Jiving Djembe by Bobbi Katz. Tomorrow, ONE LANGUAGE: Listening to Saint-Saens' "The Swan" by Joan Bransfield Graham! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Bobbi Katz - Haiku for a Jiving Djembe

Haiku for a Jiving Djembe
Bobbi Katz

Our class is learning
the Senegal Procession:
djembes, congas, bells!

Fingers rap. Palms slap.
My whole being focuses
catching rhythmic cues.

I play the djembe
Messages leap through my hands.
I am a current.

“Take it from the top”:
the Senegal Procession
again and again.

Long after practice
rhythms still throb inside me.
Patterns re-echo

becoming pulse beats...
pulse beats becoming dream beats…
girl becoming. . . drum.

©2011 Bobbi Katz. All rights reserved.

Don't you just feel the rhythms and the energy Bobbi Katz creates in what I believe is the first haiku we've seen in the years of 30 Poets/30 Days (though I admit I'm going by memory on that!). Even if you've never played the djembe, if you're like me, you can sense what it must be like... and can feel the poem long after reading.

Bobbi Katz is another poet who took part in Poetry Tag Time, the ebook project from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell (still available, by the way!) Check out a blog post from yesterday about her entry, Things to Do If You Are a Snowman, even if you've already nabbed the ebook. I really love the way Bobbi Katz plays with forms and rhythms and words (like in her last poem here, too), and I'm really excited to have her here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday gave us If I... by Brod Bagert. Up next, 101 Donations by Alan Katz! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Brod Bagert - If I...

If I…
Brod Bagert

My name is Alyssa Keaton, I’m 11 years old, I’ve been watching the news on television about the big oil spill messing up the Gulf of Mexico, and I decided to write a poem about it.

If I...
     If I were a porpoise with a powerful tail,
     I’d slap you human beings in jail.

     If I were a pelican covered with goo
     I’d want to smear that oil on you.

     If I were an oyster… you’d see me cry…
     I had to watch my whole world die.

But I’m a human, and I’m making a fuss,
cause this whole stink got started with us.
Every-place we go! Every-thing we touch!
Do we have to mess things up so much?

So I’m just a kid, but I’m taking a stand
for the good of the sky and the sea and the land,
and from where I stand it’s plain to see,
the future begins today. With me.

And someday I’ll know, when that future is past,
I was one of the first. Don’t you be the last.

© 2011 - a work in progress by Brod Bagert. All rights reserved.

Today is Earth Day and also two days past the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy... and here we have Brod Bagert using poetry and perspective not only to talk about the world, but to let his audience know that they have a voice, too. At the same time, the poem has a light touch (like last year's Personification) so you don't feel all, well, all covered in goo.

I like how the poet not only writes from another point of view, but also gives us details about whose view we're getting. It adds another layer to play with and, having had the good fortune to see a few other poems, I know it is something that Brod Bagert is playing with in very interesting ways. If I... is a perfect poem for this particular Poetry Friday (with the weekly roundup of goodies hosted over at the Book Aunt), and it's just one of the reasons I'm so happy to have Brod Bagert here again as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

We ended yesterday with Julie Larios and Far from Home. Tomorrow... Bobbi Katz with Haiku for a Jiving Djembe! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Julie Larios - Far from Home

Far from Home
Julie Larios

From my room this morning I could hear
the the cu-cu-ru-ing of a Spanish dove…
this little bird calling me is why I love
a long trip, when I know I’m near
creatures I never thought I’d meet:
a French dog barking, a Welsh cow mooing,
a Czech hen clucking, a Spanish dove cooing –
even a river rippling in a language new to me!
Now I see kids on the bridge, playing –
I wonder what they’re saying?

©2011 Julie Larios. All rights reserved.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love the way Julie Larios uses words. Sometimes she makes me laugh, sometimes she surprises me with cleverness, sometimes she makes me see something from a new angle, and sometimes she does all that and more. For two other examples of "all that and more", check out her poem No Strings Attached here at GottaBook, and What Bee Did from the Cortland Review.

Julie Larios is another poet here who writes for both children and adults, and she also teaches and blogs, too. I know I've learned a ton (and realized how much fun wordplaying can be)  just from reading her posts and poetry, so it's a real pleasure for me to have her here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Earlier we had Ralph Fletcher with Mystery Flower. Up next, Brod Bagert and "If I..." For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Ralph Fletcher - Mystery Flower

Mystery Flower
Ralph Fletcher

Originally from Holland,
I’m called the poor man’s rose.

Sunlight makes me open up
but when it rains I close.

I’ll keep your deepest secrets
in a tiny ruby bowl.

These two lips could gossip
but I won't tell a soul.

© Ralph Fletcher. All rights reserved.

I love a good riddle poem, and here Ralph Fletcher does a lot of my favorite riddle-y things all at once: gives facts, creates images, uses metaphor, and makes a pun to boot. I think they're a really fun form of poem to play around with, alone and with a class, and I think this is a great example of how much you can get across so quickly.

Besides being a fabulous poet, Ralph Fletcher is also well known for his books and presentations on writing. Just as his poems are fun and full of wordplay (much like his last example here), his suggestions for teachers/kids also emphasize that same good stuff. Now that's something I can really go for (and wish all my teachers had gone for!) and just one of the reasons I'm so happy to have Ralph Fletcher here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday ended with Liz Garton Scanlon and Word of Mouth. Next up, Julie Larios with Far from Home! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Liz Garton Scanlon - Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth
Liz Garton Scanlon

Teach a new dog
some old tricks –
rolling over,
chasing sticks.

Judge a cover
by its book –
how it reads
should be its look.

Compare the apples
to each other
(but not your father
to your mother).

Eat your cake
but not your words.
Trim the bushes,
catch the birds.

So many rules
could drop you dead
without good shoulders
for your head!

© 2011 Liz Garton Scanlon. All rights reserved.

Luckily for us, Liz Garton Scanlon not only has a good head on her shoulders, but she puts good words down on paper, too. Here she's playing around with an idiom poem and creating something that, dare I say it, is greater than the sum of its idiomatic parts. I love the turns of phrase and admit that I could read that second stanza endlessly! Good times, indeed.

I happen to love the poetry in the words Liz chooses, no matter what she's writing. After the wonderful success of All the World (which, when she was last here, was in the process of winning a skadillion awards), she's come out with Noodle & Lou, a very different story, all about friendship, but so clearly with that same ability to find the right words and put 'em in the right order. (Over at her blog, by the way, Liz is posting a haiku (or haibun) every day of April - well worth a read). Without putting on my fanboy hat too much, I'll just close by saying how happy I am to have Liz Garton Scanlon here again as part of 30 Poets/30 Days. 

We started the day with Jorge Argueta's Las Dos Piedritas/Two Little Stones. Tomorrow kicks off with Mystery Flower by Ralph Fletcher! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Jorge Argueta - Las Dos Piedritas/Two Little Stones

Las Dos Piedritas/Two Little Stones
Jorge Argueta

From a collection entitled Story/Poems of Flavors and Colors

© 2011 Jorge Argueta. All rights reserved.

I have posted this poem as an image file so that the Spanish and English versions look all nice together. If you click on the poems, you'll see a bigger version of them. If you subscribe to the blog and don't see the image, for some reason, come visit the blog and you will!

Jorge Argueta writes seemingly simple yet utterly evocative, lyrical poetry that makes me see the world anew. The images he creates are so appealing (see last year's poem as one other example) that I always find myself hungry for more.

Perhaps that hunger comes from having read his last book, Arroz con leche, and not having had rice pudding since then (which, I must add, is just WRONG). Still, I think it's more that his poetry just sucks me in no matter the topic (though I do want rice pudding!), and that's just one of the reasons I'm so excited to have Jorge Argueta here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days. 

We ended yesterday with Calef Brown and Backstory - an excerpt.  Next up we have Liz Garton Scanlon with Word of Mouth. For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calef Brown - Backstory - an excerpt

Backstory – an excerpt
Calef Brown

My life began in a tree fort
in Shreveport Louisiana
a breezy cabana
with one of those fantastic lawns
the kind with gnomes and plastic swans
plywood signs and fiberglass fawns.

I was a volatile child
easily riled and wildly erratic
full of dramatic "tin drum tantrums"
the loudest kind.
My parents, who didn't seem to mind
were more inclined
to read books and be quiet
so I decided to try it.
This stood me in good stead
during the years ahead
when my least worst ability
turned out to be verse facility.

My family spent every Christmas
with my beloved Grandpa
on the Isthmus of Panama.
We called him "Old Banana Paw"
and “Monkey McGee”
so partial was he
to that ubiquitous fruit.
Clever, handsome
and meticulous to boot
he wore a ridiculous suit
during the Spring Equinox
with a rhinestone ring
and sequined socks.

Much of my time
during the early Aughts
was spent scrubbing pots
and tying square knots
on luxury yachts.
My mind was in a sorry state.
I needed a new scene
and a clean slate.
Being extremely fond
of the proverbial pond
specifically being across it
I said to myself, “Toss it!”
and landed unfunded in the UK.
Available jobs were very low-pay
but I entered the fray
and decided to stay awhile.
What can I say, I’m an Anglophile.

I worked as a whistle blower
for a Scottish thistle grower
keeping weasels and possums
from stealing thistle blossoms.
I also drove the daily Beatle shuttle.
My route was Liverpool to Kidneypuddle.
I delivered limes to Leominster
and news to Coalcastle
but the whole hassle
of paying my dues
and the winter blues
propelled me back stateside.
It was with great pride
that I moved to Atlanta
to raise manta rays
and champion scorpions.
Despite being stung
on the tongue and the nose
I kept my poise
and won five Best in Shows.
This is why, I suppose
I chose the field of Entomology
which, by the way
owes me a huge apology.
I did not get kudo-one
even in pseudo-fun
when I discovered a worm in Annapolis
that found true happiness
in the nearby metropolis of Baltimore.
This is nothing to fault it for
it's a fine town
a good place to wind down
with a crab cake at a bake sale.
I often stop there
when my brakes fail.

© 2011 Calef Brown. All rights reserved.

If you were at TLA last week and happened to hear Calef Brown, I'm told you heard the world premiere of this poem in spoken form. The above is just an excerpt, but I know I'm itching to hear the rest of his life story in verse. I'm pretty sure every detail is true, too, though I suppose a detail or two has been changed due to his "least worst ability" being verse facility. But who knows? Perhaps, just like his last poem here, every word is true.

Calef Brown has another least worst ability, I think, and that is his facility with illustration. Most recently, he was let loose on the works of Edward Lear (and with poem choices/intro by Daniel Pinkwater!) and created a truly fantastic, must-have book called His Shoes Were Far Too Tight. You gotta check it out, I say, and then you'll see one of the many reasons I'm so excited to have Calef Brown here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

"I am God" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand was up last. Tomorrow starts off with Jorge Argueta's Las Dos Piedritas/Two Little Stones! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand - "I am God"

“I am God”
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

“God is really another artist.
He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat.
He has no style. He just keeps trying other things.”
Picasso paints late into the night, an owl his only companion.

When Picasso has emptied himself of painting, he draws,
when he has emptied himself of drawing, he makes ceramics,
when he has emptied himself of ceramics, he makes prints,
when he has emptied himself of print making, he sculpts,
when he has emptied himself of sculpturing, he illustrates,
when he has emptied himself of illustrating, he photographs,
when he has emptied himself of photographing, he writes poems,
when he has emptied himself of writing poems, Picasso paints.
“I am God…I am God…I am God.”

From Pablo Picasso: Yo el rey, I the King, illustrated by David Diaz (Marshall Cavendish, spring 2012)

© Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. All rights reserved.

Well, now, I can't speak for you, but that excerpt sure makes me anxious for Carmen T. Bernier-Grand's upcoming book on Picasso. The use of a quote by her real-life subject as a launching point for a glimpse further into Picasso's psyche creates a powerful, inviting, almost hypnotic poem. And did I mention it makes me want to read the book? Yeah. It does.

This is not the first biography Carmen T. Bernier-Grand has done, nor the first artist she's explored, nor is it the first time she's been here (nor her first collaboration with David Diaz, for that matter). And if you've read her other books, fiction or non-fiction, the power of her words and images won't be any surprise to you. And if you haven't... well... go check 'em out and then you'll know why I'm so happy to have her here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we had Chess by David L. Harrison. Up next, Backstory - an excerpt by Calef Brown! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

David L. Harrison - Chess

David L. Harrison

My wife says my office is a mess,
It’s time to clear the clutter off the floor.
I guess she has a point more or less,

My office might be tidier I confess.
I encourage her to shut the door.
My wife says my office is a mess.

Everything is out that I possess
And she’s convinced I keep adding more.
I guess she has a point more or less.

I regret my office causes stress.
I brought this pile of boxes from the store.
My wife says my office is a mess.

Was I going to tidy up? Yes.
I did try but cleaning’s such a bore.
I guess she has a point more or less.

So suddenly I’m under great duress.
She’s in a mood I think I’ll not ignore.
My wife says my office is a mess.
I guess she has a point more or less.

© 2011 David L. Harrison. All rights reserved.

I love the imagination David L. Harrison shows in this poem, coming up with a situation so far from reality - I mean what adult or child ever would create a mess and NOT clean it up? Or ignore, even temporarily, a request to clean up? As if! - and making it seem so of-this-world. Add in the fact that he creates this utter fantasy of a "messy office." Such a thing was unheard of to me, and yet, thanks to this poem, I can now imagine it. I think a child could imagine themselves in such a predicament, too, assuming they know what a "mess" is to begin with.

I would note that the fact that he chose to write this as a villanelle is further testament to the poet's skill. Thankfully, the villanelle's a real (if incredibly challenging) form, unlike his made-up "messy office" subject matter. By the way, David L. Harrison's blog is a fantastic read, full of poetry, writing tips, business information, and so much more. I love reading it and his poetry, and, just like last time, I'm thrilled to have him here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we ended the day with Caterpillar by Ann Whitford Paul. Tomorrow starts off with "I am God" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ann Whitford Paul - Caterpillar

Ann Whitford Paul

Chapter One

Caterpillar creeps,
searching for a secluded twig
where her drama
can unfold.

Chapter Two

Caterpillar spins a cocoon—
its snug study
to better imagine
wings and flight.

Chapter Three

Caterpillar is gone.
A new character—
Moth—flutters about
the sunlit page.

© 2011 Ann Whitford Paul. All rights reserved.

Three chapters, three stages of life, two characters (or one, perhaps, really deeply using method acting), images and drama... and all of that in 37 words. That's what Ann Whitford Paul has done for us in Caterpillar, which I think is a lesson in word choice and clarity. I mean, it took me more words than that to get to here!

Besides offering up fabulous poetry, Ann has a book that's come out since last time she was at GottaBook called Writing Picture Books. The book's a great resource for anyone trying to write my favorite type of book and definitely worth checking out. For that matter, so her picture books and her poetry which leads me to say, with clarity and brevity that I'm so happy to have Ann Whitford Paul here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Earlier, we had Joyce Sidman with Mudbath, Interrupted. Tomorrow... Chess by David L. Harrison! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Joyce Sidman - Mudbath, Interrupted

Mudbath, Interrupted
Joyce Sidman

In the middle
          of the puddle
in your black-and-orange jacket!
Look at you,
sunk in chocolate water,
a tiny lettuce on your head.
You squirm when I lift you,
a hard wet sandwich
with tense, tickling claws.
          don’t you know it’s raining out?
          Are you smiling?

© 2011 Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

Since last she was in these parts, not much has happened with Joyce Sidman's books... well, other than her Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night (illustrated by Rick Allen) receiving a 2011 NEWBERY HONOR (and being a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book and being a Cybils finalist and and and). Oh, yeah, her book Ubiquitous, also out last year, was also a Cybils finalist. And her Red Sings from Treetops received a Caldecott honor for illustrator Pamela Zagarenski. But other than that, not much has happened with her books.

I find her poetry makes me see what she wants me to see, gets reactions I was never expecting to give, and makes me want to join Red and sing from treetops telling others to grab her books and celebrate... so I guess the attention her poetry receives is no surprise. Still, it's fantastic to see... just as it's fantastic to have Joyce Sidman here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday ended with James Carter's go, poem. Up next, Ann Whitford Paul with Caterpillar! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

James Carter - Go Poem

go, poem
James Carter

There, little poem.
You’re finished at last.
From weeks of tweaking
you’ve finally passed.

You’re ready for roaming,
to find your own page,
and maybe a voice
to give you a stage.

You’re out of my system,
my pen and my brain.
Let’s hope you’ll be read
again and again.

And so, as your author,
it’s me, signing off.
The pleasure’s been mine.
Go poem, find love…

(from James’ forthcoming collection ‘Journey to the Centre of my Brain!’ Macmillan January 2012)

© James Carter. All rights reserved.

OK, so, who wants to join me on a journey to the center of James Carter's brain? I think it'd be fun to be in there and peer out since I love the way he sees the world. Of course, we're getting to experience that perspective already, thanks to today's poem which, just like last time he was here, shows a wonderfully deft touch and captures me totally.

I have to say that I'm sad that in the year since he was last here, I didn't figure out some way to see him in action in a school setting. I love watching poets with kids in general, but add in that he's a guitar player, too, and... well... I figure we just have to get him to the States and near me. Right? Good. Until then, though, it's my pleasure to have James Carter here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Arnold Adoff was up last with orien berg strasse. Tomorrow we start off with Joyce Sidman and Mudbath, Interrupted! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Arnold Adoff - orien berg strasse

orien berg strasse
Arnold Adoff

©2011 Arnold Adoff. All rights reserved.

To preserve the look of the poem, I have posted it as an image file. If you click on it, you'll see it even bigger. Also, if you subscribe to the blog and for some reason don't see the poem, come on by the blog and see it in person!

Arnold Adoff uses everything - words, sounds, shape, form, and more - to create remarkable poetry. If this and his prior example here don't convince you, then you need to go pick up his book Roots and Blues: A Celebration which came out earlier this year.

In fact, fellow poet and blogger Kelly Fineman has a full post on the book with a few small samples to whet your appetite. It's a great example of how subject, form, and his approach mix together to create something incredibly vibrant and unique... and just one more reason I'm thrilled to have Arnold Adoff here at 30 Poets/30 Days.

We just had Heidi Mordhorst here with The Playroom Floor Writes a Novel. Next up... James Carter with go, poem! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Heidi Mordhorst - The Playroom Floor Writes a Novel

The Playroom Floor Writes a Novel
Heidi Mordhorst

Chapter One: A Fine Day for an Outing

a cozy Kleenex box
a stuffed caterpillar
a plastic slice of cucumber
three pennies
and a Spiderman motorcycle

Chapter Two: The Picnic

the same caterpillar
the plastic cucumber
a few stale Cheetos
a cheerful red bandanna
and a hard-eyed inflatable kangaroo

Chapter Three: The Attack!

the kangaroo
Billy Blazes’s axe
a length of string
a birthday candle and
a flaming red bandanna

Chapter Four: The Rescue

the caterpillar bound with string
the kangaroo brandishing
the last Cheeto
suddenly, a dozen rubber ants and
a boxing glove!

Chapter Five: The Champions

the kangaroo, deflated
a large cheese grater
a padlock from The GirlTalk Diary
the ants on the Spiderman motorcycle
with the caterpillar, wearing a crown

The End

©2011 Heidi Mordhorst. All rights reserved.

Heidi Mordhorst had me at hello... or, in this case, with the title of her poem. C'mon, now! Doesn't that just evoke a whole world in those six words (and two are articles!)? I had my own inklings of what might follow, but then she took her own idea and ran with it. I can see the whole scenario she describes play out, and I ask you, what former child can't?

Just like last time she was here, I find myself simply loving the perspective of her poems. There's a wonderful childlike point of view yet there's real skill in finding the details and images that let her pull the ideas off and make them into something bigger. Good fun indeed, and just one of the reasons I'm so happy to have Heidi Mordhorst here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Earlier, we saw Carole Boston Weatherford's A BAT CAVE: An Abecedarian Bedtime Chronicle. Up next, Arnold Adoff with orien berg strasse! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Carole Boston Weatherford - A BAT CAVE: An Abecedarian Bedtime Chronicle

A BAT CAVE: An Abecedarian Bedtime Chronicle
Carole Boston Weatherford




Darkness descends. Eerie.

Fanged, gothic,
hungry insectivores


and kite,

for mosquitoes;
millions by the moon.

These “night owls”
‘til quenched,

and return to roost
by sonar.


vampire wannabes,


©2011 Carole Boston Weatherford. All rights reserved.

Carole Boston Weatherford sure has a way with words and, for that matter, with every letter of the alphabet. Abecedarian poems are a landmine, at least for me, because they never seem to flow or tell the story well or... okay, fine... they never work like this poem works. I love the turns of phrase that make me forget I'm reading a "form" of any sort. I'm just hanging with bats and loving it.

Of course, this is really no surprise because that way with words and her range (even just her last poem here would show you) are hallmarks of her work, and that is why I'm thrilled to have Carole Boston Weatherford here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

It's Poetry Friday! This week's roundup of poetry-goodness is over at Random Noodling. Head on over and check it out.

Yesterday we learned How to Talk to a Girl courtesy of Laura Purdie Salas. Next up... Heidi Mordhorst with The Playroom Floor Writes a Novel! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Laura Purdie Salas - How to Talk to a Girl

How to Talk to a Girl
Laura Purdie Salas

(Laura says: This is my take on a found poem. I don't generally
use entire lines from source material. Instead, I use an article as
kind of a word pool to create a new poem from. In this poem, I found
an online tutorial about building your first robot and highlighted 

some interesting words and phrases in it. I was trying to
write a poem for about 6th-grade boys, so my topic became talking to

They look complicated.
They have interesting curved paths and varying speeds.
They should come with a manual.

They don’t.

So take my advice.

DO NOT get creative—
You’re only asking
for trouble.

The terminology is basic.

Talk about something small and cute.

Eating slugs won’t help you get the ladies.
(Trust me.)
You don’t have time to waste on mistakes.

Is there a kitten around?
That will be fine.
It may be unoriginal, but hey,
it’s your first try.

Just wing it.
Don’t quit halfway.
Remember the first time
is always hardest.


©2011 Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.

Wow, do I love Laura Purdie Salas' method of creating a found poem. In fact, the only thing I might love more than her method is her source of original material and the direction she went with it. OK, and the poem. But other than that, I love nothing more than her method.

Laura is another one of the many poets here who is part of the Poetry Tag Time, the fabulous collection put together by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell (and available for only 99 cents!). You should check her out there, check out her books, and check out her blog, too, so you can see that it's not just found poetry that she nails. It's everything (like her prior poem here!)... and just one of the many reasons I'm so excited to have Laura Purdie Salas here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday Charles Ghigna let us all Be Still in the World. Up next... Carole Boston Weatherford with A BAT CAVE: An Abecedarian Bedtime Chronicle. For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stuff! There's Stuff!

It's time for another update, particularly as we're about to kick into two-a-day poetry. Yes, because this is a special "more than 30 Poets" edition, we're gonna get two poems a bunch of days from here on out. I'm almost giddy about it, I must say....

I also have to thank everyone who's been supporting my Poetry: Spread the Word project on Kickstarter. Your support, tweets, status updates, emails, and, well, everything are much appreciated. I'm over two-thirds of the way to reaching my goal!

Finally, I'm gonna send you over to my other blog, The Happy Accident, where I wrote about a really fun social media experience I had when one of my old movies, Alley Cats Strike, became a trending topic on Twitter. Good times... and really rather meaningful for me, too. I hope you'll check it out.
And with that... it's back to the poetry! Enjoy!

Charles Ghigna - Be Still in the World

Be Still in the World
Charles Ghigna

Be still in the world wherever you are,
Listen to life’s lullaby;
The heartbeat, the breathing, the giving, receiving,
The sun and the moon and the star.

They all shine true through the essence of you,
A beacon of boundless light;
The father, the mother, the sister, the brother,
All are within you tonight.

Let the flow of the seas, the lilt of the breeze,
The rush and the calm of all time
Carry your dreams along rivers and streams
And let you be still where you are.

©2011 Charles Ghigna. All rights reserved.

Well, I feel still. Don't you feel still? It has actually taken me a long time to even write this... yet I've had this poem for weeks. I guess that's the "power of words" we hear about all the time. I also guess it's no surprise, since Charles Ghigna had a similar impact here two years ago with part of his "A Poem Is..." series, and in countless books, poems, and other writing, too.

Now, as a slight aside, I was angry with Charles on Valentine's Day when he posted a love poem to his wife that raised the bar so high that the rest of us (okay, fine... at least me!) felt like we should just rip up whatever we'd written. To anyone. Ever. Just ONCE couldn't he keep his poetry to himself instead of sharing it? I swear. But, of course the poem was so good that I couldn't stay angry, just like I can't be anything other than thrilled to have Charles Ghigna here again as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday we encountered Dinosaur Dung by Elaine Magliaro. Tomorrow... Laura Purdie Salas with How to Talk to a Girl.  For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Elaine Magliaro - Dinosaur Dung

Dinosaur Dung
Elaine Magliaro

Dinosaur dung, dinosaur doo,
Hard as a rock petrified poo…
It’s fossilized poop
You don’t have to scoop.

Dinosaur droppings
Are paleo ploppings
That turned into stones
Like dinosaur bones.

Dinosaur dung, dinosaur doo,
Hard as a rock petrified poo…
Paleontologists study it.

© 2011 Elaine Magliaro. All rights reserved.

One of the great things about hanging out in the children's literature blogosphere is that you get to "know" folks like Elaine Magliaro. Her Wild Rose Reader blog is remarkable: reviews of poetry books, features about poets, and oh, yes, wonderful poetry all year long! The downside is that because of Elaine's range - she'll post an acrostic or, like she did last year here, a "things to do" poem, or something else entirely - I end up with this incredibly long list of poetry forms I want to try. Sigh. At least I can learn from her examples.

Dinosaur Dung, by the way, is from an unpublished collection Elaine's been working on. Having read a handful of the poems in the collection, my prediction is that it won't be unpublished once she starts sending it out. I'm excited to be able to share one of the poems here first, and I'm incredibly happy to have Elaine Magliaro here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday brought us Art Space by Susan Marie Swanson. Tomorrow... Charles Ghigna with Be Still in the World. For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Susan Marie Swanson - Art Space

Art Space
Susan Marie Swanson

When my brother writes stories late at night
under his blankets with a light,
he hides an entire stadium
under there—
hotdogs for sale,
baseballs slammed through the air—
and Mom doesn’t even care!

But the choir that I sing in
takes a lot of space.
It takes time to get us organized,
everyone in place.
Once we’re all where we belong
we put the words and notes
of our song
where they belong, too.
It’s tricky to do.
But when the piano starts to play,
we tell trouble to fly away.
Our voices are so strong,
they sweep away worry and gloom.
We fill the whole room!

©2011 Susan Marie Swanson. All rights reserved.

Can I just say how much I love that Susan Marie Swanson mixed poetry with art and music in Art Space, thus hitting the trifecta for me? Yes, it's my blog, so I can say it! Of course, the fact that it's about so much more - siblings, imagination, baseball, and stadiums under the bedsheets just to name a little - is what truly makes it so wonderful....

Susan's poetry sings... and if you follow the link here and click "Closer Look" you can hear her poem Trouble Fly sung by a children's choir in a piece composed by Patricia McKernon Runkle. And you can by the sheet music, too. How cool is that? Just like last time, when she shared her poem Wonders, I remain a huge fan and am so happy to have Susan here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days. 

Yesterday we gobbled up Soul Food from Jaime Adoff. Tomorrow... Elaine Magliaro with Dinosaur Dung! (I'm gonna type that again just for fun: Dinosaur Dung! Yep. That was fun.)  For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jaime Adoff - Soul Food

Soul Food
Jaime Adoff

I wake up early and throw on warm clothes.
Breakfast bars and juice
hot coffee for momma
to go:
We drive slow because of snow and ice.
Slipping and sliding
we arrive:
I see
a long line of faces
from all different places
waiting for some hope to unload. . .
Food for souls. . .
Groceries—two bags each.
One blue, one green.
Meat stacked in a frozen black tub.
Filling bellies full of God's love.
Walking to cars with folks
we don't know but know us.
We load them up and pray;
for grace and peace
for healing and heat, for houses that are cold.
Some are young some are old.
Grandmas and grandpas,
moms and dads and
just like me.

Time goes fast—with tears and laughs.
Holding cold hands and stomping cold feet.
Hugs between two pounds of meat.
Soul food

so much more than what you eat . . . .

© 2011 Jaime Adoff. All rights reserved.

Jaime Adoff says that Soul Food was inspired by his work with The Hope Foundation of Greater Dayton (also findable on Facebook), work which he calls "life-changing." This is yet another thing I love about poets like Jaime - they can take something personal and make it universal, powerful, and moving. It's a gift, and we get to be the lucky recipients when they share it.

Just to give you a sense of Jaime's range, when we last saw him here, we got to play with Rock n Roll Dad. Since then, Jaime's novel, The Death of Jayson Porter won the 2010 Teen Buckeye Book Award. Then he goes and writes Soul Food which shows another whole side. Plus, ya know, he's a musician, too. I can't wait to see him dazzle in person... but for now, I'm just excited to have him here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer gave us Fantasy. Tomorrow... Art Space by Susan Marie Swanson! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer - Fantasy

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

(Tracie says: Inspired to show my students how playful and fun personification could be, I wrote a collection where each of the genres are personified. In fact, the genres aren’t just people but people at the same picnic! I cannot tell you how much fun I’ve had with this project. There’s romance and even an untimely demise. But here’s a bit of romance....)

the hip nephew
of Imagination,
breezes into the picnic
in a black sleeveless tank top
(revealing the cut of his biceps nicely,
eyes trail
his striking good looks-
that tousled hair
first scruff of beard
those lips
intended for
lingering late-night kisses. Sigh.

Fantasy pretends
not to notice—
but when Non-fiction nerds
debate in tedious detail
the merit of various sources,
Fantasy excuses himself
to the buffet.
Simultaneously he devours
an obscene number
of appetizers in single bites
and charms the elusive and lovely
who throws back her red hair
and giggles at all his remarks
(even the scandalously lame ones).
Poetry and Fantasy
slip out the side gate of the garden
hand in hand
with jealous whispers
rippling in their wake.

©2011 Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. All rights reserved.

I want you to join with me and prod Tracie Vaughn Zimmer to get this collection out into the world. I must see it! I want to know what Poetry and Fantasy do at the lake. I want to know if Poetry can change forms (and if she always has red hair).  Is Fantasy a meter reader? And does Romance rides a white stallion? It's unfair to be left without answers. Publishers, take note!

One of the fun things about this project for me is that many of the poems that appear here either already are from or end up appearing in upcoming books. Tracie's prior poem here, Cousins of Clouds, was the title poem from a book of elephant poems that just debuted less than two months ago. Yay! Now I look forward to Fantasy following in its path... and I'm once again incredibly happy to have Tracie Vaughn Zimmer here (for real - no fantasy!) as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, Avis Harley gave us a bunch of Clerihews. Tomorrow... Jaime Adoff with Soul Food! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.