Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31st (Looking Back) - an end of the year poem/a New Year's poem

December 31st (Looking Back)
Greg Pincus

The year’s near done. Let’s review:
Resolutions? Kept a few.
Top 10 goals? I reached two.
School and chores? At least they’re through.
Learned to drum. Tried kung fu.
Wrote and sang and read and drew.
Food I’ve tried? A list that grew!
Had a crush, but won’t say who.
Played with friends (including you).
Failed a lot as this year flew.
Tonight one year will say “adieu.”
Tomorrow, we can start anew...
But looking back, this much is true:
I tried my best, and that'll do.

Thanks to all of you for being part of the year here at GottaBook. I wish you all a new year filled with health, joy, and juuuust enough of the dessert of your choice.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Thoughts While Sweeping the Kitchen (After Taking Out the Trash) - a cleaning poem

Thoughts While Sweeping the Kitchen (After Taking Out the Trash)
Greg Pincus

I said I was bored.
I got chored.
Why can’t I ever just be ignored?

The last Poetry Friday roundup of the year is over at Julie Larios' blog, the Drift Record. Be sure to check it out!

And if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Good Things

First up for your end of the year pleasure... the last Carnival of Children's Literature of the year, over at Jennifer's Jean Little Library blog.

And then, to kick off 2012 in style, why not join my friend Deb Marshall for a middle-grade read-a-thon? It's running Jan 2-Jan 8, and entry is as easy as signing up. There are even some prizes, if you need incentive beyond just reading good middle grade books.

Two good things, indeed!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Santa, About Your Lists... (a paradox) - a Christmas poem

Greg Pincus

I’m really quite nervous I’m on the wrong list:
I’ve been “naughty” so much of the year.
And this means that Santa, if you do exist,
My Christmas won’t be full of cheer.

You see, this creates us a terrible mess.
Truly it wasn’t my goal,
But there’s only one thing I want, I confess:
A shiny, big, black lump of coal.

The problem, I think, is that if I’d been nice,
I’d get what I want in my stocking.
But since I behaved well perhaps once or twice...
To get what I want would be shocking.

Yet “naughty” kids get what I want, so you see...
That’s the reason I lied, spat, and stole.
Please keep that in mind when you come to my tree:
I want a big, black lump of coal.

I’d hate to get presents like music or money.
Don’t bring me a new catcher’s mitt.
No movies or Lego or books that are funny.
No, I wouldn’t like them one bit.

I know I was “naughty,” but please break your rule.
I’ve heard you’re a jolly old soul...
And giving me what I don’t want would be cruel!
So, please, bring a big lump of coal.

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at Dori Reads today. Why not head over and check it out?

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Children's Poetry in 2011

Over at PACYA's Poetry at Play blog, there's a post chock full o' info about poetry books published this year (from picture book up to YA. from collections of poetry to novels in verse).

Head on over to check it out and join in celebrating the talented folk writing poetry for kids today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lists and Changes

Gobs and gobs of end of the year lists are coming out these days: books of the year, YA books of the year, picture books of the year, no doubt even lists of the year. There are a whole bunch of great books, like all years, so that's not the change I'm noticing. Instead, I'm noticing how many of the authors on these lists I interact with: at SCBWI conferences, on Facebook, on blogs, or on Twitter.

There are some authors on these lists who I know solely from social media (Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall, comes to mind). There are some I know from conferences or other children's lit related events. Many are a combination of the two.

When I flash back to 2006, when I started blogging here at GottaBook, I see this as a huge change - both for me personally but also for how our community has continued to connect via social media.

I think it's important for authors and illustrators to be building a platform for so many reasons (not, by the way, so that I get to know them, but so that thousands of "I's" get to know them!), so I'm excited to see folks being visible. And personally? Well, I admit I'm excited seeing people I know get recognized for their achievements.

And here's to more of the same in 2012 and beyond!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's a Good Deal, I Say! Get Lee Wind in Your School....

I am excited to see that my friend Lee Wind has announced a grant program to help schools afford his speaker visits in 2012. This is a great deal for everyone... and it particularly benefits students, as Lee's speaking work is a critically important.

If you don't know Lee and his blog, I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell do I read?, then I doubly urge you to go check his site out. As a speaker, Lee offers a Smashing Stereotypes workshop and a school assembly called SAFE SPACE: Ending Anti-Gay bullying in our Culture... and in Your School. And if you do know Lee, I'm pretty darn sure you'll join me in urging others to do what they can bring him to your school today.

Lee doesn't like to toot his own horn (okay, fine - who does???), so I was glad to see him post comments from students and counselors who've attended his workshops. I look forward to more such comments rolling in throughout 2012!

Monday, December 05, 2011

This Tuesday's #Kidlitchat

Last week, #kidlitchat ran into technical difficulties on Twitter, so we've re-scheduled the same topic for this week... and since it might be of interest to some of you, I thought I'd share it here. We'll be talking about book launches: what to do to help put your book out into the world... and when to do it, too. We'll be sharing tips, asking questions, coming up with timelines, sharing what's worked and what hasn't... and it'd be great to see you there.

#kidlitchat happens every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on Twitter. If you've never joined a Twitter chat, Debbie Ridpath Ohi has a fabulous article on the hows and whys of them that I highly recommend.

Hope to see you there, this week or some Tuesday in the future!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Poetry Resources

The fabulous Sylvia Vardell put together a post with various FREE poetry resources that she shared during her NCTE presentation.

If you love poetry, or love to teach poetry, or want to love poetry, or want to find other ways to teach poetry, or... oh, heck, just check it out.

Monday, November 28, 2011

S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y Afternoon! And Evening!

Hey, my LA friends (or those coming through town). This Saturday, the 3rd, we're having another LA Kid Lit Drink Night, this time at the Wellesbourne in West Los Angeles. If you're involved in children's literature (author, illustrator, librarian, teacher, bookseller, etc), come on by... and bring cookies! (And, if you could, bring a new or gently used book to donate, too, as we're trying to help out a couple places as we go).

The event starts, officially, at 5PM, but I think a fair number of us will be arriving at 6 or a bit after, as Carol Tanzman, an LA author, is having her book launch for Dancergirl at Curve Line Space in Eagle Rock in the afternoon. (Click here to see details and follow her blog tour.)

It's a busy, LA kinda Saturday, and I hope to see you out and about!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Too Much Dinner - a food poem

Too Much Dinner
Greg Pincus

I ate too much dinner.
I think that I'll burst!
Good thing I was clever and had dessert first.

Heidi is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at My Juicy Little Universe. For those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, I hope you stay in

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Hugo (the movie version of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, that is)

I was lucky enough to get to a screening of Hugo, the Martin Scorsese directed 3-D version of Brian Selznick's Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret. For any of you who are fans of the book, I think you'll be amazed at how extraordinarily the movie captures the world Brian created: the look, the feel, the tone. It might be the best such translation I've ever seen.

The movie also treats the themes, subtexts, and contexts of the book faithfully and effectively even as it has to simplify it a tad to make it fit. This is not your typical, fast-paced, rollicking movie for kids any more than the book was typical. The movie lingers intentionally and gives everything and everyone a moment or two to just be. While young kids who don't know the book might get fidgety, anyone of any age willing to invest in watching a movie, rather than passively sitting back and being assaulted by one, so to speak, will really appreciate the space, I think.

Did I mention how amazing the movie looks? Ya. Also, it's in 3D. Personally, I don't love 3D. In Hugo, there was some great use of the technology (the shots of various clock workings, for example), and it was never used as a gimmick. That said, I'd've been just as happy watching in 2D, though, but that's a personal thang, I suspect.

Anyway, it was a relief and a thrill to see the care given to taking this book to the screen. I can't wait til you all see it (and you should) so we can compare notes!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poetry Re-Issue: An Ode to Air Travel

An Ode to Air Travel (Upon Flying Cross-Country in Seat 31A)
Gregory K.

My seat belt is fastened – it’s snug and secure.
Been sitting here hours... and feels it for sure.
I finished my books during airport delays.
It turns out my iPod’s been uncharged for days.
I’ve studied the plane wing: I’ve counted the rivets.
I’ve noted my seat cushion’s deepening divots.
I spilled all my water (my pants are still drying).
I hear one babe cooing... and 17 crying.
The man right behind me drones stories so boring,
I think I’m preferring my seat-mate’s wheezed snoring.
My back aches in tense, upright, locked tight position.
It’s clear 30A has a stomach condition.
Yet just when I think I can’t take anymore,
And I’m wishing my window would turn to a door,
I hear these great words (over 30B’s cough),
“This is your captain… we’re cleared to take off!”

(This poem originally appeared here at GottaBook on October 12, 2007)

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is up over at Tabatha Yeatts: The Oppostive of Indifference. Go on over and check out the links AND the blog....

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

See you in Spokane? Or...?

I'm quite excited to be heading up to Spokane this weekend, thanks to the SCBWI Inland Northwest chapter ( with special thanks to Mary Cronk Farrell!) . I'm leading an all day workshop called Unleashing the Power of Social Media. The workshop is designed for writers and illustrators, with a specific "children's lit" bent to it in this case.

I love doing these workshops, I must say. Really getting in depth enables folks to leave with a great understanding of what to do on their own, how to do it, and how to do it efficiently. Good times.

I'm looking forward to more such workshops in 2012 and beyond. Feel free to email me if you want to bring me out your way... and if you're ever near where I'm yakking, I do hope you'll stop by and say "hi!"

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Tried to Write a Poem - a writing poem

I Tried to Write a Poem
Greg Pincus

I tried to write a poem.
The words just didn’t flow.
I’d write a few
Then scratch them through
And in the trash they’d go

I gave myself a deadline…
I guess this one I’ll miss.
Time’s come and gone,
Now I’ll move on…
Since all I’ve got is this.

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at Teaching Authors today. Do go check it out (and poke around over there, too).

And if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The List of Lists

It's that time of year when "best of" and "top books" and awards galore are handed out. How's a reader supposed to keep up with all this news in children's publishing? Us mere mortals can't, but luckily for us, Susan over at Chicken Spaghetti keeps a list of all the lists and awards - updated frequently, at that.

It's one of my favorite resources for finding books to read, determining good gifts, and simply seeing what's out there in a whole slew of different children's literature related categories. I hope y'all like it, too (and thanks, Susan!).

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina

Back in the 2010 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand shared Dancing Fingers with us. The poem came from her then upcoming biography of Alicia Alonso, a Cuban ballerina, though it stood wonderfully on its own.

Well, flash forward 18 months, and that biography is now out. Check out this review by Betsy Bird (Fuse #8). Sweet!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Leslie Muir, the Little Bitty Bakery, and a Rhyming Interview (Yes. Really!)

I’m really thrilled that I can say that Leslie Muir is here today. We’re friends, you see, from long ago (as you will read way down below).

Her newest book is out right now, with art by Betsy Lewin (wow!). So when she said “I’m on a tour. Can I stop by?” I said “Well, sure! There’s only one small hitch for you – I want a rhyming interview.”

Leslie didn’t blink. Now I’m hoping you’ll enjoy our rhyme.

As authors we don’t get to choose
Our artists, so we wait for news.

Can you recall what you were doin'
When you heard "It's Betsy Lewin"?

The phone had rung, the light was blinkin’,
Can’t recall what I was thinkin’.

The ID name sure caught my eye,
said: D-I-S-N-E and Y!

But why would Walt give me a call?
Especially since he’s dead and all?

I held the phone up to my ear,
a distant voice said loud and clear:

“I love your tale, it’s right on track,
I’ve got great news, so please call back.”

I fainted—SLAM!—and cracked a bone,
then rang my agent on the phone!

She said: “Hold on. I’ll get the scoop!”
I dared let go a tiny “Whoop!”

She called right back: “We’ve got a deal!”
My tiny whoop became a SQUEEEEAL!!!

“And guess who’s going to illustrate?”
my agent screamed, “She’s really great!”

I must admit I was boo-hooin’,
When I heard: “It’s Betsy Lewin!”

Did your title ever change?
Did you ever re-arrange
Your plot? Your words? The cast? The tone?
Or did you shout "Leave this alone!"?

I’ve rearranged, I will confide,
so many times my brains are fried.
I must admit this story’s been
around the bend and back again.

The title changed. Oh yes, and how!*
I very nearly had a cow
and held my breath till I turned blue—
I loved my title, it was true.

But sales and others made their case,
so grudgingly I did erase,
and in the end I don’t feel glum—
behold the power of Valium!**

*Explanation: My original title for the story was The Wee Patisserie. The sales and marketing team at my publishing house felt that my Frenchy title might not jump out to buyers, especially those unfamiliar with the word patisserie. In the end, I deferred to their expertise. I’m usually open to changes during the revision process, but I was very attached to the original title and hated to lose it. It’s all good though.

**And for the record: I took poetic license with the Valium line!

I wonder if you could take time
To talk about meter and rhyme
Since I know that it
can be so hard to fit
Any story into picture book form at all as you need to keep the story front and center without letting people even think about the writing, and you do it so effectively without forcing word choice or story points or... uh... uh... using slime.

Yes, a moment I can spare,
hear my creed if you so dare:
First the story, then the rhyme,
or you’ll waste a ton of time.
Keep your meter smooth as cream,
a bump in rhythm is like a blood curdling, really distracting SCREAM. See? I told you.
Dang, I’m tired, exhausted, yuck,
rhyming interviews really…
well, actually, it might be the pound of Halloween candy I just ate…put me in a mammoth sugar coma…yeah, that’s it…it wasn’t this interview at all…really!*,**

*Explanation to above terrible poem: Before you jump into a rhyming tale, have the story figured out from beginning to end so you’re not developing the rhyme with no real direction. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to delete a batch of hard-earned stanzas because the story wasn’t well thought out from the get-go. And watch your meter! Keep it consistent and smooth. And by all means, let others read your work aloud. It’s a sure-fire method for weeding out tiny glitches in rhythm that you: a.) completely missed b.) ignored on purpose or c.) are in denial about. (Greg nods his head in vigorous agreement.)

**I really did eat a pound of Halloween candy.

Now, sadly we must say adieu...
So quickly, please... what's next for you?

C. R. MUDGEON is out real soon!
In 2012, but not in June,
actually it’s March....

Thanks for having me, Mr. Pincus,
You smell nice, you seldom... stinkus.

Leslie Muir's newest book, The Little Bitty Bakery (Disney/Hyperion), is a sweet, sweet story with fabulous illustrations by Betsy Lewin. It's a treat to read aloud, and it's a filling confection any time of day. But my excitement with having her here goes deeper than that. You see, Leslie and I were in the same online, rhyme only critique group (an exceedingly talented bunch, I must add) back before either of us had sold anything at all. 

Leslie always blew me away with her poems, picture book manuscripts, and her notes on others' work, too. Our critique group broke up years ago, but flash forward to 2011 and Leslie has THREE picture books out (Barry B. Wary and Gibbus Moony Wants to Bite You being the others) with C.R. Mudgeon coming next year. The success is no surprise to me, and if you'd seen her work back when I first saw it, it'd be no surprise to you, either.

I'm only stop two on Leslie Muir and Betsy Lewin's blog tour, so there's more good reading out there. In fact, yesterday, Jules had a fabulous post (full o' art and more) over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Tomorrow, the tour moves to Jama Kim Rattigan's always appetizing Jama's Alphabet Soup. And Friday, the crew stops over at the ever-entertaining Elizabeth Dulemba's blog. I hope you'll check 'em all out.

And my thanks again to Leslie for being here and not even blinking when I said "wacky idea - let's do a Q&A in rhyme." That's friendship (and bravery!).

(THE LITTLE BITTY BAKERY. Copyright © 2011 by Leslie Muir. Illustrations © 2011 by Betsy Lewin. Published by Hyperion Books, New York. Images used with permission of the publisher. Photo of Leslie Muir and Betsy Lewin used with permission of Leslie Muir.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm the Squeak Upon the Stair... - a spooky poem

Greg Pincus

I’m the squeak upon the stair...
Yet when you look, there’s no one there.
I’m howling winds, groaning floors,
Extinguished lights, slamming doors.
I’m flitting shadows, darkening skies,
Piercing screams, distant cries.
I’m all your fears – heard, felt, or seen.
I’m in your head. I’m Halloween.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Random Noodling this week. Check it out, if you dare. Spooooooky. And remember, if you end up with any extra of those little Reese's cups this Halloween, I'll gladly help you out with them.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Advocating for Poetry

If you're a regular GottaBook reader, then I know something about you: you like poetry, at least a little. With that in mind, I wanna send you over to the blog of PACYA - Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults.

As you can figger from the name alone, this is a group that wants to make some poetic noise, and, I think, is well positioned to do so behind the leadership of founder Steven Withrow.

Why not check out their goals for 2011-12 and take note of various volunteer opportunities. If you love poetry, and love spreading it to kids (ages 1-99, I'd say!), then check it out and see if you want to get involved. Advocate! You know you want to....

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Father's Hair - a family poem; a hair poem

Greg Pincus

My father hasn’t cut his hair in thirty-seven years.
So part of him’s a mystery:
I’ve never seen his ears.

My mother claims he used to be
Clean cut and oh-so-cute.
Yet now there's no denying it:
My dad's become hirsute.

You try and comb his tangles out,
You end up glassy-eyed.
An hour after Dad goes out
His hair is still inside.

When we need string to fly a kite,
We use dad’s hair instead.
There’s lots of oddball uses
For that stuff up on his head.

Still, let me share a secret here,
I hope you’re not appalled...
But I can say without a doubt
I wish my dad was bald.

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at the always-delicious Jama's Alphabet Soup. Go on and check it out.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Personal Thanks to the National Book Foundation

Perhaps you've seen the fiasco that was the National Book Award announcement in the Young Readers (YA) category wherein Lauren Myracle's Shine was announced as one of five finalists but, it turns out, it was supposed to have been Franny Billingsley's Chime on the list. Ugh. I like Libba Bray's encapsulation of the mess (as she is funny, smart, and quite a fine and opinionated writer, indeed). It's a good read to get up to date. That said, personally, I have another reaction, too. THANKS, NBF!

I mean I've always figured this type of mistake exists, and now I have proof! Sure, the NBF tried to rectify things before the award came out, but what if they hadn't? I bet that happens all the time.

This explains why in 1994, I didn't get an Oscar screenplay nomination for my work on Little Big League - clearly, there was a transcription error (probably with Bullets over Broadway as they BOTH HAVE Bs IN THEIR TITLE (not to mention some L sounds!!!)). Or maybe it's the fact that both Quentin Tarantino and I had worked at video stores. Yes. It's all clear now.

Similarly, I had suspected THIS VERY YEAR when I didn't receive a MacArthur Genius Grant that there had been a mistake. My guess is that it was U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan - a POET!!!! YOU SEE??!!! - who got on the list instead of me due to a miscommunication.

I am so relieved to know that all this time, my suspicions had basis in reality. I feel better about myself now, and I hope you feel better about yourself, too. And don't even get me started on the Nobel.... "Collected Works"? Hey, I've collected lots of work here, ya know?

SERIOUSLY, though - I feel horrible for the authors involved in this mess (and I am not equating the above to the situation Lauren Myracle is in, as her work measures up to the award standards in ways that my above examples do not). I cannot even imagine the roller coaster of emotions involved here, and I'm impressed at the grace and positivity from Ms. Myracle.

I feel lousy for the person who made the transcription error confusing Chime and Shine and later discovered the error most publicly and had the realization that there were NO safeguards in place. (If it wasn't an error but was done with intent, well, that'd be a different though intriguing story!)

It's a miserable set of events, no question. The thing is, mistakes happen... and it's how folks handle them that has the lasting impact. This situation keeps getting worse for the NBF, it seems. It's a shame.

That said, I disagree with folks who say this destroys the integrity of the NBA award itself. I say that because I've looked at the list of judges - Marc Aronson, Ann Brashares, Matt de la Pena, Nikki Grimes, and Will Weaver - and I know that they are going to give tremendous care and consideration to the books handed over to them. And I know that the judges in the earlier round worked their butts off to make their choices of the five books to advance here.

We might not like their choices, but having been a Cybils judge and talked to Newbery, Caldecott and Printz judges, I would guarantee they put a lot of thought and effort into their choices.

When the final award is announced, I hope we as a community celebrate the winner. It is, dare I say, a moment to shine. I hope we don't compound the errors already committed by tarring the nominees and winners with collateral taint. Mind you, they'll experience that anyway to some extent, and I have not seen anyone in our community writing about this and implying the nominees aren't worthy or deserving. Still, our reaction is important and on announcement day, with this mess a little behind us, I hope we can celebrate talent well.

As for the NBF and the integrity and worthiness of their policies and practices... that is a different issue entirely.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Thoughts During My Spelling Test - a spelling poem

Thoughts During My Spelling Test
Greg Pincus

Yacht, February, aisle, cologne?
I've got to think. Leave me alogne.
Isthmus, Wednesday, queue, colonel?
I give up. This test's infolonel!

The Poetry Friday roundup
is over at Great Kid Books (where you'll also get a lot of kid app talk). Head on over and check it out.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

All My Macs are Sad

My poor old Mac Plus is sad about the passing of Steve Jobs. The above shot was taken this summer when my 26 year old Mac booted back to life (before its external hard drive died!) to enthrall us with Pipedream and Tetris. Macs have been a part of my whole adult life - all my scripts and poems and novels written on a series of whiz-bang beautiful machines. This shall continue, no doubt with new ooooohable technology. Still, it's a sad moment for the tech and me. Quite a legacy Steve Jobs leaves behind - a world of technology. And I hope we all do that tech proud in how we use it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

It's Cybils Time!

Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards 2011
The Cybils (that's the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards) are baaaack!

There are new eligibility rules this year that you should read before nominating books for the award. There are new categories (book apps! "born digital" eBooks!) to join the continuing ones, so be sure to check them out. And then...

Nominate! Nominate! Nominate!

I'm a huge fan of the Cybils. It's a chance for our voices to be heard... for surprise winners... for categories to get extra attention (graphic novels and poetry jump to mind as two under-recognized areas in our field). I've served as a judge every year up until now, though I'm taking this year off. That's not because my enthusiasm has dimmed at all, though. In fact, I love the addition of the new categories and am more enthused then ever. So get out there and NOMINATE! You only have until October 15th, so make sure you take action. I think you'll be glad you did....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Things I Saw Fried at the Fair - a county fair poem; a food poem

Things I Saw Fried at the Fair
Greg Pincus

Pickles, zucchini, and burgers (with cheese).
Fish, shrimp, potatoes, and Kool Aid (oh, please!).
Ribs, avocado, a big Oreo,
Chicken and ice cream and hot dogs in dough.
Twinkies and onions and Snickers and squid.
The patience of parents and one wiped-out kid.

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is at the County Fair and... no, wait! It's at Sara Lewis Holmes' Read Write Believe. Go on and check it out.

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Practice, Practice, Practice - a poem about practicing

Greg Pincus

I practice piano an hour a day.
I keep getting better, I guess.
I practice my handwriting each year in school.
It still looks a lot like a mess.
At basketball practice, I shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot –
On average I make four of ten.
I’m constantly hearing that practice makes perfect…
But all I can wonder is “when?”

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Define Your Terms - a poem about magnitude and scale

Greg Pincus

When using terms of magnitude,
Be sure to be specific:
A pond might not look big to you...
To an ant, it's the Pacific.

Almost every Monday, Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect posts a poetry prompt. I love poetry prompts as jumping off places, and I realized this Monday that I have been slacking: I haven't been writing to others' prompts in a long time... and it made me sad! So, in response to the prompt to write about magnitude and scale, I came up with the above. Sometimes I like what I come up with, sometimes I don't... but that's really not the point. The point for me, anyway, is to create!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fits. Starts. Drafts. Dregs.

I'm a note jotter, I admit it. I get a stanza idea for a poem, and I write it down. A story idea or a scene idea pops into my head, and I write it down.


So, lately I've been cleaning up some of those somewheres and going for a bit more organization. I didn't run into anything I'd forgotten about, I'm pleased to say, but I did run into squibs of bits of ideas for over 50 different poems. Well, I suppose some of the pieces might fit together and reduce the number, but still, I was pleased at the number of things that didn't fall into the "dregs" category.

But just for the record, I didn't throw those away either. I merely organized!

Any of you note jotters? Do you ever go back and mine the gold? And if so... what's your secret?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Convergence and Avoiding Echo Chambers

This is a rare cross post with my other blog, The Happy Accident (where this appeared first, actually, due to my blog-scheduling miscue). I had planned to be speaking at KidLitCon today... but plans change and I'm not there. I miss the great folks there, and the thought-provoking information that always flows freely. And I'm bummed because I don't get to deliver my "angry presentation" as I dubbed it.

That's a bit of a misnomer, as neither the presentation nor I are angry. I love my fellow bloggers, in fact. Yet I think we have a tendency to get insular in our profession (children's literature or writing/publishing, your choice)... and I think that when we do that, we really fail to take advantage of the best the social web has to offer. We sell ourselves short at a time when it's critical that we don't.

To me, convergence is about more than what's going on in the publishing world. Yes, our business is changing rapidly. Ebooks are here, self-publishing is newly viable, authors/illustrators are shouldering more of the promotion load, agents are exploring becoming publishers and editors and publishers are figuring out how they can offer value in the new world.

At the same time, the way people can come together online... how we can connect based on what we love and not just where we work and live... leads to different convergence.

In both the business and online worlds, this means there's opportunity. We creatives can find new ways to make money, can make fans with our platform, and can interact with those fans in a way we never could before. Yes, we can increase sales, yet we can do even more: we can connect.

Folks who don't necessarily create the work but support it or use it and love it - reviewers, librarians, teachers, literacy advocates, and more - can also connect with new groups that converge online. Sure, not everyone needs to read every review out there, but we all wear many hats on the web... and your friends in a group of cat lovers are parents, teachers, grandparents, librarians, and book buyers of all ilk. In other words... we can connect.

We talk a lot among ourselves, and that's a good thing. In fact, I wish I was in Seattle talking with my friends there right now. But it's not enough. We need to be "out there" in the world, telling stories and reminding everyone of the power of story.

There is opportunity for everyone in this new publishing and reading world. No one knows exactly how it will play out or even who or what will be left standing 10 years hence. Except I'm sure that stories will still be being written and illustrated and shared with kids. And I'm sure opportunity is everywhere for all of us, individually and collectively. So...

Think bigger. Reach wider. Tell the story. Connect, converge, and diverge, too.

And I'll see you at KidLitCon another time!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Writer's Chant (Butt in Chair) - a poem for writers and all creatives

Greg Pincus

Butt in chair. Butt in chair.
Minutes here, an hour there.

The work is hard, but I’ll get through it;
It won’t get done unless I do it.

Sit me down. Glue me there.
Keep my butt, butt, butt in chair!

This poem was inspired by a lot of the "we gotta do the work" buzz I heard at the last SCBWI summer conference, a pinch of Ray Bradbury, and the phrase "butt in chair" which I probably first ran into due to the remarkable Jane Yolen. And, of course, it was inspired by my wanting to hear whole classes of kids doing call and response to the last line in particular. But that's just me :-)

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Amy over at the Poem Farm. Go on over and check out the poetic fun.

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Geekily Happy

Fibs appear all over the place, it's true. Yet sometimes, a particular appearance makes me very geekily happy. This week, Fibs popped up on Wordplay, the crossword blog of the New York Times where, on Mondays, they feature numberplay instead. The whole column is about Fibonacci with a quiz on myths and facts about him and his ratio, a word ladder challenge, and an invitation to Fib. Sweeet!

Thus inspired, I write...

It's no myth
As they do so with
The magic of Fibonacci.

Yours... a geekily happy Greg.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bummer Times 10 (My KidLit Con Plans Change)

Well, you know the wonderful KidLit Con conference coming up this weekend in Seattle? The one I was speaking at AND where I'd get to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world? Yeah. That one. Unfortunately, I won't actually be going this year. As they say, plans and hairstyles change... but it is, indeed, a bummer times 10.

You should still go. Really. And take notes and say "hi" to my friends for me in person, too. Thanks. It's appreciated :-)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Reading is thinking." Really? Hold on a second here...

GottaBook readers are a smart group, if I say so myself, and I know a lot of you are teachers or passionate advocates of literacy. As a result, when I ran into the phrase "reading is thinking" recently, my first thought was to talk about it here, even though that's not what normally happens on the blog. I'm following through on that thought, though I'm quick to note that next week you'll be seeing poetry here as normal.

But ya see... I have real problems with the phrase.

I understand the idea of "reading is thinking," I believe. Reading isn't just about decoding the phonemes and saying words - it's about comprehension and meaning, too. To get there, we use visualization, inference and a whole toolbox of ideas. We learn to extract what we can from the text by looking at form, function, and more. We use the brain in a thinking capacity, perhaps even with automaticity. Yet that, to me, is separate from saying "reading is thinking."

Now, if you say "reading for comprehension involves thinking" I'm certainly with you. If you say "reading leads to thinking" that works on a few levels. You might think this is all a parse, but I don't think so. Part of what drives this, you see, is I'm thinking about the 10-20% of children with reading disabilities who are still battling the first part of "reading." What does this phrase say to them?

One implication of the phrase "reading is thinking," while certainly not intentional, is that "if I'm not reading, I'm not thinking." Sure, it doesn't mean that when you blow it out to "getting everything involved in the process of reading involves thinking as we go." It doesn't say "reading is the only type of thinking" nor does it say "solving math problems is not thinking" or anything like that.  I can infer all day.

However, kids who struggle with reading usually struggle with self-esteem... often thinking of themselves as stupid or inferior because of the challenges with reading... and here is a statement that says that the thing they're struggling with is thinking. I beg to differ.

Put another way, we'd never say "Climbing up stairs is physical fitness!" 

The words "reading" and "thinking" are tremendously loaded. A cognitive process... a neurological function... is not the same as thinking. Decoding is not the same as extracting meaning. While "reading is thinking" is a catchy phrase and certainly I've never met a teacher or literacy advocate who would want to make a struggling reader feel bad... I've got issues.

So please, y'all... discuss! Clue me in on what I'm missing. Agree with me or help me define my concerns more clearly. Point me to resources. Or, of course, tell jokes or move along :-)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Hero's Art Journey - Check it Out!

My friend and children's book world colleague (and professor and fellow SCBWI member and and) Mira Reisberg is debuting a new online class, Hero's Art Journey (it's starting on September 12th).  If you know an artist... a budding artist... a teacher... a coach... a therapist... or anyone interested in exploring, learning, and, well, signing up for what Mira thinks will be a transformative experience, I hope you'll shoot 'em the link. (Or if that describes you, check it out yourself!)

I've been working with Mira a bit on ways to spread the word for a project like this, and what's struck me from day one is how excited she is to be offering up something that is exactly what she wants to offer, not constrained by where she's working or teaching. Her enthusiasm and passion is contagious. And she's done her homework, taking other online classes to learn what she likes and doesn't like from that angle, too (something I do, as well). Plus, I always laugh when we talk and have learned a ton myself in the process. Good times, indeed, and again, I hope you'll check out the site to see what the Journey is.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Random Acts of Publicity Week!

Did you know that tomorrow kicks off the 3rd annual Random Acts of Publicity Week? It does!

This is a great endeavor kicked off by Darcy Pattison with the goal being to help get a book (or many books) noticed by readers. Pretty simple, eh? Yes.

There are special guests on Darcy's blog, some giveaways, and a really helpful FAQ with ideas of how to do some random PR.

Check it out and, voila - an excuse to be a little random this week.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Poem Form, and Lingo is its Name-o

My friend (and 30 Poets/30 Days alumni!) April Halprin Wayland has come up with an intriguing new poem form: the Lingo. The definition of the form, from April, is simple: A Lingo is poem based on the lexicon of a particular field of interest. 

In her introductory post, her example is a knock out.

The possibilities seem endless. I might swing for the fences and see if I can force out a baseball example. Hope doesn't turn out foul....

Whatcha think? You gonna lingo?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Three New Shel Silverstein Poems...

These three new Shel Silverstein poems will appear in tomorrow's New York Times, but they're already available online. Sweet!

The poems go along with a short article that's worth a look, too... and all this attention is related to the upcoming, posthumous Silverstein collection "Every Thing On It" due out this fall which, at least for me, will be worth a look as well!

Friday, August 19, 2011

RIF and KidLitCon - They Go Together

So, KidLit Con is fast approaching (come join us in Seattle if you're a blogger writing about children's literature or an enthusiast interested in the blogging world!), and this year, Conference directors Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker-Robinson have added a great partnership: we're raising money for RiF (that's Reading is Fundamental)!

You can read the "why" of it all in this post by Colleen, but the short version is this: RiF rocks; RiF's budget has been decimated; RiF could use help; RiF helps others; Partnership.

I hope you'll join in (you can skip straight to the Con's donation page, if you'd like)... and I hope you'll help us spread the word.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reality Sets Back In

This past weekend was the 40th anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference here in LA. It was sold out... and while I wasn't a paid attendee, I did get to hang in the lobby and join folks for meals and the like. It was a blast. Being around 1000+ people who love what you love, understand why you're driven to what you're driven to, and... well, let's just say it's a fabulous thing.

Over at my other blog, The Happy Accident, I've written up a post about the social media steps you might want to take after a conference like this in order to keep the experience alive (and to capitalize on the time you already spent). Are there tricks you've learned that help you stay connected? I'd love to hear your thoughts here, at the Happy Accident, or elsewhere....

Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Second Los Angeles Kidlit Drink Night!

Yup. If you're in LA this Sunday night, August 7th, why not join us at the Pink Taco in Century City from 6 PM til 8 PM for the 2nd ever LA version of the Kidlit Drink Night? Good. You can be come over from the SCBWI Conference or drive in special for the occasion. It's all good, as they say. It's all good. (And remember, this is not us throwing a party, but everyone coming in, eating or drinking or not on their own, and socializing til we're plum talked out!).

The details are clearer at Lee Wind's blog (and on a Facebook event, in fact). I hope you'll come on by and say hi to me and the other organizers Lee Wind, Rita Crayon-Huang, Sara Wilson Etienne, and Jill Corcoran. 

Hope to see you there! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

At the Beach - a beach poem

At the Beach
Greg Pincus

Tide pools. Shell walks. Drippy sand.
White capped breakers hitting land.
Body surfing. Miles to walk.
Joining in as seabirds talk.
Cooling breeze. Bright warm sun.
Nothing here that must be done.
Toys and tech inside, ignored.
On the beach I'm never bored.

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is over at the Book Aunt. Go on over and check out the poetic goodies (including two originals by the host, Kate Coombs).

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kidlitcon! Oh, Kidlitcon!

w00t! The 5th Kidlitcon is coming soon - September 16th and 17th in Seattle, to be specific. Are you going? You should, and not just cuz you'll see me there. You should go because it's a great chance to meet fellow bloggers who are passionate about children's literature AND a great place to learn, too.

Oh, yeah. And Scott Westerfeld is keynoting.

Plus, it's a really good time, if the past is any indication.

I've written about Kidlitcon before (here's one example), and this year, I gotta say, our conference hosts Colleen Mondor and Jackie Parker really seem to be raising the bar all around (no easy feat when you know how hard everyone has worked in years prior, always making Kidlitcon better than the year before!).

I hope you'll check it out... and I hope to see you there!

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'll Name This Poem Someday... - a procrastination poem

I'll Name This Poem Someday...
Greg Pincus

I can't be sure - am I the best or worst procrastinator?
'Cuz when I try procrastinating, I say "Nah, I'll do that later."

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at A Year of Reading today. Go on over and check out the poetic goodies (and stick around and check out Mary Lee and Franki's blog, too, while you're at it!).

And if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Years of #Kidlitchat! Join Us for the (Virtual) Party!

Would you believe that we've finished two years of #kidlitchat on Twitter? Well, we have. This Tuesday begins year three, and Bonnie Adamson and I are having a (virtual) party to celebrate. Well, okay, fine... we're hosting #kidlitchat on Tuesday at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific and that'll be the party. You're all invited!

I hope you'll come join us as we talk about why we all pursue our interest in children's literature (be us authors, readers, librarians, illustrators, teachers, parents, or other!). If you've never been to a Twitter chat, Debbie Ridpath Ohi wrote a great article that'll help you get up to speed.  And if you've joined us before, I do hope you'll come on by again.

By the way, thanks to Bonnie's diligence, we now have a list of all the topics from the two years of chat. You can check it out right here... and be sure to thank Bonnie next time you see her!

Friday, July 08, 2011

No Poem Today - a writer's block poem

No Poem Today
Greg Pincus

No poem today.
The words won’t come.
My mind is bare.
My pen’s struck dumb.
The page is blank.
I’ve naught to say.
And that is why
No poem today.

It's Poetry Friday, and the fabulous Elaine Magliaro has this week's roundup over at her blog. Check it out for a gob o' fun.

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Something's In the Air - a 4th of July poem/a friends and family poem

Greg Pincus

My friends have all been arguing.
My brother spats with sis.
My mom and dad
Are fighting mad
(Although I saw them kiss).

Perhaps it’s just the summer heat
That’s making tempers flare?
That could be true.
I have no clue,
But something’s in the air.

So now, today, July the Fourth,
I think a picnic’s right.
I’ll make a call,
“Come one and all,
Let’s eat and talk all night.”

I’ll post big signs about each guest,
I’ll list their flaws and quirks.
Then I’ll step back
To yell “attack!”...
And watch the fireworks.

Happy July 4th to you all (whether you're celebrating Independence Day or are, perhaps, overseas and merely experiencing July 4th as another day). For that matter, happy whatever day it might be when you read this! I've heard this Internet thang is forever, and you might just run into this another day... :-)

By the way, if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The June Carnival of Children's Literature....

It's up! And it's in two places. So, if you want to see a whole bunch of great stuff from the month of June, check out...

Book Dads for part one


Chapter Book of the Day for part two (aka, the bonus edition).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oooh. A New Form to Try

It's Poetry Friday today (you can find the weekly roundup over at Carol's Corner) and, while I don't have an original poem to share this week... April Halprin Wayland has shared a new-to-me form of poetry called the trimeric that looks well worth trying.

Check out April's examples and see what you come up with. Try a trimeric, she says! Indeed. Indeed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sleeping In! - a sleep poem/a sleeping late poem

Sleeping In!
Greg Pincus

Sleeping in!
What could be greater
Than staying in bed ‘til it’s later and later?
Forget about sunrise and breakfast and brunch,
If I have my way then I’ll sleep right through lunch.
Sleeping in!
There isn’t much to it:
You stay fast asleep - that’s the best way to do it.
On weekends, vacations, and random days off
(On days with no need to fake fever or cough),
There’s nothing that’s better than waking at 10
Then rolling right over and snoozing again.
Sleeping in!
I’ll start in tonight...
And practice all summer to get it just right.

It's Poetry Friday once again, so head on over to Check It Out for the weekly roundup, kindly gathered by Jone, and, uh, check it out.

Plus, if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Counting Down (Always) - An end of the school year poem/A summer vacation poem

Counting Down (Always)
Greg Pincus

Counting down
Time goes slow...
Six long days of school to go.

Counting down
Five, four, three...
So, so close to being free.

Counting down
Two... one... yay!
School is out! Hooray! Hooray!

Counting down
Time goes fast.
80 days... then summer's passed.

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Announcing Kidlit Drink Night- the Los Angeles Version (June 18th)!

Here in L.A., many of us have been watching the New York Kid Lit Drink Night for some time with a tinge of jealousy. Heck, I've even BEEN to one, and it was a whole mess of fun. So, driven by Lee Wind and Jill Corcoran, a plan has been concocted for the first ever Los Angeles Kid Lit Drink Night. Here are the details:

The First Ever Informal And Amazing
Los Angeles Kidlit Drink Night
June 18, 2011
Pink Taco in the Century City Mall
meet on the patio!

Who should come? Anyone involved in the world of children's literature from board book to YA: authors, illustrators, bloggers, librarians, teachers, agents, editors, etc. Who will be there? Folks involved in the world of children's literature (including Lee, Jill, me, Sara Wilson Etienne and Rita Crayon Huang (all of us, of course, contingent on schedules)!

This is TOALLY informal and driven by all who attend not the five of us listed above. In other words, if you want to come chat, you come chat; you want to chat and eat, you buy your food and chat and eat; you want to chat and drink, you buy your drink and chat. It should be a mess of fun.

The location was chosen with eyes on having a second LA Kid Lit Drink Night during the upcoming SCBWI Summer Conference (not that the night is affiliated with SCBWI, mind you, though many of us will know each other from there). So keep that in mind for August.

Gonna be there? Cool! Let me know... or I'll just see you there.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Zoom, Zoom, Zooooooom!

Days fly past around these parts - I suspect a rift in the time/space continuum, though I can't prove it - and I have had precious little time for blogging. Ahhh, but I've been scribbling and jotting and writing other things, including poetry, so it's all about tradeoffs, I tell ya.

Since time is gonna move fast for all of us (due to the rift, I'm telling ya!), I don't think it's too early to mention the next KidLitCon! It's coming September 16-17th in Seattle, and I can't wait. I missed last year's Con (my first absence :-(), but sure darn tooting plan on being there this year.  You can get more details at Chasing Ray... and even more info will be forthcoming soooooooon.  Hope to see you there!

Now, off to slow down all my clocks....

Friday, June 03, 2011

It's June (And I Am Still In School) - an end of the school year poem

It’s June (And I’m Still In School)
Greg Pincus

I’ll tell you something most uncool –
It’s June… and I am still in school.
I’ve got some friends whose year is done.
They’re sleeping in. They’re having fun.
Next week they’ll only play and rest
While I will take an English test.
And when they run and laugh and swim...
Guess what? I’m stuck in math and gym.
It isn’t right. It isn’t fair.
I need the late spring’s fresh, warm air.
It’s not that I hate school at all.
I’ll gladly come back in the fall.
And sure, vacation’s coming soon,
But I’m in school. And. It. Is. June!

It's Poetry Friday, and you can see the roundup of blogosphere poetic doings over at The Writer's Armchair. Good times and good reading, indeed.

And if you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

J. Patrick Lewis - With Nuts Only (on Yell "Fudge" at the Cobras in North America Day)

With Nuts Only
J. Patrick Lewis

If you enter his arena
From here to Pasadena
And laugh like a hyena—
A cobra will not budge.

You wave a red bandanna
From here to Indiana,
Or dangle a banana—
He’s sober as a judge.

Since the time of Noah,
A cobra’s like a boa,
And neither one will go a-
Way till you say


Did you know that today, June 2nd, is Yell "Fudge" at the Cobras in North America Day? No? Well, I didn't either until J. Patrick Lewis (oh, excuse me - Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis) sent me this piece of wonderfulness. And so, I pass on the news and the poem to you. Fudge!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kindergarteners Don't Scare Me!

Last week, I was lucky enough to hang out with TWO classes of Kindergarteners at Westwood Charter School here in Los Angeles. This was another visit that was part of my Poetry: Spread the Word project, and it was an absolute blast.

Now, I'll admit, I was a tad nervous about spending two hours with kids that young (I did back to back hours with separate classes, not two hours with one group!). But they were engaged, engaging, constantly coming up with fabulous ideas, laughing a lot, and clearly in classrooms where poetry and language were valued. We read some poems, brainstormed, shared stories, and in one case wrote a poem together. Good times, indeed, and further proof that poetry and kids mix well no matter what age!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hooray for J. Patrick Lewis, New Children's Poet Laureate!

Last Thursday, the Poetry Foundation named J. Patrick Lewis as the new Children's Poet Laureate, taking over for Mary Ann Hoberman (who took over for Jack Prelutsky).

The field of children's poetry has sooooo many amazing people in it and this two year Laureate term could have gone to many others and been a smashing success, I'm sure. Yet I admit I cannot wait to see what the next two years brings from Pat and for children's poetry, as I know he's going to put his stamp on this... and we're all gonna enjoy the ride.

And hey... before you go off and explore the J. Patrick Lewis website, you can poke around here for a few visits he's made, too: A Sixth Grader Sees the Future, The Voice of the Voiceless, and The Poet of the World.

Oh, yeah, one more thing... Congratulations!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wow! With a Dose of Totally Wow!

Thank you all for your support - comments, tweets, FB stuff, good vibes, pledges, Likes, and ideas galore. I'm excited, gratified, humbled, and truly looking forward to posting 100 poems and getting into 59 schools, in person or virtually.

More on all this soon... but now I gotta book. (Oh... and in case it isn't clear... "THANKS!!!!!")

Sunday, May 08, 2011

It's Me. On Video!

The above video (and if you subscribe to the blog and can't see it, please click here) is from my Kickstarter project, Poetry: Spread the Word. I think it explains why I'm doing what I'm doing and why I think my project is "a good thing."

Only 36 hours left in the funding period for Poetry: Spread the Word as I publish this. Thanks to all for your support in pledging, encouraging, and spreading the word, too. It's incredibly appreciated (and, ya know, there are still 36 hours to help :-)).

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Skyping with Explorer Elementary 5th Graders!

On Thursday, I had a Skype class visit with a fantastic group: Karen Feitelberg's fifth graders at Explorer Elementary School in San Diego. Their fabulous librarian, Roxyanne Young, arranged the visit... something that came about because of my Poetry: Spread the Word project!

During the visit, I gave some of the history of Fibs and got to hear them read some great examples they'd written. There were Fibs about all sorts of subjects... and even a Fib about not wanting to write a Fib! We ended by writing a group Fib first draft about pandas (or one panda, I suppose).

We had time for Q+A, too, and the students had some really great questions to ask... from what inspires me to write to how they can reach a bigger audience with their writing.

The hour flew by for me and, I think, for them. And nice words were said on a Facebook thread! What could be better? My big thanks to Roxyanne Young for making it happen and to Karen Feitelberg, who had the whole group ready (and inspired, it sure seemed to me. Inspired about poetry! Color me happy and impressed and more.)

What's so exciting to me is that I'm going to be able to do a lot of these visits thanks to Poetry: Spread the Word. We're in the last two days of the funding period - all pledges now help me give away more visits just like this one - so if you were thinking of checking my project out, now is surely the time!

At their best, visits are educational, inspirational, and aspirational (in both directions, really), and so many of you who read this have become patrons of the arts, enabling these visits with your support. I can't thank you enough... and, I think, there will be a lot of students out there who will thank you, too!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Lee Bennett Hopkins - Good Books, Good Times!

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Good books.
Good times.
Good stories.
Good rhymes.
Good beginnings.
Good ends.
Good people.
Good friends.
Good fiction.
Good facts
Good adventures.
Good acts.
Good stories.
Good rhymes.
Good books
Good times!

© l985 by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

I bet a lot of you know Lee Bennett Hopkins' Good Books, Good Times! I know I've heard him and this poem in person - a "good time!" indeed. No matter if it's new or familiar to you, though, it's a great summation of the month just past... and a preview of all the months ahead at GottaBook and, I suspect, wherever any of you are, too. When Lee suggested it might be a good fit here, I agreed (and, since I'm taking a couple day blogging break here, what better message for visitors to find!).

Besides being a remarkable poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins has probably done more for children's poetry and children's poets than... well... probably than anyone. He's founded awards, he's lobbied, he's advised, he's promoted, he's encouraged, and most of all, he's inspired with his generosity of spirit and his love of poetry. It's always a pleasure to have him come a-visiting, and I'm thrilled to celebrate good books and good times with him and you all.

By the way, if you haven't seen the new site, you should head on over and check it out. Also, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Teaching Toolbox - a new blog created by librarians, teachers, and students (not Lee himself) - is well worth a visit.

Monday, May 02, 2011

I've Got a Matching Grant to Help Spread the Word!

I'm excited to tell y'all that I've got a matching grant of $500 to help my Poetry: Spread the Word project. This means that for the next $500 donated (or maybe it's down to $400 at this point since pledges have been coming in!), it'll be matched dollar for dollar to help me be able to give away more visits to more schools.

So, if you wanna check the project out, now would be a good time :-)

I must add that I'm so touched and gratified by all the support the project and I have gotten. Yes, the financial support is fabulous (see below!), yet I appreciate every tweet, comment, email, "like", Facebook update, and everything that folks are doing to help.

Believe me - I know that contributions aren't possible for everything we all want to help. Support, though, comes in many ways, and it's really been amazing to see. So, thank you!

Probably the biggest news in all of this, by the way, is that as of yesterday, Poetry: Spread the Word hit its funding goal! This means I'll be visiting (virtually or in person) 40 schools over the next year and posting 100 poems here, too. And we're not done - for every additional $100 raised, I will give away another visit. Right now, this already means five more schools... and I hope it will be many more.

Again, thank you all. We are spreading poetry, and that, I think, is a beautiful thing.

Many Poets/One Day - The 2011 30 Poets/30 Days Wrap Up

Logo by Mary Peterson
What a long, wonderful, jam-packed edition of 30 Poets/30 Days (neither of which is accurate this time around) it's been. I had such a blast, I must say.

One bit of news for the eagle-eyed among you: Kenn Nesbitt was listed on the announcement post but due to my late ask, his busy schedule, and my rule that this event is never about stress, his poem is going to come at some point in the future. Since he was one of the reasons the first edition of this event came together (and because he's wildly funny), I will be happy to have him here anytime at all!

And now, with no further ado, a look back at this year (and two bonus links for you, too):

Douglas Florian - April is the Coolest Month
Janet Wong - Eyes-to-Eyes
Marilyn Singer - A Stick Is an Excellent Thing
Joseph Bruchac - Siguan
April Halprin Wayland - Dear Whoever Composes the Sky
Graham Denton - I Am Huffing, I Am Puffing
George Ella Lyon - No Need for Metaphor
Avis Harley - Clerihews
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer - Fantasy
Jamie Adoff - Soul Food
Susan Marie Swanson - Art Space
Elaine Magliaro - Dinosaur Dung
Charles Ghigna - Be Still in the World
Laura Purdie Salas - How to Talk to a Girl
Carole Boston Weatherford - A BAT CAVE: An Abecedarian Bedtime Chronicle
Heidi Mordhorst - The Playroom Floor Writes a Novel
Arnold Adoff - orien berg strasse
James Carter - go, poem
Joyce Sidman - Mudbath, Interrupted
Ann Whitford Paul - Caterpillar
David L. Harrison - Chess
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand - "I am God"
Calef Brown - Backstory: an excerpt
Jorge Argueta - Las Dos Piedritas/Two Little Stones
Liz Garton Scanlon - Word of Mouth
Ralph Fletcher - Mystery Flower
Julie Larios - Far From Home
Brod Baggert - If I...
Bobbie Katz - Haiku for a Jiving Djembe
Alan Katz - 101 Donations
Joan Bransfield Graham - ONE LANGUAGUE: Listening to Saint-Saens' The Swan
Francisco X. Alarcón - On Monday I Feel Like a Dragon/El lunes me siento como un dragón
Charles Waters - I Wear Mommy's Dress
Greg Pincus - I Put Each Carrot In a Suit
J. Patrick Lewis - The Voice of the Voiceless
Rebecca Dotlich - Skating Pond
Nikki Grimes - Busted; Closet; Someone Like Me (three tanka)
Kurt Cyrus - The Mummy and the Mermaid
Linda Sue Park - Explaining Baseball to an Alien
Kristine O'Connell George - Daze of the Week
Jane Yolen - The Alphabet: A Found Poem
Kathi Appelt - What Was She Thinking

Not enough poetry for you? Well, to see the prior years' roundups, click on the logos below....

30 Poets/30 Days - April, 2010
Logo by Bonnie Adamson

30 Poets/30 Days - April/2009

There are, as always, so many people to thank for making 30 Poets/30 Days possible and successful. First off, thanks to all the poets for their generosity in being part of this celebration. Thanks, too, to all my friends in the blogosphere for their support and ideas all year round, not just now. I must give one more big hat tip to Mary Peterson for designing the logo. And finally, huge thanks to all of you who subscribe or come on by these parts and make doing this so worthwhile.

Poetry's a year-round thang here, so I hope you're not going away. Besides, it's only 11 months until National Poetry Month is here again! I'm looking forward to that and everything before it... but for now, I gotta book.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Kathi Appelt - What Was She Thinking

What Was She Thinking?
Kathi Appelt

It’s the question her mother keeps asking.

That her only child could stop the train,
Snap her fingers and make it screech to a halt?

And now if only
are the only two words this mother can say.

If only she knew why the girl
looked up just in time to see
the golden beam of the engine’s light,
thought, how close is the moon, reached out to touch it.
Why she patted the dashboard of her new red Mustang,
the one her daddy gave her when she turned sixteen.
Now, she whispered, now. All her faith
in speed and gasoline, St. Christopher
dangling from the rearview mirror.

She would cry if she could remember how.

Her mother can’t stop crying.

And what about the engineer,
making his regular run between New Orleans
and Houston, sipping a cup of coffee
watching for deer along the tracks.
He always loved this time of night, the way
they turn and run,
their tails a white flash of goodbyes.

Now, he can’t bear the sight of them,
only looks straight ahead,
startled by each and every crossing,
so sorry for the lonesome
holy dark.

©2011 Kathi Appelt. All rights reserved.

True confession time: I haven't always been a fan of free verse, and that fact often still hovers way in the back of my brain. When I read Kathi Appelt's poetry, however, that distant thought never crosses my mind. I don't think there's time, really, as I'm instantly caught up (like I was last time she was here), engaged, reveling in well turned phrases and perfect, juicy words... even when the subject matter's not easy.

Her fiction's the same way. Her most recent novel, Keeper, ended up on seven slews of year-end 'best' lists, and followed up her Newbery Honor/National Book Award finalist The Underneath with more of the wonderful, poetic writing that just plain works for me (and, clearly, for many, many, many others!). I am, as I said last time, a fan indeed... and am very excited to have Kathi Appelt here wrapping up this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days.

(Greg's note: Kathi was the first poet to send me a poem this year. I had written up a draft post of hers first thing... then, in some frenzy of rescheduling, I made some still unknown to me error that left her post in the ether. I apologize for that but am thrilled to be able to close this year's celebration down with her now.)

Yesterday we had The Alphabet: A Found Poem by Jane Yolen. Tomorrow... a wrap up of the 2011 festivities!

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.