What fun when book-shaped, padded envelopes from publishers arrive in the mail! This month, I received two padded envelopes with copies of new anthologies by Georgia Heard and Lee Bennett Hopkins. (Links lead to interviews discussing their new anthologies.) Having contributed a poem for each of these new books, I was eager to see my poem in print and the accompanying art, but also to read the other poems. It's always intriguing to discover how other poets tackled an assigned topic. The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems and Nasty Bugs: Poems to Make Your Skin Crawl are both wonderful!
For The Arrow Finds Its Mark, Georgia Heard invited poets to find the poems tucked inside prose. Heard's challenge had me intently scouring text--listening to the rhythm, searching for surprising images, studying the structure of passages. I found my poem in a speech given in the mid-1800's by George Vest. However, even after submitting "Man's Best Friend," I find I'm am still searching for those hidden poems. From car reviews, to recipes, to Rick Reilly's column for Sports Illustrated, poems are everywhere! Writing my found poems reminded me again that the tools of poetry (rhythm, repetition, figurative language, etc.) are the core foundation of powerful prose.
My poem for Nasty Bugs required research; I learned more than I really wanted to know about bedbugs, my assigned topic. (Months after the finished poem was submitted, I was still getting targeted ads on the Internet for bedbug removal wands and bedbug-free motels. A result of frequent googling of "bedbugs?") This anthology has great kid appeal and Will Terry's illustration of my bedbug was actually kind of cute. Oh, and don't miss Alice Schertle's "Termite Tune" with termite's wry comment: Got wood? (Since we discovered termite damage in a windowsill, I found Schertle's poem both ironic and hilarious.) Kids who think poetry is only about sickly-sweet topics will get a kick out of Hopkins' cast of creepy crawlies.
I actually did write about kale and the heirloom tomato seedlings--nurtured all winter under grow lights--that wilted the first time I put them in the sun. (I compared the bedraggled seedlings to what happens when I get overly excited about a writing project and share a half-finished, spindly draft too soon--before my work in progress is sturdy enough up to the bright lights of criticism. Gardening has a term that I should remember: "hardening off.")
Instead, I decided to share a picture of my winter-into-spring garden. The violas and calendulas are both edible flowers. (Freak out a nephew: toss flowers into his salad :: evil aunt!)
We have raised vegetable beds because of these:
This is Amelia. She likes California poppies.
(Full disclosure: We--and our neighbors--do have a serious gopher problem this year. However, I took this picture at a campground. Crazy thing kept popping up like a jack-in-the-box to snatch the flowers we tossed near his/her hole. He/she was probably thinking: Jackpot!Buffet!)
Guess how many times I got an assignment to write a poem for a class in elementary school? (If you guessed zero, you'd be right.) This is one of the reasons I get so excited when I see teacher's creative poetry ideas. The reason I sometimes long to repeat second and third grade in this poetry-enlightened era.
Take 'sibquains' as an example. (Cinquain poems about siblings = 'sibquains.') After reading my latest book, Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems, Christy McCabe invited her second graders to write poems about their brothers and sisters. Are these cute or what?
Send an email if you've used Emma Dilemma or any of my other books in your classroom or library and have a project you would like to share with other educators.
Wow! These students did a terrific job--with only a chair as a prop--with this dramatic reading of my poem, "The Blue Between." ("The Blue Between" originally appeared in Paul Janezkco's anthology, Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets.)
Emma Dilemma's Giveaway
I'm celebrating National Poetry Month with a giveaway. And, while all self-respecting children's book giveaway includes books, "Emma" and I had a blast shopping for a snazzy pink hat, a tickly feather boa, and a sparkly purple rock.
Emma Dilemma's GiveawayThrow your (pink!) hat in the ring! There are even opportunities for multiple entries to stack the odds in your favor. We'll be accepting entries until May 10th.
"Emma" adores this hat. I just hope she'll give it up when the winner is chosen! (You know how stubborn little sisters can be...)
Newsletter sign-up if you arrived here via a link.