Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DMC: "Cock-a-doodle Flea" by Jan Gars




Cock-A-Doodle Flea

I yelled cock-a-doodle
Atop of his poodle
Who's sleeping right next to his head
But he can't hear my chant
'Cause I'm small as an ant
So maybe I'll bite him instead

– Jan Gars, all rights reserved


Lori Degman has challenged us to wake Farmer McPeeper.  If you would like to join in the animal antics, write a stanza in the same style as COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! (click HERE for details) and send to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up for an end-of-month hoedown on August 29th and entered to win a personalized copy of Lori's delightful new picture book:



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DMC: "Cock-a-doodle aahroo" by M. H. Barnes




Next to come round
was a rock-n-roll hound
descended from Elvis the King.
This hound dog’s to-do:
Cock-a-doodle aaahrrrooooooooooo!
The blues was all he could sing.

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, all rights reserved


Lori Degman has challenged us to wake Farmer McPeeper.  If you would like to join in the animal antics, write a stanza in the same style as COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! (click HERE for details) and send to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up for an end-of-month hoedown on August 29th and entered to win a personalized copy of Lori's delightful new picture book:



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Renée M. LaTulippe: Sound Bites–Making Writing Musical


Dear TLD:

I suffer from weak prose, writer's fatigue, restless adverb syndrome, and imagination constipation.  Is there a doctor in the house?!!

Sincerely,
Depressed Writer

Well yes, DW, you're in luck!  It's my pleasure to introduce lyrical language doctor and TLD contributor:

Renée M. LaTulippe

Renée has co-authored nine early readers and a collection of poetry titled Lizard Lou: a collection of rhymes old and new (Moonbeam Children’s Book Award) for All About Learning Press, where she is also the editor, and has poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology, Middle School and Science editions. She developed and teaches the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry and creates children’s poetry videos for her blog NoWaterRiver.com. Renée holds theater and English education degrees from Marymount Manhattan College and New York University, and taught English and theater in NYC before moving to Italy, where she lives with her husband and twin boys.

I have heard nothing but high praise from writers who have taken Renée's Lyrical Language Lab online course, including this recent glowing review from Linda Kulp and this fabulous interview by Julie Hedlund. It's really no surprise given Renée's background and the fact that her own writing sings like an Italian operetta.  How grateful am I that Renée has chosen to share excerpts from her lessons right here? Molto grato! Thank you for being here today, Renée. The stage is all yours.

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Because children's poetry and picture books are meant to be read aloud, it's imperative that we make the reading experience as pleasurable and memorable as possible whether in rhyme or in prose. Luckily, we have plenty of tools to help us do just that, and one of the most important is sound.

I like to consider rhythm and meter as the musical staff (the base structure) upon which to compose the rest of the music (sound devices).


Like musical notes, words and sounds can be combined, clustered, and juxtaposed to elicit specific emotions. Most of us have studied sound devices at one point or another, so I’ll start with a quick review and short examples of what some of these devices are all about, and then take it a step further to look at some properties of sound.

Sound Devices

Alliteration...

is the repetition of initial sounds in a series of words. It occurs in stressed syllables and often produces a light and humorous effect.

Timothy Tompkins had turnips and tea. (Karla Kuskin, from Moon, Have You Met My Mother?)

I am the pirate's parrot, / a bird both brave and bold (Anonymous)


Consonance...

is the repetition of internal or ending consonant sounds in a series of words, especially in stressed syllables. Consonance can create pleasing rhythmic effects or subtle instances of slant rhyme.

First a hush and down / it crashes / over curbs it swishes (Marci Ridlon)

Wistful, she recalls the past and all the hours lost


Assonance...

is the repetition of internal or ending vowel sounds in a series of words, especially in stressed syllables. Assonance is helpful in creating mood.

And miles to go before I sleep. (Robert Frost, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”)

I am sitting in the middle / of a rather muddy puddle (Dennis Lee, “The Muddy Puddle”)
  • Notice the difference in mood created by the length of the vowel sounds. In the Robert Frost example, all the vowels are long or drawn out, which slows the reader down and emphasizes the long journey the narrator must still undertake. In the Dennis Lee example, all the vowels are short, which gives the line a snappier, more staccato beat that carries it forward.

Onomatopoeia...

is a figure of speech in which the sound of a word mimics the sense of the word itself.

I'm the hummer of summer / so busy with buzz. (Douglas Florian, from UnBEElievables)

The coals pip-pop and the wind doesn't stop. (Karma Wilson, from Bear Snores On)


Repetition...

is the repeating of a word or phrase several times for emphasis. Repetition of longer sections, like a stanza in a narrative poem or picture book, is called a refrain. 

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. (E.A. Poe, “The Raven”)

A gruffalo? What's a gruffalo? / A gruffalo–why, didn't you know? (Julia Donaldson - repeated refrain in The Gruffalo)

But the bear snores on. (Karma Wilson - repeated refrain in Bear Snores On)


You can open any book of poetry and find examples of all these sound devices. Here’s a poem that wears all its jewelry at once, but to good effect. Read “Open Hydrant” out loud, taking note of how the sound devices affect your reading and the meaning of the poem.



Now let’s look more closely at some properties of sound.

Length and Weight

The English language has 26 letters that can be combined to create 44 sounds. I'm not going to get into phonetics, but it is helpful to be aware of two basic properties of these sounds.

The length of a sound is how long it takes to say the sound or how long the sound can be held. Length can play a big part in pacing. Read the following blue words out loud and consider how the sounds differ in effect and tone.
  • Long vowel sounds:   sway       creep       bright       moan       glue
    • Long vowels often slow the pacing and have a heavier tone.
  • Short vowel sounds:   brat      jet       wiggle        scoff          dug
    • Short vowels often quicken the pacing and have a more light-hearted tone.
  • Consonant sounds that can be held (known as fricative and sibilant sounds): dge, f, h, j, l, m, n, ph, r, s, sh, th, th (voiced) v, z, zh
    • ridge   fish    hurry   jelly    hill    hum    nine    phone   furry    hiss    shame    forever    crash   thief     then   buzz     vision
  •  Consonant sounds that cannot be held (known as plosive sounds): b, ck, d, g, p, qu, t, w, x, y
    • bag    click   dawn    gripe    pup    quick   taut    wicked   box   yes  

The weight of a word is the feeling of heaviness or lightness in the mouth when you speak it. Read the following blue word pairs out loud. Which word in each pair feels heavier for you? Why?
  • tap    /    tug
  • trudge    /    scuttle
  • whimper    /    moan
  • bench    /    sofa
  • axe    /    lathe

Of course no one consciously stops to think about all these nitty-gritty details in the midst of writing, but being aware that these properties exist will help you
  • train your ear for sound;
  • choose the best words for your purpose;
  • discern exactly where the problem is in a clunky verse or sentence.

I’ll leave you with one more poem that makes gleeful use of those short vowels and heavy D sounds. Everyone in the puddle!



In the next lyrical language post, I’ll look at how sound can help us heighten the musicality of prose so we can create an endless range of mood, effect, and emotion. Until then, happy writing!

©2014 Renée M. LaTulippe. This article is partially excerpted from a lesson in the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry. All rights reserved.

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Pretty great, huh?  If you like what you just read, consider signing up for Renée's next available Lyrical Language class this coming October!

In the meantime, here it is the middle of August and Farmer McPeeper shows absolutely no signs of waking.  Lori Degman and I challenge you to put your newfound sound skills to the test right now!  Click HERE for more information about this month's ditty challenge, or for some examples, check out the featured contributions so far (an interesting assortment of farm animals, I dare say) by my daughter Miranda, Bridget Magee, and Buffy Silverman.  My own musical attempt to wake Farmer McPeeper will be coming this Tuesday.

Heidi Mordhorst is hosting summer's last fling and today's Poetry Friday roundup at my juicy little universe.







DMC: "Cock-a-doodle Squirm" by Buffy Silverman




"A farmer that's sleepy
needs someone who's creepy.
That's me!" said Squirmy the Worm.
"I'll slide up his toes, 
Cock-a-doodle his nose!"
But a sneeze left Sir Wormy infirm.

– Buffy Silverman, all rights reserved


Lori Degman has challenged us to wake Farmer McPeeper.  If you would like to join in the animal antics, write a stanza in the same style as COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! (click HERE for details) and send to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up for an end-of-month hoedown on August 29th and entered to win a personalized copy of Lori's delightful new picture book:




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DMC: "Cock-a-doodle-HISS" by Bridget Magee




"I slither and slide
and take immense pride
in being a most helpful snake."
But Snake's forked tongue kiss
and Cock-a-doodle-HISS
did not help Farmer McPeeper wake.


– Bridget Magee, all rights reserved


Lori Degman has challenged us to wake Farmer McPeeper.  If you would like to join in the animal antics, write a stanza in the same style as COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! (click HERE for details) and send to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up for an end-of-month hoedown on August 29th and entered to win a personalized copy of Lori's delightful new picture book:


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Haiku Garden: Violet Nesdoly


Photo: Tai, "Dew on Grass"

“A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a  pointed stick collecting stuff.”
                                           –Tony Hillerman

I found this wonderful quotation on the Poetry page of Violet Nesdoly's author website.  I thought it speaks well to Violet, since she, herself, is the ultimate collector – of nature, art, moments, words....  She displays them in exquisite detail in her poems, her photography, and in the way she lives and values life.  I'm honored to welcome her to the Haiku Garden.


http://wallpaperscraft.com/download/grass_moisture_dew_drops_morning_17514/

dew scattered on grass
one carat diamonds winking
the day’s promise

 © 2011 Violet Nesdoly. All rights reserved.


Violet sent me this gem with the following description: "I wrote this haiku in 2011, in a stretch of beautiful August days, each one beginning with a dew-drenched morning."  I'm sure she joins me in wishing that everyone who reads this can enjoy a few days this month as magical as the ones that inspired today's little ditty.

Photo: Jason Rogers, "Morning Dew"

And while we are gathered here in the Haiku Garden, I would be remiss if I didn't also share this link to one of my favorite posts on Violet's poetry blog– a series of haiku detailing the life cycle of a Magnolia blossom.

Besides writing poetry for both children and adults, Violet writes non-fiction, fiction, activities, book reviews, and devotionals. She also blogs... blogs, blogs, and blogs some more.  For those who lost count, that's four blogs in total.  In addition to her author blog and poetry blog which I've already mentioned, she maintains PROMPTINGS 2, a personal photoblog, and Other Food: daily devos, a source of daily devotions for adults.  As someone who occasionally struggles to keep one blog afloat, I am astounded that Violet can keep up with them all!  But that she does... and still she pauses, with her sack and pointed stick, to take in a dew drop on a blade of grass.


Thank you, Violet, for sharing yourself and your gifts 
in the Haiku Garden today!


For those who missed last week's announcement of our August featured author, Lori Degman, and her fun new DMC challenge, you can find all the details HERE.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.






Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DMC: "Cock-a-doodle purrr" by Miranda Barnes




"This shouldn't be hard,"
said the cat in the yard.
"I'll bet it's as easy as pie."
Her cock-a-doodle purrr
was as fuzzy as fur,
but at least she gave it a try.

– Miranda Barnes (age 11), all rights reserved


Lori Degman has challenged us to wake Farmer McPeeper.  If you would like to join in the animal antics, write a stanza in the same style as COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS! (click HERE for details) and send to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.

All participants will be rounded up for an end-of-month hoedown on August 29th and entered to win a personalized copy of Lori's delightful new picture book: