Monday, November 24, 2014

DMC: "I turn" by Robyn Hood Black




I turn
toward her whisssper -
Medusa


© 2014 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration this Friday, November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Limerick Alley: Bridget Magee



For better or worse, American influence has changed the way many holidays are celebrated overseas– Christmas, Easter, Halloween... but not Thanksgiving.  No, Thanksgiving is all ours.

November 27th will be like any other Thursday in Limerick, Ireland. But here on Today's Little Ditty, Limerick Alley is serving up this kind of pub grub:


What's more, we've got an American lass with a fine Irish name to plate up some poetry on the side.  I'm speaking of no other than Bridget Magee, of course.

Bridget has wide-ranging talents, as writer, poet, speaker, teacher, mom– but personally, I think of Bridget as a sister in all things ditty.  With her quirky sense of humor, a pun for every occasion, and our shared tendency toward short verse, who better to make an appearance in Limerick Alley.  You can read more of Bridget's work at her blog wee words for wee ones.

While I never dictate what my guests in Limerick Alley or Haiku Garden should write about, I am pleased that Bridget took it upon herself to write something appropriate for the turkey-gobbling season.  For one thing, it gives me a chance to acknowledge the holiday, since next week I'll be busy wrapping up November's Ditty of the Month Club challenge.

There is someone who is not particularly happy about Bridget's choice of subject matter, however. And that would be this handsome fellow:

"Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner" by Ian McKenzie, Flickr Creative Commons

There once was a turkey named Ty 
Who saw the calendar, "Oh my!  
Almost Thanksgiving?  
I want to keep living!  
Oh how I wish I could fly."
© 2014 Bridget Magee. All rights reserved.

"Turkey Chase" by Lars Hammar, Flickr Creative Commons

Run away, Ty! Run away!


Thank you, Bridget, for this fun little ditty.  And to all of you, whatever is on your table this Thanksgiving (or this Thursday, for my friends abroad), I wish you many blessings of the season, and hope that you know how grateful I am for your support of Today's Little Ditty.  In the words of Der Bingle, I've got plenty to be thankful for.



With mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie crowding our thoughts, don't forget that there's just one week left to submit a monster-inspired haiku for Bob Raczka's DMC challenge.  This week I featured my own haiku as well as monsteriffic little ditties by Penny Parker Klostermann, Susannah Buhrman-Deever, and Diane Mayr.

Be sure to check out the poetry spread at Becky Shillington's Tapestry of Words.  Thanks, Becky, for hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup!



DMC: "big hairy spider" by Diane Mayr




big hairy spider
on the bathroom floor
...I put on a boot

© 2014 Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

DMC: "A dance" by Susannah Buhrman-Deever




A dance

A spider's bite plus
music's might will make you dance
a tarantella

© 2014 Susannah Buhrman-Deever. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DMC: "Kraken Rises" by M. H. Barnes




Kraken Rises

snaking tentacles
seek out dinner – grab 'n' go
fishermen platter

© 2014 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Monday, November 17, 2014

DMC: "monster's a poet" by Penny Parker Klostermann




monster’s a poet
recording his thoughts nightly
in the damp dungeon

monster catches cold
hai-hai-hai-ku! seventeen
syllables scatter.

© 2014 Penny Parker Klostermann. All rights reserved.


Bob Raczka has challenged us to write a monster-inspired haiku this month.  Click HERE for details.

To add your haiku to the monster mayhem, send it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All submissions will be included in the wrap-up celebration on November 28th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Bob's delightful new haiku collection:






Thursday, November 13, 2014

Renée LaTulippe – Mood, Effect, and Emotion: Sentence Transformation


All aboard!!!
Renée LaTulippe's Lyrical Language Express is about to leave the station, and trust me, you don't want to miss it!

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Mood, Effect, and Emotion: Sentence Transformation

In my last lyrical language post, “Sound Bites: Making Writing Musical,” we looked at the properties of sounds in the English language and how we can use them to enhance our writing. In this post, we’re going to put those ideas into practice with a little writing exercise. 

A heightened awareness of sound and the knowledge of how to use sounds in your writing has several benefits:
  1. Style: It takes your writing from humdrum to engaging.
  2. Tone: It helps you set the tone of your poem or story from the very first line.
  3. Mood/Emotion: It helps you elicit specific emotions or reactions in your reader.
  4. Scene: It helps you show setting or character without "telling."
  5. Pacing: It gives you more control over the dynamics and pacing of your writing (when and where to change tone, mood, or pacing, for example).

Let's look at those five points a bit closer. Suppose I want to write a story about a train. I start with this first line:

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Geof Sheppard
  1. Style: This humdrum sentence uses everyday language that doesn't engage. There is no craft to it.
  2. Tone: No particular tone has been set. I'm not sure what to expect.
  3. Mood/Emotion: I have no emotional reaction to this sentence.
  4. Scene: It tells me nothing about the character or setting.
  5. Pacing: The sentence is neutral in terms of pacing.

Using sound devices, I could put several different spins on the train idea.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Albert Jankowski (public domain)
  1. Style: The language is engaging and fun to say out loud.
  2. Tone: The tone is light-hearted. The consonance on the CK and T and the assonance on the short I create an upbeat rhythm.
  3. Mood/Emotion: The train seems happy and therefore elicits a feeling of happiness and excitement in me.
  4. Scene: I can feel the jaunty movement of the bouncing train. The word rickety and the way the train moves makes me think he's not in the best repair but that he's okay with his lot in life. I know he's on an old track, which is also rickety, so I have some clue to setting.
  5. Pacing: The CK, T, and short I are sounds that are spoken quickly and naturally speed up the pacing. The sentence forces me to read it quickly.

Since not all sounds have the same properties or produce the same effects, I could focus the assonance and consonance on different letters and see what happens.

Photo: Flikr Creative Commons, David Spigolon
  1. Style: The language is engaging and fun to say out loud.
  2. Tone: The tone is heavier. The assonance on the short U combined with the consonance on the DGE and G sounds weigh this sentence down. The line is broken up a bit by the two short A-CK sounds in the slant rhyme fractured track, which is not a soothing phrase at all.
  3. Mood/Emotion: Gus the train seems sad or tired. I might worry a bit and wonder why he feels this way. I hope he'll find a happy ending or a good night's sleep wherever he is going. (And if he does, the writer will need to pay attention to the sounds as the story goes from heavy and sad to light and happy.)
  4. Scene: The character is clearly down in the dumps and is leaving a town. Is it his home? The track is broken. Maybe the town is run-down too? Maybe there's no work left? Maybe he's leaving loved ones behind as he goes in search of new possibilities?
  5. Pacing: The short U, DGE, G, CH, and even the TR are heavier in the mouth and spoken more slowly, so the pacing is slower in this version.

This story could also take a lyrical turn by playing more with assonance, alliteration, and voiced sounds.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Geof Sheppard
  1. Style: The language is musical and pleasing to say out loud.
  2. Tone: The tone is pensive. The assonance on the long O and OO sounds combines with the consonance on the voiced M and N to create a moan that lingers throughout the sentence and conveys a mournful mood. I would expect this to be a sad story, too, though completely different in tone and style than the story about Gus.
  3. Mood/Emotion: Rather than make me sad, all those mournful sounds make me curious and suspenseful. This could even be a scary story.
  4. Scene: I'm not sure if the character is the locomotive or the night or the shadows or the moon or none of the above, but I would like to find out. Since there are shadows and moonlight, I picture this train going through the woods. I may be wrong, but the phrase at least puts images in my head.
  5. Pacing: The assonance on the long O and OO sounds gives the phrase a languid pace and encourages the reader to linger over the sentence.

The number of transformations this sentence could undergo to create different effects is limited only by our imagination. But I hope these three examples will give you a good idea of how we can choose and manipulate specific sounds to add music to our poetry and prose.

Of course, diction (word choice) plays a significant role in these transformations as well, and we'll be talking about that in a later post. But sound and diction go hand in hand as we must consider sound when choosing which words to use.


Give it a try!

Take the first sentence in a work in progress or a line from a poem and put it through the transformation test. Or use this sentence: Birds took to the sky and flew south for the winter. Feel free to share your transformations in the comments.

In the next lyrical language post, a flock of dodo birds will show us how to manage our stress(ed beats). 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.


An editor and writer, Renée LaTulippe 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) and has poems in several editions of The Poetry Friday Anthology. She developed and teaches the online course The Lyrical Language Lab: Punching Up Prose with Poetry and blogs on children’s poetry at NoWaterRiver.com.




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If you read last week's spotlight interview with Bob Raczka, you know that he's challenged us to write monster-inspired haiku this month.  This week's daily ditties included haiku by Tabatha Yeatts, Joyce Ray, and Donna Smith. Stay tuned... there's more to come!

I'm also delighted to share some good news. I've had two poems selected for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books), edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Keep your eyes peeled for this newest edition of the Poetry Friday Anthology series coming in April 2015.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today by Keri Collins Lewis at Keri Recommends.  Please join her as she pays tribute to someone very special.