Thursday, July 2, 2015

Carrie Clickard: Step Two (continued)– Unwrench Your Rhyme




If you participated in last month's DMC challenge, you're probably already "well-versed" (ha!) in how difficult it can be to use rhyme effectively.  That's why it pleases me to welcome back TLD contributor, Carrie Clickard, with another installment of her series on how to write "crime-free" rhyme.

Previously, Carrie explained that getting the meter right doesn’t have to be daunting.  All we need to do is –
Pick a beat.
Make it stick.
Change it up.
All to our favorite songs.

Here are Carrie's previous posts in the series:

Today, she confronts the dastardly dealings of master criminal, Wrench it Ralph.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Drop the clangers! Tricks and fixes to unwrench your rhyme.

What’s that strange clanging noise?  Have we stumbled into metal shop instead of Michelle’s delightful poetry blog?  No, it’s just our next Rhyme Crime offender, hard at work:



That’s Ralph you hear, clanging and banging away, forcing words into rhyme where they really don’t fit.

His crime is an especially auditory one. Try reading this example aloud:
He doesn’t mind the language being BENT  
And chooses words to force a wrenched ac-CENT  
He has no sense of how the words should SING  
And tries to get away with wrenched rhy-MING
                          – Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled

Awful, isn’t it?  Did you feel yourself cringing as the wrongly stressed syllables approached? Shudder.  It makes you wonder how people ever get away with wrenched rhyme. Wouldn’t an editor, wouldn’t any writer catch the mistake immediately?

Maybe not. Before you judge too quickly, spend some time listening to your favorite radio station. You probably won’t have to listen too long before you hear Wrench it Ralph at work, in everything from cowboy two-steps to high opera.

Consider this gem from the Austin Lounge Lizards, "Half a Man":
I buy a tenth of whiskey and a cold three-pack of beer
I drink till I see single when I gaze into the mirror

Mir-REAR?  Even if you’re willing to forgive the “rear” instead of “rur/ror” in that last syllable, putting the accent on the second syllable just isn’t done in polite pronunciation.

And in case some of you are blaming that ugliness on its country-western roots, I’ll offer up a little U2, "All Because of You":
I like the sound of my own voice
I didn't give anyone else a choice
An intellectual tortoise
Racing with your bullet train
Tor-TOISE? Even with an Irish accent, that’s pretty unforgivable pronunciation.

And this part of writing rhymed verse is just that – unforgiving.  You’re going to be expected to follow the gold standard for metered rhyme: dictionary perfect pronunciation. Not the slurred syllables you hear in coffee shops or on your phone line.  Not the half mumbled abbrev-a-speak we use when we’re hurried or excited or just getting through another day.  Metered rhyme demands more – it uses all those pesky syllabic markings you haven’t looked at since grade school.

Now, don’t panic. We’re not going to start marking up long passages with shorthand scansion symbols here. Instead here are two simple ways to catch Wrench it Ralph before he mangles your verse.

1. Don’t just look – LISTEN 

On quick inspection, Wrench it Ralph’s work appears to work.  It has the right number of feet. The final syllable may be a perfect match for its rhyme partner line.  But when you read a wrenched rhyme aloud, CLUNK – you’re tripping over your own tongue.   So don’t just type and read your verse silently.  Stand up and declaim it – to the kids, the roses, the dog.  If you get everyone’s stamp of approval, you’re ready to move on to the next test:

2. Let someone else read it aloud WITH NO COACHING

Why? Because we ALL fudge when reading our own work.  We know how it should sound. We’ve heard it a million times through revision after revision.  And that’s how we’re going to read it.  Not the way it IS, but the way we INTEND it.  So the answer is, give it to a rookie. Someone who’s never clapped eyes on the verse. And let them read it cold.  Be prepared. It might sound a little like this:



Embarrassing, maybe, but isn’t it better to have that happen now and not ruin your chances with a potential editor?  I thought you’d think so.

Ok… so with the criminal evidence in hand – how do we get that pesky monkey off our back and behind bars where he belongs?

1. Try a game of Eeny Meenie Minie- GO.
No matter how perfect the couplet looks, if the rhyme is wrenched, one of the two words has to be replaced. And making that choice can be the hardest part – which word to toss?  Pick one at random, yes, even by eenie meenie minie moe if you have to, and settle into the hard task of replacing it.
2. Find a new word with some pond-picking. 
If your mind is fixated on those first favored words, try this: Get a stack of paper scraps and your thesaurus. Pick one of the two words and write all its possible synonyms on the scraps of paper. Put them face down on the desk, swirl them around and pick one blindly.  Treat it like a game of poetry go-fish. Make yourself use the word you’ve pulled in a revised stanza, even if it staggers like a turtle in a tar patch. Don’t worry. You’re not going to be stuck with it.  You’re just loosening up your mind.  Go ahead and try another.  Maybe you’ll happen on a good choice by chance, but more likely you’ll find your mind offering better replacements.
3. Tackle it with the twins.
Your trusty thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary. For those disciplined rhymers out this, this is probably familiar territory.  Crack open the thesaurus and replace one or both of your two words. Then try finding the right dance partners in your rhyming dictionary.  It’s a slow, back and forth slog, but it works.  The trick is not to give up.  I use bribes. I’ll promise myself anything from chocolate to that panda bear hoodie I’ve been drooling over – but I can only have it when the broken stanza is fixed.  Maybe you don’t need such childish impetus, but my inner poet is a bit immature – or perhaps she’s just greedy. (wink)
4. Ask a friend.
Yes you’ve heard this fix it formula from me before.  It’s worth repeating.  Sometimes we’re too close to our work. There’s an obvious fix, but our hearts are too tied to our “darlings” to see it.  A skilled writer friend, critique partner, even a kind hearted “civilian” can sometimes point out what we’re overlooking.  Don’t be too proud, or embarrassed, to ask.

There? Can you hear it, that beautiful silence framing your lovely verse?  With Wrench it Ralph behind bars you’re safe from clunkers or clangers – and you won’t have to worry about hearing an editor say this:



Thanks for joining me.   Keep an eye out for the next Rhyme Crime post, when we’ll be tackling Step Three: CHANGE IT UP.


Carrie Clickard is an internationally published author and poet whose career also spans graphic design, illustration and film.  Her first picture book, VICTRICIA MALICIA, debuted in 2012 from Flashlight Press.  Forthcoming books are MAGIC FOR SALE (Holiday House, 2016) and THOMAS JEFFERSON & THE MAMMOTH HUNT (Simon and Schuster, 2017).  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals including Spider, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Clubhouse, Spellbound, Penumbra, Haiku of the Dead, Underneath the Juniper Tree, Inchoate Echoes, and The Brisling Tide


Thanks, Carrie. I always feel better knowing you're on the case!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Today's Little Ditty will be taking a little ditty of a vacation for the rest of July. 

"Cascade" by Amanda Tipton

But before I go...

First, a big, bouncy THANK YOU, for all the kind, congratulatory messages I received, on the blog and on Facebook, for winning the 2015 Magazine Merit Award for Poetry.  You make my heart smile.

Also, thanks once again to everyone who participated in last month's DMC challenge to write a poem about a treehouse, using multisyllabic rhyming. Random.org has determined that the winner of a personalized copy of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi is:

CHRISTINE RODENBOUR Congratulations, Christine!

Photo by colink.

Wishing all of you safe and happy summer celebrations.
 See you in August!



Today's Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by Donna at Mainely Write.
 




Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jumping for Joy


Why am I jumping for joy?

 Because my poem about the 11-year-old who dreamed up the backyard trampoline
"George Nissen, Boy Inventor" (Boys' Quest, Feb 2014)

won the 2015 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Poetry! 


You can read my poem HERE.

The SCBWI Magazine Merit Awards are presented by the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators annually for original magazine work for young people in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, illustration, poetry, and YA fiction/nonfiction. According to the SCBWI website, "The works chosen are those that exhibit excellence in writing and illustration, and genuinely appeal to the interests and concerns of young people." Honor Certificates in each category are also awarded, as well as three Letters of Merit for each category.

But that's only part of the reason I'm jumping for joy. What makes this celebration even more special is the fact that I'm able to share the awesome sauce with several other poet friends:

Congratulations to Laura Purdie Salas
whose poem "Good-bye, Hello!" (Highlights, Sept 2014) earned the 2015 Magazine Merit Honor Award.  Read it HERE.

Congratulations to Buffy Silverman
whose poem "If You Were a Shell" (Ladybug, July 2014) earned a 2015 Letter of Merit. Read it HERE.

Congratulations to Neal Levin
whose poem "My Dinosaur, My Friend" (Fun For Kidz, May 2014) earned a 2015 Letter of Merit as well. (Neal also happens to be the multi-talented guy who illustrated my George Nissen poem in Boys' Quest!)


Magazine Merit Award recipients in all categories are listed on the SCBWI website.


Monday, June 29, 2015

DMC: "Treetop Dream" by LeeAnn Blankenship





TREETOP DREAM

I wish I’d somehow soon acquire
The tree house of my heart’s desire:
A sturdy, wooden home replete
With fellow poets on retreat.

We’d leave distractions down below,
Escaping to our high chateau
Where each could have his private nooks
For writing verses, songs, or books.


© 2015 LeeAnn Blankenship. All rights reserved.


Corey Rosen Schwartz has challenged us to write a stanza or two about building a treehouse, using unpredictable rhymes of more than one syllable. Click HERE for all the details.

There are only two more days to join in the fun! Send your stanzas to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. Visit our wrap-up celebration to read all of this month's contributions. One lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Corey's delightful new picture book:





Thursday, June 25, 2015

June DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway


Photo: Miranda Barnes

At the beginning of this month, Corey Rosen Schwartz challenged us to write a stanza or two about building a treehouse, using unpredictable rhymes of more than one syllable.

"Treehouse of Awesome" by S. Shepard
Let me tell you, this was not easy. Ask any one of the diehard treehouse poets out there who grabbed their rhyming toolboxes and went at it.

Nope. Not easy.

But was it fun? You betcha!  So much so, that one or two stanzas was rarely enough.

Or maybe you're just gluttons for punishment.

"Treehouse" by John Wright








In any case, for me the best part was seeing where your imaginations took us.

Thank you to those who participated in this month's challenge, and especially to Corey Rosen Schwartz, who inspired us to reach new heights.


 

All poems are copyright 2015, and published with permission of the authors, who control all rights.





From Katie Gast:

Chicken tried to hammer nails
Instead, she hit her feathered tail
“Ouch!” she squawked. “This hammer’s weighty!
I can’t do it and you can’t make me!”

“Instead, I’ll sand the tree house floor.”
And she scritch-scratched across each board.
“That’s not sanding,” the old dog barked,
“Your chicken feet have left it marked!”

“I learned this trick from my old ladies -
the swanky ones with the Mercedes.
You’re dog-gone wrong with your critique,
our tree house floor now looks antique.”


                                                  From Janie Lazo:

                                                  Duck waddled through town posting flyers and billing
                                                  that Woodpecker helped hang with his skillful beak drilling.
                                                  Goosander was sawing, Ms. Beaver was gnawing,
                                                  and Bear hoisted boards with his heaving and pawing.
                                                  But Moose wanted more for this leafy retreat-
                                                  an excellent tree house he meant to complete!
                                                  So he watched like a hawk and did frequent inspections,
                                                  and he pointed out flaws and minute imperfections.
                                                  His voice roared like thunder through his orange megaphone,
                                                  "Level!" He shouted "LEVEL" in a harsh, hurtful tone.
                                                  "This wall is not plumb and it must be precise!"
                                                  "You must read my blueprint! It's very concise!"
                                                  From the sting of his words Moose's friends felt defeated.
                                                  So they packed up their tools and through the woods they retreated.


Planning Your Treehouse
          by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes


When building a treehouse you need to be clever,
so making a plan is a useful endeavor:

  • The walls should be strong like a tough armadillo.
  • The floor should be soft, like your favorite pillow.
  • No need for a roof, since the rain won’t affect you.
    (Your leafy umbrella will always protect you.)
  • Now this is important– the last thing you’ll need
    is a shelf full of books so there’s plenty to read.

                         The Tiny Wish
                                   by Linda Baie


                         It would be nice, yet need advice
                         to fabricate a treehouse.
                         My mother says I am not fit
                         ‘cause I’m a tiny house mouse.
 
                         The leafy green would be my scene
                         inside a little tree.
                         Please why can’t I be living there?
                         With Mom, I disagree.

                         I would create a minimum
                         of fuss in my construction,
                         only desire a tool or two
                         plus labor for production.

                         I found a perfect cheese box
                         that smells of camembert,
                         to formulate this upstairs home -
                         favored fragrance in the air.

                         I’m looking for a willow tree
                         Constructing there is best.
                         The tree will offer privacy.
                         I’ll love my little nest.

                         I will appreciate the help
                         to lessen Mom’s concern.
                         Send notes to Hattie Housemouse
                         via Postman Michael Tern.


                                                                 My Treeless Tree House
                                                                           by Michelle Kogan


                                                                 My treeless tree house whirr is under construction.
                                                                 Watch out dear critters for flying sawdust fluxion.

                                                                 The fence will fill in fine for my tree substitute.
                                                                 It anchors my house while climbing great altitude...


                                                                 Nails, screws, and elbow grease hold all joints together.
                                                                 When finished I’ll invite my friend with a feather.

                                                                 Tada! My house is done its rustic and breezy,
                                                                 Climb up, take in the vista, and take it eeeasy...



With a Hat Like a Bishop's, What Else Would You Expect?
          by Diane Mayr

Two woodpeckers poked, and pecked,
made one heck-of-a
mess of sawdust and splintery wood.

The one with sideburns
had a moment of concern,
but the other said, "You've misunderstood!

We'll wiggle our hips
and smooth down those chips.
We're nesting! It's our parenthood!"

Then she lifted both legs.
Popped out six dozen eggs.
And was nominated for avian sainthood.


                                                                      From Christine Rodenbour:

                                                                      I made my first treehouse
                                                                      With blankets and vision,
                                                                      But each time I sat
                                                                      There’d be a collision.

                                                                      This time I was smarter.
                                                                      The treehouse I’ve built
                                                                      Should be quite sturdy.
                                                                      I’ve used my mom’s quilt.


Moldysocks and the Three Treehouses
          by Donna JT Smith

One day when a girl named Miss Moldysocks
Was traipsing through woods and on river rocks,
She spied a big tree
With a house hanging free
With doors, except one, having paddylocks.

She climbed up the tree where she shouldn’t go;
She climbed it so quickly that don’t you know,
She couldn’t resist
And wouldn’t desist
Until she had left the ground far below!

The things in the house were just way to big;
The cupboards were stuffed for a hungry pig;
She slipped back outside
And slid down with pride
Without even breaking a single twig.

She skipped on her trip through the piney groves,
Then sat down to snack on some moldy loaves;
She looked up and saw
A house for MawMaw
With windows, and curtains and cooking stove.

She tiptoed some more till she spotted him:
A bear cub aloft on a pine tree limb;
He’d been sent away
To build his chalet,
However, his treehouse looked pretty grim.

Moldy called up to him, “What has happened here?
I see by your treehouse your plans aren’t clear.
To build it with flair
You must take more care.
I’ll help you this time!” Then bear gave a cheer!

With hammer, some nails and a tape measure
Construction began on this tree treasure;
They measured and nailed,
Through work quickly sailed,
“Thank you, Moldy!”
       “No, prob! It’s my pleasure!”

Now Moldysocks visits the bears a lot;
In her heart she has a big Moldy spot
For Bear’s treehouse done
By more than just one,
Where some days she naps in this Camelot.


                                                                Alice’s Treehouse
                                                                          by Mindy Gars Dolandis

                                                                I’m excited about my new treehouse! gushed Alice.
                                                                It’s going to look like a princess’s palace.
                                                                I’ll paint the floor lilac, the walls sea foam green,
                                                                the door dusty rose, the roof aquamarine.
                                                                Aside from the usual paraphernalia,
                                                                I’ll decorate with all the finest regalia:
                                                                A golden-trimmed, pink velvet throne that’s gigantic,
                                                                and white chiffon curtains, so soft and romantic.
                                                                My treehouse will be finer than any other!
                                                                Yeah, dream all you want, said Sammy, her brother,
                                                                but it won’t build itself, so stop all your yammering.
                                                                Pick up a hammer and nails and start hammering!


Neighborhood Project
          by George Heidenrich

It's a treehouse we're building. We found the directions
In a cereal box, mixed in with confections
Like chocolate bits and marshmallow fluff.
We tell all our friends. For today that's enough.

Tomorrow we'll look through all our collections
To find rope and wood, then make some corrections
To plans we have doodled, and schedules so tough
A wizard would find the results are too rough.

We hammer and saw, then wait for inspections.
We're crossing our fingers; we want no rejections!
The job's done at last. There are no objections!
The neighborhood's happy. We like our selections!


                              A Treehouse All Your Own
                                        by Catherine Flynn

                             When you’re feeling boisterous,
                             rowdy, shouty, roisterous,
                             go outside and find a tree
                             that you can call your own.

                             One that has a flat, wide space
                             between the branches that can brace
                             a treehouse hideout
                             that you can call your own.

                             Find a friend to help you hoist
                             smooth pine planks for each floor joist
                             plywood walls and a flat tin roof
                             that you can call your own.

                             Once you’ve built your private lair
                             twenty feet up in the air,
                             you can jump and stomp and shout
                             in a treehouse all your own.

                             Be careful as you prance about.
                             The ground’s a long way down!


                                                                                         My Tree House
                                                                                                   by Linda Mitchell

                                                                                         Better in my head
                                                                                         than it is in the tree
                                                                                         more a to-be-read shed
                                                                                         of stories for me.

                                                                                         During my school year
                                                                                         I read all that I had to.
                                                                                         Now summer’s here
                                                                                         and I read what I want to.

                                                                                         No sawing or sanding
                                                                                         of boards to my tree
                                                                                         just hauling up books
                                                                                         skyward, closer to me.

                                                                                         Up a few branches
                                                                                         where  apples will ripen
                                                                                         fantasy flutters and
                                                                                         poetry happens.

Treetop Dream
          by LeeAnn Blankenship

I wish I’d somehow soon acquire
The tree house of my heart’s desire:
A sturdy, wooden home replete
With fellow poets on retreat.

We’d leave distractions down below,
Escaping to our high chateau
Where each could have his private nooks
For writing verses, songs, or books.


Feeling inspired?

You have until Tuesday, June 30th, to send your rhyming treehouse poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.



Participants in this month's challenge will be automatically entered to win a personalized copy of WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi. (One entry per participant, not per poem.)

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below.  If you contribute a poem and comment below you will earn two entries in total. Comments must be be received by Tuesday, June 30th.

The winner will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, July 3rd, when Carrie Clickard will be here with a new installment of her rhyme crime investigation series.

I'll be taking a little ditty of a hiatus in July, but hope you'll be hungry for our next Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge come August!  (That's a hint, by the way. Something to chew on while I'm gone.)

Carol is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Carol's Corner.






DMC: "Alice's Treehouse" by Mindy Gars Dolandis




Alice’s Treehouse
 
I’m excited about my new treehouse! gushed Alice.
It’s going to look like a princess’s palace.
I’ll paint the floor lilac, the walls sea foam green,
the door dusty rose, the roof aquamarine.
Aside from the usual paraphernalia,
I’ll decorate with all the finest regalia:
A golden-trimmed, pink velvet throne that’s gigantic,
and white chiffon curtains, so soft and romantic.
My treehouse will be finer than any other!
Yeah, dream all you want, said Sammy, her brother,
but it won’t build itself, so stop all your yammering.
Pick up a hammer and nails and start hammering!

© 2015 Mindy Gars Dolandis. All rights reserved.


Corey Rosen Schwartz has challenged us to write a stanza or two about building a treehouse, using unpredictable rhymes of more than one syllable. Click HERE for all the details.

Send your stanzas to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration TOMORROW, Friday, June 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Corey's delightful new picture book:





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

DMC: "Moldysocks and the Three Treehouses" by Donna JT Smith




Moldysocks and the Three Treehouses

One day when a girl named Miss Moldysocks
Was traipsing through woods and on river rocks,
She spied a big tree
With a house hanging free
With doors, except one, having paddylocks.

She climbed up the tree where she shouldn’t go;
She climbed it so quickly that don’t you know,
She couldn’t resist
And wouldn’t desist
Until she had left the ground far below!

The things in the house were just way to big;
The cupboards were stuffed for a hungry pig;
She slipped back outside
And slid down with pride
Without even breaking a single twig.

She skipped on her trip through the piney groves,
Then sat down to snack on some moldy loaves;
She looked up and saw
A house for MawMaw
With windows, and curtains and cooking stove.

She tiptoed some more till she spotted him:
A bear cub aloft on a pine tree limb;
He’d been sent away
To build his chalet,
However, his treehouse looked pretty grim.

Moldy called up to him, “What has happened here?
I see by your treehouse your plans aren’t clear.
To build it with flair
You must take more care.
I’ll help you this time!” Then bear gave a cheer!

With hammer, some nails and a tape measure
Construction began on this tree treasure;
They measured and nailed,
Through work quickly sailed,
“Thank you, Moldy!”
       “No, prob! It’s my pleasure!”

Now Moldysocks visits the bears a lot;
In her heart she has a big Moldy spot
For Bear’s treehouse done
By more than just one,
Where some days she naps in this Camelot.

© 2015 Donna JT Smith. All rights reserved.



Corey Rosen Schwartz has challenged us to write a stanza or two about building a treehouse, using unpredictable rhymes of more than one syllable. Click HERE for all the details.

Send your stanzas to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, June 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Corey's delightful new picture book:





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DMC: "I made my first treehouse" by Christine Rodenbour




I made my first treehouse
With blankets and vision,
But each time I sat
There’d be a collision.

This time I was smarter.
The treehouse I’ve built
Should be quite sturdy.
I’ve used my mom’s quilt.

© 2015 Christine Rodenbour. All rights reserved.



Corey Rosen Schwartz has challenged us to write a stanza or two about building a treehouse, using unpredictable rhymes of more than one syllable. Click HERE for all the details.

Send your stanzas to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, June 26th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Corey's delightful new picture book: