Monday, October 23, 2017

DMC: "relative distance" by Tabatha Yeatts




relative distance

distance is farther
in the dark.

mom and dad
downstairs
watching tv in a
  lit room

are a light year away
from awake me
upstairs in bed in a
  dark room.

if someone or something
that doesn't fear
the dark is up here
  with me,

the quickest way
to close this giant
ghostly gap might be a
  scream.


© 2017 Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:






Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Best of TLD, 2016




Tada! Isn't it adorable? 

Next month I look forward to celebrating the publication of our latest group effort, which includes 75 poems by 50 DMC poets. But today I'd like to focus on Teresa Robeson, who designed such a delightful cover.

TERESA ROBESON

Teresa Robeson is an author/illustrator who considers herself an author first—she has been writing professionally since 1991. Her poems, stories, and essays have appeared in magazines like Babybug, Ladybug, and Outdoor Indiana, and her speculative fiction appears in the Minnows Literary Group anthologies, where 100% of profits are donated to Doctors Without Borders. Teresa credits her "total nerd/geek-girl status" (her love of science fiction, science, and modern fantasy) to viewing the first lunar landing as a young child and being raised on a healthy dose of Star Trek. She credits her life-long love of children's literature to having never really grown up. Earlier this year, Teresa was competitively selected for a We Need Diverse Books mentorship with none other than Jane Yolen, so no matter where her interests take her, we can expect great things to come!

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver, and currently living on a Midwest homestead, Teresa has led an interesting life enriched by assorted hobbies and artistic pursuits. You can catch glimpses of these talents by visiting her two blogs: One Good Thing (where she posts her daily doodles) and Growing, Writing, Creating (where she posts about creative endeavors on the homestead). 

I'm not sure whether I was first introduced to Teresa's art or her writing, but I suspect it was probably her art that I first fell in love with on Facebook. I do recall what a pleasant surprise it was to receive her DMC poem, "The AfterMATH," two years ago. That poem now appears in The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2014-2015. Her poem "Elevation" was featured on the blog in May 2017, and you'll find "Win-Win" included in The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2016.

I've invited Teresa to answer a few questions so you, too, can get to know this warmhearted, talented, and hardworking artist and writer.


Welcome, Teresa!

Artistic wannabes like myself tend to think that artists are born with a paintbrush in their hand (or at least a crayon). But surprisingly, you came to illustration much later. How did you come to recognize and nurture your drawing talents?

Art was never something I was interested in as a kid. I have a vivid memory of being in kindergarten feeling annoyed at being forced to paint something. I thought the easel with a blank piece of paper attached to it was rather lovely and didn’t need me to mar its zen-ness.

The first time I began to realize I might have some talent was when I took an art class in 11th grade. It was there that I discovered how much I love doing portraits. For several years I combined that love with my then-hockey obsession. I drew portraits of the players from the Vancouver Canucks and got them to autograph them. That was fun!  

Signed portrait of Rick Lanz  © T. Robeson
But because I was interested in science, I didn’t do much with art except dabble in it.

The second time I realized I did have talent was when I took an art class for non-art majors at the University of Delaware where hubby was working on his Ph.D. The instructor, Bill Mammarella, was knowledgeable, engaging, and kind to all of us noobs, offering us a lot of constructive comments to help us learn and enjoy the process. He never singled me out for praise in class, but one day I was the last to leave class and a bunch of art majors had come in to hang out with him. He gestured to me as I said goodbye and told them that they should be thankful I wasn’t an art major because I’d blow them all away.


An assignment from Teresa Robeson's Drawing for Non-Art Majors class.


That was the single most encouraging thing I had ever heard about my art. Sure, friends had complimented my work, but that’s what friends do because they love you. To have a professional, who is not a friend or family and who knows his stuff, assess my work so highly actually has significant qualitative merit. LOL!

As for nurturing, I don’t know that I’ve done enough for myself. I probably should have signed up to do a fine arts degree immediately after that compliment, but instead I went the autodidact route, taking classes here and there, now and then, to continue learning.


What turns you on, artistically speaking?

Find more portraits by T. Robeson here.
As I mentioned above, I am completely drawn to (no pun intended) portraits because of a fascination with the human face. Funny enough, I almost never see faces in my dreams. 

One year, in lieu of taking a life drawing class, I sketched Jeopardy contestants while we watched the show. Since my family watches it with me, we don’t pause the show for me to draw, so they had to be done quickly. It was an exercise that trained me to observe critically, noting the feature(s) that define a person’s face and makes her/him unique. Giuseppe Castellano, the art director at Penguin who I took a couple of workshops with, thought it was a brilliant idea.


My favorite media are chalk pastels (I love the buttery Schminckes and Unisons), charcoal, ink, and watercolors. Oh, and of course graphite though I mostly use that for rough sketches these days.

I have a great love for yarn and want to start creating art with fibers one day, too.


While your art encompasses a variety of styles (traditional landscapes, portraiture, digital creations, Chinese painting, and more), I'm probably most smitten with your whimsical animal illustrations and sketches.

"Insult and Injury" © Teresa Robeson

They have so much personality—each one with its own little story to tell. What can you tell us about the penguin poet and sea lion on the cover of The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2016?

There are certain animals that I enjoy drawing more than others, penguins being among them, so I really wanted to include one on the cover. Also, it is a nod to my picture book critique group, the Penguin Posse.

The Best of TLD 2016 (back cover)  © Teresa Robeson

I loved one of your suggestions of having something interact with the TLD logo, and thought about animals that could go with the penguin and work with the logo. I’d recently drawn a sea lion in one of those little ink drawings I do for @drawonapostit on Twitter and so it was still fresh on my mind.

I brainstormed a scene involving the two and came up with the cover idea, which was to have the penguin start drawing the seal but then think, “To heck with drawing; I’m a poet!” and scribble an ode to the model instead. I found it amusing and hope you and your readers will, too.

You bet I do! And I love the extra appearances of this little penguin inside the anthology, too! 


Can you share anything that's currently in the works—in terms of writing, illustrating, or both?

Well, it's no longer "in the works," but my recent exciting news is that I signed with an agent, the marvelous Natascha Morris of BookEnds Literary Agency! I also have a manuscript being considered by an editor and I’m writing/revising a young adult novel, the synopsis of which won this spring’s NESCBWI Pitchapalooza.


Tell us where we can see more of your work.

My work can be found at teresarobeson.com (including a page devoted to some of the Jeopardy contestant sketches I drew). I also post nearly-daily drawings at my blog - http://teresarobeson.wordpress.com - and on Instagram - http://www.instagram.com/tmrobeson. I have a Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/teresarobeson and an author page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TeresaRobesonAuthor.

Thank you so much, Michelle, for being a fan of my art and asking me to do the cover for this collection of Today’s Little Ditty poems. I’m thrilled to have both a poem and my artwork in this book!

Thank YOU, Teresa! It's an honor to have your art on the cover of The Best of Today's Little Ditty, 2016.


Carrie Clickard's DMC challenge this month is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child. This week's daily ditties included poems by Linda Mitchell, Bridget Magee, Rebecca Herzog, and Doraine Bennett. Find more today at the blogs of Elizabeth Steinglass and Linda Mitchell. Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet, then come back next week for our spooky, end-of-month celebration!





Leigh Anne Eck is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at A Day in the Life.



DMC: "Sleepover" by Doraine Bennett





SLEEPOVER

cousins
late night pizza and sweet tea
ghost stories under sheets
delicious chills
until we had to pee
tiptoe down the dark hall
close the bathroom door
don’t turn on the light

silent fright turns to white terror

a monster appears
giant, Grendle-like
standing in the door

we scream
bang, stumble
escape to Mama’s arms
Daddy goes to see

in the light
the monster’s head—
            a wash rag on a hook
the monster’s broad white chest—
            the top of the door
the monster’s huge legs—
            two towels draped from a bar

beneath the sheets
it's hard to sleep


© 2017 Doraine Bennett. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:






Wednesday, October 18, 2017

DMC: "Dolly" by Rebecca Herzog






DOLLY

You thought I was asleep
But I peeked from beneath the sheets
And saw you move


© 2017 Rebecca Herzog. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:






Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DMC: "Butterfly Effect" by Bridget Magee





BUTTERFLY EFFECT

You lured me into the dark kitchen
at the back of the gym
with the promise of extra candy.

With perfect gymnast posture
I stood in the doorway
showing off the orange gauzy wings
my mother sewed on my black leotard
to complete my metamorphosis
into a butterfly for the team Halloween party.

Your compliment,

“You are as cute as a bug,” said in a heady voice,
made something deep inside me
                                                                  shift.

I knew something about the situation
was wrong.

But I was 10.

And you were my coach.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:






Monday, October 16, 2017

DMC: Spooky Tetractys by Linda Mitchell































Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carrie Clickard. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child.

Post your poem on our October 2017 padlet.

PLEASE NOTE: All poem submissions must include the author's name. One poem that was submitted during the first week of our challenge is still pending approval. If you submitted a poem early on, please check to see if it's yours. 

While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, October 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her enchanting new picture book from Holiday House:






Friday, October 13, 2017

Carrie Clickard: Jinxes and Hexes and Curses – oh my!


nebojsa mladjenovic

What good luck!

In celebration of Friday the 13th, Her Spookiness Carrie Clickard has returned today to share a fascinating collection of deviant poetry. Hold on to your heebie-jeebies, folks, it's going to be a nerve-jangling ride. (Parental discretion is advised.)


Jinxes and hexes and curses - oh my!

Did you get up this morning with that feeling of creeping dread that everything was going to go wrong? Maybe you touched wood before you got out of bed. Or perhaps you tucked a lucky acorn or buckeye into a pocket or slipped on your lucky charm bracelet? If you did, you’re not alone. It’s been estimated that 60 million people around the world will stay home today, just to avoid the bad luck of


What better day to talk about jinxes, curses 
and superstitions in poetry?

Now if you’re one of the masses who might be huddled under the covers today, or if, like me, you’re only a little nervous about the day, here’s the good news:

If you’re a dabbler in verse you don’t have to worry because as a poet, we have the power!




That’s right. Ancient Celts believed that bards could curse and cure with the power of their verse.  In fact there’s a version of the pied piper story in Ireland where a bard exterminates a rat infestation with just his rhyme. Now that’s serious jinx power.

It might have been his Irish blood that urged poet J. M. Synge to try his own hand at jinx poetry. When a sister of one of his rivals had the temerity to criticize Synge’s work, his dashed off this dastardly little ditty:

The Curse
Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.
Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I'm your servant, J. M. Synge.

History does not record if his jinx poem worked.  If it had, I’m thinking the history of literary criticism might have taken a very different course.

Now I don’t want to give the idea that curses in verse were exclusively Irish. Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Chinese verse has been found calling down evil on the heads of enemies. I have to say I sympathize just a bit with the medieval monk who cursed a cat that used his open manuscript for a litter box.  He immortalized his curse in the manuscript itself with a drawing of hands pointing to the stain and a latin verse that could loosely translate as:

Cursed be the pesty cat
and other mewling beasties that
urinate to make this horrid sight. 
And beware my brother scribes
to avoid the feline tribe’s
offense by closing well your books at night!

In a more recent and considerably darker vein, French poet Henri Michaux scribed an eerie jinx poem of his own, with the oddly mundane title of “I am rowing”.  Here’s just a taste:

I have cursed your forehead your belly your life

I have cursed the streets your steps plod through

the things your hands pick up

I have cursed the inside of your dreams

and a little later:
I have frozen you in the soul of your body

iced you in the depths of your life

the air you breathe suffocates you

the air you breathe has the air of a cellar

is an air that has already been exhaled

been puffed out by hyenas

By the time he reaches the repeated line near the end of the poem:
I am rowing

I am rowing

I am rowing against your life

The effect is truly chilling. You can read the whole poem here, if you dare.

If intentionally written curse poems aren’t enough to set your shivers going, what about a poem that itself is reportedly cursed? That’s right, we poets have earned our own urban legend, the deadly poem titled "Tomino’s Hell".  A dark set of stanzas imagining a young boy’s damnation for unspecified acts, the poem was written by Saijō Yaso and first published in 1919. Yaso’s work was supposedly for children, but it was filled with strange symbols and dark wordplay that many adults find unsettling. 

The poem came to modern attention after appearing in Japanese author Yomota Inuhiko‘s 1998 book The Heart is like a Rolling Stone.  Its creepy imagery made it a fan of Internet forums and Tomino’s Hell soon became a "dare game."  If you read the poem aloud, preferably on a video you could upload, you would die.  No recorded harm has happened to anyone as a result of the game, but who wants to risk it?  I, for one, would never even play “Bloody Mary” as a kid.  Blech, shudder and urgh.

If you do decide to risk it, here's a more recent translation with footnotes.




A “little stitious” might perfectly describe the Kenn Nesbitt poem I’d like to leave you contemplating.  With his typical witty wordplay, Kenn reminds us that there isn’t just one day we should beware of. 


It's Friday the 13th Tomorrow

It’s Friday the 13th tomorrow.

A black cat just leapt in my path.

I’m not superstitious, but this might

explain why I’m failing in math.

By chance I walked under a ladder

a teacher had placed by the wall.

In class my umbrella popped open,

and that’s why I tripped in the hall.

The salt spilled this morning at breakfast.

While walking I stepped on a crack.

I took off my shoes on the table.

It looks like my future is black.

This evening I busted a mirror

which means that the next seven years

are due to be filled with misfortune,

catastrophes, mishaps and tears.

With all the bad luck I’m confronting,

it seems that I’m probably cursed.

It may be the 13th tomorrow.

But Thursday the 12th is the worst.

           – Kenn Nesbitt 
                Found on Poetry4Kids.com and reprinted with permission of the author


That’s how I like my curses and jinxes, mixed with a healthy dose of silly good humor.  I hope you can say the same.  Wishing all of you good luck and fun on this notoriously unlucky day!


Thank you for such an enlightening and spine-chilling post, Carrie!
I think I'll return to my covers now.


Read Carrie's rhyme crime series HERE, her spotlight interview HERE, and don't forget to submit your poem about a person, place, or thing that spooked you as a child for this month's DMC challenge. This week featured poems by Jessica Bigi and Janie Lazo. The padlet is ready to greet you...  bwah-hah-hah!


Carrie L. Clickard is an internationally published author and poet, with books published by Simon & Schuster, Holiday House and Flashlight Press.  Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals as well including Spider, Muse, Highlights, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Havok, Myriad Lands, Clubhouse, Spellbound, Penumbra, Haiku of the Dead, and Underneath the Juniper Tree.

Irene Latham is hosting a Friday the 13th edition of the Poetry Friday roundup at Live Your Poem. See you there! ...and try not to walk under any ladders along the way.