Monday, May 20, 2019

DMC: "Instructions for a Lawn Sprinkler" by Rosi Hollinbeck




INSTRUCTIONS FOR A LAWN SPRINKLER

Keep your head down
and perfectly still.

Patience.

When you feel the pressure,
hold your head up high and

Squirt! Squirt! Squirt! to the left.

Turn back.

Squirt! Squirt! Squirt! to the left.

Turn Back.

A perfect arc.
Every time.

Squirt! Squirt! Squirt! to the left.

Turn back.

Head down.
Rest until tomorrow.

© 2019 Rosi Hollinbeck. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Thursday, May 16, 2019

B.J. Lee: The Poet and the Picture Book Writer


B.J. Lee's author signing at Barnes & Noble, Clearwater FL

Many of us poet-types also engage in other writing projects, like picture books, nonfiction, or novels. But are we always consciously aware of the changes we go through to make that happen? For me, the writer's transmutation—how we adapt one skill set to accommodate a different genre—is complex and mysterious.

How, for example, are the processes of writing poetry and rhyming picture books similar or different?
 
Purchase at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble
or via Indiebound.org.

I posed this question to TLD contributor B. J. Lee, and she was kind enough to address the matter for me.

B.J. Lee is our resident expert on poetry forms, but with her debut rhyming picture book released from Pelican Publishing earlier this year, I asked if she might talk about how a poet who excels in poetry forms transformed into a picture book author.


So here she is, hungry readers— 
Chomp down on this appetizing article by B.J. Lee!



The Poet and the Picture Book Writer

This poet and this picture book writer are different artists. As a poet, I struggle with story structure. It used to be far easier for me to write an entire poetry collection of 20 or so poems than it was for me to write one picture book. Fortunately, picture book writing is getting a smidgen easier for me and it’s a good thing because poetry is a very hard sell. I still write lots of poetry but picture books call out to me as well.

So what is the difference between writing a poem and writing a picture book? The first and probably most important difference is arc. A poem needs no arc. A picture book relies heavily on arc.

Because I struggled with picture book writing, for the Gator character I had in mind, I was drawn to a form with a built-in arc. So how did I turn the structure of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly into a picture book with my character, Gator?

I followed the built-in arc of There Was an Old Lady...which gave me rising action.



As Gator unwisely swallows a succession of hapless animals, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Something has to happen – a climax of some sort.

Text © 2019 by B.J. Lee. Illustrations © 2019 by David Opie.
From THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH (Pelican Publishing)


I chose to change up the climax and not have Gator die. There is a trend in modern There Was an Old Lady... parodies, including those by Lucille Colandro, Jennifer Ward and Penny Parker Klostermann, to not have the main character die. I didn’t want Gator to die either. How did I set it up so Gator didn’t die? With my first stanza, and the moth/cough slant rhyme. Without including spoilers, perhaps you can guess how I used this rhyme pair to produce a better fate for Gator.

The other difference between poetry and picture books is that a poem it is about capturing one thing, with the exception of narrative poetry, but more on that later. A poem is about one moment, one feeling, one image. This begs the question: can you turn a poem into a picture book? While one moment, one feeling, one image, can be the start of a picture book, and perhaps a very good start, it will somehow need to be expanded into a story with an arc.

Here is an example of a poem about one thing.

Recently published in the Savannah Morning News.                                    



















I don’t believe this story is expandable into a picture book. It captures one moment in nature. It doesn’t go anywhere story-wise. Got story? No.

The following poem, on the other hand, might be able to be expanded into a picture book because it has a narrative. I have no plans currently to turn this poem into a picture book but, now that I think about it… hmmmm. I guess time will tell! Got story? Maybe.

Highlights, June 2018


So if you have a narrative poem, which includes the ballad, as I previously discussed in a TLD post, you can explore it to see if you can make it into a picture book. I have several narrative poems I did this with, including one ballad. Of course, it usually has to be expanded greatly. There are other considerations when writing picture books such as pacing. How do you spread a story over 32 (or more) pages. It’s also important to think about page turns.

Very rarely we do find existing poems that have been made into picture books, but there are a few. One that comes to mind is A Fairy Went a-Marketing. This is an older poem by Rose Fyleman, originally published in her collection, Fairies and Chimneys (a wonderful collection, by the way, if you are partial to fairies...and who isn’t?).

Some songs have been made into picture books, and I consider songs to be poems set to music, such as Octopus’s Garden by Ringo Starr. Incidentally, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly was originally a song and it has been published as a picture book by writers such as Simms Taback and Pam Adams.

In conclusion, you might check to see if you have any poems that spark picture book ideas, particularly narrative poems. While Gator didn’t start with a poem, I was inspired to use a poetic cumulative rhyme structure to capture this larger-than-life character.

I feel very lucky to have had THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH accepted by Pelican Publishing. When using cumulative rhyme as a picture book story structure, one really has to do something unique with it, because so many adaptations have been written. I had success with my version because it was regional and thus appealed to Pelican Publishing.

On my journey to picture book publication, the classic cumulative rhyme, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly inspired me to understand arc. I hope something in this post inspires you on your picture book journey.

Picture book publication has been such a blessing and I love how people are falling in love with my unfortunate character, whose appetite gets the best of him. My community is rallying around me and Gator in the form of a fabulous book launch.

"Gator Day" at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, March 10, 2019.


Thank you, B.J., for another fabulous visit to Today's Little Ditty!
Read B.J.'s other TLD contributor posts: The Roundel and The Ballad.

AND thank you to Pelican Publishing for sending me a copy of There Was an Old Gator who Swallowed a Moth for one lucky TLD reader.

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Gator Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The winner will be randomly selected and announced next Friday.


B.J. Lee is a former college music librarian turned full-time writer and poet. Her debut picture book, There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth, released January 28, 2019 from Pelican Publishing. She is an award-winning children’s poet with over 100 poems and stories published/forthcoming. She has written poems for children’s anthologists Lee Bennett Hopkins, J. Patrick Lewis, Kenn Nesbitt and others, and appears in anthologies by such publishers as Bloomsbury, National Geographic, Little, Brown, Otter-Barry and Wordsong. Magazine credits include Spider, Highlights, and The School Magazine.



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

Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to "write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job."  This week's daily ditties included poems by Tabatha Yeatts, Diane Mayr, students Chloe and Madison, and Cindy Breedlove. Also don't miss the original instruction poems shared today by Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, and Christie Wyman. Add yours to the May 2019 padlet by the end of this month!
At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret Simon and her students are celebrating nature with "pi-ku" poetry. Never heard of it? Discover pi-ku and many other poetry wonders at this week's Poetry Friday roundup!





DMC: "Binoculars" by Cindy Breedlove




BINOCULARS

Hang light around my neck,
ready always on my trek.

Zoom quick, and stabilize.
Focus sharp before it flies.

Don't fog, so I can see
that flighty little chickadee.

© 2019 Cindy Breedlove. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

DMC: Instructions for a Merry-Go-Round and a Notebook, by Chloe and Madison




Margaret Simon introduced her gifted students to this month's challenge to show them "how we can write about the most ordinary of things in a very extraordinary way." Not surprisingly, she got some extraordinary results! Read more of her students' poems on the May 2019 padlet.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR A MERRY-GO-ROUND

Make me dizzy
Go round and round
Blow a soft breeze
Shhhhhhh Shhhhhhh
Create a tornado of sand
Spinnnnn Spinnnnn
Don't let me fly off

Ouch!!!!!!!
I hit a bushhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!
 

          © 2019 Chloe 3rd grader GT. All rights reserved.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR MY G.T. NOTEBOOK

Your vertebra must stay strong,
Your spindly blue ribcage holds beating words and breathing doodles.
You must stay a well-functioning organism, doing your job efficiently.
Hold together until you grow weary and old and begin to weather.
When you fall apart, let your destruction become recycled into the next generation.


          © 2019 Madison, 5th Grade G.T. student. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Tuesday, May 14, 2019

DMC: A cherita terbalik by Diane Mayr





a directive to the tissue
box is in order

this pollen season

always stand at hand
ready to face nasal expulsions
with three-ply gentle strength

© 2019 Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Monday, May 13, 2019

DMC: "Instructions for a Stop Sign" by Tabatha Yeatts




INSTRUCTIONS FOR A STOP SIGN

In a shifty,
Shifting world,

Be sincerely
Single-minded.

Greet everyone
You see with

Recognizable red—
Offer an

Unmistakable
You.

Be clear
And direct—

Draw our attention away
From everything else

Onto this
One thing:

Becoming
Still.

© 2019 Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Thursday, May 9, 2019

Classroom Connections with Elizabeth Steinglass




Following last week's interview with Elizabeth Steinglass, today she explains how her collection of imaginative poems for soccer fans can be used in the classroom.


TODAY'S READ

Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer

Elizabeth Steinglass, Author
Edson Ikê, Illustrator

Wordsong (June 4, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1629792491

For grades K-5 and up

Purchase at Amazon.com
Purchase at Barnes & Noble
Purchase via Indiebound.org





SYNOPSIS

From the coach who inspires players to fly like the wind, to the shin guard that begs to be donned, to soccer dreams that fill the night, Soccerverse celebrates soccer. Featuring a diverse cast of girls and boys, the poems in this collection cover winning, losing, teamwork, friendships, skills, good sportsmanship, and, most of all, love for the game.


A PEEK INSIDE

Text copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Steinglass. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Edson Ikê.
From SOCCERVERSE: POEMS ABOUT SOCCER (Wordsong).

Read three more poems from Soccerverse HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Steinglass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she played soccer, basketball, and softball, read many, many books, and wrote her first poems. Her book Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer includes 22 poems about all aspects of the game. You can also find her poetry in The Poetry of US, edited by J. Patrick Lewis, and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, her three children, and her sleepy cat Scout.

Find out more about Elizabeth Steinglass by clicking HERE to read her spotlight interview.



CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Poems bring facts, ideas, feelings, perspectives, and voices into the classroom in an accessible package. Many poems are short and can be shared in minutes. They can be read to open the day, introduce or enrich a lesson, or smooth a transition. Because there are poems about every possible topic, they can be incorporated into every possible class—art, math, science, music, PE, and morning meeting. Poems have generous white space, making them user-friendly to the 20% of the population that is dyslexic and can be put off or overwhelmed by too much text. For the same reasons, poems can be particularly accessible to second-language learners as well. The language, imagery, creativity, and emotional resonance of poetry invites readers to think, feel, and remember.

What is a simple, practical tip for teachers when it comes to incorporating poetry in the classroom?

When I read poetry to students, I like to offer them a copy, either on paper or projected, so they can see and follow along as I slowly read it aloud, twice, but I also give students the option to close their eyes and picture the poem as I read. I also think it’s lovely to give students the opportunity to bring in and share some of their favorite poems.

How might Soccerverse be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

The poems in Soccerverse use 13 different forms. A note at the end describes the forms and challenges the reader to go back and think about which form or forms each poem uses. The poems can be used to explore specific forms, for example, concrete poetry, mask poems, or poems of address. The book as a whole can be used to discuss form more generally: What is a poetic form? What are some examples? Why do poets use different forms?

Can you suggest a specific classroom exercise related to your book?

My ditty of the month challenge is to write instructions for an inanimate object telling it how to do its job. When I’ve done this with young writers, I’ve chosen something right in front of us—their desks. I always think it’s helpful to have the object or an image of the object at hand. Looking spurs thinking. I then led the students through some brainstorming questions: What does the desk look like? What do we hope our desks will do for us? What do we hope our desks won’t do? After looking, thinking, and talking, I asked students to contribute lines to a poem we wrote together.

Courtesy Elizabeth Steinglass


CONNECT WITH ELIZABETH STEINGLASS

Website (and blog): http://elizabethsteinglass.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-Steinglass-562849827218251/
Twitter: @ESteinglass
Instagram: elizabethsteinglass


This week: poems by Alice Nine,
Angelique Pacheco, and Linda Baie.
Have your students write collaborative or individual poems instructing an inanimate object how to do its job. Click HERE for more details about the DMC challenge and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your instructional poem(s) on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Wordsong, 2019).



That Liz Steinglass sure does keep herself busy! Today she's sharing her first draft of "Instructions for the Field" plus another poem that didn't make it into Soccerverse, AND she's hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup! (Don't miss the original instruction poems posted today by Linda Baie, Linda Mitchell and Kimberly Hutmacher.)