Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Postcard from a Young Friend

From the Silver Star Elementary Poetry Postcard Project, Vancouver, WA, April 2014

With thanks to Breeana for the fantastic poem and artwork, and to Jone Rush MacCulloch for sponsoring this wonderful project to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Progressive Poem, Day 25

I feel privileged to be hosting Irene Latham's 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem on the final Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month.  

This poem has traveled quite a distance over the last 24 days– visiting 24 unique blogs with 24 unique poetic sensibilities, each coming together to add a new line.  And now it's in my pocket... literally.  As I write this on Poem in Your Pocket Day, I've been carrying it around with me on my daily rounds– hemming and hawing, pondering and planning, imagining and envisioning what might come next.  This poem is precious cargo, not only because of the beautiful words and imagery contained, but because it carries a piece of every poet who has come before me as well as the collected anticipation of everyone who has been following its journey.  That's a lot of pressure, but I've been looking forward to this challenge since Day 1.

Linda Baie at TeacherDance provided me with an intriguing line to use as a jump off point.  So many possibilities hidden in those shifting shadows!  Who's there?  Is it friend or foe? A beast or bird stowaway perhaps?  The winging words of the wind?  Whispering dreams?  Irene, come to offer more advice?  Or maybe it's a less-than-trustworthy merry hen demanding her eggs back?  As much as I'd  like to bask in the delicious mystery a while longer, this poem must find closure in five days, so I've decided to cut to the chase.  It's taken an awful long time for our traveler to get underway, and I would like to make sure we arrive at some kind of destination or resolution– if not physically, than at least mentally.  To me, the coast still seems far off, but the host?  Hmmm... well, you know what they say:  

If Mohammed won't make it to the coast, then the host must come to Mohammed.  

What, you mean that's not how the proverb goes?

2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.
But, hold it! Let’s get practical! What’s needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I’ll ask my friends what I should stow.
And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low— dreams —
Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene’s!
“Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.
Determine these dreams—then breathe them! Engage your inner sage.”
The merry hen said, “Take my sapphire eggs to charm your host.”
I tuck them close – still warm – then take my first step toward the coast
This journey will not make me rich, and yet I long to be
like luminescent jellyfish, awash in mystery.
I turn and whisper, “Won’t you come?” to all the beasts and birds,
and listen while they scamper, their answers winging words:
“Take these steps alone to start; each journey is an art.
You are your own best company. Now it's time to depart!"
I blow a kiss. I hike for days, blue eggs pressed to my chest.
One evening's rest, campfire low, shifting shadows brought a guest.
A boy, with hair in wild waves and eyes blue as the sea,

Tomorrow, join Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books to see what happens next!  If you would like to revisit where the poem has been, here is the list of 2014 Progressive Poem participants:

                    Line 1: Charles at Poetry Time
                    Line 2: Joy at Joy Acey
                    Line 3: Donna at Mainely Write
                    Line 4: Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
                    Line 5: Carrie at Story Patch
                    Line 6: Sheila at Sheila Renfro
                    Line 7: Pat at Writer on a Horse
                    Line 8: Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
                    Line 9: Diane at Random Noodling
                    Line 10: Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
                    Line 11: Linda at Write Time
                    Line 12: Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
                    Line 13: Janet at Live Your Poem
                    Line 14: Deborah at Show--Not Tell
                    Line 15: Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy
                    Line 16: Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
                    Line 17: Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
                    Line 18: Irene at Live Your Poem
                    Line 19: Julie at The Drift Record
                    Line 20: Buffy at Buffy Silverman
                    Line 21: Renee at No Water River
                    Line 22: Laura at Author Amok
                    Line 23: Amy at The Poem Farm
                    Line 24: Linda at TeacherDance
                    Line 25: Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
                    Line 26: Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
                    Line 27: Kate at Live Your Poem
                    Line 28: Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
                    Line 29: Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
                    Line 30: Tara at A Teaching Life

Finally, a reminder before I send you on your merry-hen way:

Be sure to come back next week for Today's Little Ditty's new Spotlight ON interview series and the first Ditty of the Month Club challenge!

Tabatha Yeatts, Pet Wrangler and Imaginary Poem Keeper, has today's Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Line Tuesday: Henry David Thoreau

Earthrise, taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on December 24, 1968

What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?

– Henry David Thoreau, Familiar Letters 

 Here are some things you can do.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Haiku Garden: Tabatha Yeatts

"The kitchen really is the castle itself.  This is where we spend our happiest moments and where we find the joy of being a family."
                                                                                          –Mario Batali

Tabatha Yeatts' kitchen is not only the heart of her home, apparently, it is the Grand Central Station of pet antics as well.  

Don't bother asking the culprits...

Foo Foo
Peep, aka Penelopeep

...they'll deny everything.  

But I have evidence: Tabatha's Pets in the Kitchen series, which she's kindly brought with her to the Haiku Garden today.

          Trust is Rabbit
          racing between Cat's legs
          to reach his dinner.

          Cat on kitchen table
          intently licking a bowl.
          What was here before?

          Doomed dalliance:
          Lovebird chirps a duet with
          beeping microwave.

          Cats can pad in silently
          but the clatter of Rabbit's nails
          gives him away.

          © 2014 Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.

Beguiling as they are, those furry and feathery faces can't fool me!  This is what really happened:

Drawing by Miranda Barnes

And then, this:

Photo: Tabatha Yeatts

Some of you may recall that Tabatha made an appearance on Today's Little Ditty earlier this year with her poem "Secret Superpowers."  It's good to know that one of Tabatha's superpowers is pet-wrangling!  Of course she has other superpowers as well, not the least of which is her vivid and thought-provoking writing.  Besides writing books, articles, poems, puzzles, and short stories for young people, Tabatha's blog, The Opposite of Indifference, is a gathering place for anyone who enjoys pondering the secrets of life through music, art, and poetry.  For National Poetry Month, she has been capturing intriguing new worlds in a Directory of Imaginary Poems– a not-to-be-missed series.

When I invited Tabatha to the Haiku Garden, I had no idea that her visit would come on the heels of National Haiku Poetry Day 2014.  How's that for kismet?  Please join me in thanking Tabatha and her marvelous mischief-making menagerie for helping us to celebrate the occasion!

Robyn Hood Black, another animal lover and poetry superstar, has today's Poetry Friday roundup at Life on the Deckle Edge.

The kitchen really is the castle itself. This is where we spend our happiest moments and where we find the joy of being a family.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remembering Boston

Today, on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, I wanted to re-post a poem I wrote last year in response to that event.  It was inspired by Fred Rogers, a man whose spirit will always live in my imagination's beautiful neighborhood.

In the Wake of More Senseless Tragedy

Look for the helpers,
                     warm smile-wearers.
Seek out the heroes,
               the everyday joes
               with offers of food,
                                      a bed,
                                      warm clothes,
Follow their lead,
     harness your power—
          spread kindness and love 
                in your own finest hour.
Be who you are,
     fan your flame at the source;
          and ask, “What can I do to change future’s course?”

© 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Birthday Bash + Poetry Friday Roundup

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake via Craftsy member SweetandSwanky

Welcome to my birthday bash!

Amazing.  My blog baby, Today's Little Ditty, turned one year old this week.  I appreciate you dropping by to help me celebrate!  We'll get the party started with a round of mini-golf, then some special announcements, and wrap things up with cake and the Poetry Friday roundup.

Over the past twelve months, I have posted 35 original poems here.  Some of them have gotten lots of attention, others not so much.  Today I'm taking the opportunity to re-post one of my lesser-viewed favorites. "Golf Day" was originally posted on September 20, 2013.  (I've included the link just in case you want to see the oh-so-cute photos of my munchkins... now significantly more teen-like.  Sigh.)

          Golf Day

          I pick a club that’s just my size
          and ball so bright it hurts my eyes,
          then place it on the perfect spot
          to give that ball a great big swat!

          Swing once… a miss.
          Swing twice… just air.
          The third time, with a bit more care…


                                                It hits the wall,

          Oh no you don’t!
          I won’t be beat.
          Don’t need the club,
          I’ll use my feet
          to kick
                        and chase you
                                                  to the hole…

                                                                           At last
                                                                           that ball




          My da says, “That’s not how it’s done,”
          but he’s just sore because I won.

          © 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.  All rights reserved.

Speaking of bowls, is it time for ice cream yet?

No, not yet.  But it is time for some delicious announcements!  When I debuted Today's Little Ditty on April 10, 2013, I had no idea of the wild and wonderful year in store, nor the special relationships I'd make along the way.  I did, however, have a pretty clear vision of what I wanted this blog to become.  Sure, I wanted a place to showcase my own work, but more than that, I wanted it to be a fun community playground of sorts.  That's why I introduced Haiku Garden, Limerick Alley, and Five For Friday parties like last week's poetry celebration.  Now I'd like to take Today's Little Ditty three steps further in that direction. 

Please help me welcome my new team of contributors to Today's Little Ditty!

Lyrical Language Doctor
A Class Act
Science Sleuth
Rhyme Crime Investigator

I'm not sure how well this Fab Four can sing, but for those of us who consistently strive to improve our craft, I'm thrilled to be able to learn from Renée LaTulippe, Laura Shovan, Buffy Silverman, and Carrie Clickard.  Like jimmies on ice cream, contributor posts will be sprinkled throughout the year; each of these fabulous poets writing in a specific area of expertise. (Make mine mint chocolate chip, please.)

 Next, for those who are sweet on a fun poetry challenge, I'm thrilled to introduce:

The Ditty of the Month Club!  

Design: Miranda Barnes

This is a club for anyone and everyone.  (Even my kids are excited to join in.)  Each month, we will be given a new poetry challenge– a theme and/or form to write our own poems.  Several may be featured as daily ditties, but all of them will be collected in one wrap-up post at the end of the month.  Holy smokes, it's DITTYMANIA!   But wait, there's more... who do you suppose is going to come up with these challenges?  Nope, not me.

On the first Friday of every month, the Ditty of the Month Club will open with a new

*Spotlight ON* interview series!  

Here, I will be interviewing authors, anthologists, editors, agents... whoever I can get my hands on in the business of children's publishing.  These are the folks who will be coming up with the month's ditty challenge.  Sometimes, they may even have a special goodie to offer as a reward at the end of the month.   How cool is that?!!

Are you, or is someone you know, an author or anthologist with a book coming out this year?  Or maybe you know of an editor or agent who might find it fun to take part in the Spotlight ON series?  Send me an email by using the contact form in the sidebar to the right.  The spotlighted author for May is already lined up, but I can't give away ALL my surprises today, now can I?

Many, many thanks to all of you who will be helping my birthday wishes take flight over the next year!    

Cake, anyone?

And now here's my gift to you: the Poetry Friday roundup!

Leave your direct link and a few words to describe your post in the comments and I will add them here throughout the day.

1. Robyn is showcasing a wonderful young poet, Liana Kiln, in her Haiku Student Poet of the Month series at Life on the Deckle Edge.

2. At Author Amok, Laura Shovan's "Source Poems" series continues with guest blogger Mary Bargteil's allegiance to T.S. Eliot's FOUR QUARTETS.

3. Elizabeth Steinglass treats us to an uncommon view of a violet– just one of many treasures she is exploring in her "Backyard Treasures" series this month.

4. Myra celebrates diversity and the voices of the silenced with Langston Hughes' poem, "I Dream a World" at Gathering Books.

5. At Buffy's Blog, Buffy shares an original poem inspired by a predatory encounter in her suburban neighborhood.

6. Diane's trio for us today includes puppet poems and a little music at Random Noodling; New Hampshire poet, Richard Eberhart, and an excellent Poetry Month slideshow presentation at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet; and a quote by Eberhart at KK's Kwotes.

7. Matt is is with a fun, original poem at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, and check out all the other events he'll be participating in this month as well.

8. At Tapestry of Words, Becky is celebrating her favorite poets this month.  Today she focuses on Christina Rossetti.

9. Linda Baie at Teacherdance has been wandering into the realm of haiku.  She shares an original haiku from something she saw on the way home one day.

10. Join Bridget at wee words for wee ones for an original and hilarious take on an overprotective mom and a daredevil kid.

11. Over at The Poem Farm today, Amy has "Suitcase," #11 in her series of original THRIFT STORE poems.

12. Violet Nesdoly has written an array of punny poems in response to a Homophoem Poetry Stretch challenge.

13. Catherine shares a beauty of a poem by William Wordsworth, "I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud," at Reading to the Core.  Catherine has also started a blog for parents, Mrs. Flynn's Literacy Corner, where today she discusses the importance of sharing Mother Goose rhymes with little ones.

14. Join Lorie Ann at On Point for an original haiku, "Dancing on the Volcano." (Something for the bucket list, perhaps?)  At readertotz, Lorie Ann reviews PRESTO CHANGE-O! A BOOK OF ANIMAL MAGIC.

15. Tabatha shares poems by Diane Mayr and Megan Arkenberg as part of her wonderful "Directory of Imaginary Poems" series at The Opposite of Indifference.

16. Stop by Charles Waters Poetry to catch up with Charles' goings on and to read his original poem, "Aerial Beauty."

17. At my juicy little universe, Heidi visits the Progressive Poem for another entry in her National Poetry Month Travel Journal. 

18. Mary Lee's poetry travels have taken her to the CN Tower.  You can find her "Our Wonderful World" poem-a-day Poetry Month Project at A Year of Reading.

19. At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret offers an answer to the question, "Why Poetry?" using an interesting slideshow format and she also takes a different spin on an I am From poem.

20. Tamera Will Wissinger features a call for children's poetry submissions and an original book spine poem she created for Travis Jonker’s book spine poem gallery.

21. Irene is in today with some wise words from Paul Janeckzo and a look at FIREFLY JULY over at Live Your Poem.

22. Laura Purdie Salas' "riddle-ku" series continues at Writing the World for Kids.

23. Linda Kulp at Write Time provides today's line for Day 11 of Irene Latham's Progressive Poem.

24. It's "J-day" at Mainely Write, featuring an original poem called "Just Across the Street."  Donna's A-Z challenge has been to write poems that celebrate book titles by Maine authors.

25. Jeannine's post today at Views from a Window Seat celebrates Richard Wilbur's ode to laundry and angels, "Love Calls us to the Things of This World."

26. Doraine has the cinquain of the day for us over at Dori Reads.

27. Amy at Hope Is the Word reviews MY AMERICA: A POETRY ATLAS OF THE UNITED STATES, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn.

28. JoAnn shares a Teaching Authors Fifth Blogiversary giveaway and fun video reading of Mary Ann Hoberman's "Counting-Out Rhyme" from THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA.  And at her own blog, an original apostrophe poem and another giveaway! (Generous folks, these Teaching Authors!)

29. At Bildungsroman, Little Willow has lyrics from Where is Love Now? (originally by Sam Phillips, newly covered by Nickel Creek).

30. Jan celebrates poetry with a green theme today at Book Seed Studio.  She showcases three wonderful book selections: THE GREAT BIG GREEN, WELCOME TO THE GREEN HOUSE, and HAILSTONES AND HALIBUT BONES.

31. Catherine Johnson shares a sweet "Panting Pantoum" at her blog today and announces the winners of last week's giveaways.  (Spoiler alert: I'm one of them-- yippee!!!)

32. The finals of #MMPoetry 2014 wrapped up last night with Samuel Kent's brilliant "A Letter on Behalf of Ampersand" defeating Josh Close's totally wacky "A Penny for your Thoughts."  Ed DeCaria asks that you pop over to Think Kid Think and check them out if you haven't already.

33. At GottaBook, Greg's "30 Poets" series continues with poems by Avis Harley and Charles Waters.

34. In case today's cake and ice cream was not quite enough, Karen Edmisten is featuring Mark Strand's "Eating Poetry."

35. Joy has been diving into haiku at Poetry for Kids Joy.  She offers several of her own creations and a challenge for us all to try.

36. Keri is in with an original poem about pine pollen at Keri Recommends. Achooo!

37. At Poet! Poet!, Anastasia is in a gardening mood with an original haiku titled "Pruning the Roses."

38. Betsy at I Think in Poems shares two favorite poems that have grown from her Facebook Collaborative Poetry Project this month. 

39. Angie Karcher would like everyone to know about RhyPiBoMo (Rhyming Picture Book Month), where 35 amazing guest bloggers and 35 daily lessons are helping writers understand more about writing poetry and rhyming picture books. Registration ends April 16th.

40. At Wild Rose Reader, Elaine has an original list poem titled "Things to Do If You Are a Mole."

41. Emily Jiang addresses the topic of revision and poem formatting today, using her original poem, "Magical Melody," from her newly published book, SUMMONING THE PHOENIX: POEMS & PROSE ABOUT CHINESE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

42. Janet reviews LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson at All About the Books.

43. At Used Books in Class, Mrs. Bennett takes a closer look at the lyrical language of Puccini's La Bohème.

44. Carol has been participating in Mary Lee Hahn's "Our Wonderful World" series this month.  You can find her CN Tower poem at Carol's Corner.

45. Tricia is in with an original poem about baseball at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

46. At Blue Window, B.J. Lee shares some final thoughts about being in the March Madness children's poetry tournament along with her round four pantoum, "Behind the Dancing Rain."

47. Tara's classroom has been pondering the lives of early pioneers.  She shares Willa Cather's "Prairie Spring" at A Teaching Life.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Look who's turning ONE!

               To A Special Blog...

© Watermark Publishing Ltd 2006, text: Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

Happy Birthday, Today's Little Ditty!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five For Friday: Poetry Celebration

Happy National Poetry Month!

With so many wonderful opportunities to experience poetry this month (Jama Rattigan has a helpful roundup of all the kidlit happenings here), I drive myself crazy trying to take in EVERYTHING.  Unfortunately, it seems my children still demand occasional meals and clean underwear.

Still, I can't imagine better company with whom to celebrate, and I hope to check in with as many of you as possible throughout the month.  Although I don't have my own special Poetry Month project going on, you can catch me here next week when I will be hosting Poetry Friday.

Amy left the gate open at The Poem Farm for today's roundup.

You will also find me participating in Irene Latham's Progressive Poem on April 25th.

Anastasia has today's line at Poet! Poet!

And TODAY I'm throwing a Five for Friday Poetry Celebration!  Woohoo!  I hope you'll join in with a five-word ditty (plus title, if you wish) to celebrate what poetry means to you. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care about poetry, so let's share the love.  Leave your contribution in the comments and I will move it to the party room for all to enjoy.

(I realize this may be challenging or intimidating for some. "What poetry means to me" is a prompt worthy of far more than five words!  Yep, you're so right.  But five words is all you've got.  No muss, no fuss.  Don't bust a gut.  Just pick five words and you've written your poem for the day!  Bada bing bada boom.)

                                                                                   d most

–Michelle, Today's Little Ditty

are secrets
we share

–Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, The Poem Farm


–Tabatha Yeatts, The Opposite of Indifference

Revise before
carving in

–Buffy Silverman, Buffy's Blog

A poet’s words linger longer…

–Linda Baie, Teacherdance 

dancing words
enlarge our world

–Doraine Bennett, Dori Reads

Jump rope

–Catherine, Catherine Johnson 

 Sounds that whisper and (s)wish.

–Michele Norman


Tell me
who I am.

–Liz, Elizabeth Steinglass

of fresh air

–Margaret Simon, Reflections on the Teche

Words trickling like a brook

–Rosi Hollinbeck, The Write Stuff

Gray day,
birds heard!

–Julie Larios, The Drift Record 

 Feathers with a knockout punch

–Diane Mayr, Random Noodling

I wonder
I smile

–George Heidenrich


–Mary Lee Hahn, Poetrepository

this so much like that

–Robyn Hood Black, Life on the Deckle Edge


–Myra Garces Bacsal, Gathering Books

Whisperings feeding my lucky soul.

–Janet F.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Two Line Tuesday: Oscar Wilde

Any fool can make history...

Photographic portrait of Oscar Wilde, c1882, taken by Napoleon Sarony

but it takes a genius to write it.

                                                                      –Oscar Wilde