Thursday, November 30, 2017

Lighting a Fire for Change


Breaking Dawn by B. Gilmour

dawn chill—
the rooster
lights a fire


               © Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
                   Frogpond 40:3, Autumn 2017

Pardon my crowing. I'm just so excited to have my first haiku published in Frogpond Journal! I haven't seen it yet, but Jone MacCulloch assures me it's there. (Thanks, Jone!)

Why does this small acceptance mean so much? Because writing haiku is one of several new activities I've explored in 2017, my year of saying yes to Change. (Read Robyn Hood Black's recap of the Haiku Society of America workshop I attended last April.) I lit a fire under myself to try new things this yearto take risks, listen to my intuition, and trust that I won't get burned. On a smaller scale, it's a bit like searching the internet for photos for my blog posts. Although I never can be sure the right image is out there, or that I will find it, or that I will have permission to use it, I trust that it is (and I will), and then it appears. Every time.


Such is the nature of change, don't you think? 

Andrew Tinmouth

You can't fight it.

Sure, you can kick, splash, and make waves, but wouldn't it be better to go with the flow? Become a partner with change and see what happens? I'm not saying you should become someone you're not, I'm not even saying that you have to like the change (at least not at first). What I'm saying is that you should probably introduce yourself and get to know change. Show it respect and let it become your ally, not your enemy.


I know, easier said than done.

Embracing (and bracing for) Change.
When I chose Change as my one little word for 2017, it came with some trepidation and skepticism. Yet six months in, I noted the positive effects of opening myself up to possibilities, and now, as the year draws to a close, I'm not sure I want to give that one little word up. Change has accompanied me through several new undertakings, haiku being just one of them.

Most noteworthy are probably the poetry workshops I've presented this year. Although teaching poetry has been something I've wanted to do more of for some time, this is the year that made that desire a reality. I've discovered just how much I love sharing poetry with young people who haven't yet been exposed to the "right kind" of poem—the kind that meets them where they live and knocks their socks off. The summer workshops were great, but it was working with juvenile offenders that was truly transformative—for them and for me. I'd love to do more of that. I'd also love to share more about my teaching experiences on the blog.

But there's something else that I owe myself even more—attention to my own writing. This year I've had two acceptances in journals ("dawn chill" in Frogpond and "Look for the Helpers" in the Journal of Children's Literature), "Look for the Helpers" also appeared in HERE WE GO: A POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK (Pomelo Books) last January, THE BEST OF TODAY'S LITTLE DITTY 2016 is now available, and I have three or four publication credits in the works for next year. It's a respectable list for someone who can count her 2017 submissions on one hand, but it reflects the life of a productive blogger, not a productive writer.

My Summer with the Old Man
It's time to change the rules again—to go back for the Poet Toad who's been patiently waiting for a helping hand to cross the road.

Don't worry. Today's Little Ditty and the DMC aren't going anywhere! My plan is to have fewer formal interviews and introduce monthly challenges in a fun and interactive way. I've already got some ideas simmering, but by all means leave me a comment or email me at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com if you have ideas of your own.

Anthony
Today's Little Ditty will be taking a break for the holidays, but I'm leaving the light on. Feel free to stop by anytime. You can access an alphabetical list of all TLD's spotlight interviews HERE and an alphabetical list of all the DMC challenges HERE.


And speaking of DMC challenges—

Last month was amazing. Carol Hinz inspired us to find beauty in so many surprising and wonderful places. We had 46 poems in all, at least 10 of which arrived after the wrap-up celebration was first posted! Please do yourself a favor and take another look. You won't be disappointed.

Random.org determined that the winner of THE SUN PLAYED HIDE-AND-SEEK: A PERSONIFICATION STORY by Brian P. Cleary and illustrated by Carol Crimmins (Millbrook Press, 2017) is . . .

CINDY BREEDLOVE 
Congratulations, Cindy!


Wishing you blessings of the season, my friends. See you in 2018.

Sunset by Tanja Rott


Mary Lee Hahn shares her own haiku at this week's Poetry Friday roundup. Find her at A Year of Reading.
Hooray! The second volume of The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2016) is now available at Amazon.com. (Click HERE to purchase.) I'm so proud of this collection of 75 poems by 50 poets. In addition to some great work, including contributions by Jane Yolen, David L. Harrison, and a whole bunch of folks you'll recognize from Poetry Friday, the book has an extra section on using poetry in the classroom. At only $9.95, it makes a great holiday gift for teachers, or anyone who enjoys readng and/or writing poetry!




DMC: "I'll Wash, You Dry" by Robyn Hood Black




I'LL WASH, YOU DRY

Pile of dishes in the sink -
remnants of our food and drink.

Fulsome meal and laughter, too -
now we have a job to do.

Messy saucepan, crusty cup;
we’ll need time to clean this up.

Spray of water, sudsy foam –
we are grateful for our home.

Grateful, grateful
here at home. 


© 2017 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

You have until today, November 30th, at 5:00 pm (EST) to join in! Post your poem on our November 2017 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DMC: "The Beauty of Grief" by Jone Rush MacCulloch




THE BEAUTY OF GRIEF

It arrives
unexpectedly.
Song lyrics
driving home.
The woodsy clove scent lingers
with his memory.

Grace moments,
sorting memories.
Hold this one,
free others.
Watching the sunrise with him.
Soaring with eagles.


© 2017 Jone Rush MacCulloch. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

You have until Thursday, November 30th, at 5:00 pm (EST) to join in! Post your poem on our November 2017 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Two Line Tuesday: Rabindranath Tagore






Hernán Piñera


Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain 
or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.


– Rabindranath Tagore
from Stray Birds



Carol Hinz has challenged us to write poems that find beauty in things that are not usually considered beautiful. You have until Thursday, November 30th, at 5:00 pm (EST) to join in! Post your poem on our November 2017 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE.





Monday, November 27, 2017

DMC: "Oxblood Red" by Juanita Havill




OXBLOOD RED

Once it was red
now no longer
the color of ox blood
the barn stands gray and bleak
in disrepair
gaps where boards have split
the farmer would paint it
replace the boards
if he were still alive

pigeons don’t mind
roosting on rafters
cooing in the morning
mice don’t mind
sheltering in aging straw
hiding from the owl

the wind doesn’t mind
it blows through chinks
reclaims the loft
and one day
collapses the boards in a heap
of memories
strong as the smell
of fresh-baled hay


© 2017 Juanita Havill. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

You have until Thursday, November 30th, at 5:00 pm (EST) to join in! Post your poem on our November 2017 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Thursday, November 23, 2017

November Wrap-Up + Giveaway


"Eye of the beholder" by Tim Kirman


"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."  

             ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

At the beginning of November, Carol Hinz challenged us to write a poem that finds beauty in something not usually considered beautiful.




It's a marvelous quest, isn't it? 

Even if we carried this challenge over December and into the new year, I doubt that we would run short of poetry. So many wonderful poems graced the padlet this month! Far more than I had opportunity to feature as daily ditties. I hope you'll take your time with this collection—it may yield you some fresh perspective... and throw in a few oohs and ahhs for good measure.

Scroll through the poems below, or for best viewing, CLICK HERE.


Made with Padlet


Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem, commented, or followed along, and thanks most especially to Carol Hinz for encouraging us to take this journey to find the beautiful. 

As Emerson said, the rest is up to us. I know it's a challenge I'll carry with me.


Would you like to write a poem that finds beauty in something not usually considered beautiful?

Post it on our November 2017 padlet by 5:00 pm (EST) on Thursday, November 30th, and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation.




Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, with illustrations by Carol Crimmins (Millbrook Press, 2017). One entry per participant, not per poem.




Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must also be received no later than 5:00 pm (EST) on Thursday, November 30th. If you contribute a poem and comment below, you will receive two entries in total.

The winner will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, December 1st.


Many thanks to everyone who came by last week to help me celebrate the launch of The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016! I was touched by so many expressions of support and congratulations, and raised a toast to you at my Thanksgiving table.


Join Carol at Carol's Corner for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.








DMC: "Puddle Wonderful" by B.J. Lee




PUDDLE WONDERFUL

boring brown puddles,
on bring-your-umbrella days,
transform in bright sun
into billowing-cloud skyscapes
or shimmering rainbow art


© 2017 B.J. Lee. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 2017 padlet. While some contributions will be featured as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration tomorrow, Friday, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

DMC: "Look What I Did" by Karen Eastlund




LOOK WHAT I DID

Scribble fits, wiggle blitz
The anguish a sigh emits
Scratch outs and smudges
The pencil point’s lame

Letters sway to and fro
Nothing stands in a row
But look at his face aglow
He just wrote his name


© 2017 Karen Eastlund. All rights reserved.


Pexels


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Tuesday, November 21, 2017

DMC: "Wrinkles" by Judith Valko




WRINKLES

Wrinkles lined upon her face
reveal the woman’s life of grace
as crow’s feet radiate from eyes
once filled with laughter
tears
and sighs
forehead laced with worry lines
troubles deep
sorrows fine
thinning lips and shriveled brow
stories told of then and now
a life of lessons gladly learned
all these wrinkles she has earned


© 2017 Judith Valko. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Monday, November 20, 2017

DMC: "Still Life with Fox" by Irene Latham




STILL LIFE WITH FOX

Bluebird dipdives
      low
to know the tickle
of tall grass —

instead learns snap!
of foxjaw.

Lone feather 
      whisperdrifts —

a fleeting skykiss.

© 2017 Irene Latham. All rights reserved.


(click on image to enlarge)























Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Friday, November 17, 2017

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016 (YAY!) + Five for Friday: Giving Thanks


Nick Saltmarsh

The writing's on the wall.
It looks a bit like chicken scratch, but it's there.

It says . . .

JUST BE THANKfull for WHAT YOU GOT.

I sure am!

©2017 Teresa Robeson







See? 
This is me.




And this is what I've got . . .


Happy Day! Volume 2 has arrived!

The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016 is available 
 in paperback for $9.95 or as a Kindle ebook for $5.95.

Click HERE to purchase at Amazon.com. 


Truth be told, I'm not only thankful, I'm relieved. You may have noticed my hit-or-miss (mostly miss) Poetry Friday rounds over the last several weeks. That's because of this baby... well, plus a few college visits for my son and a series of workshops I've been involved with at the same time. (Read my poem inspired by teaching poetry to juvenile offenders here.)

But we did it! We reached the finish line! 

I say "we" because I couldn't have managed this project without the support of some incredible people. First, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Renée LaTulippe. She was invaluable throughout the process with advice, suggestions, Photoshop expertise, editing, proofreading, and reality checks when needed. Thank you, Renée!

When I asked Teresa Robeson if she'd be willing to do the cover, I knew she'd do a brilliant job. (Read my interview with Teresa here.) What I did not know at the time was that she would also provide such fun spot illustrations for inside the book! The grateful penguin at the top of this post is an example. Thank you, Teresa, for giving this book such delightful character.

Hugs of appreciation to this year's super-duper ditty committee:

          Linda Baie
          Jesse Anna Bornemann
          Matt Forrest Esenwine
          Lana Wayne Koehler
          Michelle Kogan
          Jone Rush MacCulloch
          Maria Marshall
          Diane Mayr
          Sydney O'Neill
          Margaret Simon
          Donna JT Smith
          and Tabatha Yeatts.

Because of their dedication, 350 poems were carefully reviewed and whittled down to the 75 that appear in this volume. A few excellent poems were left out for one reason or another, but I think you'll agree that the final result is impressive nonetheless.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Jane Yolen, Linda Mitchell, and Janet Wong for their wonderful blurbs for the back cover. And last but not least, thank you to the eight incredible authors and one amazing editor who came up with such terrific challenges in 2016:

          Douglas Florian
          David L. Harrison
          Diana Murray
          Kenn Nesbitt
          Ann Rider
          Laura Shovan
          Marilyn Singer
          Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
          Jane Yolen

and to the 50 talented poets who permitted me to feature their work in this book:



Today's Little Ditty has become something so much larger than li'l ol' me. Whether or not your work is included in this volume, practicing writing together has always been, and will continue to be, a fulfilling, heart-happy part of my life. Thank you.

But you know me—I never like to celebrate alone! So let's join together for a Five for Friday party.  Now that you know what I'm thankful for, with only a week until American Thanksgiving . . .

Carla Arena

It can be something small—a sunset, the kindness of a stranger—or something larger... say, a new book! Don't think too hard, just describe one thing you're thankful for in five words (plus title if you wish) and leave it in the comments or email it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com.  I will move your 5-word ditty to the main body of the post.  Here's mine to start us off:


SECOND HELPINGS

Please pass the ditty pie!

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes


DITTY POETS

Thank you, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.

– Kate O'Neil
Awww... thanks Kate! xo -MHB


CAR RIDE WITH TEEN

Briefly bonding; ticking time bomb.

– Rebekah Hoeft


THE INTERNET

Finding friends the world over!

– Diane Mayr


AFTER THE READING

Poets gather around good conversation.

– Sarah Grace Tuttle


POETRY!

all I want for Christmas

– Linda Baie


POET PIE

Love gathers around the table.

– Jama Rattigan


GRANDKIDS

The joy of lingering hugs

– Janie Lazo


SMILES ALL AROUND

My first school visit - Success!

– BJ Lee


SUPPORT SYSTEM

Related or chosen, always there!

– Maria Marshall


POEM ARRANGEMENT

A beautiful bouquet of words.

– Penny Parker Klostermann


SMOKEY BEAR

My kitty, purring beside me.

– Dianne Moritz


PERSEVERANCE

Thanku unwavering web of support!

– Michelle Kogan


POETRY FRIENDS

Words weave in and out

– Kay Jernigan McGriff


BUDDING SUCCESS

Two poems published this year!

– Karen Eastlund


HOLIDAY SEASON

cool weather and warm hearts

– Sydney O'Neill


FROM WILDFIRE ASHES

this Phoenix
fashioned
a home!

– Michele Krueger


PROMISE KEPT

Morning
dewdrops in the desert.

– Juanita Havill


THANKS TO MY SISTER

My plucky Lucky Chicken cup!

– Julie Larios


Poetry in all I see.

– Sally Murphy


Each sunrise is paintbox poetry.

– Brenda Davis Harsham


BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTERS

Alphabet's versatility =
messages for posterity

– Donna JT Smith


MY EYE SURGEON

now I see
ants
stars

– Helen Zax


MENU CHANGE

I won't miss school lunches.

– Kathryn Apel


INSPIRATION

the zest that says, Create!

– Robyn Hood Black


POETRY COMMUNITY

feeling connected despite the distance

– Bridget Magee



Although we're only midway through November, next Friday, the 24th, will be our end-of-month wrap-up celebration for Carol Hinz's DMC challenge. This week's featured poems were by Keri Collins Lewis, Cindy Breedlove, Laura Purdie Salas, and myself. Post your poem that finds beauty in something that's not usually considered beautiful on our November 2017 padlet.




Thanks to Jane Whittingham for hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Raincity Librarian.






Thursday, November 16, 2017

DMC: "Without" by Laura Purdie Salas




WITHOUT

Without plunging, a waterfall is only a river
       Praise the falling, the wailing, the water on end

Without sinking, a sunset is a background of orange
       Praise the creeping and deepness and sleeping night brings

Without freezing, summer stays long past its day
       Praise the sharpness of ice, the clean slate before spring

Without ending, the story is ever unfinished
       Praise the held breath, the fear, the delight of The End

Without dying, life is a circular road
       Praise the one-way signs so we all find our way

© 2017 Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.


click to enlarge



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Wednesday, November 15, 2017

DMC: "Beauty in Disguise" by Cindy Breedlove




BEAUTY IN DISGUISE

Brown and dry,
they look like weeds.
But there is promise
in their seeds.
Wrapped up tight
to take the cold—
next year's flowers
now on hold.


© 2017 Cindy Breedlove. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DMC: "The Poets of Sequel Residential" by M. H. Barnes




THE POETS OF SEQUEL RESIDENTIAL

The lost boys hunker lonely
in a bunker without windows.
Some say rats or roaches
scritch-a-scratch behind those walls.
Most have never seen them
or even bothered trying—
like weapons
in a shoebox
tucked away in darkened halls.
They scritch-a-scratch
in shadows,
like whispers or a promise,
and listen for the voices
that will get them through the night.
Damaged goods in transit
with contaminated motives,
they scritch-a-scratch
to understand
and one day find the light,
to make their moms and grandmas proud,
their daddies understand,
they scritch-a-scratch
their fingers raw
and let the anger simmer.
They scritch-a-scratch
in veins of ink
that bleed onto the paper,
until, in silence,
words ignite…
and cast a golden shimmer.


© 2017 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Monday, November 13, 2017

DMC: "Sharing" by Keri Collins Lewis




SHARING

Dry summer
the cockroach sips from the puddle
in the kitchen sink. 


© 2017 Keri Collins Lewis. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books, divisions of Lerner Publishing Group. Her challenge this month is to write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful.

Post your poems on our November 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, November 24th. One lucky participant will win a copy of The Sun Played Hide-and-Seek: A Personification Story by Brian P. Cleary, illustrated by Carol Crimmins, and published by Millbrook Press earlier this year.






Thursday, November 9, 2017

Buffy Silverman: Let Your Camera Inspire Poetry


"Camera" by Paul Hammerton


Ahhh, November!
The clenched fist of Florida heat has finally begun to loosen.

It's the perfect time to get outdoors with a notepad or camera—preferably both. Buffy Silverman is our tour guide today as we explore how photography can be used to harness the power of observation in our poetry.

Lead on, Buffy . . .


LET YOUR CAMERA INSPIRE POETRY

I have been enamored with photography since I was a teen.  I was lucky enough to attend a public school with a fine arts program that included a photography/dark room course.  In recent years I’ve revived that interest. A digital camera often accompanies me outside, whether I’m exploring new places or my own backyard. I find that photography helps me focus and notice the small details of life, and remember where I’ve been and what I’ve seen.  I’ve no doubt that a notebook or sketchpad could also accomplish this and perhaps spark observations that a camera lens might overlook. But for me photography helps me slow down and see sights that I might otherwise fail to observe. It allows me to reflect on the seasonal changes and the world that I see through my lens.

An added bonus is that I have an ever-growing file of poetry prompts! As someone who can be obsessed with the lives of insects and other backyard critters, my photographs often send me searching to learn more about the natural history of my subjects. Those details can inspire my writing as much or more than the photograph that led me on my chase.  But they can’t replace the connection that I feel after observing my subject and “capturing” it with my lens.

Consider this photograph of a spring peeper that I recently chased down in my front garden.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

I was initially surprised to find a peeper out in late October and was mainly trying to get close enough for a good view. The photograph reminds me of that day and reveals other details that I did not notice at the time. I see the gold rim around the frog’s unblinking eye. I notice the small circular pads at the end of each toe that let it cling to almost any surface.  I see the rough texture of the frog’s skin, especially compared to the smooth, brittle oak leaf. The muted colors of the photograph speak of the growing silence of autumn to me, which contrasts with the new spring greens and loud peeps that I most often associate with this frog.

When I briefly captured the peeper I focused on the feel of its cool skin, its squirminess, and trying to take a photo with one hand.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

But now that I look at the photograph, I consider how tiny this creature is compared to my hand.  I see the speckles of dirt on my palm and under my nail and compare them to the peeper’s unblemished skin. The rough texture of the frog’s skin is much closer to the weathered look of my skin, than of the oak leaf! The frog looks momentarily content in its hand cave, but I recall how it leaped away when I loosened my grip.

My observations and experience could lead me in many directions. I might write of this experience from the frog’s point of view, focusing on the challenges of surviving as a small creature in a world of giants. I might write a poem that links the frog’s preparations for winter with the seasonal changes happening around it. Perhaps I could imagine its winter slumber and its dreams of spring. Or I might take on the depressing question of why a spring peeper is hopping about on a day in late October that feels like the end of summer, or the mystery of why male peepers make a futile attempt at love by calling in the fall.

A photograph can lead in an unexpected direction, as happened with this photograph of a Black-eyed Susan with unopened petals in my yard this summer.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

I loved the way the petals curl and cross, seeming to protect the center of the flower. I liked the sharp focus on the flower and the blurred green in the background. But when I looked at the photograph, my only ideas for a poem seemed trite and unoriginal. I kept it on my cluttered desktop, waiting for inspiration. When I was considering a poem for a teacher friend for the summer poetry swap, it occurred to me that this could be a metaphor for students in a classroom and that a teacher can tend her budding students like a gardener.

For me, an unexpected connection like this makes for good poetry inspiration. Help yourself to one of my photographs and look for a poem in it.

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

© Buffy Silverman (click to enlarge)

Or better still, take your camera for a walk and see where it will lead you!


Thank you for leading so many of us to inspiration, Buffy!


Check out Buffy's other contributor posts on Today's Little Ditty:


Buffy Silverman is the author of 80 nonfiction books for children, winning awards from Science Books and Films, the Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College, and the Society of School Librarians International.  She's also written poems and stories for popular children's magazines, poetry anthologies, and educational resources. Visit Buffy at her website, www.BuffySilverman.com.


Our DMC challenge for November is from Carol Hinz, Editorial Director of Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books: write a poem that finds beauty in something that is not usually considered beautiful. Click HERE to read Carol's spotlight interview, then post your poem on our November 2017 padlet. There are quite a few there already! This week's featured poems were by Robyn Campbell, Dianne Moritz, and Rebekah Hoeft.



Now follow your creative wanderings to the Poetry Friday roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup. (Did I mention she's got donuts?)