Wednesday, May 31, 2017

DMC: "Rivers" by Juanita Havill





RIVERS

Writing,
You swim in a river of words.
Word by chosen word,
The delta nears.

Reading,
You stand in the same river twice,
Seeing deeper as
The water clears.


© 2017 Juanita Havill. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

You have until the end of today, May 31st, to join in! Post your poem on our May 2017 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.





Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DMC: "Elevation" by Teresa Robeson





ELEVATION

A book is often likened to
a doorway, a window, a mirror.
But for me it’s
a ladder, a stepstool, a platform
taking me higher,
making me higher
than I was
before it raised
my morals, my outlook, my spirit.


© 2017 Teresa Robeson. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

You have until tomorrow, May 31st, to join in! Post your poem on our May 2017 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.





Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Musing: Memorial Day




U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kim Browne, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs


Sweet is the memory of distant friends! Like the mellow rays of the departing sun, it falls tenderly, yet sadly, on the heart.
        
– Washington Irving



Friday, May 26, 2017

May DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway


A Book...                                  Delphine Devos


Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.

                – Virginia Wolff, A Room of One's Own


At the beginning of this month, Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books, challenged us to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

"Convince me!" she said.


You never know what you're going to get with a DMC challenge.

"Let Me Tell You a Story" by Deb Noggle


Not until you open it up...

"Library of Alexandria," Abecedarian Gallery


and let it loose.

"Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" by Carol Vey


By the end, you may feel sea-tossed . . .

"Octopus at Sea" by Annette Sujo


or windswept . . .

"Listen to the Wind Blow" by Malena Valcárcel, on Etsy


but the journey will undoubtedly be memorable.


I don't know about Melissa, but I've been convinced many times over this month! Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem or followed along, and thanks especially to Melissa Manlove for setting us on our way.

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


Made with Padlet



Inspired to write your own poem that compares writing or a book to something else?

Add it to our May 2017 padlet by Wednesday, May 31st, 2017, and I will move your poem to the wrap-up presentation.





Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a copy of LOVING VS. VIRGINIA or LOVE IS, both published by Chronicle Books earlier this year.



(One entry per participant, not per poem.) Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must also be received by Wednesday, May 31st. If you contribute a poem and comment below you will receive two entries in total.

The winners will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, June 2nd.


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


As for last week's giveaway, Random.org has determined that the winner of TOO MANY FRIENDS by Kathryn Apel is . . .


LAURA PURDIE SALAS — congratulations, Laura!



Join Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for this week's Poetry Friday roundup.







Thursday, May 25, 2017

DMC: "Writing is like Parenting" by Kathleen Mazurowski




WRITING IS LIKE PARENTING

Writing is like parenting.
Dreams, questions, joys, doubts,
You have to let go.
Release your best efforts to the world.


© 2017 Kathleen Mazurowski. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

DMC: "Science is like Writing" by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater




SCIENCE IS LIKE WRITING

In science I held up a prism.
The sun made a rainbow
on my book.

Our teacher explained 
about bending light.
My friends all came to look.

Science is like writing.

A poem takes white light in me
and breaks it into colors 
for everyone to see.

© 2010 Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. All rights reserved.
(from The Poem Farm archives)


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.





Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DMC: "A Perfect Storm" by David McMullin




A PERFECT STORM

The weatherman's predictions are unclear.
I venture forth with pencil in hand.
Balmy prose are expected, but I prepare for inclement choices.
My umbrella is a well researched outline.
Writing is a breeze.
Idea clouds swirl above.
The sky opens up.
Lightning strikes.
I throw aside my umbrella, letting myself be drenched in inspiration.
Words flood my mind.
A flurry of letters pelt my paper.
Drifts of pages accumulate by my side.
Then,
As quickly as it came, the storm gives way to clear blue.
All is still except one fresh draft.
A draft carrying with it the promise of sunny skies.


© 2017 David McMullin. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.





Monday, May 22, 2017

DMC: "A Season of Poems — a Quartet" by Jane Baskwill




A SEASON OF POEMS—A QUARTET

Poems in Winter

Poems in Winter are
Slow to rise,
When storms rattle the window panes,
And wind whistles through cracks,
They shiver and shake and hide undercover,
Not wanting to come out,
Not willing to leave their nest,
Until lured by the snap-crackling of a promise,
Drawn to the warming intoxication of the hearth,
Cold hearts melt as icy fingers thaw,
They curl up by the fire momentarily,
Poems in Winter

Make good kindling.

Poems in Spring

Poems in spring are hopeful,
They start as small shoots to be nurtured
And protected from the whims of nature,
Some germinating too early,
Catching the gardener unaware,
Some awakening from a winter’s rest
Only to die from joyful pruning,
Some growing rapidly,
Taking over their assigned space,
And spreading into others’,
Forcing their presence,
In need of shaping, tending, taming,
They seek attention, consideration, celebration,
Poems in Spring
Rejuvenate the spirit.


Poems in Summer

Poems in Summer
Are a procrastinator’s dream,
They lie about on porches or swings,
Or in the shade of a tree, dozing,
With their eyes closed against the brilliance of day,
When summer breezes blow,
They drift into neighbour’s gardens,
Waiting for someone else to find them,
Caring not for the woes of the world,
Nor if they should live beyond today,
Poems in Summer
Are lazy.


Poems in Fall

Poems in Fall
Explode with colour and embrace their calling,
They drop from leaf-laden trees
Without care or misgiving,
Coming to rest with joy and abandon
They are propelled along pathways and old railway beds,
Moving briskly with stalwart determination,
They gather in piles and heaps, on stoops and verandas,
Impatiently demanding to be,
Poems in Fall
Have an urgency.



© 2017 Jane Baskwill. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.






Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Love: TOO MANY FRIENDS (Giveaway!)


KATHRYN APEL

Today I'm singing the praises of an Australian children's poet and author whose books we don't see enough of here in the States. That's going to have to change.

Kathryn Apel (Kat to those of us who follow her blog) is a born-and-bred farm girl who’s scared of cows. She lives with her husband and two sons among the gum trees, cattle and kangaroos on a Queensland grazing property, and is the author of five books for children, including three novels in verse.


Kat loves pumping poetry because she can flex her muscles across other genres, to bend (and break) writing rules. She also teaches part-time and shares her passion for words at schools and festivals. There's lots to explore at Kat's website, including information about her books, kid's stuff, kidlit tips, useful links, and a "whisker of poetry."

Order paper copies via the publisher
or the Kindle edition via Amazon.com.
Watch the trailer HERE.
Too Many Friends (UQP, 2017) is Kat's latest novel in verse for young readers. It tells the story of a Tahnee, a second grader who prides herself on having lots of friends, and who loves to spend time with them all... even the ones who can be bossy. But sometimes she gets frustrated. She feels pushed and pulled in too many directions and doesn't understand why her friends can't get along with each other. Tahnee's efforts to strike a balance and keep the peace—to be inclusive, thoughtful, and understanding in and outside of the classroom—make her an ideal role model. Although she recognizes faults, she chooses to celebrate strengths instead, and she shows readers how to be a good friend in a way that's not preachy or show-offish.

For me, reading this novel brought back a flood of memories from my own kids' early years in Sydney. But even without the first-hand memories, there's much to be gained by reading this book. The fact that American children may not be familiar with honey crackles, or know that fairy floss is another name for cotton candy, or have played pass the parcel at birthday parties, won't stop them from identifying with the characters. Besides, there's great value in children (and adults) gaining insight into what it's like living in another part of the world, don't you think? We live in a global society; why not introduce our children to their "neighbours"?

In Australia, my little ones were proud
to wear their school uniforms.
My son was Tahnee's age when we left Australia to return to the US. Although their transition to the Florida school system wasn't perfect, when it came to friendship, there were few differences between these two cultures from opposite sides of the planet. Slightly older children will relate to Too Many Friends, as well. When my daughter was in fourth grade, she had her first run in with what it's like to have... and then lose the attention of a close friend she'd had since first grade, a friend who suddenly became popular.  It wasn't fun—there were many hurt feelings. But to be fair, the popular girl never asked to be "fought over."

The push and pull of friendship is something young readers will relate to no matter where they call home. I can so easily see this book being read aloud in the classroom to help navigate playground dramas, learn what it means to be a good friend, and discover how to get along with others regardless of whether or not they are friends. My children may have missed out on Miss Darling's classroom, but if you'd like to bring Tahnee and her friends into your classroom, check out the additional resources at Kat's website, including downloadable Teachers' Notes and activity suggestions.

For now, though, please help me welcome Kathryn Apel to the TLD classroom!


Thanks so much for joining us, Kat!

Tell us a little about your experience of writing TOO MANY FRIENDS. What drew you to the story and why did you choose a novel in verse format?

A friend was sharing her mother-heart, about her young daughter who was perpetually wearing herself ragged trying to always be a good friend and meet the needs of all her friends, so that her friends were almost a burden for the little girl to bear.

I’m sure at some stage we’ve all looked at the popular kids and wished a little, but I’d never considered that lots of friends could be a ‘difficult' thing. I wrote a note on my phone; ‘a story about too many friends’ … and started writing it soon after. The words flowed. I think I’d finished my first draft in under a month. The editing process was also so much quicker/easier than my previous verse novels. (Just as well, since we had an unscheduled and exciting holiday opportunity in the middle of that.) I think writing this one from the teacher-heart, as opposed to the mother-heart, perhaps enabled this… and all those wonderful years in the classroom!

It was always going to be a verse novel. I’m finding it hard not to write in verse these days. Partly because words seem to have more resonance in the verse novel format—like they’re buffed and polished and warmed to a golden glow, and there's nowhere for superfluous words to hide. But also because the stories that I’m needing to tell are stories that have heart, and the verse novel seems to be the right way to engage readers in those stories.


In the United States, novels in verse are on the rise, while children's poetry collections seem to be less marketable. What is your overall sense of the children's poetry and verse novel markets in Australia?

*Snap!*

It is so hard to get poetry published in Australia! But as you’ve noted in terms of America, there is a growing number of publishers who are taking on verse novels here—which is, of course, a good thing! My publisher, University of Queensland Press (UQP), has long been a champion of the verse novel, publishing Steven Herrick’s collection of novels in verse and Margarita Engle’s Silver People amongst others—including my three.

Kat makes some new friends at a recent book event.


How is poetry viewed in the Australian educational system? Is it embraced, or is it more like here in the States, where teachers are generally uncomfortable teaching poetry?

Funnily enough, I was surprised by your questions/comments about poetry in education, because for as long as I’ve been involved in Poetry Friday, I’ve (a little jealously/yearningly) had this really lovely, rosy view on poetry in America. But apparently Poetry Friday isn’t an accurate reflection on the education system and its approach to poetry as a whole?

What is it that shakes up our confidence with poetry! Kids are drawn like magnets to rhythm and rhyme. What happens along the way, to turn poetry into ‘the baddie’?

Because yes, in Australia poetry is also seen as an intimidating subject. People worry that they don’t really ‘get’ what the poem is about. Or the curriculum requirements make the analysis of poetry arduous, not magical. Or the poems studied don’t relate to kids of today. It’s about right and wrong answers, not joyful word play and experimentation.

More and more I’m realising that poetry is not about one right meaning. It’s about how it makes you feel—when your heart skips… or lurches—and the feel of the wordplay rolling around in your mouth. It’s about creativity and discipline, wordplay and writing muscle, engaging and enabling a wide range of abilities.

I keep hoping that this giant penny will drop—people will realise that poetry is such a HUGE and diverse genre, and there really is a form of poetry for every person and every occasion. Just because one form doesn’t resonate, another one will! You may not love all forms of poetry—and that’s okay! You can still enjoy poetry! :)


In a blog post, you describe TOO MANY FRIENDS as your "most joyous book." How did writing it compare to your previous novels in verse? Was there anything that particularly caught you by surprise?

Bully on the Bus follows the story of Leroy, a small boy who is bullied throughout the book, on his school bus. There is sadness and anxiety throughout the book, and whilst Leroy is ultimately empowered, that’s towards the end of the book. It's an important story, very much a story from the heart, and I love what it has the potential to do for kids who are being bullied—but there are more tears than laughs in that book.






Similarly, On Track deals with sibling rivalry, self-doubt and imperfect bodies. As one brother’s story takes a turn for the better, the other’s takes a twist for the worse. There are light moments throughout, but there is also a lot of the angst that comes with those themes.
  

Too Many Friends is about a sweet, caring girl who just wants to please—and constantly tries to find ways to be a friend to everyone. (Perhaps my biggest ‘problem’ with this book (through the editorial process) was getting rid of excess ‘smile’s. :) ) Yes, there are points of conflict—and there are moments that catch your heart—but Tahnee’s story is mostly a joyous story.


Please share a favorite selection from TOO MANY FRIENDS and tell us why it's meaningful to you.

So many of the activities in Tahnee’s classroom are things I’ve done with classes I’ve taught, and collage picture books are up there are as one of my favourites!

(Click images to enlarge.)


From Too Many Friends by Kathryn Apel (UQP, 2017), used by permission of the author.

One of the best parts of the project is that buzz of energy and enthusiasm as ideas and edits bounce around the room—kids engaged and enthused with a purposeful real-world project.

Sometimes, with all the standardised assessments and increasing curriculum demands, that joy of shared teaching and learning is squeezed out of classrooms. A teacher’s passion counts for everything within the classroom! If Too Many Friends helps to validate or reignite that passion and enthusiasm—for kids and teachers—that would be a beautiful thing!


What's coming up next for you?

There are works in the pipeline that I can’t yet discuss… but can’t wait until I can share!

In terms of current works in progress, I have a number underway, including something a little different, for me: a historical verse novel for middle grade/young adult, inspired by our recent trip to Antarctica. So amongst the fun of new book release and all that involves, I have also been delving deep into research. And thanks to different posts from Poetry Friday members, I’ve jumped in at different story points to play with some of the poetic forms I’ve seen on the rounds. I’ve not approached a story quite like that before, but I’m having lots of fun! And so far it’s been working. So not only is the historical genre new for me, but so too are many of the poetry forms.


Sounds exciting, Kat! Keep us posted. And thanks for traveling all the way here to be with us today. :)

Thank you so much for having me visit, Michelle. Today’s Little Ditty is like a virtual playground and gym rolled into one. You do a great thing here!


Speaking of great things . . .



Since it's not so easy to grab a copy of Too Many Friends at your local US bookstore, I'm giving away the copy I was sent by University of Queensland Press to one lucky reader of today's blog post! All you need to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment below or email me at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. Make sure you do so no later than Tuesday, May 23rd. The winner, selected randomly, will be announced next Friday.


I sure am enjoying the wide variety of poems for Melissa Manlove's challenge to write about how writing (or a book) is like something else! This week's featured ditties included poems by Jesse Anna Bornemann, Diane Mayr, Elizabeth Steinglass, and Irene Latham. Linda Mitchell is sharing hers at A Word Edgewise today. Post your contribution on our May 2017 padlet to be included in next week's wrap-up celebration!



Join Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge to discover everyday gifts and explore this week's Poetry Friday roundup.







DMC: "Fishing for a Reader" by Irene Latham




FISHING FOR A READER

A good book
hooks
with a sharp first line.

Its plot wiggles
and pulls and surprises.

Its characters are bait
that wait
for you to bite.

A good book 
reels you in

with glistening language
and a splash
of style.

It soaks you with memories
and new discoveries.

A good book 
holds steady
through The End

and then 
it lures you in again.

© 2017 Irene Latham. All rights reserved.


Click to enlarge.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

DMC: "The Act of Writing" by Elizabeth Steinglass




THE ACT OF WRITING

You let go
of your trapeze.
You’re flying
over everything—
the crowd, the clowns,
the dancing dogs.
It all looks different
from above,
but now you’re wondering
where’s the bar
you’re supposed to grab?
Can you get from here to there,
flip and twist through open air
with nothing more
than words?
Will the people down below
follow your rise, your rhyme, your spin,
feel the fear, the awe, you feel?
Or will you fall?
Will you land on your back
on a web of string,
bounce up high and find your feet,
and climb the ladder
once again?

© 2017 Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.



Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.






Tuesday, May 16, 2017

DMC: "Nasal Passages [to Writing]" by Diane Mayr




NASAL PASSAGES [TO WRITING]

There are times when
a steady drip, drip, drip
yields nothing of merit.
Other times a tickle leads
the writer to think that
soon to spring forth will
be metaphors and similes
and only the right words.
Sadly, a probing pinky
cannot detach them.
The best writing comes
as an unexpected sneeze.
In surprise is liberation.
Words fly with nothing
to hold them back.
Air passages cleared,
words are wiped up,
finally caught on paper.
The writer breathes. 


© 2017 Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Melissa Manlove, Senior Editor at Chronicle Books. Her DMC challenge is to write a poem that explores how writing (or a book) is like something else.

Post your poem on our May 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, May 26th. Two lucky participants will win a book published by Chronicle earlier this year: LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, or LOVE IS by Diane Adams, illustrated by Claire Keane.