Monday, May 28, 2018

DMC: "Circle of Life" by M. Hogan




CIRCLE OF LIFE

Outside my window
morning light grows
the glassy-eyed chipmunk 
yesterday’s gift from my cat
still lies on the granite step

Last night
snarls ripped through 
the dark
My fervent calls
yielded no response
just furtive rustling 
in the shadowed woods
I slipped back indoors
into uneasy sleep

Outside my window
morning light grows
the chipmunk remains
my cat does not appear.

© 2018 M. Hogan. All rights reserved.

* Note from Michelle: I'm pleased to report that Molly's cat did eventually return!

 
Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week: 
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
You have until Thursday, May 31st, at 5:00 pm (EST) to join in! Post your poem on our May 2018 padlet and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation HERE. One lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Julie's stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Thursday, May 24, 2018

May DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway


"A View to Remember" by Marjan Lazarevski

Only be willing to search for poetry, and there will be poetry:
My soul, a tiny speck, is my tutor.
Evening sun and fragrant grass are common things, 
But, with understanding, they can become glorious verse.
          – Yuan Mei

May's ditty challenge has been all about finding glorious verse in common things. 

Read my Two Line Tuesday post related to this month's challenge HERE.

At the beginning of the month, Julie Fogliano challenged us "to stare out the window and write what you see."  She elaborated:
Is there a bird out there? What is it doing? Is anyone walking by? Where do you think they’re going? Is it raining? What does it sound like?  Is there a car going by? A train? It doesn’t have to be anything big or exciting that you write about. Just write what you see. Do that everyday for a week. At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.

Apparently, many of you did see birds— 
along with a few squirrels, a cat or two, and numerous signs of the seasonal changeover.

On a personal note, I'm wondering if this is the month I break my track record and neglect to write something. It would be a shame—I haven't missed a challenge since the Ditty of the Month Club's inception in May 2014! But the month isn't over yet, so I guess there's still a chance. I'll be sharing a few more daily ditties next week.


Whether your view is grand . . .

Justin Kern

or more subdued . . .

Vladimir Agafonkin

your poetic perspective is always welcome here.


Many thanks to those of you who have already shared your window view, and especially to Julie Fogliano for the opportunity to slow down and let the world come knocking.


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

Made with Padlet


Inspired to write about what's outside your window?

Dan Vel

There's still time. . .

cgc76


Post your poem on our May 2018 padlet by 5:00 pm (EST) on Thursday, May 31st, and I will add it to the wrap-up presentation.









Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a personalized copy of a house that once was by Julie Fogliano, with illustrations by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press, 2018). 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, May 31st. If you contribute a poem and comment below, you will receive two entries in total.

The winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced next Friday, June 1st.



Margaret Simon has "More than Meets the Eye" at this week's Poetry Friday roundup over at Reflections on the Teche. Thanks to a photo and poetry exchange among PF regulars, you'll find many more views and poetic responses. Enjoy!




DMC: "A Grand View" by Janie Lazo




A GRAND VIEW

Sticky fingerprints
A sweet reminder of you
Window to my heart


© 2018 Janie Lazo. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DMC: "Daily Squirrel" by Suzy Levinson




DAILY SQUIRREL

This squirrel knows where I live.
This squirrel knows who I am.
Every day
he seems to say,
"I'd like one peanut, ma'am."

He stares into my house.
He stares and scratches fleas.
Every day
he seems to say,
"Ahem? One peanut, please."


© 2018 Suzy Levinson. All rights reserved.




Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Tuesday, May 22, 2018

DMC: "Lake Reflections" by Mindy Gars Dolandis




LAKE REFLECTIONS

Sky welcomes morning
Cornflower and cumulus
Mirrored down below

Afternoon sparkles
Dance upon charcoal water
Sunshiny diamonds

Sunset upon glass
A brilliant double image
Coral rose lilac

Deepening twilight
Horizon disappearing
Ochre indigo

Midnight ebony
Crescent moon a tilted smile
Twinkling Polaris


© 2018 Mindy Gars Dolandis. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Monday, May 21, 2018

DMC: "Pollen" by Jesse Anna Bornemann




POLLEN

Springtime brings a mating dance
For certain lush, seed-bearing plants:
“Knock, knock!” one says. “A suitor’s callin’!”
“Can’t offer wealth…but I’ve got pollen!”
And though this gift upon the breeze
Makes human lovebirds snort and sneeze,
It works quite well to woo a rose
Whose heart’s not burdened by a nose.


© 2018 Jesse Anna Bornemann. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Thursday, May 17, 2018

In case you didn't know, I am IMPERFECT


"Escape" by Amelia Whelan


Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

                    – Ralph Waldo Emerson


This Emerson quote is my favorite from Imperfect: Poems About Mistakes: An Anthology for Middle Schoolers, edited by Tabatha Yeatts. It's one of several that are scattered throughout the collection, interspersed with 70 poems by 50 poets (many of whom will be familiar to TLD readers). I'm honored to be among them.

Visit the Team Imperfect blog for purchasing links.
Not all of the poems in Imperfect are about life lessons. You'll find the full gamut—mistakes born from ignorance or naiveté; mistakes that lead to invention, pain, or laughter; silly and fanciful poems about mistake-making; poems about self-discovery and finding one's place in the world; and yes, poems about life lessons and how we move on from them. You'll also find a thoughtful introduction by Tabatha, and useful back matter about making good decisions, apologizing effectively, and a few poetic forms readers can try.

It's fantastic that this anthology addresses middle schoolers directly. Has anyone come out of those awkward, uncomfortable years unscathed? I know I didn't. I do hope teachers, parents, and other caregivers will recognize that this anthology will be helpful to more than just middle schoolers, however. Judging by my children's experiences, I'd say it more accurately spans 4th grade to 9th grade.

The take home here is to make sure Imperfect is ready and waiting for whenever it's needed—that moment when a child reaches out to a book, rather than a person, for private reassurance. Chances are, it will happen.

Reading numerous reviews that have popped up from week to week (I particularly enjoyed this interview with Tabatha), I've been deliberating over which of my Imperfect poems I'd like to share. The one I keep coming back to is "To the boy playing with his army men on the front lawn," but to be honest, I've been reluctant. It's the most personal of the three, by far. Mistakes are hard to confess to when they happen, but sometimes they're even difficult to own up to decades later! It's one thing to see my poem on the page, but another entirely to talk about it openly in a blog post. My reluctance is why I know I must.

TO THE BOY PLAYING WITH HIS ARMY
MEN ON THE FRONT LAWN:

They say that everyone is fighting some kind of battle,
but I have no good excuse for my surprise attack—
a ride-by on bicycle, words flung like a grenade.
I wanted to hear the pop of the pin,
taste the insult in my mouth,
feel my heart pound in the moments before the blast.
And then it was done.
(I couldn't take it back.)
I pedal away feeling like the enemy—
even to myself.

                    – Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

Part of the reason I've been reluctant to share this poem is because the backstory involves more than just myself.

It involves the victim, of course, but I can be fairly sure of protecting his anonymity since I don't even recall his name. If I replay the event in my mind (which I have, over and over), the words weren't all that demeaning. Despite him looking up when I passed, I'm not even sure he clearly heard what I said or thought much about it. He might have—I didn't stick around long enough to find out. But I know very well what I intended. It wasn't about the words. It was the fact that I spontaneously made a choice to hurt his feelings, and the cutting manner in which I put him down.

What makes this mistake particularly difficult to talk about is the fact that it also involves someone I love and care about—my brother. Four years my senior, we were never all that close growing up. We didn't even attend the same schools at the same time. But those who knew my family back then might recall that he struggled to find his place at school—he was teased and bullied. And, by the way, he played with miniature army men. Back then, lots of children grew up playing war. Still do, I imagine.

Jay Javier

Although my brother was not the direct victim of my ride-by attack, he was the indirect, unknowing victim. Ultimately this poem is about my own insecurity. Even though we never went to school together, when you grow up in a small suburb, word gets around among students. Especially students with siblings. And fear is a powerful motivator. Despite the fact that I did "fit in" socially, I was afraid that if I ever stuck up for my older brother, I would bear the consequences. So what did I do? In this instance, I took out my fear of being bullied on someone else. I became the bully. For someone who values compassion as highly as I do, this was a tough pill to swallow. I still feel the heartburn.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. (Not all bullying stories do.) My brother turned out fine despite his social struggles at school—something else that's incredibly important for middle schoolers to hear! He turned out better than fine, actually. I'm so proud of the way he's challenged himself throughout his life, his many notable achievements, the respect he garners from his peers, and his incredible ability to create opportunities for himself. Most of all, I'm proud to be his sister.

* * Enter to win a hardcover copy of Imperfect at The Children's Book Review. * * 


I know it doesn't seem fair (I haven't gotten around to writing mine yet either), but believe it or not, there's only one week to go before our wrap-up celebration of window poems! This week's featured ditties included work by Rebekah Hoeft, Donna JT Smith, Dianne Moritz, and Rosi Hollinbeck. Linda Mitchell, Linda Baie, and Jone Rush MacCulloch share poems today at their own blogs. Don't forget to leave your window poem on our May 2018 padlet!



Rebecca Herzog has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Sloth Reads, along with a fabulous review and giveaway of I'm Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith. (Yep. The same award-winning Lane Smith who illustrated this month's DMC featured book: a house that once was!)


DMC: "Sickle Moon" by Rosi Hollinbeck




SICKLE MOON

Crooked grin in the night sky,
are you the Cheshire Cat 
or a waxing crescent moon
teasing the stars to twinkle? 

© 2018 Rosi Hollinbeck. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Wednesday, May 16, 2018

DMC: "Sunny Day" by Dianne Moritz




SUNNY DAY

Lilac bushes
Bud and bloom,
Wafting perfume
In my room.

Purple Iris
Dance and sway
On this perfect,
Sunny day!

© 2018 Dianne Moritz. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:





Tuesday, May 15, 2018

DMC: "A Week of Windows" by Donna JT Smith




A WEEK OF WINDOWS

Sunday’s glance shows cool, a breeze,
   pine branches lift and dip;
Monday sits heavy in foggy dew,
   trees wet from root to tip;
Tuesday the mists roll back to see
   a hen and tom stroll by;
On Wednesday the view holds bits of green,
   As doe browses wary and shy;
Thursday hosts a chattering red
   Until big gray appears;
Friday’s air is full of birds,
   and dogs' excited cheers;
And Saturday, as the sun comes up
   To dart through leafless trees,
Azalea’s sweet hush has become blush,
   Saying no to winter’s freeze.


© 2018 Donna JT Smith. All rights reserved.




Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Monday, May 14, 2018

DMC: "Proof of Life" by Rebekah Hoeft




PROOF OF LIFE

I see 
not you
but spray of crusts
and flock of birds

I see 
not you 
but steaming dish
and window cracked 
and box with blanket 
on porch on snow

I see 
not you 
but pawprints 
from door to fence
to door to yard
to door to gate to door

I see 
not you
but TV flicker 
and lights on and lights off 
and garbage cans out and garbage cans in
and garage door open and garage door closed

I see not you
but in this twilight rest
see quiet proof
of life intact
in winter’s grip

© 2018 Rebekah Hoeft. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Thursday, May 10, 2018

Five for Friday: Celebrating Mom


Anders Adermark

Not all of us can do great things. 
But we can do small things with great love.

Although this quote has been widely misattributed to Mother Teresa, it certainly embodies motherhood, don't you think?

I'm quite sure I'm not the only one devoting today's blog post to Mother's Day. In fact, I predict I'm not the only one sharing "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins either. It's a popular favorite for good reason!

But first I wanted to mention how honored I am that Michelle Kogan is featuring one of my original mother-inspired poems at her blog. You'll find "Mother's Heart" along with four others from The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2016—poems by B.J. Lee, Heidi Mordhorst, Charles Waters, and Michelle, herself. She's done a wonderful job presenting each one with some backstory and a photograph. I hope you'll stop by and say hello to 13-year-old me with my beautiful mom!

Now where was I? Oh yes, Billy Collins. I think my mom will really like "The Lanyard." She'll appreciate its message, of course, but also its accessibility and humor. In the words of poet Stephen Dunn, "We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going."


"The Lanyard" by Billy Collins 
(read by the poet)
 


Read the poem in its entirety HERE.
Explore teaching tips and support materials for this poem HERE.


I've made the kind of lanyard Collins talks about, though I'm not sure I've ever presented one to my mother. I have given her a number of potholders from my camp days, however. Does that count? Either way, it's the thought that matters.  Love you, Mom. xo

Watch a do-it-yourself video on how to start your own box stitch lanyard HERE.


Now since we're in DIY mode anyway, how about a Five for Friday celebration?

Today's theme is to write about a specific gift you have given to, or received from, your mother.

It's been a while since our last Five for Friday party, so for those who are new or would like a refresher, all you need to do is come up with five words (plus title if you wish) on today's theme.

Please don't think too hard about it! Off the top of your head is fine. Leave your 5-word ditty in the comments, or email it to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. I will move your contribution to the main body of the post.

I'll start us off. Hmmm... okay, here's one. (See how long that took me? Not long at all!) This is based on a Mother's Day poem I wrote for Laura Purdie Salas' cinquain challenge in 2014.


SOGGY KISSES

mommy waters me—
her flower

– Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

* * *

HEARTFELT ART

tenderly tied
by paint tubes.

– Michelle Kogan

* * *

LIFELINE

states away,
our daily visits

 – Linda Baie

* * *

MADE AT CAMP

Sloppy potholder
Neatly transmits love.

– Karen Edmisten

* * *

FOUND IN MOM'S NIGHT TABLE DRAWER

Fifty-year-old card
drawn by me.

– Buffy Silverman

* * *

LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTER

Can't miss a
plant sale

– Tabatha Yeatts

* * *

FROM A PLASTIC LOOM

Potholder,
stretchy strips
hugging tightly

– Laura Purdie Salas

* * *

TRAIN RIDE TO SCOTLAND

Time together
one on one.

– Jama Rattigan
 
* * *

FLIGHT

Freedom to spread
my wings.

– Kay Jernigan McGriff

* * *

PLANTED VINE

Twists around
both our hearts.

– Margaret Simon

* * *

MOTHER’S KNITTING

Handmade sweaters
warm, comfort, love

– Dianne Moritz

* * *

Wedding pearls
love to celebrate

– Linda Mitchell

* * *

A GIFT FOR MOM

Popsicle-stick box
holds my love.

– Rosi Hollinbeck

 * * *

ANOTHER MOTHER'S DAY...

Another card-bouquet,
delivered late.

– Brenda Davis Harsham

* * *

Favorite poems shared lovingly together.

– Christie Wyman 

* * *

KNITTED BY HAND

sweater worn well
mamma-warm s t i l l

– Cory Corrado

* * *

homemade
cake chunks,
frosting soup...

– Donna JT Smith

* * *

GRANDCHILDREN

She met all three.

– Diane Mayr 

* * *

squishy hugs
limited by geography

– Bridget Magee

* * *

HER GIFT TO ME WAS MY GIFT TO HER

Vicariously lived:
a happy childhood.

– Mary Lee Hahn

* * *

MY MEME

bathing
grandbabies
with
tender
TLC

– Dani Burtsfield



Sharon Soberon



This month's DMC challenge from Julie Fogliano is to write a poem about what you see outside your window. If you missed last Friday's interview, you'll find it HERE. Off to a splendid start, this week's daily ditties included poems by Lana Wayne Koehler, Janice Scully, Michelle Kogan, and Jessica Bigi. Catherine Flynn is sharing her window poem today at Reading to the Core. Leave your window poem on our May 2018 padlet.



Happiness has landed at Jama's Alphabet Soup! Join Jama for a beautiful selection of bluebird poems and art, as well as this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

DMC: "A Window of Many Seasons" by Jessica Bigi




A WINDOW OF MANY SEASONS

A looking glass of pages open
Into worlds unknown
Hooves of green sprout branches
With cotton flowered tails
Petals and raindrops showers
Streak down glass papers of spring 
Rumbling chug-a-choos ghostly in midnight
Flowery friendly lions pounce playfully
Greening dragons spilled across summer hillsides
Fiery tangerine kites fill October trees 
A looking glass of pages open
Into worlds unknown
Scatters of powdery footprints appear
Whose are they?
Where do they go?
Across the frozen river
Lays a village of snowy words
A looking glass of pages open
Into worlds unknown
As we rest beneath starry skies

© 2018 Jessica Bigi. All rights reserved.



Jessica Bigi


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Wednesday, May 9, 2018

DMC: "Spring ... Watch and Listen" by Michelle Kogan




SPRING ... WATCH AND LISTEN

Yesterday I watched and
listened to you through
my window.

Today I opened my door,
we were so close as
I watched and listened …

Robins–Trilling, trailing,
cherry, cherup, cheruping
.
Cardinals fluttering through soft fluffs
of lightest pink and dots of emerald.

A background canvas-canopy
filled with constant song,
with individual voices
singing their own songs.

My eye searching for
whichever one of you–
Ah–You King Cardinal–

Hopping so surely, securely,
a pair of feet perfectly synced.
Red beak beaming through a framed
mask of jet-black feathers …

Looking, cocking, searching for–
Seeds–bedding–me to move–
Leaving me to look up, watch and listen …


© 2018 Michelle Kogan. All rights reserved.
 

Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week: 
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:





Tuesday, May 8, 2018

DMC: "Spring" by Janice Scully




SPRING

It’s coming, coming
slow as snails—
See the snowdrifts melt
in tiny trails?

Each day the ice grows
weak and thin.
Go ‘round the lake,
or else fall in.

Mud on shoes
and on our floor.
Friends ride scooters
to the store.

No more coats.
Children sing.
Jump ropes thump—
It’s early Spring.


© 2018 Janice Scully. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Monday, May 7, 2018

DMC: "Peer Review" by Lana Wayne Koehler




PEER REVIEW

Squirrels
With their
Chattering, climbing, jumping,
The way they leave hickory nut shells
On the previously white railing
Scampering up to my window
To peer into my life
Like I peer into theirs
Waiting for me
To watch them
Again. 


© 2018 Lana Wayne Koehler. All rights reserved.


Click HERE to read this month's interview with Julie Fogliano. She has challenged us to stare out the window and write a poem about what we see. You might even consider writing something down every day for a week:
At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.  – J. F.
Leave your poem on our May 2018 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 25th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her stunning new picture book from Roaring Brook Press:






Thursday, May 3, 2018

Spotlight on Julie Fogliano + DMC Challenge


JULIE FOGLIANO
                                                                               Photo credit: Gerald Young


Julie Fogliano is the New York Times–bestselling author of and then it’s spring and if you want to see a whale, as well as the poetry collection When Green Becomes Tomatoes.


Recipient of the 2013 Ezra Jack Keats Award, her books have been translated into more than ten languages. Julie lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and three children. When she is not folding laundry or wondering what to make for dinner, she is staring out the window waiting for a book idea to fly by.

I, too, have been staring out the window, but what I've been hoping to snag is this elusive and somewhat enigmatic poet/non-poet author for a spotlight interview!

There's something so appealing about Julie Fogliano's writing. Lyrical, yet conversational, it evokes a dreamlike mindfulness that is both here-and-now and on the edge of something that's not quite, but very nearly in reach. It transports you, puts you at ease, and fills you with hope—a tall order by anyone's standards.

Her books have been called a "love song to the imagination," "a droll, wistful ode," "nostalgic and fresh," "...playful, breathtaking...," and "in a word, charming." Two years ago, the kidlit poetry community tittered with excitement about When Green Becomes Tomatoes—the way it tenderly waltzed into our lives, stirring things up like an unexpected breeze. Since then, two more book ideas have been caught and released to the world...


and Julie also has a poem in the recently released World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins.


With 28 starred reviews (and counting), she is already a force to be reckoned with, but her books and critical acclaim keep coming.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to feature Julie Fogliano's latest poetic picture book, hot off the press:

A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS
Roaring Brook Press (May 1, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1626723146
Find at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or via Indiebound.org.
A house that once was pairs Julie with Caldecott Award–winning illustrator Lane Smith to create an enchanting and unforgettable story about a boy and a girl who discover an abandoned house.

Entering through "a window that's watching ... a window that says climb inside," they explore the house's contents and imagine answers to questions like Who lived here? Why did they leave? and Where did they go?

When you have a spare minute, you should definitely read Elizabeth Bird's thorough and glowing review at School Library Journal. More briefly, Kirkus describes a house that once was as "perfectly seamless; words and art are interwoven in a dance that enchants. Inventive and lovely."

That, it is. Julie's free-flowing stream of text wanders in and out of contemplation, levity, rhythm and rhyme, blending beautifully with Lane Smith's illustrations that drift in and out of three artistically-defined worlds—a colorful reality, a ghostly dimension, and a richer, more vibrant world of imagination.

The result is captivating, timeless, stunning, and thought-provoking. And if you're wondering what the thread is that holds it all together... that's right! It's wonder. Wonder and curiosity—qualities that are characteristic of all great artists and poets, whether you choose to describe yourself as one or not.

Be sure to visit the book's website for more art than what is featured in today's interview and to download a fun activity kit. But for now, enjoy my conversation with Julie Fogliano. We begin as we do with all Spotlight ON interviews, with five of her favorite things.


Favorite children's author:  Ruth Krauss

Favorite childhood memory:  On Sunday mornings, my grandma would get up extra early to start making the sauce, and she would always wake me with a meatball in bed.

Favorite food:  pasta!

Favorite smell:  morning coffee

Favorite vacation spot:  Cape Breton, Nova Scotia


Each of and then it’s spring, if you want to see a whale, and When Green Becomes Tomatoes found their genesis in a year of writing daily thoughts—a friend’s clever ruse to get you past your 15 year rut of trying to write a children’s book. (Read more at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.) Now, with a few more books under your belt, I imagine you’ve had to start dipping into other creative sources for material. What kind of routine have you established to nurture a healthy working relationship with your muse?

No, I really haven't changed my routine at all. I don’t necessarily write thoughts of the day anymore (although i will go through spurts of doing it now and then, just for fun). But, I still approach writing the same way.  Basically, I discovered that if I just sit down and write, without a plan or an idea, something will eventually come of it. It might take days, or weeks, or months, but it will happen. I wasted a lot of time (years!) forcing ideas that just weren’t meant to be and it ended up making me miserable. I’ve come to love just wandering around in my own head, with no real idea of where I’ll end up.


Two years ago, with the release of When Green Becomes Tomatoes, you confessed that you weren’t all that comfortable with the label of “poet.” It was enough to write with economy and beauty about tiny quiet things. (Read more at Watch. Connect. Read.) Yet here comes a house that once was, which is not only delicate and lyrical, but also flirts with rhythm and rhyme. What are we to make of that? Can we call you a poet yet?

I’m doing my best to just write and not worry so much. To this day, I haven’t sat down and said “I’m going to write a poem now!” I think that would be the kiss of death for me. But, as you mentioned, I love to be economical with words and yes, I love finding the beauty in tiny, quiet things. And, lately I’ve come to really enjoy playing with rhythm and rhyme. So, if all of that results in being called a poet, then I’m okay with that (even if it still makes me a little nervous).


I was touched by your two-part dedication for a house that once was:
for the boys
who found a house
and wondered

and for lane
who knew just what to do
with wondering
Can you fill us in on the backstory of the real house that inspired this book? Also, Lane Smith’s illustrations are, indeed, phenomenal. Would you speak to the connection between your words and his art?

The house that inspired this book is in the woods behind my sister’s house. My boys and my nephews love to explore back there and eventually stumbled upon the house. They were totally fascinated.


From A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS (Roaring Brook Press, 2018). Text © Julie Fogliano. Illustration © Lane Smith.






















At the front of the house
the house that is waiting
there's a door that is not really open
but barely.
A door that is closed
but not quite.
A door that is stuck between coming and going.
A door that was once painted white.

They loved looking through all the objects in the house imagining the person who lived there… books, pens, canned food, old pictures… they couldn’t imagine how or why someone would just leave and never come back. 


From A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS (Roaring Brook Press, 2018). Text © Julie Fogliano. Illustration © Lane Smith.






















Who was this someone
who ate beans for dinner
who sat by this fire
who looked in this mirror?
Who was this someone
whose books have been waiting
whose bed is still made
whose pictures are fading?

It just so happened, that their discovery happened shortly after Lane asked me to write a picture book for him. I was in agony trying to come up with a Lane Smith worthy idea. I am a longtime fan of Lane’s work. He has such a huge range and I really wanted to write something that would let him stretch in every direction. When the kids walked in and told me about the house, I immediately knew. Who better than Lane to bounce back and forth between fantasy and reality, wonder and melancholy, in such a beautiful way. 


Please share a favorite spread from a house that once was and tell us why it’s a favorite.

Oh the twirling girl, for sure.

From A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS (Roaring Brook Press, 2018). Text © Julie Fogliano. Illustration © Lane Smith.






















Was there a cat who would sleep by the fire
or a girl who would twirl to her records and sing?

I rarely see what I write… I hear it, and I feel it, but I don’t really see it. But, when I saw that spread… I got chills. She was exactly what was in my head.


Let’s imagine for a moment that you need to leave your current home. Years from now, if I were to ask your house what it remembers about the Fogliano family, what might it tell me?

Oh wow, well we are five people and a dog living in a very tiny house. It is a very sweet and cozy situation, but I often feel like the little old lady who lived in a shoe. So, the house would definitely tell you that there were always dishes in the sink, a huge pile of laundry waiting to be folded and that you couldn’t walk two feet without stepping on a lego.


What’s coming up next for you?

I have a bunch of picture books coming out over the next few years and they are all in various stages. I’m not sure of the exact publication dates for any of them, but the two that are furthest along are:  If I Was the Sunshine, illustrated by Loren Long and My Best Friend, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.

Baby Julie enjoys one of her very first picture books.




















Finally, what you have chosen as this month’s ditty challenge?


I spend a lot of time staring out the window. In fact, a few of my books are about what I saw out there.

The view from Julie Fogliano's window in Cape Breton.
"It was my view when I was writing If You Want to See a Whale and the
oceany parts of When Green Becomes Tomatoes.” –JF

So, my challenge is to just stare out the window and write what you see.  Is there a bird out there? What is it doing? Is anyone walking by? Where do you think they’re going? Is it raining? What does it sound like?  Is there a car going by? A train? It doesn’t have to be anything big or exciting that you write about. Just write what you see. Do that everyday for a week. At the end of the week, read through what you wrote and write your favorite bits on a separate piece of paper. I bet there will be a poem in there somewhere… see if you can find it.


Fabulous! Let's call them "Window Poems."

Julie's challenge reminds me of something Elizabeth Bird said at the end of her SLJ review:
Admit it, grown-ups. If the universe provided for you an opportunity for full-fledged snooping, devoid of fear or consequence, you’d hoist yourself up on that windowsill too.
It looks like the universe has obliged.

To be clear, your DMC challenge this month is to stare out the window and write a poem about what you see. The part about doing it everyday over the course of a week is recommended, but optional.

(I want to make sure we have some daily ditties to share next week, plus I know some of you are already well-practiced in the art of window poeming!)

But before you retire to your window seat—

Won't you please help me thank Julie for revealing herself to us today? Also, for offering a personalized copy of a house that once was to one lucky DMC participant!

(Winner to be selected randomly at the end of the month.)


HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Post your poem about what you see out your window on our May 2018 padlet. Stop by any time during the month to add your work or to check out what others are contributing.

By posting on the padlet, you are granting me permission to share your poem on Today's Little Ditty.  Some poems will be featured as daily ditties, though authors may not be given advanced notice. Subscribe to the blog if you'd like to keep tabs. You can do that in the sidebar to the right where it says "Follow TLD by Email." As always, all of the poems will be included in a wrap-up celebration on the last Friday of the month—May 25th for our current challenge.

TEACHERS, it's great when students get involved! Ditty of the Month Club challenges are wonderful opportunities to learn about working poets and authors while having fun with poetry prompts. Thank you for spreading the word! For children under 13, please read my COPPA compliance statement in the sidebar to the right.

FIRST-TIMERS (those who have never contributed to a ditty challenge before), in addition to posting your work on the padlet, please send your name and email address to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com. That way I'll be able to contact you for possible inclusion in future Best of Today's Little Ditty anthologies.

BLOGGERS, thank you for publishing your poems on your own blogs– I love that!  Please let me know about it, so I can share your post! Also remember to include your poem (or a direct link to your post) on the padlet in order to be included in the wrap-up celebration and end-of-month giveaway.



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

Thanks again to everyone who participated in Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine's challenge last month to write a poem about something you would not expect (or want) a dinosaur, or other animal, to do. We had a couple additions since last Friday's wrap-up celebration. Click here to take another look.

Random.org has determined that the winner of a personalized copy of Don't Ask a Dinosaur by Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Louie Chin is . . .

JESSICA BIGI 






We had another drawing this week—my National Poetry Month giveaway. Random.org has determined that five sets of The Best of Today's Little Ditty (volumes 1 and 2) will go to . . .


MARIBETH BATCHO
SANDRA BOHMAN
TARA BROWN
LEIGH ANNE ECK, and
VICKI WILKE


Congratulations to the winners of both giveaways!

One more quick note before I go. If you've read and enjoyed The Best of Today's Little Ditty, would you take a minute to leave an honest review on Amazon.com? (The 2016 edition, especially.) Reviews make a huge difference as to whether or not a book shows up in searches. Thanks so much!


Brenda Davis Harsham has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales.