Thursday, March 28, 2019

National Poetry Month Preview

Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes, based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.

According to the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is "the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives." Find out more about how the celebration got started and how you can participate HERE.

2019 marks the first year that the official National Poetry Month poster was designed by a high school student. It was selected through a national contest with more than 450 submissions, my daughter's submission among them. Each design was required to incorporate one of five excerpts from poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Miranda chose "History is a ship forever setting sail" from "Ghazal" (1972). Although she was not a finalist, she is, of course, a winner in my book! That's why I've chosen her work as the "official" National Poetry Month poster on Today's Little Ditty. For someone who doesn't typically use a digital medium (or have access to fancy shmancy software), I thought she did a fabulous job. Besides, I'm her mom—I have bragging rights. You can see the official official 2019 National Poetry Month poster HERE and view the designs of the twelve finalists HERE.

I've been talking about my National Poetry Month series for a couple weeks now. Classroom Connections will showcase recent poetry books—eclectic collections, lyrical picture books, and engaging verse novels—and how they can be used as mentor texts in the classroom. With posts each weekday in April, you will find 22 author/editor interviews, exercises for teachers to use with elementary, middle, and high school students, and LOTS of giveaways!

Today's the day I finally get to reveal the roster of participants. So without further ado . . .

To follow the series: 

The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.

But where is . . . ?

Not every author and editor I contacted got back to me or was able to participate next month. I would have liked to feature Margarita Engle's companion memoir to Enchanted Air—Soaring Earth, for example, or Laurie Halse Anderson's searing poetic memoir SHOUT, which is collecting starred reviews like they're going out of style. Also, Eileen Spinelli's novel in verse, Birdie—perhaps I can snag her for a Spotlight ON interview at some point. An anthology I would have liked to showcase is Parkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019), edited by MSD teeacher Sarah Lerner. A hard-hitting collection—heart-crushing at times—it is also a testament to the healing power of poetry and writing in general. That said, given the news this week of two MSD student suicides, clearly there's much more healing to be done.

Perhaps the most conspicuous omission from our National Poetry Month roster is Laura Purdie Salas, who is touring with not one, not two, but three books this season! I would be remiss not to mention these books since Laura is a champion when it comes to bringing poetry into the classroom. If you click on the links for each of her books below, you'll find student-friendly activity sheets available for download, as well as a platform to post student poetry.

Snowman - Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations (Charlesbridge, 2019)
Click here for teacher resources.

In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House
(Wordsong, 2019)   Click here for teacher resources.

Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons (Millbrook Press, 2019)
Click here for teacher resources.

Once again, Jama Rattigan has graciously volunteered to round up all of the National Poetry Month kidlit events this year at Jama's Alphabet Soup. There are some wonderful ones! I do hope you'll check them out next month.

And special thanks to Tabatha Yeatts for including my poem "Planning Your Treehouse" in her NPM project—Poetry in the Halls! Tabatha is providing free poetry printablesledger-sized poems to print for school hallways, library walls, or any other poetry-inviting place. Read more about the project at The Opposite of Indifference.

See you on Monday!

Join Carol at Carol's Corner for a celebration of spring and this week's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Haiku Garden: Celebrating Spring

Abhishek Sundaram

Haiku amongst friends—
Is there any nicer way to welcome spring?

I'm celebrating this week's vernal equinox with haiku from the Golden Haiku competition, sponsored by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District in Washington D.C.

This annual competition selects haiku to be displayed on more than 300 signs adorning tree boxes throughout D.C.'s central business district, "to bring a smile to commuters and visitors alike and brighten the winter landscape as flowers began to bloom."

It certainly brought a smile to my face to find out that my haiku was selected as one of two honorable mentions! 

Toshihiro Gamo

The contest's “Spring in the City” theme turned out nearly 2,000 entries from 50 countries and 41 states, and the District of Columbia, which the judges narrowed down to about one hundred favorites. Read them all here. Among them, you might recognize at least two other names—Diane Mayr and Elizabeth Steinglass, both of whom have been featured in the Haiku Garden at Today's Little Ditty (here and here). Diane and Liz have kindly allowed me to post their winning "Golden Haiku" as well. I'm tickled cherry blossom pink to be in such good company!

Oak leaf buds by staticgirl

"Hooped Moon" by Joey Rozier

Beautiful, aren't they? 

The photos, by the way, weren't part of the contest, just my attempt to pretty-up today's post.

I also wanted to tell you what a fantastic time I've been having doing "research" for next month's Classroom Connections series! I've been reading so many wonderful and diverse books—eclectic poetry collections, lyrical picture books, and engaging verse novels. The insights and classroom exercises the participating authors and editors are sharing for elementary, middle, and high school students are also amazing! So stay tuned for National Poetry Month. Next week I'll be publishing the schedule of events. 

Did you know today is National Goof Off Day? Now that's a holiday I can use! Rebecca Herzog is rounding up the Poetry Friday fun and games at Sloth Reads. Once again it seems I've missed the mark when it came to participating in this week's theme, but lest I be considered a party pooper, here's a goofy poem from a few years ago that might fit the bill.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Time Well Wasted

gelai red

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” 
                     ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Yes, my friends, you're right. It *has* been a long time.

What have I been doing since November?

Basically a whole lot of everything and an equal amount of nothing. I'm trying to stay flexible and find comfort in going with the flow, but living with uncertainty is not easy for an established control freak like myself. I'm embracing the challenge.

I was going to post a poem by e. e. cummings for my birthday last month, but never got around to it. Still worthwhile advice, I think. Make sure you click on the link to read the second and third stanzas.

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

                   Read the rest HERE.

Michael Levine-Clark

They say that with distance (and age) comes clarity, but the only thing I can truly say with confidence is that, like the little prince, I've missed my rose.

The pull to come back to Today's Little Ditty has been strong, but I needed to make sure that when I came back it would be with an open mind and more realistic expectations of how much time I can spend here whiling away the hours. The Ditty of the Month Club kept me on such a tight schedule, I'm excited to try out some things I never had time for in the past.

National Poetry Month 2019

One of those new things I've been eager to try out is hosting a National Poetry Month program based on Classroom Connections—the series I introduced with Nikki Grimes about a year ago.

There are SO many new poetry books being published recently, I thought it would be useful to show how they can be put to use as mentor texts, with classroom exercises suggested by the authors. I'll be featuring some old friends next month, a few new friends, and several authors I've had my eye on to feature for some time now—I'm delighted to finally have the chance!

In the next couple weeks I'll have a schedule for you, but in the meantime, I hope you'll mention the series to your friends who are teachers. It's going to be a fabulous resource for bringing poetry into the classroom. And giveaways? Oh my, yes. A dittyload of giveaways.

"Birdhouses" by julie (modified)

I've missed you, Poetry Friday!
It's great to be back in the neighborhood.

Heidi Mordhorst is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup at my juicy little universe. There will be many poems relating to the Youth Climate Strike taking place today. Although my post is not applicable, I look forward to lending my support to this inspiring and worthwhile endeavor.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019