Thursday, June 13, 2019

Planning Ahead, Moving Forward, and Celebrating Dads

"Father and Son" by Tuan Hoang Nguyen

Hello Friends—

If you've been hanging around Today's Little Ditty for any length of time, you probably know that I struggle, more or less constantly, to find balance in my life. There's so much I want to do and never enough time for it all!

Organizer Me would be perfectly content planning blog content a year in advance, Family Me wants to be on top of everything and everyone when it comes to taking care of my home and loved ones, while Poet Me wants to be fully present in the moment—giving myself the space to breathe, notice, discover, and play. There are a few others "Me"s I could mention, but I won't bother. Let's just say they resemble toads and I've written about them before (HERE).

As much as I try (and I DO try), I can't seem to satisfy one Me without disappointing others, and unlike the well-balanced duo at the top of this post, patience is not my forte. So I guess I'll have to keep up the juggling act. If I'm going to take on something new, something else has got to give.

Oh, I can hear some of you already—Today's Little Ditty is going on hiatus AGAIN???

(Ha! Gotcha!)

The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2017-2018)

One of the things that I've been reluctant to take on is a third volume of the TLD anthology.

Volumes 1 and 2 with beautiful covers by Michelle Kogan and Teresa Robeson.

Not because I don't want to, but because creating these anthologies requires an inordinate amount of work with little, if any, financial benefit. But the thing is, I've never done these books to make money. I do them because they make me proud. YOU make me proud with the way you come back every month with new poems, many of which knock my socks off.

But guess what—I think I've finally figured out a way to manage it! Starting next month, instead of hosting author/editor interviews, I will be sharing READER spotlights—focusing my bright shiny light on . . .


As I first explained back in November, these interviews will be will be less content-heavy than my author/editor spotlights and they will be pretty much self-contained. There will still be ditty challenges each month, but the padlet will be embedded in the blog post itself. I will not be featuring wrap-up celebrations, book giveaways, or daily ditties (though I may still feature a poem, or two or three, each Friday).

I already have a few of these interviews in hand and, let me tell you, the DMC challenges are terrific! My hope is that while we can continue to have fun writing poetry together, we will also have a grand old time getting to know one another. What's more, this should free up enough of my time to work on the next anthology. WIN-WIN-WIN!

I'll return to hosting author and editor interviews once my workload lightens, but even then, the reader spotlights won't be going away completely. They will be ongoing, interspersed with the more formal spotlights.  

Are you interested in being featured in a reader spotlight? If so, I invite you to complete this form

And one more invitation for you:

Would you like to be on my ditty committee?

What's a "ditty committee"?

"Ditty committee" is what I call the group of ten individuals who will help me decide which poems from our roster of challenges should appear in our next TLD anthology. (Actually, to be honest, the committee does most of the deciding. I try to keep out of it as much as possible.)

Volume 3 will include the following 12 challenges:

  • Personified feeling poems (Jeannine Atkins)
  • Ode poems (Helen Frost)
  • Comparison poems (Melissa Manlove)
  • Abecedarian poems (Carole Boston Weatherford)
  • Spooky poems (Carrie Clickard)
  • Poems that find beauty (Carol Hinz)
  • Epitaph poems (J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen)
  • Golden Shovels (Nikki Grimes)
  • Dinosaur poems (Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine)
  • Window poems (Julie Fogliano)
  • Poems with questions (Naomi Shihab Nye)
  • Anthropomorphic poems (Calef Brown)

Are decisions made as a group?

Yes and no. Although committee members share a common set of criteria and guidelines, each person on the committee will be assigned six challenges to review. Poems are reviewed individually, not as a group discussion. I am the only one who sees all of the recommendations, consolidates them, and makes final decisions on which poems should appear based on overall results.

What kind of time commitment are we talking about?

The review process takes place from mid-June through mid-July. Within that time frame, committee members can review challenges at their own pace. Any committee members who complete their assigned challenges and are keen to do more are encouraged to do so!


Please contact me via email at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com.

Now how about some poetry? 

Today I'm sharing three poems that feature dads.


Father's Day is Sunday, of course, and this year I have not planned ahead. I'm delighted that my parents will be arriving tomorrow (it's their 58th wedding anniversary on Monday as well),  but since the visit was a last minute decision, I'm not exactly prepared. I don't have gifts for either occasion! Do you have a favorite poem to suggest? I'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments.

Although these three poems about fathers are favorites of mine, and each reflects a certain aspect of my dad, none of them accurately portrays our father-daughter relationship. I should probably write my own poem for that, but, well, juggling. Maybe next year.

          by Dan Gerber

You know how, after it rains,
my father told me one August afternoon
when I struggled with something
hurtful my best friend had said,
how worms come out and
crawl all over the sidewalk
and it stays a big mess
a long time after it’s over
if you step on them?

                              Read the rest HERE.

          by C. Wade Bentley

So Google Maps has me somewhere west of Evanston,
Wyoming, telling me that to get to the gas station where
my daughter and her broken-down Subaru are waiting
for me, I need to go straight for two miles through a quarter-
mile dead-end trailer park. This is the young woman
with whom, some Sunday mornings, I have coffee
and a game of chess as an excuse to get caught up
on her life and the status of her sobriety. It’s not much
of a game. I’m a reactive and distracted player and more
interested in the new medicine she has found in an online
Russian pharmacy than the fact that her horsey has me
in a rook-king fork because I failed to castle while the castling
was good.

                              Read the rest HERE.

Seeing and Believing
          by Edwin Romond

The girls giggled
but the boys laughed right out loud
when Mrs. Stone raged crimson
holding my eighth grade project:
"The Map of New Jersey."
"Get up here, boy!"
and I had no choice
but to walk the gangplank to her desk
where my map choked in her fist.

                              Read the rest HERE.

Mirza Asad Baig

Happy Father's Day!

Karen Boss has challenged us to write a poem in second person, speaking directly to a kid or kids about something that you think is important for them to know. This week's daily ditties were by Margaret Simon, Kathleen Mazurowski, and Diane Mayr (plus some musical inspiration from Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens). Add yours to our June 2019 padlet by the end of this month.

Laura Shovan is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup. She's a fantastic middle grade author and poet in the Maryland schools who also has some wonderful blog posts housed here on Today's Little Ditty. Today at her blog she is sharing an imaginative, happy-making collection of poems by some talented students from Northfield Elementary.


  1. Michelle, I hear you. I have been wrestling with the word balance, too. Life is not long enough to have each filled with our wants because there are so many items on our to do lists. I carve out a bit of time each week for yoga where I am trying to be intent on the moment and not the next thing. Thanks for vocalizing all of the myriad of thoughts that are running through your mind. Seeing and Believing is my choice for a wonderful Father's Day poem. Enjoy your weekend.

    1. Good for you for carving out some time for yourself each week, Carol. I practice meditation every day, which helps, but those thoughts running wild are difficult to rein in!

  2. Hi Michelle! Thanks for the reminder to get my stuff back to you! Have fun while your parents are in town-and Happy Anniversary to them! 58 years!

    1. Thanks, Becky! Looking forward to reading your interview responses. :)

  3. Well I loved each one of these three poems Michelle for their individual voices–I do have a soft spot for those worms all over the sidewalk though–and that green water sure sounds spot on to me…what a treat, thanks! Looking forward to what's coming ahead on TLD! xo

    1. I, too, love how unique and personal each of those poems are. I'm not surprised the worms and the green water would appeal to you, Michelle. :) Hugs...

  4. Balance should be my summer One Little Word. I've floated into my extra time without planning at all. It's actually been quite joy-filled. I hope you can find the joy in your off-balance life as well. Exciting things ahead for TLD. The father poems each draw me into their stories. My parents just celebrated 59 years. I will be going to visit them this weekend. Aren't we blessed to still have them with us?

    1. I was scrolling through FB on my phone this morning and saw a comment/photo of a list you wrote of things you want to learn. It was a poem in itself, Margaret. I love how you choose to engage with your life! And yes, I agree. We most certainly are blessed to have our parents still with us. <3

  5. Even retired, my life feels like I need an extra few days in the week, busier at the bookstore, trying to fit in other joys, too. I'm glad you've made a course correction and it will be delightful, Michelle. Happy Anniversary to your parents. Have a joyful celebration with them. Those father poems each show the love we hold for our dads in a special way. I love "knowing I would come."

    1. Better to be busy than bored, right? You are such a wonderful example of someone who savors every moment, Linda. I love "knowing I would come" too!

  6. Good for you for finding a path that will work for you. I usually end up going around in circles!

    1. Even with my best-laid plans, there is plenty of circling going on here, Diane! Trust me.

  7. Hello from Chasing-My-Own-Tail Central! I think I've given up on balance, surrendered to disorder and distraction with a giant Italian MAH! In other news, I am excited to read about your READERS!

    1. HAHA! Chasing your own tail, huh. I think these "dogs" of ours are itching to be let out of the dog park! You ARE much better at surrendering to the craziness than I am, Renée. I vow to practice that giant Italian MAH! daily.

  8. Michelle, you are gift to all of us! Thanks for all you do. xo

  9. Wow! Just wow from your Pops. Thank you ❤️❤️

  10. Thanks for reminding us that we are certainly not alone regarding life's perpetual balancing act. Thanks for everything you do here at TLD (excited to hear about the 3rd anthology!). Looking forward to both Reader Spotlights as well as more Author/Illustrator Spotlights. Thanks, too, for sharing these Father's Day poems (Romond's is my favorite). I also love Richard Wilbur's "The Writer," which I shared the first year I began blogging:

    1. Yes! I love that one too, Jama! In fact my dad was the first one to introduce me to "The Writer," which makes it even more special. :)

  11. Ah, Michelle. I do recognize the many Me's of which you write. And, I recognize the juggling. It's all good...and yet, not perfect in the way I wish. I am ready to help with TLD vol. 3 and will send you an e-mail. Each of the poems about fathers had me nodding or smiling or grimacing. I wonder what I would write. There's a world of wonder that's not been resolved yet for us. Maybe I could take a lesson from Linda Baie's grandaughter and simply write of the "now". I salute you in your juggling. I'm so grateful with how much you are willing to share with and in our community. Rock on, poet girl.

    1. Returning your salute, Linda! I am not at all surprised that you recognize and struggle from time to time with those many Me's. Rock on, miss Awesome Sauce!

  12. Hurray for you for prioritizing balance and all the different parts of you! And thank you for all you do for our community!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Liz, and for your own special role in my personal writing community.

  13. I don't know if this will be helpful for Father's Day or their anniversary, but I like to use this for making cards:
    I think you came up with a great plan! xo

  14. Michelle -- so many exciting things happening at TLD. Thanks for providing space for poets and poetry at this blog.

    These three poems hit me right in the heart. I love Gerber's sage advice. The teacher's voice in "Seeing and Believing" is so jarring and funny. I love the line "walk the gangplank to her desk."

  15. Wishing you and yours a wonderful, IMPERFECT, sometimes messy, celebratory time together, Michelle! Thanks for your usual fearlessness in posting and hosting blog fans, too. I hate that I've been more on the outskirts of the Ditty World lately than in, but I won't even apologize, because you understand!!

    What amazing poems to share this weekend, too - I was surprised to discover at the end of reading "Recalculating" that I had bona fide chills, here on a summer morning. XO

  16. Michelle, thank you for all that you do. I, too, find myself with more irons in the fire than I can handle most of the time. I try to have specific days of the week to handle diffferent things so it doesn't get too overwhelming, but as we all know, life happens :) I enjoyed all of the poems you shared. Any of those would be a lovely gift. Last but not least, I look forward to getting to know more about your readers.

  17. Brilliant! I love how you faced the challenge of juggling too much (I can so relate) by expanding to highlight your readers, too, and invite us to join you. I'm looking forward to learning more about folks as well as seeing what challenges they present. And yes, I still want to write the challenge for this month. Enjoy the weekend with your parents and wish them Happy Anniversary!

  18. Good for you for making a decision that is the right one for you. We often let things run our lives that are way too destructive to ourselves. I LOVE the poems you shared today. Thanks for those. Very, very powerful stuff. Enjoy your time with your parents and congrats to them on a remarkable milestone.

  19. Each one of these poems resonated for me. I want to be the parent whose child knows I will come if they call.
    Even though I am retired, I still substitute teach in libraries and wherever else they send me. We live with my son, his wife and their two year old, and then my daughter-in-law also looks after my other grandson, so life gets pretty crazy around here!
    Hope you find that elusive balance in your life.

  20. Oh, that Edwin Romond poem! How beautifully painful. I've read it over and over and over. Thank you for sharing it here today and thanks for all you do with your fantabulous blog!