Monday, May 20, 2019

DMC: "Instructions for a Lawn Sprinkler" by Rosi Hollinbeck




INSTRUCTIONS FOR A LAWN SPRINKLER

Keep your head down
and perfectly still.

Patience.

When you feel the pressure,
hold your head up high and

Squirt! Squirt! Squirt! to the left.

Turn back.

Squirt! Squirt! Squirt! to the left.

Turn Back.

A perfect arc.
Every time.

Squirt! Squirt! Squirt! to the left.

Turn back.

Head down.
Rest until tomorrow.

© 2019 Rosi Hollinbeck. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Thursday, May 16, 2019

B.J. Lee: The Poet and the Picture Book Writer


B.J. Lee's author signing at Barnes & Noble, Clearwater FL

Many of us poet-types also engage in other writing projects, like picture books, nonfiction, or novels. But are we always consciously aware of the changes we go through to make that happen? For me, the writer's transmutation—how we adapt one skill set to accommodate a different genre—is complex and mysterious.

How, for example, are the processes of writing poetry and rhyming picture books similar or different?
 
Purchase at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble
or via Indiebound.org.

I posed this question to TLD contributor B. J. Lee, and she was kind enough to address the matter for me.

B.J. Lee is our resident expert on poetry forms, but with her debut rhyming picture book released from Pelican Publishing earlier this year, I asked if she might talk about how a poet who excels in poetry forms transformed into a picture book author.


So here she is, hungry readers— 
Chomp down on this appetizing article by B.J. Lee!



The Poet and the Picture Book Writer

This poet and this picture book writer are different artists. As a poet, I struggle with story structure. It used to be far easier for me to write an entire poetry collection of 20 or so poems than it was for me to write one picture book. Fortunately, picture book writing is getting a smidgen easier for me and it’s a good thing because poetry is a very hard sell. I still write lots of poetry but picture books call out to me as well.

So what is the difference between writing a poem and writing a picture book? The first and probably most important difference is arc. A poem needs no arc. A picture book relies heavily on arc.

Because I struggled with picture book writing, for the Gator character I had in mind, I was drawn to a form with a built-in arc. So how did I turn the structure of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly into a picture book with my character, Gator?

I followed the built-in arc of There Was an Old Lady...which gave me rising action.



As Gator unwisely swallows a succession of hapless animals, he becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Something has to happen – a climax of some sort.

Text © 2019 by B.J. Lee. Illustrations © 2019 by David Opie.
From THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH (Pelican Publishing)


I chose to change up the climax and not have Gator die. There is a trend in modern There Was an Old Lady... parodies, including those by Lucille Colandro, Jennifer Ward and Penny Parker Klostermann, to not have the main character die. I didn’t want Gator to die either. How did I set it up so Gator didn’t die? With my first stanza, and the moth/cough slant rhyme. Without including spoilers, perhaps you can guess how I used this rhyme pair to produce a better fate for Gator.

The other difference between poetry and picture books is that a poem it is about capturing one thing, with the exception of narrative poetry, but more on that later. A poem is about one moment, one feeling, one image. This begs the question: can you turn a poem into a picture book? While one moment, one feeling, one image, can be the start of a picture book, and perhaps a very good start, it will somehow need to be expanded into a story with an arc.

Here is an example of a poem about one thing.

Recently published in the Savannah Morning News.                                    



















I don’t believe this story is expandable into a picture book. It captures one moment in nature. It doesn’t go anywhere story-wise. Got story? No.

The following poem, on the other hand, might be able to be expanded into a picture book because it has a narrative. I have no plans currently to turn this poem into a picture book but, now that I think about it… hmmmm. I guess time will tell! Got story? Maybe.

Highlights, June 2018


So if you have a narrative poem, which includes the ballad, as I previously discussed in a TLD post, you can explore it to see if you can make it into a picture book. I have several narrative poems I did this with, including one ballad. Of course, it usually has to be expanded greatly. There are other considerations when writing picture books such as pacing. How do you spread a story over 32 (or more) pages. It’s also important to think about page turns.

Very rarely we do find existing poems that have been made into picture books, but there are a few. One that comes to mind is A Fairy Went a-Marketing. This is an older poem by Rose Fyleman, originally published in her collection, Fairies and Chimneys (a wonderful collection, by the way, if you are partial to fairies...and who isn’t?).

Some songs have been made into picture books, and I consider songs to be poems set to music, such as Octopus’s Garden by Ringo Starr. Incidentally, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly was originally a song and it has been published as a picture book by writers such as Simms Taback and Pam Adams.

In conclusion, you might check to see if you have any poems that spark picture book ideas, particularly narrative poems. While Gator didn’t start with a poem, I was inspired to use a poetic cumulative rhyme structure to capture this larger-than-life character.

I feel very lucky to have had THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH accepted by Pelican Publishing. When using cumulative rhyme as a picture book story structure, one really has to do something unique with it, because so many adaptations have been written. I had success with my version because it was regional and thus appealed to Pelican Publishing.

On my journey to picture book publication, the classic cumulative rhyme, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly inspired me to understand arc. I hope something in this post inspires you on your picture book journey.

Picture book publication has been such a blessing and I love how people are falling in love with my unfortunate character, whose appetite gets the best of him. My community is rallying around me and Gator in the form of a fabulous book launch.

"Gator Day" at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, March 10, 2019.


Thank you, B.J., for another fabulous visit to Today's Little Ditty!
Read B.J.'s other TLD contributor posts: The Roundel and The Ballad.

AND thank you to Pelican Publishing for sending me a copy of There Was an Old Gator who Swallowed a Moth for one lucky TLD reader.

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Gator Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The winner will be randomly selected and announced next Friday.


B.J. Lee is a former college music librarian turned full-time writer and poet. Her debut picture book, There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth, released January 28, 2019 from Pelican Publishing. She is an award-winning children’s poet with over 100 poems and stories published/forthcoming. She has written poems for children’s anthologists Lee Bennett Hopkins, J. Patrick Lewis, Kenn Nesbitt and others, and appears in anthologies by such publishers as Bloomsbury, National Geographic, Little, Brown, Otter-Barry and Wordsong. Magazine credits include Spider, Highlights, and The School Magazine.



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

Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to "write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job."  This week's daily ditties included poems by Tabatha Yeatts, Diane Mayr, students Chloe and Madison, and Cindy Breedlove. Also don't miss the original instruction poems shared today by Molly Hogan, Mary Lee Hahn, and Christie Wyman. Add yours to the May 2019 padlet by the end of this month!
At Reflections on the Teche, Margaret Simon and her students are celebrating nature with "pi-ku" poetry. Never heard of it? Discover pi-ku and many other poetry wonders at this week's Poetry Friday roundup!





DMC: "Binoculars" by Cindy Breedlove




BINOCULARS

Hang light around my neck,
ready always on my trek.

Zoom quick, and stabilize.
Focus sharp before it flies.

Don't fog, so I can see
that flighty little chickadee.

© 2019 Cindy Breedlove. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Wednesday, May 15, 2019

DMC: Instructions for a Merry-Go-Round and a Notebook, by Chloe and Madison




Margaret Simon introduced her gifted students to this month's challenge to show them "how we can write about the most ordinary of things in a very extraordinary way." Not surprisingly, she got some extraordinary results! Read more of her students' poems on the May 2019 padlet.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR A MERRY-GO-ROUND

Make me dizzy
Go round and round
Blow a soft breeze
Shhhhhhh Shhhhhhh
Create a tornado of sand
Spinnnnn Spinnnnn
Don't let me fly off

Ouch!!!!!!!
I hit a bushhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!
 

          © 2019 Chloe 3rd grader GT. All rights reserved.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR MY G.T. NOTEBOOK

Your vertebra must stay strong,
Your spindly blue ribcage holds beating words and breathing doodles.
You must stay a well-functioning organism, doing your job efficiently.
Hold together until you grow weary and old and begin to weather.
When you fall apart, let your destruction become recycled into the next generation.


          © 2019 Madison, 5th Grade G.T. student. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Tuesday, May 14, 2019

DMC: A cherita terbalik by Diane Mayr





a directive to the tissue
box is in order

this pollen season

always stand at hand
ready to face nasal expulsions
with three-ply gentle strength

© 2019 Diane Mayr. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Monday, May 13, 2019

DMC: "Instructions for a Stop Sign" by Tabatha Yeatts




INSTRUCTIONS FOR A STOP SIGN

In a shifty,
Shifting world,

Be sincerely
Single-minded.

Greet everyone
You see with

Recognizable red—
Offer an

Unmistakable
You.

Be clear
And direct—

Draw our attention away
From everything else

Onto this
One thing:

Becoming
Still.

© 2019 Tabatha Yeatts. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Thursday, May 9, 2019

Classroom Connections with Elizabeth Steinglass




Following last week's interview with Elizabeth Steinglass, today she explains how her collection of imaginative poems for soccer fans can be used in the classroom.


TODAY'S READ

Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer

Elizabeth Steinglass, Author
Edson Ikê, Illustrator

Wordsong (June 4, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1629792491

For grades K-5 and up

Purchase at Amazon.com
Purchase at Barnes & Noble
Purchase via Indiebound.org





SYNOPSIS

From the coach who inspires players to fly like the wind, to the shin guard that begs to be donned, to soccer dreams that fill the night, Soccerverse celebrates soccer. Featuring a diverse cast of girls and boys, the poems in this collection cover winning, losing, teamwork, friendships, skills, good sportsmanship, and, most of all, love for the game.


A PEEK INSIDE

Text copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Steinglass. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Edson Ikê.
From SOCCERVERSE: POEMS ABOUT SOCCER (Wordsong).

Read three more poems from Soccerverse HERE.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Steinglass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she played soccer, basketball, and softball, read many, many books, and wrote her first poems. Her book Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer includes 22 poems about all aspects of the game. You can also find her poetry in The Poetry of US, edited by J. Patrick Lewis, and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, her three children, and her sleepy cat Scout.

Find out more about Elizabeth Steinglass by clicking HERE to read her spotlight interview.



CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Poems bring facts, ideas, feelings, perspectives, and voices into the classroom in an accessible package. Many poems are short and can be shared in minutes. They can be read to open the day, introduce or enrich a lesson, or smooth a transition. Because there are poems about every possible topic, they can be incorporated into every possible class—art, math, science, music, PE, and morning meeting. Poems have generous white space, making them user-friendly to the 20% of the population that is dyslexic and can be put off or overwhelmed by too much text. For the same reasons, poems can be particularly accessible to second-language learners as well. The language, imagery, creativity, and emotional resonance of poetry invites readers to think, feel, and remember.

What is a simple, practical tip for teachers when it comes to incorporating poetry in the classroom?

When I read poetry to students, I like to offer them a copy, either on paper or projected, so they can see and follow along as I slowly read it aloud, twice, but I also give students the option to close their eyes and picture the poem as I read. I also think it’s lovely to give students the opportunity to bring in and share some of their favorite poems.

How might Soccerverse be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

The poems in Soccerverse use 13 different forms. A note at the end describes the forms and challenges the reader to go back and think about which form or forms each poem uses. The poems can be used to explore specific forms, for example, concrete poetry, mask poems, or poems of address. The book as a whole can be used to discuss form more generally: What is a poetic form? What are some examples? Why do poets use different forms?

Can you suggest a specific classroom exercise related to your book?

My ditty of the month challenge is to write instructions for an inanimate object telling it how to do its job. When I’ve done this with young writers, I’ve chosen something right in front of us—their desks. I always think it’s helpful to have the object or an image of the object at hand. Looking spurs thinking. I then led the students through some brainstorming questions: What does the desk look like? What do we hope our desks will do for us? What do we hope our desks won’t do? After looking, thinking, and talking, I asked students to contribute lines to a poem we wrote together.

Courtesy Elizabeth Steinglass


CONNECT WITH ELIZABETH STEINGLASS

Website (and blog): http://elizabethsteinglass.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-Steinglass-562849827218251/
Twitter: @ESteinglass
Instagram: elizabethsteinglass


This week: poems by Alice Nine,
Angelique Pacheco, and Linda Baie.
Have your students write collaborative or individual poems instructing an inanimate object how to do its job. Click HERE for more details about the DMC challenge and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your instructional poem(s) on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Wordsong, 2019).



That Liz Steinglass sure does keep herself busy! Today she's sharing her first draft of "Instructions for the Field" plus another poem that didn't make it into Soccerverse, AND she's hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup! (Don't miss the original instruction poems posted today by Linda Baie, Linda Mitchell and Kimberly Hutmacher.)

DMC: "Instructions for a Photograph" by Linda Baie




INSTRUCTIONS FOR A PHOTOGRAPH

Enjoy your place on the piano top.
Offer memories when someone plays
a favorite song of whom you show
in loving remembrance long ago.

Enjoy your home of walnut frame
dusted and lifted to memorize
a sparkle of eyes of whom you show,
that smile a mystery of long ago.

If by chance, you find yourself
in forgotten attic memories,
you will be found as children grow
and loved again for whom you show.


© 2019 Linda Baie. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Wednesday, May 8, 2019

DMC: "The Glass" by Angelique Pacheco




THE GLASS

Be half full,
Never half empty.
Learn to chill,
There’s always plenty.

Pour your love out,
Replenish with goodness.
Don’t have doubt,
Nor fill up with darkness.

Quench a thirst,
Put out a fire.
You’ll never burst,
If things are dire.

Be see through,
Like water that’s clean,
In all you do,
So that you will gleam.

Your blessings will overflow,
As only a glass can know.

© 2019 Angelique Pacheco. All rights reserved.



Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Tuesday, May 7, 2019

DMC: "Instructions to a Tree" by Alice Nine




INSTRUCTIONS TO A TREE

Make a branch thick—one
that is low but not too low,
and keep it parallel to earth.

Let it grow strong so
it won’t shake in a breeze
or bend in strong winds.

Then a man will come to you.

Don’t resist when he flips
a heavy rope over your branch,
the thick one parallel to earth.

Let him pull the rope tight so
it doesn’t slip with the weight
of a tire he will hang at the end.

Then a boy will come to you.

When this boy sits on the tire
pushing off with his feet to
swing higher and higher,

You will feel the rope jerk
as he drops high to low, back
and forth, and up... up again.

Be strong when the rope
twists and rubs. Don’t bend,
no matter how great the weight.


© 2019 Alice Nine. All rights reserved.


Elizabeth Steinglass has challenged us to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. Click HERE for more details and to read this month's Spotlight ON interview.

Post your poem on our May 2019 padlet. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, May 31st, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic debut poetry collection from WordSong:





Thursday, May 2, 2019

Spotlight on Elizabeth Steinglass + DMC Challenge


ELIZABETH STEINGLASS


Are you excited? 
                              I sure am!

After a busy month of reading, it's about time we got stuck into some writing again, no? I couldn't be more thrilled to welcome my friend and critique partner, Elizabeth Steinglass, to the spotlight to lead that effort!

Elizabeth Steinglass has worked as a shoe salesman, short order cook, high school English teacher, and college writing instructor, but now claims the title of debut author, with Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer (Wordsong) scheduled to hit bookstore shelves next month! Rumor has it she actually wrote her first book in 4th grade, but since she doesn’t remember the title (only that it was a catalog of fairies), it doesn't count. Too bad, huh. She's also had numerous poems appear in magazines and anthologies, including The Poetry of US, edited by J. Patrick Lewis (National Geographic), and Great Morning!, Pet Crazy, and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books). Today's Little Ditty has been a grateful beneficiary of her poems as well! You can read some of them in The Best of Today's Little Ditty anthologies, but I've collected all of them for you to scroll through here when you have some time.

Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, sports were always a part of Liz's family life. (I love the story she tells at Picture Book Buzz of being invited to get out of bed and catch her big brother's basketball rebounds in her nightgown!) Now with a family of her own—a husband, three kids, and a sleepy cat named Scout—soccer is the game that rules at the Steinglass house in Washington, D.C.  I've appointed myself head cheerleader as we talk about her striking new collection of 22 soccer poems!

SOCCERVERSE: POEMS ABOUT SOCCER
Wordsong (June 4, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1629792491
Find at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or via Indiebound.org

Described by Kirkus as "a pitch-perfect ode to the details and delights of playing soccer," Soccerverse dons 13 poetic forms to describe the world's most popular sport from a variety of viewpoints, from a diverse cast of teammates to the soccer equipment itself—the ball, the goal, even a pair of smelly shin guards. (Teachers will appreciate the author's note at the end of the book that describes the forms.) While much of the verse is lighthearted, there are also moments that come across as honest and heartfelt—a reluctance to shake hands with a member of the opposing team, for example, or an apology that is accepted, even a wry observation about parental fans. Edson Ikê's bold, animated illustrations reflect Liz's adaptive verse beautifully—at times sober, but overall, whimsical and imaginative. The two make a winning team!

Kicking off today's interview, here are Liz Steinglass's five favorite things:


Rock Creek Park—a favorite walking spot.
FAVORITE PASTIME:

I enjoy walking—in the woods, across farmland, along the beach—pretty much anywhere outside.

FAVORITE SMELL:

I absolutely love the musky smell of a barn. Or manure on a garden. Maybe I should have been a farmer.

FAVORITE FOOD:

A cherry tomato I’ve picked off the plant. I love simple foods that taste wonderful just the way Mother Nature made them. Also, I really don’t enjoy cooking.

FAVORITE TEACHER IN SCHOOL:

I was fortunate to have many wonderful teachers, but I think my favorite teacher was my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Burbage. She was incredibly creative! That year we made edible book reports (mine was on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe). We finished our unit on the human body by tracing ourselves on big brown paper and then using anything we could find to make our insides. We also studied the presidents that year. We each studied a different one, then we all made illustrated reports, which Mrs. Burbage taped together to make a long scroll, which she then wound through a cardboard box made to look like a television. I especially loved that she had endless files of interesting puzzles, brainteasers, and games to do whenever we were finished with our work. She was wonderful!

FAVORITE POET:

Valerie Worth, 1933-1994
This one’s hard! I love so many poets. My favorite at this exact moment might be Valerie Worth. All the Small Things is a book I return to again and again. I love the way she looks at things so closely and creatively. She seems to think in metaphors. Tractors are grasshoppers. Cows are mountains. A safety pin is a small fish with a surprised eye. Brilliant!


Karla Kuskin, 1932-2009




But my favorite poem is Karla Kuskin’s “Write about a Radish.” The first two lines are “Write about a radish/Too many people write about the moon.” I Iove her exhortation to look at things in our own unique ways. It makes me smile that these are the first lines of a poem that turns out to be about the moon, but she has a completely fresh way of writing about it.


Congratulations on your debut poetry collection! We all have twists and turn in our lives, many of which are unexpected. Can you point to any events that, in hindsight, were instrumental to finding your way to children's publishing? Or did you know you'd find your way here all along?

I have always been a writer. I write to make sense of the world. Writing helps me figure out what I think and what’s important to me. It’s a way to spend more time with what I notice and enjoy. It’s also a way for me to share my thoughts and observations with others. So I suppose I was always going to write something. I focused on writing for children when I had children. I read so much to them. I began to appreciate children’s poetry and picture books anew. And once I began reading so many of them, I naturally wanted to write them. I’ve written many books and poems for my children over the years. Two of my three kids, my two boys, are absolutely obsessed with soccer. They have played since they were very young. I think I’ve been watching soccer practices and games for more than 15 years. Soccer has been a huge part of our lives, so of course I wrote about it.

Courtesy Steinglass Family


What about your first book publishing experience have you found most enjoyable?

So far, the most enjoyable part of the process has been seeing Edson Ikê’s illustrations. I cannot tell you how much I adore them. I love his bold, bright colors, and graphic style. I love his imagination. I love that the book features a beautifully diverse group of boys and girls playing on teams and meeting and playing at the park.


Brazilian artist, Edson Ikê: visit him at his website and on instagram.

Soon I think another part of the process may compete for most enjoyable—sharing the poems! I’m excited to share my work here and soon with actual living, breathing, reacting children. That I think will be another most enjoyable part.


You have two children who are passionate about the game of soccer. Did you consult with them while writing Soccerverse? Or did the poems solely come from your own observations, experiences, and imagination.

For the most part the poems came from my own observations and imagination. I consulted with my boys a few times about drafts I had written. I knew I was on the right track when my oldest said, “You wrote that?!” It was a wonderful compliment, especially as it was my reverso “Instructions to Field Players/the Goalkeeper,” and he is a keeper. I played a little soccer as a kid, mostly in PE or at recess, and there’s one poem in the collection that’s specifically about me. Should I tell you which one? Let’s just say I felt like soccer involved a lot of running around without touching the ball.

Text copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Steinglass. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Edson Ikê.
From SOCCERVERSE: POEMS ABOUT SOCCER (Wordsong).


You use 13 different poetry forms, yet none of your poems feel like they've been forced into an assigned structure. Was it your intention from the get-go to showcase poetry forms, or did that happen naturally as the voice of each poem spoke through you?

I knew that I wanted to write in a variety of forms, but I didn’t have a list of forms in mind. First, I brainstormed a list of possible topics—uniforms, positions, playing in the park, games, red cards, etc. As I worked through the list, the topics seemed to choose their forms, if that makes sense. The ball poem wanted to be round. The shin guards had something to say. The goal wanted to be addressed. In my “Note about Forms” at the end of the book, I write, “Poets use different forms as a way to express themselves more powerfully or challenge themselves to be more creative.” That last part is very much about me and the process of writing this collection. On the days I felt stuck, I tried different forms and often that helped me get unstuck.


Please share a favorite poem from Soccerverse and tell us why it's a favorite.

Another hard question! Right at this moment my favorites are the paired poems “Apology” and “Accepted.”

Text copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Steinglass. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Edson Ikê.
From SOCCERVERSE: POEMS ABOUT SOCCER (Wordsong) — click on image to enlarge.

























APOLOGY

I got too mad.
I tried too hard.

I crossed the line.
I got a card.


ACCEPTED

I saw he was sorry.
I knew he felt bad.

I sat down beside him.
I didn't get mad.

© 2019 Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved.

I like that they address the emotional side of the game and the relationships between players. I also love Edson’s angry bull. It’s fun to write creative and whimsical poems. It’s fun to read them and share them with kids, but I think as poets it’s our job to address the full emotional range of life and that includes anger, frustration, understanding, and forgiveness.


I love the "Tips for Teachers" and "Tips for Writers" resources on your website! I wonder if you could share two more tips: one for readers and one for newbie soccer parents.

TIP FOR READERS: 
Enjoy! You don’t need to “figure out” every word. Try riding a poem like a wave. What’s the experience like? Where does it take you? Also, if you don’t enjoy a poem, or a hundred poems, you don’t need to give up on poetry. I think it’s odd that people read some poems they don’t enjoy and then say they don’t like poetry. I don’t like liver or onions, but you’d never catch me saying I don’t like food! I’m a poet and there are still lots of poems I don’t particularly connect with. It’s okay not to like poems but still like poetry! Keep looking. There are poems out there for everyone.

TIP FOR SOCCER PARENTS:
This is going to be harder than it sounds, but I think we parents should stick to parenting and let coaches do the coaching. I have seen young kids freeze on the field trying to listen to so many voices telling them what to do. Meanwhile someone on the other team takes the ball and heads downfield. I try very hard to limit what I say to “yay!” “I enjoyed watching you play,” “Have fun!” and “How’d it go?” Also, for those of you with very young children, you really can’t tell what’s going to happen. When my oldest, who now plays in college, first started to play, he would pick the flowers on the field and run them to me on the sidelines. At that point I would never have guessed he’d keep playing with such incredible devotion and determination.

Courtesy Steinglass Family

Elizabeth Steinglass, Poet-in-Training


If you had all the world's children in one room, what would you tell them?


Do more of what you love.
I think that’s what I would tell anyone.



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

One of my favorite poems in Soccerverse is “Instructions for the Field.” The poem tells the field how to do its job. This month’s challenge is for you to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. My poem uses personification. Yours can too, but it doesn’t have to. You might want to think about how the object looks, what you hope it will do, and what you hope it won’t do. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.
Text copyright © 2019 by Elizabeth Steinglass. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Edson Ikê.
From SOCCERVERSE: POEMS ABOUT SOCCER (Wordsong).


Michelle, a huge thank you to you for inviting me to visit and for years of supporting and inspiring our community.

Oh my goodness, the pleasure's all mine, Liz! What a joy it's been to have you here to share this wonderful collection!

As for the awesome ditty challenge, I have no doubt some TLD players are already raring to go! If you're like me, however, and would prefer to kick ideas around, come back next Friday when we'll be sharing Liz's Classroom Connections post. It not only describes how Soccerverse can be used in the classroom, but also elaborates on how her challenge can be used with students!

Won't you please help me thank Elizabeth Steinglass for being our honorary ditty team captain this month? 

Also, for offering a personalized copy of Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer to one lucky DMC participant!

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


HOW TO PARTICIPATE:

Post your poem that gives job instructions to an inanimate object on our May 2019 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 31st 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.


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If you're looking for the list of giveaway winners from last month's Classroom Connections series, you'll find it HERE.


Jama Rattigan is celebrating spring today with two gorgeous poems and this week's Poetry Friday roundup. Pull up a chair at Jama's Alphabet Soup.