Thursday, April 2, 2020

Lessons from the Bookshelf: My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice (Part 1)



Happy National Poetry Month!

When I was deciding what I might do this year to celebrate, the thought occurred to me that maybe I should actually take this month off to focus on my own writing. Goodness knows there are always a ton of wonderful poetry projects in April vying for the attention of readers and writers, educators and students. My growing collection of books about writing poetry is collecting dust, while other more pressing items rise to the top of my to-do list. Wouldn't it be nice if I used National Poetry Month to dive into one of those?

Olga Reznik

Then the light bulb went on. 

You, my friends, can take a deep dive with me! I'm excited to introduce my new blog series, "Lessons from the Bookshelf" where I'll be taking an in-depth look at educational books about writing poetry. And for those of you thinking but what about the monthly ditty challenge?, I've got great news. For this series, I will be offering up prompts from these highly recommended books for you to try out! We'll collect the poems on a padlet and celebrate at the end of the month like we always do.


What's more, this month I have something extra special to share with you. (Seems those dusty books on my shelf will have to wait a while longer.) Patrice Vecchione, coeditor of last year's Cybils Award-winning Ink Knows No Borders, was kind enough to provide me with an advance copy of her newest instructional book about writing poetry—

Purchase within the next 90 days at the Seven Stories Press website and 10%
will go to the Book Industry Charitable Fund (BINC) to support independent
bookstores during the COVID-19 crisis.
 
** Register HERE for a virtual book launch on April 7th, 6:00pm Pacific Time! **


Hot off the press, this book is positively bursting at the seams with advice and valuable information about what it means to be a poet, the ins and outs of practicing one's craft, and even how to get published. Pitched toward teens inclined to pursue writing, I can assure you that adults will treasure this friendly and nurturing 172-page guide as well.

My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice opens with a personal introduction which is both confessional—
Once upon another time there was a kid who was overwhelmed by her life. She needed a way to reckon with her confusions, those knotted and gooey ones that pressed against her. . . . At school she felt out of place, as though the oddities of her home life were visible. In front of most others she was quiet. But inside her head loud bees were swarming.
and inspiring—
Writing poems is a way to uncover what most needs to be uncovered—to loosen the tongue in solitude, to make connections that can’t be made in conversation. Poems are made of questions more than answers. They can withstand sudden shifts of direction, may be full of contradictions. Poems don’t shy away from incomplete sentences. A poem of no more than three lines can defy darkness or change the wind’s direction. 

The body of the book is divided into five parts, each with multiple short chapters. Just reading the section headings below will give you a flavor of the book's encouraging manner and comprehensive treatment:
  1. Poetry's Calling: Finding yourself on paper
  2. "If One Part Were Touched, the Whole World Would Tremble": Writing Poetry from the Inside Out
  3. Who Said You Couldn't Say That?: Twenty-Five Poetry Writing Suggestions in Twenty-One Short Chapters
  4. "How Possible Might the Impossible Be?": Getting Your Poetry Out There
  5. Where to Go from Here: Poetry Resources

The pages are also peppered with quotations and excerpts from famous poets and writers, functioning to deepen the reader's experience through exposure to a variety of voices.

Because this book is particularly rich with information, I've decided to focus solely on Part 1 in this post, Part 2 next week (April 10th), and Part 4 the week following (April 17th). On each occasion, I will share a prompt from Part 3 for you to respond to if you choose. On April 24th, the last Friday of the month, we will have a wrap up celebration that includes all of the poems contributed during the month and a book giveaway for one lucky participant (selected randomly), courtesy of the publisher.

So let's get to the good stuff, shall we?

PART I

Poetry's Calling:
Finding Yourself on Paper

Here's an intimate look at the writing mind and
what writing poetry can do for us.


The first chapter of Part I, "Why Write?," explores what gets you to the page. It includes this delicious quote from poet Sara Michas-Martin:
I want to write things down to honor and see things more clearly. To find a choreography for my thoughts. To keep time from sliding away from me. I want to make a simple fruit taste like magic again. Because a Jolly Rancher is delicious, but sometimes you want to experience the actual watermelon. You want to use your teeth to bite down to the rind; you want the cold juice on your chin.
Vecchione encourages readers to find their own "why."
The moment you speak your truth in a poem, you take the first steps to becoming a writer. . . . Writers write because we have something to say, even in those moments when we don’t know exactly what it is. What compels you becomes a piece of your “why I write.”
Subsequent chapters go to describe the beginnings of poetry, the mind of the poet, what writing does for us, the essence of imagination, and the art of listening. She describes how important silence is to the poet and that there are different kinds of silence that we need to become acquainted with. She talks of truth and facts at a time in our history when such concepts are being questioned:
When writing a poem, facts enter in through the unlocked front door (as they should be able to). Truth comes in through the cracks in the door or a broken window. A poem is after truth, and since you’re its author, your truth in particular. The poem and your life experiences belong to you. This isn’t going to be your father’s poem nor the one your best friend would write. It’s yours, and isn’t that nice?
She explains how we know what we know (through our senses and intuition) and encourages us to be present, invite inspiration, and respond to our complicated world within the context of discovering who and what we are. Learning to be comfortable with our own company is the goal, but Vecchione also examines the common pitfalls so many of us encounter—procrastination, what happens if we don't write, losing our way, writer's block, and our dreaded internal critic—as we get to know our poet within.


This week's challenge . . .

For this week's challenge, I've selected "These Are the Hands" (Chapter 39) from Part 3 of My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice. It's a prompt about empathy— something we so desperately need more of in today's world. The prompt was inspired by a poem by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, titled "These are the hands that could sand a wooden bench." Gutiérrez y Muhs is a poet Patrice  has known and loved for decades, a friend who would (and did once) give her the coat off her back. Here is the prompt in her own words:

Consider writing about the place that empathy has in your own life—a time you offered compassion to another or a time it was freely given to you. Or write about sharing food with others as Gutiérrez does with the men outside Kmart who wait there each day in hopes of being hired to sand benches or dig ditches. You might begin a poem with the words “These are the hands . . .” Or explore a time you felt a connection with a stranger or a group of strangers. A way to increase our happiness, recent research says, is to talk to someone you don’t know. Could your poem be a father watching with hope, the arms that hold a baby, or a smile full of metal teeth? Might it have the piquancy of hot salsa or wrap up the essential as a tortilla does? 

All excerpts in this post are copyright © 2020 by Patrice Vecchione, from My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry and Speaking Your Truth, used with permission by Seven Stories Press.


HOW TO PARTICIPATE

You'll find the padlet embedded below. Add your poem in response to this prompt or scroll through to read what others are contributing. By posting on the padlet, you are also granting me permission to feature your poem on Today's Little Ditty.

If you have not participated in a challenge before, please send me an email at TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can contact you, if necessary.

HOW TO POST YOUR POEM
In the lower right corner of the padlet you'll see a pink dot with a plus sign. Click on it to open a text box. I find it works best to type your title on the title line and paste the rest of your poem where it says "Write something...". Single click outside the text box when finished. This board is moderated to prevent spam. Once your poem is approved, it will appear publicly.

PROTECT YOUR COPYRIGHT
Remember to include your name as author of any work that you post!

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.

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.

For best viewing, click HERE to open this padlet in a new tab.

Made with Padlet


For several years now, Jama Rattigan has done us a great service by rounding up poetry projects on offer for National Poetry Month. She does such a beautiful job! Stop by the roundup at Jama's Alphabet Soup to see what's available.

As for the Poetry Friday roundup, we're sheltering in poems this week. It's going to be an active month and we'll need all the sustenance we can get! Join Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe to find a poem that shelters you.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

DMC: "Remember That Time When" by Mary Lee Hahn




REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN

Remember that time
when we played
long distance cribbage?

You, in California,
me, in Colorado.
We sent cards

back and forth
in the mail.
I can't recall

how to play,
not to mention
how or why

we chose this
absurdly random method
for staying connected.

Maybe that's it—
the big takeaway:
against all odds,

connect.


© 2020 Mary Lee Hahn. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. You can read all of the poems contributed this month HERE.




Monday, March 30, 2020

DMC: "The Game of Getting Lost" by Elizabeth Steinglass




THE GAME OF GETTING LOST

Under the palms and banana leaves
along the winding trails,
I ran ahead of my mom and dad
and found myself alone.

On my own in the giant world,
I chose which way to go.
I crossed the swaying wooden bridge,
I passed the waterfall,

I smelled the lemony golden elves,
I petted the pompom tree,
and when I felt I’d been gone too long,
I turned myself around.

Spying my parents along the path,
I skipped away again,
playing the game of getting lost
within the greenhouse walls. 


© 2020 Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. You can read all of the poems contributed this month HERE.



Thursday, March 26, 2020

March DMC Wrap-Up Celebration


Bennilover

Games are the most elevated form of investigation.
          – Albert Einstein


At the beginning of this month, Tabatha Yeatts challenged us to write a poem about a game (which, if you ask me, is also a pretty elevated form of investigation). She elaborated:
It could be a board game, a sport, a fictional game—any kind of game—and the narrator could be in the middle of playing it or teaching you how to play or telling how it went very wrong or the poem itself could be a game.

The Game of Life has been tough these days.

"Life" by Will Folsom


Many more Snakes than Ladders

"Snakes and Ladders" by Jacqui Brown


and plenty of Trouble and Sorry! to go around



have made some want to throw their hands up in defeat—

"You sunk my battleship!"      by Derek Gavey


It's true, finding joy these days has been no Trivial Pursuit,

"Jara vs. Trivial Pursuit" by Manuel J. Prieto

but I'm grateful for online communities like ours that are still going strong—coming together as we always do to write, listen, share, and otherwise lighten the load for one another.

It leaves me with a feeling something like this . . .

StartUpStockPhotos


Thank you to everyone who contributed a poem this month and/or supported others with comments, and special thanks to Tabatha for inspiring our month-long poetry game-a-thon!

Scroll through the poems below or CLICK HERE to open a new tab.

Made with Padlet


If you would like to write a poem about a game, visit Tabatha's spotlight interview for instructions and then click on the pink dot with the plus sign to add your poem to the padlet. While there aren't many days left in March, I'll be leaving this padlet open indefinitely, so feel free to add to it at any point in the future.


NATIONAL POETRY MONTH PREVIEW

Samantha Aikman from Mount Mansfield Union High School in Richmond, Vermont,
has been named the winner of the 2020 National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students.

With National Poetry Month just around the corner, there are many places besides Today's Little Ditty to gather together and celebrate poetry. Many thanks to Jama Rattigan for rounding up next month's poetry projects at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

At Today's Little Ditty, I will be introducing a new series called "Lessons from the Bookshelf" where I take an in-depth look at educational books about writing poetry. Beginning Friday, April 3rd, I will focusing on My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry and Speaking Your Truth by Patrice Vecchione (Seven Stories Press, March 31, 2020). I hope you'll join me!


The winner of last week's giveaway for a signed copy of The Nest That Wren Built, by Randi Sonenshine, illustrated by Anne Hunter is . . .

MARY LEE HAHN
Congratulations, Mary Lee!

Our DMC game-a-thon coach, Tabatha Yeatts, is hosting this week's Poetry Friday roundup and sharing a beautiful, thought-provoking poem about acceptance. You'll find her keeping score at The Opposite of Indifference.



DMC: "on saturday" by Jan Godown Annino




on saturday

on saturday
gray gulls float in shifting arabesques over water silk
a firm hand finishes the lighthouse sign post
my father ferries hot cups to the table
everyone sips, taps a wayward piece into place, finishing "Shore"


© 2020 Jan Godown Annino. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration tomorrow, Friday, March 27th.



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

DMC: "red-tailed hawk" by Robyn Hood Black




red-tailed hawk
to the gray squirrel
tag – you're it


© 2020 Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, March 27th.




Tuesday, March 24, 2020

DMC: "Hide and Seek" by Janie Lazo




HIDE AND SEEK

Let’s play a game of hide and seek
My best friend said to me
Then off she ran as there I sat
Leaned up against a tree
I counted up to ten and yelled
Get ready here I come
But then I went inside the house–
This game seemed quite ho hum
I watched some TV, ate a snack
And read my favorite book
When I got bored I went outside
Perhaps I’ll take a look
As I went out her mom pulled up–
C’mon it’s time to go
Our game was done– our friendship too
I guess I was too slow


© 2020 Janie Lazo. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, March 27th.


Monday, March 23, 2020

DMC: "If I Were Small" by David McMullin




IF I WERE SMALL

If I were small, so very small
that stones were big and grass was tall,
I’d have the pill bug stop its crawl
to be my tiny basketball.

And we'd have fun. Oh, so much fun.
I’d toss him up. He’d roll, I’d run.
But when we saw the setting sun,
He’d crawl away – our game all done.


© 2020 David McMullin. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, March 27th.





Thursday, March 19, 2020

Classroom Connections with Randi Sonenshine (Giveaway!)




Ever since 2015, when Randi Sonenshine beat me in Round 3 of Madness! Poetry and went on to the finals, I knew this day would come—and I'm delighted that it has! I can't think of a more perfect way to celebrate the arrival of spring than by introducing Randi's debut poetry picture book The Nest That Wren Built. Beautifully written, this book also boasts gorgeous illustrations by Anne Hunter, whose work I fell in love with back in 2016. Read on to find out how The Nest That Wren Built can (and should) be used in the classroom.


TODAY'S READ

The Nest That Wren Built

Randi Sonenshine, Author
Anne Hunter, Illustrator

Candlewick Press (March 10, 2020)
ISBN: 978-1536201536

For ages 4-8

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





SYNOPSIS

The Nest That Wren Built follows a pair of wrens as they build a nest and care for their young, from the first pile of twigs, to the day the fledglings fly off into the world. The lyrical text is woven with scientific details about the nest design and materials, and a glossary and back matter provide additional facts and insights.


A PEEK INSIDE

Click on image to enlarge. 

THE NEST THAT WREN BUILT. Text copyright © 2020 by Randi Sonenshine.
Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Anne Hunter. Reproduced by permission of Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
























ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Randi Sonenshine grew up exploring the magical “swamp” and woods behind her home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, developing an early sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world. This love of nature often appears in her writing and poetry.

A former high school English teacher and college reading instructor, Randi is currently a literacy specialist and instructional coach. She lives with her husband, two sons, and a spoiled schnauzer in Northwest Georgia, and does her best writing accompanied by birdsong and a good pot of Earl Grey tea.


CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Language is the most powerful tool we have, and poetry is one of the most powerful ways to use it; simply put, it’s language distilled in its purest, most potent form. Giving students lots of opportunity to read, recite, explore, discuss, respond, and write has the capacity to nurture a love of language, as well as the knowledge and skill to use it effectively. It can also foster empathy and a sense of connectedness.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

There is a lot of science woven into the book, particularly about the structure and function of the nest, as well as the function of each of the different nesting materials, so it would fit very well in a STEAM curriculum, even in middle school. Other science themes include growth and development (life cycle), animal traits and heredity, patterns in the natural world, and interactions between animals and humans, as well as animals and the environment.

There are also many ways it could be incorporated into the language arts classroom. I’ve used a lot of poetic sound devices, imagery, and figurative language, so it could easily be used to teach or reinforce those concepts. It also has a strong chronological structure, so it could be used to teach sequencing. Using precise language - vivid verbs, adjectives, and nouns - is another way the book could be used in a language arts classroom.

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

Part to Whole Refrain Poem

This is an activity for older children, but could be done with younger children as a whole group.

After reading the book and discussing the structure, go through the first half (up until the nest is built), and have students identify and list the nouns (nesting materials) and corresponding verbs (function), using a two-column chart. To challenge more advanced students, add a middle column and list the adjectives or other descriptors for each item.

For example:

Nesting Material (noun)                              Function (verb)
Twigs                                                                cradle
Bark, twine, rootlets, pine needles             shape

Create a poem together, modeling the process
  1. Have students think of something that is made up of multiple parts. This could be something in the natural world, such as a tree or a coral reef, or something that is manmade, such as a school bus or a bicycle. It could even be a person. Another option is for the teacher to choose the object based on a current area of study. 
  2. Next, have the students brainstorm the parts of the object and their function, using a chart like before. For older, more advanced students, this could be an opportunity for research.
  3. Together, choose a refrain to go at the end of each line. For example: the tree that grows on the playground, or the bike I got for my birthday.
  4. Draft the poem, using the nouns, verbs, and refrain. For example: These are the pedals that turn the wheels on the bike I got for my birthday. (The poem does not need to rhyme, but for older students who would like the challenge, it certainly could.) 
  5. Revise the poem by zooming in on the verbs, using a thesaurus if necessary to make them more precise and using alliteration and/or assonance where possible.
Have students repeat the process to create their own poems then share and celebrate!

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

I think the simplest, yet most powerful way to incorporate poetry in the classroom is to have a poem of the day for the opening routine. These poems should be relatively short (or could be excerpts of longer poems), and represent multiple formats, themes, styles, etc. After reading aloud, (or listening to an online recording of the poet reading aloud), have students do a choral or echo read, and then give them a minute to jot down the words and phrases that resonated with them. Follow this by allowing them to share and briefly explain their choices. For younger students, this can be done as a whole group activity.

In addition to the many wonderful picture book poetry collections and anthologies from which to draw poems, there are some excellent online options. Here are a few of my favorites:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/
https://poets.org/poems-kids
https://www.poetry4kids.com/
https://childrens.poetryarchive.org/ (has recordings of poets reading their work)
https://poetryminute.org/
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/16436/16436-h/16436-h.htm

Can you recount a specific instance of when poetry impacted a student or group of students in a positive way?

There are many experiences from my 25 plus years in education, but several stand out. I was teaching ninth grade English in 1999 when the Columbine shooting happened. The next day was somber and tense. Students were experiencing such a whirlwind of emotions, and they were struggling to verbalize what they were feeling. I was, too.  Instead of moving forward with the lesson I had planned, we all sat and poured out our feelings in a free-write, and then shaped those thoughts and images into poems. Afterwards, we pulled all the desks in a circle and those who wanted to (which was everyone) shared their poems with the rest of the class. It sparked some very emotional moments and heavy discussion, but it allowed all of us to verbalize what we couldn’t otherwise, and helped us to move forward together.


CONNECT WITH RANDI SONENSHINE

Website: http://www.randisonenshine.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rsonenshine
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rsonenshine68/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randi.sonenshine

Stay tuned for more from Randi—a little wren told me she might have some exciting news to share soon!

And here's some exciting news in the meantime...




Please join me in congratulating Randi on her wonderful debut and thanking her for offering a signed copy of The Nest That Wren Built to one lucky Today's Little Ditty reader! To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Wren House" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, March 24th. The winner will be selected randomly and announced next Friday, March 27th.

Click HERE to read more posts in the TLD Classroom Connections series.


Lots of wonderful poems about games were added to the padlet this week! Featured ditties included poems by Kathleen Mazurowski, Bridget Magee, and Dianne Moritz. Click HERE for more information about this month's challenge or to add your poem to the collection.




What a happy surprise to discover that Michelle Kogan, our host for this week's Poetry Friday roundup, is featuring springtime poems from The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2017-2018! Don't miss her beautiful "Ode to Spring Soil" and three more poems by Diane Mayr, Mary Lee Hahn, and Margaret Simon, plus a bonus poem from Michelle called "Mother Spring."

DMC: "Games of Hopscotch" by Dianne Moritz




GAMES OF HOPSCOTCH

In the days of innocence and Eisenhower,
most girls would play their games of hopscotch.
Jay-walking to a vacant lot across the street,
we’d kick away debris and bits of broken glass,
             
              scratch out our game-boards
              on rough cement with pieces
              of chalk snitched from school.

Like kangaroos, we’d hop, hop, hop, jump, hop
turn around, till sweat dripped down our rosy cheeks,
and our lips craved ice-cold cherry Cokes, grape
popsicles from Sweeny’s drugstore down the block.
             
               We’d skip off laughing, hand
               in hand, stepping over wide
               cracks, sparing our mothers’ backs,
               Carefree, happy, high on life.


© 2020 Dianne Moritz. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, March 27th.



Wednesday, March 18, 2020

DMC: "Object Permanence" by Bridget Magee




OBJECT PERMANENCE

mommy's there
in front of me
then disappears
where she be?

PEEK-A-BOO!
mommy's back
big bright smile
bubbly laugh


© 2020 Bridget Magee. All rights reserved.


TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, March 27th.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Two Line Tuesday: Irish Blessing






"Clover gleefully basks in the afternoon sun." — Evan Long


May the lilt of Irish laughter
lighten every load.

– Irish Blessing



Monday, March 16, 2020

DMC: "Bored Game or Board Game" by Kathleen Mazurowski




BORED GAME OR BOARD GAME

Stuck inside with nothing to do.
Check the shelves for something new.

Don’t remember how to play.
We’ll make the rules along the way.

Pick a color, red or blue.
Throw the dice and you get two.

I go next and roll a four.
Move the disk and add three more.

Changing the rules as we see fit
Toss the board and now you’re it!


© 2020 Kathleen Mazurowski. All rights reserved.



TLD reader Tabatha Yeatts has challenged us to write a poem about a game (any kind). Click HERE for more details and to add your poem to the padlet. While some poems will be shared as daily ditties this month, all contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration on Friday, March 27th.


Thursday, March 12, 2020

Let the Games Begin!


Bill Selak

Welcome to this month's game-a-thon, inspired by Tabatha Yeatts.

Earlier this week, I posted a quote from philosopher and psychologist Karl Groos to start the ball rolling. It was paired with a photo of "Timeline: Literary Edition"—a card game made by Tabatha and her daughter Elena. (Kudos to Elena for her amazing box design and card layout!)

You might be relieved to know that Tabatha is not asking us to create a new game this month, just a poem about a game—a board game, a card game, a party game, an outdoor game, a video game... even a poem about playing with a toy would be acceptable. We already have a few ditties by Cindy Breedlove, Kathleen Mazurowski, Sydey O'Neill, and Margaret Simon on the padlet, and today I'll be sharing mine.

My first idea for this challenge was to cleverly incorporate the names of popular games into a familiar story line. It was fun to begin with, but zany soon turned to wacko and spiraled out of control from there. Perhaps someone else might have more success with that approach. Instead, I found my poem sitting quietly off to one side, trying not to be noticed. It's not at all what I expected to write for this challenge, but it is about a game... sort of.


Notes from the Front Step

A kick-the-can newbie,

          Do you want to play?

I was expert in the rules of invisibility—

          No, thanks. I’ll watch.

spending my childhood
behind an imaginary camera,

          No, really. I like to watch.

clicking each awkward moment,

capturing each missed opportunity—

trophies inside my glass case.


© 2020 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.


Orin Zebest


Click HERE for more information about this month's challenge or to add your poem to the padlet.



It's time once again for Madness! Poetry. Round one is underway and Matt Forrest Esenwine fills us in on the details. Join him for this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.