Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Writing Workout: Fibs!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'm posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. Today's form is a Fib, a counted-syllable form with an increasing number of syllables per line, following the Fibonacci sequence. Each number in the series (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on) is formed by adding the two previous numbers. The Fibonacci sequence can “describe an amazing variety of phenomena, in mathematics and science, art and nature.”

Greg Pincus visited the Teaching Authors last year. He explained the origin of the Fib form on his blog. The New York Times article “Fibonacci Poems Multiply on the Web After Blog's Invitation” describes the form’s increasing popularity. According to the Poetry Foundation, “These short, straightforward poems are that rare thing capable of crafting a bridge between the often disparate souls of art and science.”

When I tried writing Fibs, I found that the lengthening lines seemed to suit a subject that unfolds gradually or a conclusion that slowly dawns on a narrator and/or reader.

In this poem, my early drafts stopped at seven lines. Then I realized I had more to say, so I reversed the pattern and counted back down.


Signs of Spring

I
walk
my dog
cautiously
through our neighborhood
in spring, when warning signs crop up
on lush green smooth-as-carpet lawns: Pesticides! Keep off!
How on our dear troubled planet did poison become
an acceptable lawn care tool?
Is grass truly green
if nothing
else can
thrive
there?

Today is the last day to enter to win one of five Teaching Authors Blogiversary Book Bundles! Details are here.

On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays, including giveaways of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken




Monday, April 21, 2014

How to Read a Poem Aloud (Revised) and 2 Giveaway Reminders


Hi Everyone,
This month, we've been having a great time celebrating our BlogiVERSEary by sharing audio and video clips of the TeachingAuthors reciting some of our favorite poems. If you missed any of them, here are the links one more time, in the order posted:

Our actual blogiversary is tomorrow, April 22. Believe it or not, we've been posting for FIVE years!

Our blogiversary giveaway runs through Wednesday, April 23, so if you haven't entered yet, be sure to do so on this blog post. And while our blogiversary celebration is coming to a close, the Poetry Month fun continues with JoAnn's weekly poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. JoAnn is also giving away copies of her terrific book, Write a Poem Step by Step on her blog.

Before publishing my last blog post, I double-checked with April regarding the formatting of her poem "How to Read a Poem Aloud," which I was sharing in my post. I was surprised to learn that she'd revised the poem since its first publication. Unfortunately, the news came after I'd already uploaded my recording of the original poem to SoundCloud and I didn't have time to re-record it before the post went live. I realized later that today's post was a great opportunity to share that revised version with you. I uploaded a new recording (email subscribers can listen to it here) and I copied the latest version of the poem below. If you want to compare the two, you can go back to my last post.

I'm hoping April will share with us her revision process, because, to be honest, I loved the poem the way it was. Of course, I like this version, too. J

                 How to Read a Poem Aloud (Revised Version)
                    by April Halprin Wayland

            To begin,
            tell the poet’s name 
            and the title 
            to your friend.

            Savor every word—
            let 
                each 
                        line 
                              shine.

          Then—
          read it one more time.

          Now, take a breath—
          and sigh.

          Then think about the poet,
          at her desk,
          late at night,
          picking up her pen to write—

          and why.
                             © April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved. 




Happy writing!
Carmela

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Seal Lullaby," by Rudyard Kipling [Poetry Friday]

I hope you've been enjoying our sharing of some of our favorite poems. I've really loved hearing my fellow Teaching Authors read!

I could never choose one favorite poem, but this is definitely one I come back to again and again. It has several elements I adore: rhyme, nature, the ocean, gorgeous language, a melancholy but still comforting tone, and content that acknowledges the dangers in the world but promises safety anyway.

Seal Lullaby

Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
  And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us,
  At rest in the hollows that rustle between.


Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
  Oh weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
  Asleep in the arms of the slow swinging seas.


—Rudyard Kipling

And here I am reading the poem:



I hope you're having a terrific National Poetry Month! There's so much amazing stuff being shared in our kidlitosphere--it's hard to keep up, isn't it? I do hope you'll take a couple of minutes to go to our Blogiversary Post and enter our giveaway. You could win one of five book bundles from one of the Teaching Authors:>)

Artist/writer/blogger/poet and all-around lovely person Robyn Hood Black has the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Life on the Deckle Edge. Have fun!

[posted by Laura Purdie Salas]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Writing Workout: Book Spine Poems!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'll be posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts. For today's workout, why not try a book spine poem?

Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books project has inspired numerous book spine poems. Also check out Travis Jonker's 2014 Book Spine Poem Gallery. You can even send in your own if you're so inspired!

I tried a few and could hardly stop myself. Good thing my bookshelves are somewhat limited! Do not set me loose in a library!

 Curiosity
 

Poetry Is

Note to Self

For the Next Generation
 

Remember to enter to win one of five Teaching Authors Blogiversary Book Bundles! Details are here. 

On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays, including giveaways of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Blogi-VERSE-ary!!!!!


Hip (to the 5th power) Hooray!
It’s our Blogiversary!!!!!
Our TeachingAuthors group blog has been teaching authors since April of 2009!

To celebrate the occasion, we’re celebrating you!  Enter our Raffle drawing to win one of FIVE Blogiversary Book Bundles – each bundle a set of five books hand-selected by a TeachingAuthor that includes at least one autographed TeachingAuthor book.  Check the end of this post for details.

But wait!
It’s also our Blogi-VERSE-ary, so smartly re-named by our reader Mary Lee of A Year of Reading, because we six TeachingAuthors chose to celebrate the occasion by reciting our favorite poem in honor of Poetry Month.

I suggested the idea once I read about the Poetry Foundation’s current Favorite Poem Project: Chicago which grew out of former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s national Favorite Poem Project – Americans Saying Poems They Love which celebrates poetry as a vocal art. 

Poetry Foundation President Robert Polito shared in his project description that “a favorite poem can be a talisman or mantra, a clue, landmark or guiding star and dwells deep down in our psyches.”

Thank you for your interest in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Check this page regularly to view the six videos in the series which will be release twice each week starting on Monday, April 14.Hana Bajramovic
"The Order of Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Naomi Beckwith
"The Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg
Thank you for your interest in the Favorite Poem Project: Chicago. Check this page regularly to view the six videos in the series which will be release twice each week starting on Monday, April 14.Hana Bajramovic
"The Order of Key West" by Wallace Stevens
Naomi Beckwith
"The Children of the Poor" by Gwendolyn Brooks
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago" by Carl
FYI: the Poetry Foundation, located in beautiful downtown Chicago, is an amazing resource – for writers and readers, for teachers, of course, but really-and-truly, for anyone human.
To plan a (highly-recommended) visit, click here.
To explore the children’s poetry resources, click here. 
Students can find recitation tips and look for poems here.
Teachers can learn all about Poetry Out Loud in the classroom by clicking here.
So you’re never without a poem nearby, click here to download the Poetry App.

The poem I chose to recite via SoundCloud (and – fingers-crossed – successfully uploaded to today’s post so you can hear it) is Robert Louis Stevenson’s MY SHADOW.

The poem dwells deep, deep, deep in my psyche, placed there by my mean-spirited third grade teacher Miss Atmore at Philadelphia’s Overbrook Elementary.  (Think every gruesome teacher Raoul Dahl created, to the max (!), down to the spit that sprayed the air when she’d lean in close to admonish a mistake.)

In between Halloween and Thanksgiving of that third grade year, each of us was to choose, memorize and then recite before the class eight lines of a poem.  I instantly knew the poem I’d choose.  I treasured my copy of A CHILD’S GARDEN OFVERSES.  How could I not choose my favorite poem, My Shadow? I loved the poem’s sing-song rhythms; I loved its playfulness. I even recall jumping rope while I recited the poem, practicing, practicing, practicing.  I so wanted to get it right.  Standing before my classmates in the front of my classroom, beside Miss Atmore seated dispassionately at her desk, demanded Courage and Moxie, both of which I lacked.


"My poem is My Shadow,” I bravely began, and Miss Atmore stopped me, cold, mid-sentence.
“Po-em is a two-syllable word, child!” she shouted. “How many times must I tell you all that?!  Now raise your head, start again and this time, for goodness sake, speak the words correctly!”
The rhythm of the lines ran away (probably scared); I mispronounced "India" as "Indian." All I could do was stare at the two shiny pennies that adorned my new brown loafers. 
But that failed recitation serves as a landmark. Thanks to Miss Atmore, I knew then and there that when – I – grew up to be a teacher someday, everything that Miss Atmore was, I would spend my lifetime making sure I wasn't.                                (IIllustration by Ted Rand)                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Ironically, when I was first trying my hand at writing for children, I wrote a poem entitled “P-O-E-M is a Two-syllable Word.” In time the title became a line in the first poem I ever sold, to Ebony Jr. magazine.  I’ve searched high-and-low for my copy so I might share the poem, but alas, no luck.  Even today, I can’t speak the word “poem” without enunciating clearly its two two-letter syllables.


           My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head.
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow –
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

[Note: If you're receiving this post via email, here's the link to the Sound Cloud reading of Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow by Esther Hershenhorn ]


             * * * * * * * *
I offer at least five bundles of thanks to you, our readers, for embracing our blog, and to my fellow TeachingAuthors too – Jill Esbaum, JoAnn Early Macken, Carmela Martino, Laura Purdie Salas, April Halprin Wayland and currently in absentia but always in my heart, Mary Ann Rodman and Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford, for embracing me.

I did indeed find that long-ago missing Moxie and each of you makes sure I maximize it bi-monthly.

Here’s to a month of poetic celebrations!

 Oh, and don’t forget to enter our BlogiversaryRaffle to win one of FIVE Blogiversary Book Bundles. 

Good Luck!

Esther Hershenhorn

Friday, April 11, 2014

Favorite Poem Project: A Group Effort!

We Teaching Authors are celebrating National Poetry Month by posting recordings of us reading some of own favorite poems.

Today is my turn--lucky me! I spent a few days at a writing retreat with Teaching Authors Jill Esbaum and April Halprin Wayland, who generously helped me try something I've wanted to do for a long time: read a poem in rounds.

Here's our recording of Mary Ann Hoberman's "Counting-Out Rhyme" from The Llama Who Had No Pajama.

video

What fun! Thank you, Jill and April!

If you're reading this post via email, you can view the video on YouTube.

Don't forget to enter our drawing to win one of five Teaching Authors Blogiversary Book Bundles! The details are here.

After you enter, remember to visit me over at my own blog, where I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays throughout April and giving away copies of Write a Poem Step by Step. Good luck!

Poetry Friday
Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Today's Little Ditty. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Writing Workout: Try a Triolet!

Throughout April (National Poetry Month), I'll be posting poetry-themed Wednesday Writing Workouts.

Today's form is a triolet, which contains eight lines. Two of the lines repeat (one of them twice), so a poem includes only five different lines. Some variation is allowed within the repeating lines.

Because of the repetition, it's a good form to use when you want to remind readers of  a certain point or make a strong impression. The form looks like this:

A
B
a
A
a
b
A
B

A and B are the repeating lines.
a rhymes with A.
b rhymes with B.

I didn't set out to write a triolet about the form itself; that just sort of happened as I tried to explain it. Here's my triolet triolet:

Self-Referential Encouragement

A tricky form, the triolet,
relies on two lines that repeat,
reinforcing what they say.
A tricky form, the triolet—
keep trying, and you’ll find a way
to manage this poetic feat.
A tricky form, the triolet
relies on two lines that repeat.


More information about the form is at Poets.org. Give it a try, and do let us know how it goes! 

Remember to enter to win one of five Teaching Authors Blogiversary Book Bundles! Details are here. 

On my own blog, I'm posting more poetry writing tips and assorted poetry treats on Fridays, including giveaways of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to stop by!

JoAnn Early Macken


Monday, April 7, 2014

Celebrating our BlogiVERSEary with a Favorite Poem (and Giveaway!)


A HUGE thank you to Mary Lee, who blogs at A Year of Reading, for coining the word "blogiVERSEary" when she commented on April's post announcing our celebration and giveaway.

BlogiVERSEary is the perfect word to describe our theme this year. (Wish I'd thought of it when I created our Fifth Blogiversary logo!) Since our blog's anniversary falls during National Poetry Month, we thought it would be fitting for each of us to share a favorite poem, à la this year's Chicago Poetry Foundation's edition of the Favorite Poem Project. Esther is the one who brought the Favorite Poem Project to our attention, so I'll let her talk more about it when she posts. Meanwhile, if you're a teacher or parent, you may want to go ahead and check out their poetry lesson plans and other resources (after you're finished reading here, of course!).


To make our blogiVERSEary posts extra special, some (perhaps all) of the TeachingAuthors will share their favorite poems not only in printed form, but also via an audio or video reading. It's an opportunity for those of you we've never met to at least hear our voices. Creating an online audio or video clip is new territory for me. Unfortunately, I don't have a video camera, so I'll be sharing an audio reading, as April did.

I created a new account with SoundCloud, just for that purpose, per these instructions from the Poetry Foundation. After a couple of tense days when I couldn't get my account validated, I was finally able to upload the sound clip. If you are reading this post via email, you can go online to listen to the clip here. If you missed hearing April's reading of her favorite, give a listen to her Friday post. And while you're there, be sure to enter our blogiversary giveaway to win one of our FIVE "blogiversary book bundles," if you haven't already done so.

It took me some time to decide on just which "favorite poem" I wanted to share. The first poems I thought of were classics by Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. But I really wanted to share something a bit more child-friendly. So I went over to check out Greg Pincus's annual 30 Poets/30 Days project. Poking around on the site, I discovered the perfect poem for our blogiVERSEary: "How to Read a Poem Aloud." It happens to be written by our very own April Halprin Wayland! Greg originally posted it in his 2009 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, on April 28, 2009, just days after our TeachingAuthors blog debuted. And now, with April's permission, I'm sharing it here, as one of my favorite poems. You can also hear me read it below.

            How to Read a Poem Aloud
                    by April Halprin Wayland

            First, read the title of the poem
            and the poet’s name.

            Be clear.

            Now completely
            disappear.

            Let each line
            shine.

            Then read it
            one more time.

            When the poem
            ends, sigh.

            Think about the poet at her desk,
            late at night, picking up her pen to write--

            and why.
                             © April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved. 


Now isn't that just the perfect poem for our blogiVERSEary?




Happy Poetry Month, and Happy Writing!
Carmela