Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Giveaway and Guest TeachingAuthor Interview with Heidi B. Roemer

Happy Poetry Friday, Everyone!

Today we're celebrating by featuring a guest TeachingAuthor interview with the wonderful poet, author, teacher, and now, editor, Heidi Bee Roemer. And I'm THRILLED to announce the forthcoming release of the brand new poetry anthology edited by Heidi and Carol-Ann Hoyte: And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems--ATCGW for short. The anthology, which is illustrated by Kevin Sylvester, includes 50 sports-related poems by poets from ten countries. I am honored to be one of those poets, and I have to say that I'm in some pretty amazing company, including Charles Ghigna, J. Patrick Lewis, David L. Harrison, Avis Harley, Priscilla Uppal, and my former fellow TeachingAuthor, JoAnn Early Macken. ATCGW is geared for children ages 8-12, and showcases nearly 30 different poetry forms. A portion of royalties from both the paperback and e-book editions will be donated to Right to Play, an international organization that uses sports and games to educate and empower children facing adversity.

And great news for our TeachingAuthors readers: you can enter our drawing for a chance to win your own paperback copy of this terrific anthology, autographed by Heidi (or her co-editor, Carol-Ann, if you live in Canada). See details at the end of this post. If you don't win our contest, see the official CrowdGoesWild website for information on how to a copy. (The e-book is only $3.99!)

In case you don't know Heidi Bee Roemer, here's an excerpt from her bio: With nearly 400 poems, articles, and stories in various children’s magazines and anthologies to her credit, Heidi is also a song lyricist and children’s book reviewer. Her debut book, Come to My Party and Other Shape Poems, (Henry Holt) received starred reviews and was nominated for several awards. Her newest books are both from NorthWord Press: What Kinds of Seeds are These? and Whose Nest is This? Heidi is a former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature, and currently serves as a writer-in-residence for several Chicago Public schools.

I had the privilege of taking a poetry class with Heidi a few years ago, and I can tell you from experience that she's a great teacher--several of the poems I wrote while in her class were eventually published in children's magazines or anthologies. When I saw Heidi's call for submissions for ATCGW, I initially submitted a couple of reworked  poems from that class. Then Heidi sent a follow-up call, asking specifically for poems about paralympic athletes--athletes with physical limitations. My first thought was: How can I write about a paralympic athlete when I don't know any? Then a few days later I remembered watching my son run his first marathon, and how inspired I was by all the paralympic athletes who participated. One runner in particular, a British man who ran on two prosthetic limbs, had left such an impression on me that I still recalled the awe and respect I felt watching him. So I wrote a list poem called "At the Chicago Marathon" as a tribute to him, and that was the poem accepted into And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. I don't want to make this post too long, so I'll share just the first stanza of my poem here:

                         At the Chicago Marathon

      The crowd roars as another runner rounds the bend.
      I stretch on tiptoes to see:
           white visor,
           dark sunglasses,
           rope necklace,
           muscled arms,
           red-white-and-blue shirt—the British flag, not ours,
           four black numbers on a white rectangle: 1776,
           same as the year our country declared independence from his. 
      . . .
poem excerpt © 2012 Carmela Martino.  All rights reserved.  

(Note: You can see a photograph of Richard Whitehead, the inspiration for this poem, running in that race here. That day he completed 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 52 seconds, setting the world marathon record for a leg amputee and placing 212 out of over 36,000 finishers. He will be running in the 100m and 200m races at this week's 2012 London Paralympic Games. According to the official website, those events will be held on Sept. 7 and Sept 1, respectively. You can read more about him at his website.)

And now, for the interview:

Heidi, will you tell us how you became a TeachingAuthor?
     My “on the job training” experience as a teacher is based on nearly 300 school presentations and library visits. As a poet-in-residence for Chicago Public Schools I learned how to make poetry lessons informative, lively and fun! In 2001 I was accepted as an instructor for The Institute of Children’s Literature, a college-credited correspondence course for adults who want to write for children. I also teach poetry to adults and children in various local venues.

What's a common problem/question that your students have and how do you address it?
     New poets often write rambling, overly-long poems and approach revision with reluctance. Most rookie poets need guidance on how to trim, tighten, and tweak their words. Someone wisely wrote: “Poetry is a can of frozen orange concentrate. Add three cans water and you get prose.” I agree! Want practice writing succinctly? Write terse verse because it contains only a few words per line. Children’s terse verse may be sprinkled with rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and wordplay. Closing lines should illicit a response from the reader—a sigh, gasp, smile or giggle. To understand how to write stellar poems for children in any poetic form, I often direct aspiring poets to magazines such as High Five, Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, Hopscotch, Boy’s Quest, Fun for Kids, Turtle, and Humpty Dumpty. Those wishing to be published in these specific magazines should study not just one issue, but two or more years of back issues.

Would you share a favorite writing exercise for our readers?
     Try writing terse verse—it’s not as easy as it looks! Short lines force the writer to trim excess words. Focus on a single age-appropriate topic using mostly concrete nouns and vivid verbs. Establish a word pattern and engage your young reader by incorporating a lighthearted, playful tone. Terse verse, also called cryptic rhyme, was popularized by author Verla Kay in Orphan Train, Gold Fever and other books. Writers who wish to master this poetry form should read Verla’s complete cryptic collection. I’m pleased to say that ATCGW contains a delightful terse verse written by U.S. author, Ellen Ramsey. I won’t give away her surprise ending, but here are a few opening lines:

          “What Do You Do With….”

          A weight?
          Lift it.
          A racquet?
          Swing it.
          A rope?
          Climb it.
          A bike?
          Ride it. . . .
poem excerpt © 2012 Ellen Ramsey.  All rights reserved. 

Do you have any suggestions for teachers on how they might use And the Crowd Goes Wild! in the classroom?
     Educators will find ATCGW an easy fit with school curriculum. One suggestion is to engage students in related physical activities. For example, Laura Purdie Salas’s roundel is about goalball, an official sport of the Paralympics games; visually impaired players chase a ball that contains a bell inside. Using a cat toy with a bell inside, let blindfold students try to toss and catch the toy, aided only by the ringing sound. Patricia Cooley’s free verse about chess, “The King’s Gambit,” can also be creatively adapted. Students can hold large cardboard replicas of chess pieces (rook, pawn, bishop, etc) and play a life-size game of chess.
     ATCGW can be used as a study of various poetry forms. The end pages identify nearly 30 poetic forms found in the anthology, such as haiku, limerick and shape poems, as well as less familiar forms: cleave, etheree, and palindrome. Keeping a poetry journal, students can study the various forms and write a new poetry form each week.
     ATCGW also introduces students to poets featured in the book. Some contributing poets are recognized and revered around the world, others are just at the cusp of their writing careers. Students can visit the poet’s website or blog. If the poet has published other books, students might read those as well. Geography can play a role in classroom studies, too! Students can use pushpins and a world map to indicate where each poet lives. Once the study is done, students may write an email or letter to their favorite poet.

ATCGW is your first project as editor. What’s the experience been like? Would you do it again?
     My dream job is to be a poetry editor for a children’s magazine. So when the book’s creator, Carol-Ann Hoyte of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, asked me to be part of this international “Olympic-related” sports poetry project, I jumped at the chance. It’s an exciting experience to discover new talent and see a book come to life. Yes, I would love to edit another poetry anthology—or children’s poetry magazine, for that matter!

I know you’ve lined up a number of events to promote ATCGW around the world involving some of the contributors (including ME!). Would you tell us about some of those events?
     Carol-Ann and I are excited about our upcoming book launches this fall. The U.S. launches will feature eight Illinois poets. ATCGW’s official “Poetry Team U.S.A.” includes contributors Cathy Cronin, Patricia Cooley, Heather Delabre, Claudia Kohlbrenner, Eileen Meyer, Patricia Murphy, Heidi Bee Roemer, Michelle Schaub, and (yay!) today’s TeachingAuthor interviewer, Carmela Martino! My heartfelt thanks, Carmela, for letting me tell your dedicated followers and fellow poets about And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. I hope your readers will check the listings below and join us for an hour of poetry, poets, prizes and fun surprises!

Thank you, Heidi, for this great interview, and for allowing me to be part of And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. Below is information about the book's first two launch events. I'll be posting additional dates and times next Friday. Meanwhile, don't forget to enter our contest for your chance to win an autographed copy. See the details at the end of this post. 

First two launch events for And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems:
In Canada:
Thursday, September 13 at 7 p.m.
Selwyn House School
95 Cote St. Antoine Road, Westmount, Montreal

In the U.S:
Wednesday, September 26 at 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Mokena Library
11327 W. 195th Street
Mokena, Illinois 60448

Finally, details on entering our giveaway:

You must follow our TeachingAuthors blog to enter for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of  And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. If you're not already a follower, you can sign up now in the sidebar to subscribe to our posts via email, Google Friend Connect, or Facebook Network blogs.

There are two ways to enter:  
  • by a comment posted below OR
  • by sending an email to teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com with "Book Giveaway" in the subject line.
Whichever way you enter, you MUST give us your name AND tell us how you follow us. If you enter via a comment, you MUST include a valid email address (formatted like: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com) in your comment. Contest open only to residents of the United States and Canada. Incomplete entries will be discarded. For complete giveaway rules, see our Book Giveaway Guidelines.

Entry deadline is 11 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 (Central Standard Time). The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and announced on Sept. 12.  
Good luck! 

And after you've entered, don't forget to check out this week's Poetry Friday round-up at Poetry For Children.

Happy Writing!


Barbara Younger said...

Great interview. Write terse. Will practice!

We need sports books! Hooray for this collection. I'd love to be entered in the drawing. Thanks!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, Barbara!

Jill said...

So excited for you, Heidi!

Patricia said...

Read it.
Buy it.
Win it.
Congratulations Heidi, Carmela and all

Margo Dill said...

I love the two poem excerpts, so I would love to win the book! I follow you with GFC, and my email is. . .margo (at)

Thanks for the interview. Congrats to all, and it sounds like you are going to have a blast promoting it. :)


Anonymous said...

LOVE the analogy of the orange concentrate - so perfect! i follow you on facebook!

mary said...

I love to read a book in verse,
Be it rambling; rhyming or just terse;
Even though I find it exciting;
I know it’s not my style of writing.
Great interview and can't wait to read the book

Joy said...

Great interview.
Thanks for info.
May I please,
put my name in the hat
to win a free copy of


Shari A. Brady said...

Congrats to all writers involved in such a great creative endeavor. I'd love to enter my name to win a free book. Thanks!

Heidi Bee Roemer said...

Carol-Ann and I thank YOU, Carmela!
ATCGW is jam-packed with poems that amuse, entertain, and educate. Readers' hearts will be especially stirred upon reading your poem, "At the Marathon." Thanks for sending it in, Carmela!

Linda B said...

I follow with Google Friend Connect. So many great anthologies, but not many about sports, or up to date. This one sounds like a perfect addition to a library. Thanks for offering one.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carmela ~ You're a tease! The stanzas you tempted us with make me want to read the whole book. Sounds wonderful!

Leanne Pankuch said...

What a great interview! I agree with Barbara--we need more sports books.

I really appreciated the poetry writing tips and resources--I need all the help I can get!

And, I would definitely love a copy of ATCGW--I follow Teaching Authors by receiving their posts through Email.

Leanne Pankuch

leannepankuch [at] comcast [dot] net

Kim Murray said...

I can't wait to read this book! I would love to win a copy! I follow Teaching Authors posts via an RSS Google Reader subscription.

Kim Murray


Carmela Martino said...

Thanks, April. Glad to know my tease worked. :-)
And Barbara, Patricia, Mary, and Joy, I LOVE the verse form of your comments. Good luck to all, and thanks for entering our contest.

Charles Waters said...

Great interview! Get thee to your computer forthwith and order a copy of this fine book!!!!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for stopping by, Charles. I can't wait to read YOUR poem!

Becky Fyfe said...

Great interview! :) I love anthologies! :)

Rebecca [at] Fyfe [dot] net