Friday, June 26, 2015

3 things About Commas To Make You Smile

Howdy, Campers--and Happy Poetry Friday (original poem and PF link below)!

This is the last of our series about punctuation and related topics. Bobbi started us off with For the Love of Comma (her post was mentioned in Quercus), Esther offers A New Mark of Punctuation (sort of)...,Carla illustrates her point with specific examples from her books in How You Tell the Story Makes a Difference, and Mary Ann pleads, Can We Give the Exclamation Point a Rest?

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When my son was four, he was lying on the floor leisurely looking at a book one morning when I rushed in. "C'mon, honey--we've gotta go!"

"Okay, Mommy," he said marking his page, "lemme put it on pause."

Don't you love that?

my kiddo...who will be entering medical school in January

Put it on pause.  Commas, line breaks and periods give pause; they remind us to breathe. Like Bobbi, I love commas.  My summer present to you: three things about commas to make you smile:

1) A few years ago, I bought my mom (a true Punctuation Queen) this plaque.  

(Mom loved it.)

2) When my son was in elementary school, I read poetry to his class once a week.  I was trying to be like my teacher, Myra Cohn Livingston: I wanted to share poetry with no strings attached.  As I read, they listened, just listened.  Nothing was expected of them.  I read every poem twice.

At the end of each year, I gave them each a collection of the poems they loved; in third grade, this was one of their favs (make sure to take a big breath before attempting to read it aloud!):

Call the Periods
Call the Commas

By Kalli Dakos

Call the doctors Call the nurses Give me a breath of
air I’ve been reading all your stories but the periods
aren’t there Call the policemen Call the traffic guards
Give me a STOP sign quick Your sentences are running
when they need a walking stick Call the commas Call
the question marks Give me a single clue Tell me
where to breathe with a punctuation mark or two

From If You're Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand; Poems about School by Kalli Dakos, illustrated by Brian Karas (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1995) 

3) We're told so much about the health benefits of deep breathing; of taking time to slow down. Remember to Breathe, they say.

And just think: as writers, with our very own fingers, we have magic power. Add a comma, push the pause button.

Applause for the Pause
by April Halprin Wayland

A comma,
a breaking line
a period.

A day off,
a week away

poem (c)2015 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

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And finally, congratulations to TeachingAuthors' latest Book Giveaway Winner:
Em M, who won JoAnn Early Macken's Baby Says Moo wonderful board book--lucky Em!

Poetry Friday is at Carol's Corner this week--thanks for hosting, Carol!

As I said, TeachingAuthors is taking our annual Summer Blogging Break after this post (our sixth annual blogging break, for those of you who are paying attention). We'll be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail--which technically is Monday, July 13th. So, grab your towel, dive into the pool, and swim a few laps while we're gone ~ TTFN!

posted on a summer's day by April Halprin Wayland--with help from Eli (dog), Snot (cat), and Monkey.


Carol said...

I love Kalli Dakos' poetry and "Hold the Periods" is one of my favorites. It's usually one of the first poems I share with kids. They love it and they really do get it. I need to go back and read your other punctuation posts- somehow I totally missed them. Enjoy your vacation!

Jill said...

This DID make me smile, April. Loved "Hold the Periods." :)

Donna Smith said...

I am an exclamation point addict! See?
I also adore pauses. I love watching pauses that comedians do. I love using pauses. I adore commas and dashes...and dot - dot - dots!

Bobbi Miller said...

Call The Doctors! I loved this discussion! I am finding my inner exclamation point! I agree with Donna, this was a fund fun read, and dot-dot-dot!

Mary Lee said...

Three cheers for pauses of all kinds, including blog pauses!

Linda B said...

I'm back from my blogging "pause" & have missed all of these (I'm sure) wonderful posts. The poems are wonderful, I've used the first one before, too, but love yours, April. Unfortunately, telling students that when they 'naturally' pause is often where a comma goes finds many commas in odd places. But mostly, it works! Thanks for a fun post.

Rosi said...

Thanks for introducing me to some new poems. I agree with Linda Baie. If people put commas where they want to pause rather than where there is a comma called for, commas pop up in very unusual and often confusing places.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you Carol and Mary Less--I've already begun my vacation (I'm at ALA in SF) and so far it's terrific!

Hey, Jill--hi there!

And Donna--I hadn't thought about the pauses comedians use--you're changed the way I will listen in the future.

Welcome back, Linda. And you and Rosi made an excellent point--using a comma is more complex than a pause.

Thank you all for stopping by!

Pat said...

Glad I took a pause from my schedule to read this. Your plague made me laugh!

Author Amok said...

I can see why "Call the Periods Call the Commas" was a favorite. It's such a fun poem. Kids must hoot and howl at the crazy run-ons.

Enjoy your pause!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Pat--your auto-correct made ME laugh! And Laura--I'm so glad I could introduce you to a poem you hadn't read--big smile here!

Anonymous said...

This made punctuation charming, such a light take! I love the two poems. Period. Have a great break!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you, Friendlyfairytales!