Friday, December 20, 2019

2 Poems of Hope for the New Year

Howdy, Campers ~ and happy Poetry Friday (Two poems and the PF link are below)

CONGRATULATIONS to the TeachingAuthors reader who won Kimberly Hutmacher's book, Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts in our last giveaway of the year.... drum roll, please...

 ---> John S! <---
(This is not a picture of John, but I'll bet he's this excited)

I'm honored to be writing the last TeachingAuthors post of our 10th year. We'll return refreshed and ready to entertain, educate and inspire you on January 10, 2020.

I wanted to end this year with a note of hope.

Or two.

I scrolled through old poems tagged with the word hope--there are lots!

Then I cold-bloodedly killed off all but two...and can't decide which to post. So here are two to send you into the new year with hearts full of hope. Which do you prefer?

by April Halprin Wayland
July 27, 2018

I'm fourteen
the sand is neon hot
I run into the sea
letting its waves drink me

I swim as if I'm in our school's pool
burying my face in its warm water
savoring that strange grey light the concrete walls cast
reveling in its chlorine smell

but I'm in Kauai, Hawaii, salt in my eyes, salt in the air
there are fish below, but I don't have a snorkel or mask
so I swim and swim and swim
there are no concrete walls here

and oof! I bump into a snorkeling man and his daughter
we laugh and he takes off his gear, "Here—you've got to see this"
as if it were the most natural thing
as if we were long-time friends

so I do—I put my mouth on the bite tab
even though we've never met
and slip on the mask to see
what I knew was there

what I didn't know
was how much kindness
was swimming
so near

by April Halprin Wayland
August 19, 2010

My brain is sinking into the first chapter of a really great book.
I’m on top of the bed leaning against four fat pillows
wearing my seriously soft socks
as always.

Gary's reading The Economist on the little couch
head back against the square cushion he’s positioned just right  
feet on the opposite arm of the couch
as always.

Eli is upside down, back legs against the couch
front legs straight up in the air, paws flopped
eyes closed, breathing deeply
as always.

The balcony door nearest the couch
is open
letting in a loose tangle of African daisies
and this just-right August night.

I turn a page.
Something makes me look up.
pokes her head in the bedroom door.

Her green eyes narrow.
She studies the dog for a minute.
Then she slinks blackly along the edge of the room
towards our bed.

I wave my arm frantically over my head,
finally catch Gary's eye,
mouth, “ELSIE!”
and point.

Elsie is evading a predator.
She relaxes as she slips past the bed
which will block Eli's view if he wakes,
then takes a cat-light leap, landing next to my thigh.

By the time I turn on the ten’ clock news
(which wakes Eli)
Elsie is warm on my stomach.
Eli trots over.

She offers her head to him for a lick.
For several licks.
She leans further forward,

His tail wags furiously.
He puts his paw on her
and cocks his head.
Her ears flatten.

Elsie's purr goes guttural, dark, deep.
Eli sits down.
Then he yawns (I am so bored).
Chews an itch by his tail. Lies down.

Maybe there is hope
for peace
in the Middle East
after all.

 Elsie & Eli the first day they met, 2010

Eli romancing Elsie when they were young

poems (c) 2019 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

From all of us at TeachingAuthors ~
may you have moments of peace
this holiday season
and may we all find
in the new year.

posted with a little help from Eli by April Halprin Wayland

Friday, December 13, 2019

Three Poetry-Writing Titles for Your Bookshelf (and a Poem Inspired by Them)

Happy Poetry Friday! I share an original poem at the end of this post, along with a link to this week's terrific poetry-related Wednesday Writing Workout from Kimberly Hutmacher, in case you missed it. (The post includes a giveaway of Kimberly's nonfiction book Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts (Capstone Press).

Today I'd like to share three poetry-writing titles for your reference. I was inspired by Esther's post last Friday, in which she shared five new titles of interest to aspiring writers of all ages, but especially young writers. While the books I'll discuss today are not new releases, two of them are new to me.

I mentioned last August that I've been reading and writing poetry as I work on my own poetry project. I've also been reading books on poetry writing. I started out by rereading Ralph Fletcher's Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out (HarperCollins). Even though the book is intended for grades 5-9, I find it helpful for my own writing, and I find the examples from young poets quite inspiring.

I read a second book that approaches poetry "from the inside out:" Sandford Lyne's Writing Poetry from the Inside Out: Finding Your Voice through the Craft of Poetry (Sourcebooks). While the book's focus is poetry-writing, I think it would benefit all sorts of writers. This is not a book that addresses rhyme, meter, or form. Instead, it's about how to open our awareness to the world around us. As Lyne says:
"Writing poetry is about seeing patterns, seeing resemblances, seeing symbols and metaphors; it is about seeing connections. Writing poetry is about a deeper appreciation and deeper discernment, about respecting our own individuality and the individuality of others. Writing poetry is about economy, about bringing order out of chaos, about fine-tuning the aesthetic sense; it is about nurturing our sensitivity to beauty and preserving the beauty of the world."
After reading the book, I researched Lyne to see what else he'd written and was very sad to learn that he died in 2007, the same year this book was published. I found a lovely tribute to him online that talks of how he shared his delight in poetry with thousands of children and teachers. He compiled two anthologies of poems by some of the children he taught: Soft Hay Will Catch You: Poems by Young People (Simon & Schuster, 2004) and Ten- Second Rainshowers: Poems by Young People (Simon & Schuster, 1996). He used some of those poems as examples in Writing Poetry from the Inside Out, too.
Lyne's book includes a writing exercise called poem-sketching that's been helping me develop my poetry muscles. The poem I share below came out of that process.

The poetry-writing book I'm currently reading, The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska Press) by Ted Kooser, was included in the list of "Suggested Reading" in Lyne's book. Although it was published in 2005, Kooser's book is new to me. I'm finding it both inspiring and, as the subtitle says, filled with lots of practical advice.

Kooser says:
"What is most difficult for a poet is to find the time to read and write when there are so many distractions, like making a living and caring for others. But the time set aside for being a poet, even if only for a few moments each day, can be wonderfully happy, full of joyous, solitary discovery."
I've been experiencing some truly "joyous" moments playing with poetry the last few months. As I mentioned above, the poem I'm sharing today was inspired by Lyne's poem-sketching process. (You can read more about the process here and here.) The word group that prompted my poem consisted of "poems, flock, wings, fly."

Inspired by April's willingness to share her poetry-writing process, I give you first an early draft of the poem:

        Flocking Poems 

     Poems flock to me
     like migrating birds.
     Their wings rustle
     in the distance.
     I wait, smiling,
     as they fly nearer and nearer.
     they alight on this table
     waiting to be heard
     and fed.
  Copyright 2019 Carmela A. Martino 

Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

You can see I used all the words in the initial draft, but some were edited out in the revision process. Here's the current, much shorter, version.

       Flocking Poems 

     Poems flock to me
     like migrating birds.
     They alight on the page
     waiting to be heard.
  Copyright 2019 Carmela A. Martino 

Not sure I'm satisfied with this one yet. I'd love to know your thoughts on both poems. I plan to include this post in this week's Poetry Friday round-up over at Elizabeth Steinglass's blog. When you're done there, don't forget to read Kimberly Hutmacher's poetry-related Wednesday Writing Workout and enter our giveaway of her nonfiction book Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts (Capstone Press).

Remember to always Write with Joy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wednesday Writing Workout: Combining Poetry and Nonfiction, and a Book Giveaway!

Today I'm happy to bring you a Wednesday Writing Workout from nonfiction author and poet extraordinaire, Kimberly Hutmacher.

Kimberly is the author of 32 nonfiction books for children and 150+ articles, stories, and poems for magazines! Her latest is a series of three books on musical instruments, French Horn, Harp, and Djembe, to be released by Weigl AV2 Publishing in  2020. When Kimberly isn't working on a book project, she blogs for Poetry Friday at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes. She also contributes activities, crafts, and book recommendations to S.T.E.A.M. Powered Poetry, a site featuring inspiring STEAM-themed poetry videos for grades K-8.

To celebrate her appearance here on TeachingAuthors, Kimberly is giving away a copy of her book Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts (Capstone Press) to one lucky TeachingAuthors reader.

Did you know the smallest muscle in the human body is located inside the ear? Did you know the average American shoe size has increased 2 sizes since 1970? Did you know tooth enamel is the hardest part of the body? Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts is brimming with interesting and unusual human body trivia. The book is part of Capstone's Mind Blowing Facts Series. See the end of this post for instructions on how to enter to win your own copy! But first, here's Kim's Wednesday Writing Workout.

Wednesday Writing Workout:
Combining Poetry and Nonfiction

My two favorite writing genres are poetry and nonfiction. In my work, the two forms often collide. My nonfiction picture book, Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet (Arbordale 2009) and my nonfiction series of books on time for Capstone Press are written in rhyme. Sometimes, I’m asked to write STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) poems for a curriculum or a testing company. Once in a while, I’ll write a STEAM-themed poem for a magazine. I contribute accompanying activities, crafts, and book recommendations to Heidi Bee Roemer’s S.T.E.A.M. Powered Poetry Vlog. Today’s Wednesday Writing Workout lets us stretch both our nonfiction and our poetry writing muscles. 

Step 1: Find and read a STEAM-themed article that interests you. Here are a few online publications you might find helpful:
Step 2: Read the article again, and jot down some notes: key points, interesting words, descriptions of images that come to mind, questions you have about the topic and/or anything you might want to research further, etc.

Step 3: Write a poem based on what you’ve read. Your poem can be a feast for readers covering an entire process (Example: water cycle) or introduce readers to just a small taste of your topic (Example: evaporation). Your poem can be as long or as short as you like and it can be written in any form.

The following poem is an example of how I used this process for a Today’s Little Ditty Challenge at Michelle Heidenrich’s blog. Linda Mitchell challenged us to write a found haiku from any article on any subject that fascinated us. For this particular challenge, our haiku had to be made up of all words/phrases from the article. The article about spiders that inspired my poem can be found here on the News&Observer site.
And here's my haiku:

               Half as strong as steel
          Silk produced from spinnerets
               All done by instinct

       Copyright 2019 Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Remember, for this exercise,  there are no word, phrase, or form requirements. Just try to keep it on a STEAM topic.

Magazine publishers are looking more and more for STEAM-related content. Once you’ve written your poem and revised it to the best of your ability, you might consider submitting it to a children’s magazine for consideration. Click here for a list of possible markets.

Be sure to stop by the S.T.E.A.M. Powered Poetry Vlog to view inspiring STEAM-themed poetry videos. New videos and content are added every month. Be sure to follow and subscribe!


A big THANK YOU to Kimberly for today's Wednesday Writing Workout and for providing a book for today's giveaway.

Readers, before you leave, be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win her book Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts (Capstone Press).

To enter our drawing, use the Rafflecopter widget below. You may enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options. (Note: if the widget doesn't appear, click on the link at the end of this post that says "a Rafflecopter giveaway" to enter.)

If you choose option 2, you MUST leave a comment on TODAY'S blog post or on our TeachingAuthors Facebook page. If you haven't already "liked" our Facebook page, please do so today!

In your comment, we'd love if you would share a STEAM-related topic you enjoy reading.

If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.

Note: if you submit your comments via email or Facebook, YOU MUST STILL ENTER THE DRAWING VIA RAFFLECOPTER BELOW. The giveaway ends December 18, 2019 and is open to U.S. residents only.

Posted by Carmela 

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 6, 2019

Five New Titles for Santa’s Young Writers List – and Your List, Too!

Here we are, less than 3 weeks away from Santa’s deliveries to talented Young Writers - and maybe Once-Young Writers, too.
Given how busy I know Mr. Claus, his elves and gift-givers everywhere must be, it’s the least I can do to suggest five new books that would surely bring joy to any Young Writer. Together these titles offer a variety of formats, focuses and tellings.

Sally Lloyd-Jones’ LOOK! I WROTE A BOOK! (AND YOU CAN TOO!), illustrated by Neal Layton and published by Schwartz & Wade, is the perfect picture book introduction to the writing process for the youngest of Young Writers. In easy-to-understand language that makes for easy-to-laugh-at illustrations, the spirited first-person narrator answers the question just “how the heck do you write a book?” It’s all there, 100% kid-friendly, from brain-storming good ideas to structuring a story through creating an author bio, collecting back cover blurbs and marketing, even contemplating a sequel.  The Wall Street Journal aptly described this step-by-step guide as “a story-telling anatomy lesson masquerading as giddy fun….”

Fans of GOODNIGHT, MOON and THE RUNAWAY BUNNY will delight in Mac Barnett’s THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN (Balzer & Bray), gorgeously illustrated by Sarah Jacoby,.  They will also likely be surprised by all they learn about this important writer who believed children deserve important books. Margaret Wise Brown’s simplicity, clarity, directness and love of concrete details appear on the very first page, establishing the book’s oh, so appropriate tone and unorthodox telling.

“Margaret Wise Brown lived 42 years.
  This book is 42 pages long.
  You can’t fit somebody’s life into 42 pages,
                                           so I am just going to tell you some important things.”

School Library Journal’s starred-review verdict: “An important, groundbreaking biography inspired by Brown's legacy.”

Young Writers especially take heart and hope upon learning their favorite writers experience just about everything they do when working hard to tell their stories well.  That’s why Vicki Conrad’s picture book biography of Beverly Cleary for older readers JUST LIKE BEVERLY (Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch Books), illustrated by David Hohn, is both eye-opening and heart-opening. Beverly Cleary’s spirit, early reading struggles, hard work and encouragement from her parents and a special teacher will inspire all who write, Ramona Fans or not.
Kirkus noted in a starred review, “A loving and informative tribute worthy of celebrating Cleary’s 103rd year of life.”

Writers and readers ages 10 and up will spend hours pouring through the text and illustrations of Elizabeth Haidle’s collective graphic biography BEFORE THEY WERE AUTHORS – FAMOUS WRITERS AS KIDS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).  This lively anthology offers all sorts of delicious facts and insights about 10 beloved literary legends, both alive and long-gone: Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, Dr. Seuss, Sandra Cisneros, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Gene Luen Yang, Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. A most illuminating introduction – “What Makes A Writer?” – underscores how each writer follows his own path.  “It’s good to remember – all famous authors were once ordinary kids who felt that the writing of tales was something they couldn’t live without.”
Booklist described the book as a “reverential and playful volume.”

Paul Fleischman wrote LOTS of books to look at when he was young and in NO MAP, Great Trip (Greenwillow), he reflects on his writer’s travels from early childhood on to his twenties.  Indeed, the book’s subtitle is “A Young Writer’s Road to Page One.” What’s particularly notable is how those early travels and experiences wound up impacting the much-loved children’s books he came to write, including JOYFUL NOISE and SEEDFOLKS. Childhood photos, including those of his Newbery Medalist father Sid Fleischman, and interspersed “Writing Know-How” tips offer lots of personal and solid writing advice for middle grade students and up.
Booklist’s review referenced the book as part memoir, part guide-book and lauded its lively telling.

Here’s hoping writers everywhere find the above titles just “write."

Happy Gift-Giving! Happy Holidays! Happy Writing!

Esther Hershenhorn


Thanks to Tanita S. Davis for hosting today’s Poetry Friday at [Fiction, instead of lies].