Thursday, July 20, 2023


Howdy, Campers and Happy Poetry Friday! (The link to PF is below)

Our topic this round is HOW DO YOU APPROACH ENDINGS?

How do we know the last chapter, last paragraph, last word is the right last piece of a puzzle?  

In ending my first picture book, TO RABBITTOWN, I took the advice of poet Maxine Kumin without realizing it.
Image of a large red speech bubble with the following quote in white lettering: "One way to end the poem is to turn it back on itself, like a serpent with its tail in its mouth." ~ Maxine Kumin

Here are the first two pages of TO RABBITTOWN by me, with beautiful watercolor illustrations by Robin Spowart (Scholastic):

I opened her rabbit-y cage
and while she nibbled celery
I asked her:
Where do the rolling hills go?
She said:
Beyond the wheat
to a pine forest
to the edge of it all
to Rabbittown

I snuggled her close
She told me:
Hop there
Ride the green waves
Find the cliffs
past the smell of the sea
There you’ll find
those brown rabbit eyes
And so I went

The child leaves home and joins a world of rabbits, slowly turning into one.  The last three pages read:

I said:
I miss them
I want to run back through the hills
to the tops of the cliffs
toward the smell of mown lawns
where I’ll find
those curious human eyes

And off I hopped
through the pine forest
over the rolling wheat hills
past the smell of the sea
back to mown lawns
and my family

To grow legs again
to grow arms again
to hold my pet bunny again
who holds memories
of Rabbittown.

That book was published in 1989. At the time, I knew nothing about serpentine endings or writing. Nothing. I just liked tinkering with words. And that's how I still feel. Every. Single. Day. (Except some days...keep reading.)

How DOES one write (and end) a poem about endings?  I began by brainstorming:


the last cookie
the last episode
the last stop for four hours so you’d better pee now
the last words before the lights go down and the curtain comes up

the end of summer
the end of the year
the end of the meeting

the end of wearing diapers
the end of wearing braces

the end of the song
the end of Uncle Rob

the end of...
the end

A week or so after writing that, I threw everything into the pot (including the fact that my son's an ER doc) and messed around with end rhymes, without any organization or story:


A fire, a falsehood, a romance? (Swipe right.)

A concert, a friendship, a novel, a flight?

A sentence (that’s spoken), a sentence (for life)?

A shell game, a head trip, a story, a hike?

A hoax at a rally, a ruling, a right?

A swing shift, a bleeding, a day and a night?


A habit, an anthem, a bias, a fight?

A birthday, a luncheon, an obit, a rite?

A card: “may this new year be filled with bright lights”?

Wild rhyme, unhinged rhyme in this labyrinth?

Good night!

Clearly it needed some kind of organizing principle. Maybe the words in each line could be related? Or the lines could all march to a satisfying ending? I sent it to my best friend Bruce Balan, asking:

Dear Poem Repair Person, Please take my out-of-tune poem and make it sing in four-part harmony. 
The suggestions he sent were supposed to go here: _________________________________. But I'm not going to tell you his suggestions because he's right and I'm tired and it'll take too much work and I don't wanna.

Well, okay, I will share one question he sent:  "My real question is, what are you trying to say?" I had no idea.  

Sometimes internal logic, metaphors and a perfect visual shape will emerge from the muck of the marsh. And since none of that happened, I was hoping he would just tell me what I was trying to say. Or just rewrite the whole thing for me. Isn't that what friends are for?
Image of the last piece fitting into a completely white puzzle with these words on the puzzle: "I was hoping that as I moved the puzzle pieces around, they would come together in a satisfying, cohesive click." ~ AHW

Though the poem above didn't have heart or logic or answer the title's question, it was a SO MUCH FUN to write!  

Breaking News:
 sometimes it's not fun.

Sometimes I have to let things "cook" for awhile and the answers appear. But I didn't have time for that--this post was due! 

I decided to admit to you, dear campers, that "I'm tired of trying to figure things out" (phrase from a song by Tom Hunter). I can't seem to write a poem about endings. So, I took Dory's advice. I just kept swimming. I thought about my favorite hike and how last week it was mysteriously much harder than usual. (I didn't know I was coming down with a cold.)


This gentle path along the bluff

becomes a trail up a hill

and now a trek up to the ridge...

that peak is far.

That peak is steep.

This hike is hard.

I hear it growl...

and then it steepens loud

at me.

all poems--or rough drafts of future Pulitzer Prize-winning poems (c)2023 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

Thank you for sticking with me to the bloody end! I'll leave you with one last thought and, of course, the link to Poetry Friday:

“Poems are short stories
with punctuation disorders”

Tom Cassidy 

Thank you, Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
for hosting Poetry Friday this week!

Image of the end papers from The Witchling's Wish
by Lu Fraser, illustrated by Sarah Massini
posted by Picturebook_particulars on Instagram 

posted with love by April Halprin Wayland with help from Bruce Balan and the infinite knowledge of poets everywhere.

PS from Carmela: Congratulations to the winner of our 2 for 1 Giveaway: A Set of Metaphor Dice and a copy of the Poetry by Chance Anthology 
Marcie F.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

2 for 1 Giveaway: A Set of Metaphor Dice and a copy of the Poetry by Chance Anthology

Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? See this page for info.) 

Today we have a special treat for all our followers who are fans of metaphor and/or poetry, and especially for those of you who teach writing.

I mentioned in my June 16 post that we'd be hosting a giveaway of Poetry by Chance: An Anthology of Poems Powered by Metaphor Dice edited by Taylor Mali (Button Poetry). Well, Taylor surprised me by sending not only a copy of the book autographed to "a fan of TeachingAuthors" but by also including a set of Metaphor Dice for the giveaway.

I include instructions on how to enter the giveaway for this fun prize duo at the end of this post. But first, I want to share a bit about the anthology and give you a sneak preview of my poem that appears in it.

As it says in the book's description: "Poetry By Chance is the first collection of poems that were all prompted by different rolls of Metaphor Dice, featuring submitters from the inaugural Golden Die Contest." But that description fails to note that the anthology includes poems from young people, ages 10 and up, as well as adults. The book also contains a section devoted to Lesson Plans using Metaphor Dice to inspire writers of all ages. 

Poetry by Chance will be released Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Taylor Mali will be celebrating with a free book launch the following Friday, July 14, at Brooklyn Poets, 144 Montague St, Brooklyn, NY. If you're in Brooklyn, I hope you'll attend in person. If not, you can participate virtually instead. But either way, you must register in advance to attend, which you can do so here

Even though the book isn't officially out till next week, I have received permission to share my poem with you today. As I mentioned last time, the poem was inspired by these dice:

 Here's the poem:


      For some,
      forgetting is a gentle blessing
      providing absolution
      and forgiveness of sins.

      For me,
      forgetting is a harbinger of death,
      bearing the image of my grandmother—
      her brown eyes blank, blinking—
      unable to remember my name.

© 2023 Carmela A. Martino, Published in Poetry by Chance: An Anthology of Poems Powered by Metaphor Dice edited by Taylor Mali (Button Poetry). All rights reserved.  

In my last post, I mentioned that I first learned of the anthology from a Poetry Friday post by Heidi Mordhorst, and that my poem follows one of two of Heidi's that appear in the book. I neglected to say that the Lesson Plan section in the back of Poetry by Chance includes a contribution by Margaret Simon, another Poetry Friday regular. Margaret shares a fun way she uses Metaphor Dice to teach students about figurative language. It's lovely to have my poem in such great company!

Speaking of Poetry Friday, after you enter our giveaway below, be sure to visit this week's Poetry Friday round up hosted by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

And now for our giveaway!

. . . . . .

To enter the drawing to win a copy of Poetry by Chance: An Anthology of Poems Powered by Metaphor Dice edited by Taylor Mali (Button Poetry) AND a set of Metaphor Dice, use the Rafflecopter widget below. (Note: if the widget doesn't appear, click on the link at the end of this post that says "a Rafflecopter giveaway" to enter.)

You may enter via up to 5 options. The more options you choose, the better your odds!

If you choose option 4, 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!

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 July 15, 2023 and is open to U.S. Residents only.

If you’ve never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here’s info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.  And a second article explains the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.

Good luck!



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