Friday, January 19, 2024

My Word of the Year for 2024

Happy Poetry Friday! I share a poem by James Stephens at the end of this post along with a link to this week's roundup. 

Today, I kick off our first TeachingAuthors' topic for 2024: our one word (or short phrase) theme for the year. Three weeks into January, I'm still getting used to my word: LIGHTER

I've been feeling a bit burdened lately and wanted a word that would help me feel lighter physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope that, in turn, I'll bring more light to those I encounter. 

To help remember my word, I write it at the top of my to-do list every morning. Since I'm a visual learner, I like to also draw an image that helps me keep my word in mind throughout the day. Unfortunately, my drawing skills are quite limited, so the image needs to be something simple. I ended up choosing a kite.

Image of a vertically striped kite flying against a blue sky with puffy white clouds
Photo by Charlotte Harrison on Unsplash

It's amazing how one little word can shift your perspective. Thanks to my newfound focus on LIGHTER, I recently noticed that it's no longer dark at 5:00 pm. Given the frigid temperatures and the piles of snow all around, if not for my word, I don't think I would have realized that the days here in the Northern Hemisphere are already lengthening. 

One way I'm lightening my mood and outlook is by reading humorous poetry, such as Animals in Pants written by Suzy Levinson and illustrated by Kristin & Kevin Howdeshell (Abrams) and My Head Has a Bellyache and More Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Andrea Tsurmi (Little Brown).

And this month I'm especially excited about a new Think Poetry class I'll be taking with the amazing team of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell--I'll be learning ways to add humor to my own poetry! My heart is flying at the mere thought. 🪁

I'm also reading poetry that isn't necessarily humorous, but still uplifting. For the last few months, I've been savoring the poems in the beautiful anthology Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Candlewick).

When I read the poem for yesterday, January 18, "White Fields," the imagery really hit home—here in northern Illinois the fields are indeed covered in snow. And since the poem is in the public domain, I decided to share it today:

          White Fields
          by James Stephens

     In the winter time we go
     Walking in the fields of snow;

     Where there is no grass at all;
     Where the top of every wall,

     Every fence, and every tree,
     Is as white as white can be.

     Pointing out the way we came—
     Every one of them the same—

     All across the fields there be
     Prints in silver filigree;

     And our mothers always know,
     By the footprints in the snow,

     Where it is the children go. 

There's one more thing helping me feel LIGHTER these days: Two of my math-based poems appear in the STEM edition of Tyger Tyger Magazine. I feel especially honored because the editor created a terrific Teaching Resource to go with my poems. You can see all the poems and Teaching Resources in the issue by following the links on the Tyger Tyger website here. I'd love to know what you think of my poems!

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell
I hope this post has left you feeling a bit LIGHTER. Don't forget to check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Robin Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.

Carmela 🪁

Friday, January 5, 2024

Intro to Writing Children's Poetry for the Brave, Big-Hearted, and Curious on Jan 17th

Howdy, Campers! Happy New Year and Happy Poetry Friday! (The link to this week's PF is below.)

This is a quickie to tell you that once again I'm teaching a one day, three-hour virtual class called Intro to Writing Children's Poetry for the Brave, Big-Hearted, and Curious! (my title, not necessarily UCLA's). 

We'll be inspired by wonderful poems, play with some of the basic poetic tools, and have time for writing and sharing...all in just three hours! 

Class is on Wednesday, January 17th from noon-3pm PST. 

Enrollment, which opened January 3rd, is limited. 
There is always a waiting list
Here's a rough draft of today's poem...can anyone relate?

by April Halprin Wayland

I double, double dare you

to coax them out.

Set aside their cell phones?

I highly doubt.


I don’t think you’ll inspire them

or set their hair on fire when

you face them all

and class begins...


But wait a sec—they're *galvanized*—

their eyes are bright—they’re energized!

There’s silence (save the sound of pens)

How did you do that? Very Zen.


I guess I’m wrong again.

2024 April Halprin Wayland, all rights reserved

image by stockking on freepik
Thank you, Marcie, for hosting Poetry Friday at Marcie Flinchum Atkins

posted with hope and a big smile by April Halprin Wayland, with help from Kitty and our tiniest pond turtle, Ted Lasso.