Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - English Madrigal

I know that this is a holiday week, but this seemed like a good time to write a madrigal.

The English Madrigal is a 13 line poem written as a tercet, quatrain, and sextain. The lines of the tercet serve as refrains. The English madrigal is written in iambic pentameter and is rhymed. Here is the form.

1 A
2 B1
3 B2

4 a
5 b
6 repeat line 1 (A)
7 repeat line 2 (B1)

8 a
9 b
10 b
11 repeat line 1 (A)
12 repeat line 2 (B1)
13 repeat line 3 (B2)

You can read more about the madrigal form at Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides and Poetry Magnum Opus.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing an English madrigal. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Poetry Friday is My November Guest

Welcome poetry lovers! I'm happy to be hosting Poetry Friday this week. Many of my blogging friends are in Minnesota at the NCTE conference. I hope they'll be sharing goodies with us this day.

Today I am sharing my favorite poet for fall, Robert Frost. "My November Guest" was first published in the November 1912 issue of The Forum, and later was collected in his first volume, A Boy's Will, published in 1915.

My November Guest
by Robert Frost
(Text from Bartleby)

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
  Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
  She walks the sodden pasture lane.      

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
  She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
  Is silver now with clinging mist.      

The desolate, deserted trees,
  The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
  And vexes me for reason why.      

Not yesterday I learned to know
  The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
  And they are better for her praise.      

I hope you'll help me celebrate poetry this week by joining in the round-up and visiting other folks sharing their thoughts. I'm and old-school style host, so please leave a note with a link to your offering in the comments. Happy poetry Friday all!


Original Poetry 
Laura Purdie Salas shares a poetry sampler and an original poem entitled Soap Bubbles.

Diane Mayr of Random Noodling shares a "not-so-celebratory" (her words, not mine!) Thanksgiving poem entitled Thinking of Thanksgiving.

Brenda Davis Harsham of Friendly Fairy Tales shares a poem entitled Season of Thanks.

Margaret Simon of Reflections on the Teche shares wonder poems her students have created and illustrated using Animoto.

Linda Baie of Teacher Dance reflects on the events of the last week and difference and has crafted a poem entitled In and Out.

Iphigene at Gathering Books share a poem and prayer entitled Our Father.

cb hanek shares her response to Carol V's "Autumn Palette" invitation/challenge and shares a photo-poem entitled Twice-Tremendous Trees.

Donna Smith of Mainely Write shares her poem "Reveille" today.

Matt Forrest Esenwine of Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme shares 3 poems written to his "Poetry...Cubed!" challenge.

Charles Waters shares some VERY GOOD NEWS (hurray!) and two original poems.

Doraine Bennett of Dori Reads shares her poem Thankful.

Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link connects her thoughts on the season to a photo-poem (a cento of sorts) based on an excerpt from Cynthia Rylant's book In November.

Bridget Magee of wee words for wee ones is sharing her poem entitled Without You.

Jan Godown Annino of Bookseedstudio shares a number of ThankU (thankful haiku) poems.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm, has a story poem and a special sharing. I'll add she's also sharing the incredible gift of her generosity.

Carlie of Twinkling Along is sharing her poem entitled An Apple Lesson.

Poetry of Others
Michelle Heidenrich Barnes of Today's Little Ditty is featuring Cristina-Monica Moldoveanu in the Haiku Garden.

Robyn Hood Black of Life on the Deckle Edge features Becca McCauley of The Paideia School in Atlanta and shares a peek into her personal exploration of haiku and how she's using it with her students.

Over at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet, Diane Mayr is sharing a poem about Pilgrims from an old holiday anthology.

Karin Fisher-Golton reflects on The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, the poem engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

Becky Shillington of Tapestry of Words is contemplating a poem about hope by Emily Dickinson.

Catherine Flynn of Reading to the Core is in Minnesota for NCTE and is sharing poems from 3 Minnesota poets.

Irene Latham of Live Your Poem shares the poem "I Am Angry" from the Cybils nominated book A Great Big Cuddle by Michael Rosen.

Heidi Mordhorst of my juicy little universe shares the poem Woman Feeding Chickens by Roy Scheele.

Violet Nesdoly shares some photos and Oliver Herford's poem The Elf and the Dormouse.

Ruth of There is no such thing as a God-foresaken town shares Pablo Neruda's poem Ode to Life.

Little Willow of Bildungsroman is sharing the poem Mr. Darcy by Victoria Chang.

Tara Smith of A Teaching Life shares the poem Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda.

Sylvia Vardell of Poetry For Children is sharing a poem from the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations appropriate to the season with accompanying activity ideas.

Tanita Davis of fiction instead of lies is sharing two poems, Faith and Mockery, both by Louis Untermeyer.

Jone MacCulloch of Check It Out is sharing the poem Making Peace by Denise Levertov.

Karen Edmisten is sharing the poem Cheerfulness Taught by Reason by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Book Reviews and Poetry
Laura Shovan of Author Amok shares a review of Paper Wishes, a historical novel that looks at Japanese internment camps from a child's point of view, and connects it to song lyrics from the musical Allegiance.

Julie Larios of The Drift Record shares Julie Paschkis's latest book, a collection of poems in both Spanish and English, and the poem La Polilla / The Moth.

Jama Rattigan of Jama's Alphabet Soup is sharing a review of Head to Toe Spaghetti And Other Tasty Poems, a new collection of food poems by David Booth.

Gifts and Assorted Poetic Offerings
Tabatha Yeatts of The Opposite of Indifference shares poetry gift ideas and a video about using poetry to help doctors connect with their patients in a different way.

JoAnn Early Macken of Teaching Authors continues with their "Three Weeks of Thanks-Giving" series with a ThankU to peacemakers.

Did you know that you can get a new poem a day from Jane Yolen? All you need to do is: (1) sign up at; and (2) pledge to either buy a book of Jane's or borrow one from the library. So, what are you waiting for?

Monday, November 16, 2015

On Making and Using Book Lists - Considering A Recent Mighty Girl Book List

This blog recently celebrated its 9th anniversary. In nine years I've learned a lot about children's literature that I didn't know going in. I've also met, virtually and in person, a great number of very smart folks who review and share books with kids of all ages from all kinds of backgrounds.

I mention this background because I don't jump lightly into conversations that are uncomfortable and that point out shortcomings in books that have received praise elsewhere. Case in point, the recent Mighty Girl book list Celebrating Native American & Aboriginal Mighty Girls for Native American Heritage Month. While there are very positive books on this list, books that show a range of Native American identities and experiences, there are also books that perpetuate ugly stereotypes and misconceptions.

I don't consider myself an expert in this area, but I listen and try to learn. I spend time in my methods course reviewing books with students to help them understand that as both windows and mirrors to lived experience, books must accurately reflect social identities. We read An Updated Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children's Books by Louise Derman-Sparks and How to Tell the Difference: A Guide to Evaluating Children's Books for Anti-Indian Bias by Beverly Slapin, Doris Seale and Rosemary Gonzales. I send them to read blogs such as American Indians in Children's Literature, a blog written by Debbie Reese that reviews and critiques children's and young adult books about native peoples,  De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children, a group blog that reviews and critique children's and young adult books about Raza peoples throughout the Diaspora, The Brown Bookshelf, a blog designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, and others.

I have written a fair number of thematic booklists since the birth of this blog, though they all fall along the lines of science, math, and poetry. I am always excited to find lists written by others, hoping they will help me and my students find the best books for use in the classroom. I was excited to see the latest post from A Mighty Girl show up in my feed, but was disappointed when I looked critically at the list.

In order to move conversations forward about diversity in children's literature, we must be willing to listen to the voices from underrepresented groups when they tell us we're getting it wrong. We must be willing to set aside "classics" and old favorites when the information they present is inaccurate. Nowhere is this more problematic than when faced with a book sporting a Newbery,  Caldecott, or Printz sticker.

I so wanted to leave this feedback for the author of the list, Katherine Handcock, at the Mighty Girl site, but couldn't find a mechanism to do that. I appreciate all that A Mighty Girl does to empower girls and affirm their place in this world. However, this list contains titles that contain stereotypes and inaccuracies that could actually be harmful and less than empowering. I hope everyone who visits will read this list with a critical eye. Stop by American Indians in Children's Literature and check out some of the reviews Debbie Reese has posted or linked to for books on the list she does NOT recommend, such as Julie of the WolvesIsland of the Blue Dolphins, and Mama Do You Love Me?. While you are there, check out Debbie's list of Best Books.

I hope the folks at A Mighty Girl will reconsider this list and think about replacing some of these titles with books that will truly empower Native American & Aboriginal mighty girls.

For more on this, read Debbie Reese's letter to Katherine Handcock.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Terzanelle

What do you get when you cross a terza rima and a villanelle? The answer is a poetic form called a terzanelle.

A terzanelle uses the villanelle’s form of five triplets and a quatrain with the interlocking rhyme scheme of the terza rima.

Here is the line pattern and rhyme scheme.

1 a1
2 b1
3 a2

4 b2
5 c1
6 repeat line 2

7 c2
8 d1
9 repeat line 5

10 d2
11 e1
12 repeat line 8

13 e2
14 f1
15 repeat line 11

16 f2
17 repeat line 1
18 repeat line 14
19 repeat line 3

You can read more about the terzanelle at Form and Formlessness.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a terzanelle. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Poetry Stretch - Rhopalic Verse

In the book Fly With Poetry: An ABC of Poetry, written and illustrated by Avis Harley, you'll find descriptions and examples of many different poetic forms. This week I want to try rhopalic verse. Here's how Avis defines it.
Rhopalic Verse: (from Greek "rhopalon"--a club which is thicker at one end)
Lines in which each successive word has one syllable more than the one before it.
Here is an example.

Small spiders filigree
the garden greenery
with silken precision. Delicately, definitively,
they network tapestries
that capture
than morning's glorious

Poem ©Avis Harley. All rights reserved.
I hope you'll join me this week in writing a rhopalic verse. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Poetry Seven Write Ekphrastic Poems

Our year-long journey of writing poems together is coming close to the end. It’s hard to believe we’ve been at this for 11 months. I take full responsibility for changing this month’s form from epistle to ekphrastic, but am not remotely connected to the choice of image. I’ll blame Tanita and my sisters for that one. Here it is.

I try to take a very “in the moment” approach to writing ekphrastic poems. I don’t study the images for too long. I look closely for a minute or two and then write a list of the thoughts that come to mind upon first glance. Usually what emerges is a very odd collection of ideas. Here’s the list that came from first glance at what my sisters called the goddess.
  • the glass ceiling
  • caged women
  • corsets
  • a bird in a gilded cage (cue Tweety bird swinging and singing “I’m a tweet little bird in a gilded cage. Tweety’s my name but I don’t know my age. …)
  • crouching tiger, hidden dragon
  • woman warrior 
  • The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus (Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,/With conquering limbs astride from land to land;/Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/A mighty woman)
  • the trappings of womanhood
  • paper doll
As you can see, this list is quite random, but starting in this way always sets the wheels turning in my brain. In the end I wrote a number of different poems in different forms, but this is the one that took hold and stuck with me.

Sonnet of a Kept Woman

You cannot hold my soul it won’t be bound
Inside a cage I heed sweet freedom’s call
Throw back my head and cry a mournful sound
Though trapped by ceiling, floor, unyielding walls

How to break free when others box me in
Is what I ask myself each day anew
I fight the battles, though I rarely win
But onward push to change your point of view

The corset of the past constricts me still
In places where I dare not dream to go
And yet I breathe and move against its will
Refuse to be sucked in its undertow

Someday the chains you’ve put me in will break
And standing tall I’ll leave you in my wake

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2015. All rights reserved.

Today is a particularly fortuitous day to be sharing poems with these ladies, as today The Miss Rumphius Effect celebrates its 9th anniversary. Without this blog I never would have waded boldly into the writing pool with these amazing women. I'm so grateful to have found them through this medium. You can read the poems written by my Poetry Seven compatriots at the links below. 

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Katya at Write.Sketch.Repeat. Thanks to all of you who stop by to read, write poetry, and share in the love of children's literature. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Miss Rumphius is 9 Today

On November 6, 2006 (that was 9 years ago!), I launched this blog. At that time I was still teaching a course on technology in the classroom and was looking to expand my work with students. I've come a LONG way since I started my first web site in the spring of 1995—yes, you read that correctly. Back then my web pages were all written in HTML. Now this web stuff is so much easier.

Today I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I've connected with through this blog, many of whom I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life. This is an amazing community that I love being a part of. Here are some of the reasons why I am so fond of this little corner of the web.
  • It is a great place for sharing a love of books with like-minded folks.
  • Smart, talented, BUSY authors and illustrators take precious time from their days to e-mail thank you notes and kinds words for reviewing their books.
  • Folks who read my stuff and find it informative or interesting highlight my posts on their blogs. (Thanks to you generous people who do this.)
  • Thoughtful readers who know my blog send me links to articles they know will interest me. Likewise, I can write to others and say "I saw this and was thinking of you."
  • Out of the blue I sometimes receive packages in the mail containing new books to review or signed copies from authors.
  • Generous bloggers hold contests and when you win, they send you things! How cool is that?
  • Authors invite you to join blog tours of their books and are happy to participate and share their themselves and their work with the world.
  • A group of amazing writers brought me into their circle many years ago and we are still writing together. 
  • Generous poets often send me original poems and new poetic forms to debut on the blog.
  • The Cybils. I've been so honored to serve as a judge numerous times in the categories of nonfiction picture books and poetry.
I could go on about all the reasons I love blogging and the kidlitosphere. On this, my very happy blogiversary, I want to thank you, my readers and friends, from the bottom of my heart. I'm so grateful every time you stop by.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

Created in 1990 by two cousins, rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this relatively young form at Wikipedia, or read some examples at Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form of rictameter. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Poetry Friday - Poems Children Will Sit Still For

I recently picked up this 1969 publication ...
I had to laugh when I read the back cover, though I wholeheartedly agree with the sentence I've highlighted.
When a favorite aunt is reading to her favorite nephew (and she has her arm around him) she can read Shakespeare's sonnets or Milton's epic verse or T.S. eliot's Wasteland and still hold - if not the child's attention, as the leas the child himself. 
In the classroom, as every teacher knows, it's different. Each of the 106 poems in this this book was chosen with this difference in mind. They were chosen expressly for a teacher to read aloud to—and with—her class. Every selection invites the listeners' participation—vocal, physical, or emotional. 
The selections cover an extensive range of primary-grade children's interests and experiences. There is plenty of nonsense and humor, and there are some sad poems too. 
For many of the poems, we have offered a few suggestions for reading, of for audience participation, or for possible discussion. But it is well to remember that a poem doesn't have to lead to discussion , or art activities, or anything at all. A poem can simply be enjoyed for its own sake. We hope this little book will help you transmit to your boys and girls the joy of poetry.
This text is actually excerpted from the introduction to the book. There are a few additional sentences, some of them about how to actually read a poem. But I thought this one was most interesting.
The only rule we would like to insist upon is: If you don't like a poem, don't read it. (Enthusiasm and boredom are equally contagious.)
When I read a poem and at first glance (or listen) don't like it, I actually re-read it, multiple times. I want to know what doesn't work for me. Why don't I like it? It becomes a puzzle I need to figure out. Is it the rhyme? Or meter? Is it the subject?

This book is divided into the sections (1) Fun With Rhymes; (2) Mostly Weather; (3) Spooky Poems; (4) Story Time; (5) Mostly Animals; (6) Mostly People; (7) Seeing, Feeling, Thinking; (8) In a Few Words; (9) Mostly Nonsense; and (10) Numbers and Letters. I will admit I found it odd the Frost's poem Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening was in the Spooky poems sections!

I suppose I decided I needed this one because it contained Sanburg's Arithmetic, as well as poems by Mary Ann Hoberman, Karla Kuskin, John Ciardi, Eve Merriam, Myra Cohn Livingston, and others.

Today I'm sharing two poems in this book by Karla Kuskin, from the sections Spooky Poems and Mostly Nonsense.

Knitted Things
by Karla Kuskin

There was a witch who knitted things:
Elephants and playground swings.
She knitted rain,
She knitted night,
But nothing really came out right.
The elephants had just one tusk
And night looked more
Like dawn or dusk.

If I Were A . . . 
by Karla Kuskin

If I were a sandwich,
I'd sit on a plate
And think of my middle
Until someone ate
End of the sandwich.

Not sure these are worth sitting still for, but I enjoyed them.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends!