Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Kyrielle

kyrielle is a French form that was originally used by Troubadours. In the original French kyrielle, lines had eight syllables. Written in English, the lines are usually iambic tetrameters. The distinctive feature of a kyrielle is the refrain in which the final line of every stanza is the same. The name of the form comes from the word kyrie, a form of prayer in which the phrase "Lord have mercy" (kyrie eleison) is repeated.

A kyrielle can be any length as long as it is written in 4 line stanzas of iambic tetrameters. A kyrielle also has a rhyme scheme. Two popular forms are aabB/ccbB/ddbB etc. or abaB/cbcB/dbdB etc., where B is the repeated refrain.

Here is an example of the form.
by John Payne

A lark in the mesh of the tangled vine,
A bee that drowns in the flower-cup's wine,
A fly in sunshine,--such is the man.
All things must end, as all began.

A little pain, a little pleasure,
A little heaping up of treasure;
Then no more gazing upon the sun.
All things must end that have begun.

Where is the time for hope or doubt?
A puff of the wind, and life is out;
A turn of the wheel, and rest is won.
All things must end that have begun.

Golden morning and purple night,
Life that fails with the failing light;
Death is the only deathless one.
All things must end that have begun.

Ending waits on the brief beginning;
Is the prize worth the stress of winning?
E'en in the dawning day is done.
All things must end that have begun.

Weary waiting and weary striving,
Glad outsetting and sad arriving;
What is it worth when the goal is won?
All things must end that have begun.

Speedily fades the morning glitter;
Love grows irksome and wine grows bitter.
Two are parted from what was one.
All things must end that have begun.

Toil and pain and the evening rest;
Joy is weary and sleep is best;
Fair and softly the day is done.
All things must end that have begun.
If you want to learn more about the kyrielle you can read this Wikipedia entry. or the article Kyrielle: The Kyrie Reformed.

So, there's your challenge for the week. I hope you'll join me in writing a kyrielle. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Poetry Friday - A Song For a Christmas Tree

A Song For A Christmas Tree
by Louisa May Alcott

   Cold and wintry is the sky,
   Bitter winds go whistling by,
   Orchard boughs are bare and dry,
Yet here stands a faithful tree.
   Household fairies kind and dear,
   With loving magic none need fear,
   Bade it rise and blossom here,
Little friends, for you and me.

   Come and gather as they fall,
   Shining gifts for great and small;
   Santa Claus remembers all
When he comes with goodies piled.
   Corn and candy, apples red,
   Sugar horses, gingerbread,
   Babies who are never fed,
Are handing here for every child.

   Shake the boughs and down they come,
   Better fruit than peach or plum,
   'T is our little harvest home;
For though frosts the flowers kill,
   Though birds depart and squirrels sleep,
   Though snows may gather cold and deep,
   Little folks their sunshine keep,
And mother-love makes summer still.

   Gathered in a smiling ring,
   Lightly dance and gayly sing,
   Still at heart remembering
The sweet story all should know,
   Of the little Child whose birth
   Has made this day throughout the earth
   A festival for childish mirth,
Since the first Christmas long ago.

I do hope you'll take some time this weekend to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy holidays to all and happy poetry Friday friends!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Poetry Friday - I Am Waiting

In this season of anticipation, a poem of waiting seemed appropriate today.

I Am Waiting
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up  
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting  
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier  
and I am waiting  
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

Read the poem in its entirety.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Diane at Random Noodling. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Pantun

The pantun is a Malaysian verse form, not to be confused with the pantoum, a French verse form. Here is what Poetry Magnum Opus says about this form.
The Pantun is a poem of two halves almost unrelated. The first half, the pembayan (shadow) sets the rhythm and rhyme of the whole poem, and the second half, the maksud (meaning) delivers the message. The form has been referred to as a riddle. These poems were to be exchanged between individuals, not recited to an audience. The Pantun is
  • most often a poem in a single quatrain made up of two complete couplets. 
  • syllabic, all lines are of the same length, lines are written in 8 to 12 syllables each.
  • rhymed, rhyme scheme abab.
  • written in two complete couplets. 
So, there's your challenge for the week. I hope you'll join me in writing a pantun. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Poetry Friday - More Used Book Finds

Every so often I'm lucky enough to find poetry books in a local independent bookstore that sells both new and used books. Here are my recent purchases, bargains at under $20 for the lot. And boy, are they good ones.
There are two written by David McCord and illustrated by Marc Simont, THE STAR IN THE PAIL and  EVERY TIME I CLIMB A TREE. There is a wonderful book all about mice by Aileen Fisher entitled THE HOUSE OF A MOUSE. The last book is little one by Myra Cohn Livingston entitled A SONG I SANG TO YOU.

Instead of retyping a poem or two for you, I thought I'd show you some photos of my favorite pages. (If your eyes are as bad as mine, you can click to enlarge.)

This page is from A SONG I SANG TO YOU.
This adorable illustration (by Joan Sandin) accompanies the poem Portrait, by Aileen Fisher. My favorite part is "Such trim feet/in barefoot shoes."
 These two are from the books by David McCord.
If you don't know the work of David McCord, you can learn more about him in this NCTE piece from the Perspectives Column. Here's an excerpt from the interview.
"It's hard for me to say why man creates poetry. I suppose it's a kind of primitive urge in him to attempt to add his own small stitch to the infinite weave of the world. This is the oldest form of art: The art of creating form from something unformed—as simple as kneading bread. Nowadays, you can pass a pizza parlor and watch a man with bare arms making pizza. That's quite an art. There's a kind of poetry in the way he spins an enormous circle of dough until it flattens to the absolute right thinness."
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tara at A Teaching Life. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Flashcard Inspired Poetry

Late Saturday I got to poke around in one of my favorite shops, Parcel in Montclair, NJ. It is a quirky little shop where you can open cupboards and drawers and find all kinds of interesting bits. I found a pile of old flash cards and thought they might make an interesting poetry prompt.

Here are the cards.
Choose any form that works for you. The only rule is that you must use these three words or some form of the words. I hope you'll join me this week in writing a flashcard inspired piece. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Poetry Friday - Celebrating My Sisters

Today I'm singing the praises of my sisters ... my out-of-this-world real life sister who is 10 years older than me and will soon be celebrating her own very big birthday (I'll let you do the math), and my writing sisters who gifted me with a year of poetry by indulging my request to write together.

Let me begin with my big sister. Here we are as youngsters and much later on (in 2006) with our mom on the occasion of our Dad's 80th birthday.
I may have complained when I was younger about having a second mother, but these days I'm forever grateful for her love and guidance. I hope my next 50 years with her are as good as these have been. 

The other sisters I am truly grateful for are my poetry sisters—Tanita Davis, Kelly Fineman, Sara Lewis Holmes, Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Garton Scanlon, and Andi Sibley. Our sisterhood began on November 20, 2007 with this message from Liz. Let's just call her the instigator.
Dear Tricia… A proposition.

I had so much (torturous) fun participating in a crown sonnet writing project recently that I’m ready to try it again, crazy ‘though that may be. And I thought Poetry Friday bloggers might make the perfect crown community. What do you think? 
I’ve gotten a few yeses already – from Sara Lewis Holmes, Kelly Fineman and TadMack (aka Tanita Davis) – plus me. We need seven folks total and Kelly suggested that you might be one of the missing poets we’re looking for! (Suggestions for others are welcome). 
Here are a few of the things we’ll need to agree upon before starting: 
Specific form/rhyme scheme 
The order of the writers/stanzas 
Any subject matter/thematic parameters 
Audience (ie young or adult) *** There seems to be a consensus so far that writing for tweens or teens would be fun *** 
Let me know if you might be interested in writing 14 lines and debuting them in one big whopping crown on a Friday down the road…
Cheers, Liz
Once Laura and Andi were included in the mix, we set off on a grand adventure. Our first shared piece of work debuted on Friday, April 11th. We wrote a number of pieces sporadically over the years, but last fall they gave me the gift of a collective YES when they all agreed to write one piece together each month. It began with a triolet. The work of this year will end in January with a crown sonnet. In this busy, end-of-year season we're taking a moment to reflect.

Over the last year we've written to the following forms or prompts and published on the first Friday of the month (mostly). Here they are listed by the month published, which means we spent the month (or day!) prior to publication working on them.
That last one was tough for me. (Heck, they were all hard!) I wrote my poem on an airplane the day before it went live. I was flummoxed by the image and had no idea what to write about or in what form. I printed a copy of the image and went to work on a 6 am flight from Richmond to LaGuardia. This is how ALL my poems begin, with pen to paper. It's where I work out most of the kinks before I  finally type and post the work. Here's how it began.
I have no idea how I got here, but when I began to write I realized the word sonnet was rattling around in the back of my brain. Without a rhyming dictionary at hand, I listed rhyming words. When I began to edit I went from third person to first. I have several pages that look like this. My poetry notes and notebooks are NOT neat and pretty, but they clearly show the process (and the struggle) of trying to find just the right words.

If I'm honest with myself, I'll admit that I love rules and adore forms. I should not have been surprised that I went here. I do find it much easier to write when I know (or can pretend I know) what I'm doing. Throwing in a theme can be an added challenge, but it makes the writing that much more interesting.

In grateful love and admiration for this amazing group of women who gathered me into their fold, I am sharing the first villanelle I ever wrote (after LIZ threw down another gauntlet in October 2009 and asked us to write a villanelle using the words Thanksgiving and friend). Boy, would I love to revisit this one. However, the beauty of our work this year is that we have given ourselves permission to share our drafts in all their glorious messiness. Perfection is not the goal, but rather sharing bits of ourselves with each other and the world.

Untitled Villanelle (because I don't often do titles)

Dear friends, Thanksgiving!
For glorious oaks and sprawling trees
in winter, summer, fall and spring

For all things green and lush and living
that dance so lightly in the breeze
dear friends, Thanksgiving!

For spiders spinning webs of string
while swinging and dangling on a trapeze
through winter, summer, fall and spring

For sunflowers bold and bright and smiling,
climbing skyward with grace and ease
dear friends, Thanksgiving!

For birds that chirp and peep and sing
while visiting blossoms with bumblebees
through winter, summer, fall and spring

For poems, prose and words that sing
of beauty that brings us to our knees
Dear friends, Thanksgiving
in winter, summer, fall and spring!

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2009. All rights reserved.

Thank you dear poetry sisters. There are no words to express my gratitude for your support and encouragement in poetry and in life. 

That's a wrap for today. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Buffy Silverman at Buff's Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Gogyohka

Gogyohka (go-gee-yo-ka) is  a verse form that was developed in Japan by Enta Kusakabe. It is meant to be a freer verse form than the tanka. A gogyohka is a five line poem in which each line is comprised of a single phrase.

You can learn more about this form and read some examples at Ben Johnson Poetry FormsGogyohka (5-Line Poetry) and Writer's Digest.

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Poetry Friday - November and the Gift of Poetry

On this day after Thanksgiving I am looking at the calendar, amazed that the month is nearly over. This means that this is the very last Friday I can share a little gem by Elizabeth Coatsworth.

by Elizabeth Coatsworth

November comes,
And November goes
With the last red berries
And the first white snows,

With night coming early
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.

While some may be out shopping for gifts today, I'm thinking about poetry presents. If you would like to gift yourself some poetry, why not consider an e-mail subscription? Here are a few of my favorites.

Poetry Foundation Newsletters
You can sign up for a number of different newsletters on the Poetry Foundation site, including a poem of the day. If you like to listen to your poetry, you can also subscribe to the poem of the day podcast at:

American Life in Poetry
American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry. You can register to receive a weekly email of the American Life in Poetry Column.

The Writer's Almanac Newsletter
Sign up to receive poems, prose, and literary history every morning from Garrison Keillor.

Poems From Jane Yolen
Did you know that you can get a new poem a day from Jane Yolen? All you need to do is: (1) subscribe; and (2) pledge to either buy a book of Jane's or borrow one from the library.

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends.

Poetry Daily Newsletter
Poetry Daily is an anthology of contemporary poetry. Each day on the web site they share a poem from new books, magazines, and journals. If you sign up for the free weekly newsletter you will receive a poem selected from the archive and information on upcoming featured poets, special editorial events, poetry news and reviews, and more.

Getting a poem in your mailbox is truly a tiny little gift each day. I hope you'll consider one of these (or all of them!) as a way to bring a bit more poetry into your life.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

On Thanksgiving

Two poems for my readers . . . and wishes for a joyful Thanksgiving.
By Emily Dickinson

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

In Harvest
By Sophie Jewett

Mown meadows skirt the standing wheat;
I linger, for the hay is sweet,
New-cut and curing in the sun.
Like furrows, straight, the windrows run,
Fallen, gallant ranks that tossed and bent
When, yesterday, the west wind went
A-rioting through grass and grain.
To-day no least breath stirs the plain;
Only the hot air, quivering, yields
Illusive motion to the fields
Where not the slenderest tassel swings.

Read the poem in its entirety.

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! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Tritina

I'm working on an ekphrastic poem and have been playing around with a number of different forms as I write to the image. Right now I'm playing with the tritina.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the form.
10-line poem made of three, 3-line stanzas and a 1-line envoi

There is no rhyme scheme but rather an end word scheme. It is:



A, B, and C (all in the last line/envoi)
You can read more about the tritina at Poetic Asides.

So, the challenge for the week is to write a tritina. Won't you join me? Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Poetry Stretch - Deibhidhe Variation

If orange is the new black, than Tuesday is the new Monday. My apologies for posting late. Here is this week's challenge.

Deibhidhe Guilbnech Dialtach is an Irish verse form written in quatrains. Here are the requirements.
  • lines are 7 syllables in length
  • rhyme scheme is a/a/b/b
  • end words should end in a consonant
  • each line has two alliterated words
  • poems can be any number of quatrains

You can read more about this form at Poetry Magnum Opus.

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

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Poetry Stretch - The Bop

Forgive me for being a day late. I leave for a conference on Wednesday and I'm a bit at loose ends right now. 

The bop is a form invented by poet Afaa Michael Weaver.  Here are the requirements.
  • 3 stanzas, each followed by a repeated line or refrain
  • 1st stanza is 6 lines and states a problem
  • 2nd stanza is 8 lines and expands on the problem
  • 3rd stanza is 6 lines and resolves the problem (If a resolution cannot be found, the final stanza describes the failure to do so.)
You can read more about this form at and Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides.

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

Friday, October 02, 2015

Poetry Seven Write Etherees

This month my poetry sisters and I tackled the etheree. An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Variant forms of the etheree include the reverse form, which begins with 10 syllables and ends with one. The double etheree is twenty lines, moving from one syllable to 10, and then from 10 back to one. (I suppose a double etheree could also move from 10 syllables to one, and then from one back to 10.)

I made the etheree the first poetry stretch for the month of September. I did this to avoid procrastination and to encourage myself to write early. How did I do? Terribly! I was still writing and rewriting in the wee hours before this post was scheduled to go live, in the hopes that something good would come out of the bits and pieces I was tinkering with. Early in the month the theme of relationships was bandied about, and that's when I really got stuck. It seemed to me that relationships required two poems, or at least a conversation. Alas, I couldn't seem to make this one work.

As I prepare this post I am reminded that we promised ourselves to write and share REGARDLESS of the state of the poems, knowing that much of the time they won't be perfect. That means today I am embracing imperfection and sharing the most polished pieces of the lot.

First up is a pair of poems I wrote about a dog and cat who share the same home. I thought about titling them "Cat to Dog" and "Dog to Cat," but I'm not sure that's necessary. (Does anyone else struggle with titles like I do? Sometimes I find them harder than the poems!)

Flea scratcher,
frisbee catcher,
king of the beggars …
you think you are special,
but our human loves me most!
With my playful pounce, tender touch,
intelligent and commanding ways …
look and see! No one can resist a cat.

Mouse chaser,
sun spot bather,
queen of aloofness …
you think you are all that,
but our human loves me most!
With my soulful eyes, thumping tail,
affectionate and faithful ways …
look and see! No one can resist a dog.

I also wrote numerous poems about my dog. I like this one best, as it's a true story.

Finding Cooper

watching humans
come and go ... he waits
for one tender-hearted
to heal, to love, to comfort
him. She falls in love at first sight,
knows without doubt that he is the one
who will save her. They rescue each other.

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

You can read the etherees 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 Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review - It's a Seashell Day

I'm a huge fan of books that encourage exploration of the natural world and getting kids outside. While summer has come to an end, that doesn't mean kids and families can't enjoy spending time at the beach, observing the wildlife and hunting for shells. A new book by Dianne Ochiltree can provide a perfect introduction to these activities.
It's a Seashell Day (2015), written by Dianne Ochiltree and illustrated by Elliot Kreloff, is the story of a mother and son's day at the beach. Written in rhyming couplets it begins this way:
When the sun peeks up over the bay,
Mommy tells me, "It's a seashell day!"
I rush down the path, over the dune.
Salty breeze blows. We'll be there soon!
Once they arrive at the beach, mother and son see gulls, find rocks, walk in the squishy sand, watch waves, dig for shells, compare shells, care for wildlife, and much more. Part celebration of nature, part counting book, and whole-hearted homage to families spending time together investigating, enjoying, and appreciating the world around them, Ochiltree has given readers a gem of a story. She has also provided a number of interesting facts (12!) about mollusks and seashells in the back matter.

The illustrations beautifully complement the text. If readers look carefully they will see the passage of time through the day as the sun moves through the sky, starting low, arcing across the sky, and sinking again into the horizon. The shells are clearly rendered and make counting along with the text easy to do.

For kids in preschool and early elementary grades, this book can be used to explore four of the five senses. What does the boy see at the beach? What might he hear? What does it smell like? What does the wet sand feel like? How is it different from the dry sand? What do the shells feel like? I would bring out a shell collection after reading the text and ask students to observe the samples. We would record observations and make scientific drawings.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the double-page spread that models respect for living things. Here's an excerpt.
My shell is tiny, a silvery pearl.
Mommy's is brown with a big, twirly curl.
"This shell is a home," Mommy tells me.
"Let's put it back to live in the sea."
Reminding readers that shells have diverse environmental functions, such as providing homes and hiding places for creatures, is an important one. 

There is much to love in this enchanting little book. I recommend it with enthusiasm.

Author: Dianne Ochiltree
Illustrator: Elliot Kreloff
Publisher: Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: July 2015
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: preK-2
ISBN: 978-1609055301
Source of Book: Review copy received from SoCal Public Relations.
More Info: Visit Blue Apple Books to look inside the book.

For teachers looking for additional resources to use this book to encourage beachcombing or the study of shells, these will be helpful.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Bref Double

The bref double is a French form. It is similar to the sonnet, but has a different rhyme scheme and does not need to be written in iambic pentameter. This form contains three quatrains (four-line stanzas) followed by a final couplet.

It has three rhymes: a, b, and c. Five of the 14 lines are not part of the rhyme scheme. The c rhyme ends each quatrain. The a and b rhymes are found twice each somewhere within the three quatrains and once in the couplet.

Here are some sample rhyme schemes.
abxc abxc xxxc ab
xaxc xbxc xbac ba
xabc xaxc xbxc ab

You can learn more about this form at Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides and Poetry Magnum Opus.

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Math Storytelling Day and Doubling

Over at Bookish Ways today you'll find a post describing some books on math and puzzling in honor of Math Storytelling Day. After reviewing the entry once it posted, I realized I was missing an important set of stories. 

Have you seen or heard this old folktale?
This problem is one of the earliest mentions of Chess in puzzles. It was first suggested by the Arabic mathematician Ibn Kallikan who, in 1256, posed the problem of the grains of wheat, 1 on the first square of the chess board, 2 on the second, 4 on the third, 8 on the fourth etc. There are several children's books that examine this concept of doubling.
One Grain of Rice, written and illustrated by Demi

written by David Birch and illustrated by Devis Grebu

written by David Barry and illustrated by Donna Perrone

A Grain of Rice, written by Helena Clare Pittman

You can see the problem written out with all the math at The Legend of the Chessboard. At the Math Forum page entitled A Fable you can learn the distance all those grains of rice stretched end-to-end would extend. And for one final story, check out Robert Krulwich's post entitled That Old Rice-Grains-On-The-Chessboard Con, With a New Twist.

Poetry Friday - Math Storytelling Day and Infinity

Today is Math Storytelling Day. In honor of this auspicious event, I'm sharing a video, a book, and some related poems.

A wonderful book to accompany this video is The Cat In Numberland, written by Ivar Ekeland and illustrated by John O'Brien. David Hilbert, a mathematician interested in how infinity works and different sizes of infinities, first made up the basic story (see video above). In this version of the story, Mr. and Mrs. Hilbert run a hotel called the Hotel Infinity. That cat who lives there becomes confused when the Hilberts are able to find room for new guests, even when the hotel is full.  
To learn more about the book, see this comprehensive review from the American Mathematical Society.

Let's wrap this up today with a few poems about infinity.

by William Blake

To see the world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

by Jacob Bernoulli (a 17th century mathematician)

Even as the finite encloses an infinite series
And in the unlimited limits appear,
So the soul of immensity dwells in minutia
And in narrowest limits no limit in here.
What joy to discern the minute in infinity!
The vast to perceive in the small, what divinity!

Revelation At Midnight
by Piet Hein (a Danish mathematician known for writing gruks)

Infinity's taken
by everyone
as a figure-of-eight
written sideways on.
But all of a sudden
I now comprehend
that eight is infinity
standing on end.

That's it for me on this Friday. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Janet Wong over at Poetry for Children. Happy poetry Friday friends! 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday Poetry Stretch - Minute Poem

Sometimes I find the most interesting poetic forms on the internet. In some cases it's impossible to tell who invented them or what their historical roots are. Here is one such form.

A minute poem consists of 3 quatrains. Each quatrain is written in iambic meter and is composed an 8 syllable first line, with the remaining lines only 4 syllables each. The rhyme scheme is AABB/CCDD/EEFF.

You can learn more about the minute poem and read an examples at Shadow Poetry and Poetry Dances.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Poetry Friday - Consignment Shop Finds

I spent some time "junking" over the last few weeks in an effort to find inexpensive artifacts for some social studies lessons. In my travels I came across these two wonderful books.
The Mouse of Amherst, written by Elizabeth Spires and illustrated by Claire Nivola
I Never Told And Other Poems, written by Myra Cohn Livingston

I'm quite taken with the story of Emmaline, a mouse who lives in Emily Dickinson's bedroom and finds in her a kindred spirit. I'm also quite fond of her poems. Here is one Emmaline wrote in response to a poem of Emily's she read.

I am a Little Thing.
I wear a Little Dress.
I go about my Days and Nights
Taking little barefoot Steps.

But though You never notice me
Nor count me as your Guest,
My soul can soar as High as yours
And Hope burns in my chest!

I hope you have a chance to pick up this gem of a book. Until then, you can read more about the book in this NYTimes book review.

I never miss a chance to pick up a book of Myra's. This one has some lovely poems. Here's a shape poem I particularly like.
This is a quirky little collection about everyday things. Here's one more poem. Given all the talk of Syria, it's one that has taken hold of me and won't let go.

The Game
by Myra Cohn Livingston

Plastic soldiers march on the floor
Off to fight a terrible war.

The green troops charge. The gray side falls.
Guns splatter bullets on the walls.

Tanks move in. Jet fighters zoom
Dropping bombs all over the room.

All the soldiers are dead but two.
The game is over. The war is through.

The plastic soldiers are put away.
What other game is there to play?

That's it for me on this Friday. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty. Happy poetry Friday friends!