Friday, December 31, 2010

Early Snow: An Original Memoir Poem

We had a BIG snowstorm earlier this week. I took the two photographs posted here last December. My backyard looks pretty much the same at the moment. The snow reminded me of a poem that I wrote about my childhood about fifteen years ago.

Here is another memoir poem from my unpublished collection titled A Home for the Seasons. In Early Snow, I wrote about my memory of a snowy day when I went sliding with two of my cousins in my maternal grandparents’ yard. My cousins, both girls, lived on the other side of my grandparents’ duplex. The older of my two cousins was just two weeks younger than I—and her sister was a year younger. We three cousins spent a lot of time together when we were kids—especially during the summer months.

By Elaine Magliaro

Just before Christmas
we have an unexpected storm.
Now snow covers the yard,
Dzidzi’s garden
with a downy quilt.
The apple tree, the plum and pear trees
have grown thin white wings,
look ready to fly away.
The stout lilac bush
floats above the ground
like a fallen cloud.
We get our sleds, the silver saucer,
and race up the incline to the snow-crusted hedge.
We whoosh down to the garden
through a light whipped cream world.
Everything has turned the color of winter.
Even the sky, marshmallow-white,
has forgotten how to be blue.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Carol’s Corner this week.
Happy New Year to All!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cybils 2010 Announcement

I’ve been busy since Christmas. I'm a member of the 2010 Cybils Poetry Nominating Panel so I was rereading poetry books and trying to decide which ones to nominate as finalists. I'm happy to report that this has been a great year for children’s poetry!

All of the 2010 Cybils finalists will be announced on January 1, 2011—so check out the Cybils website on New Year’s Day! You can find out all the children’s and young adult books that were nominated for the Cybils Awards by clicking on the links below.

Happy New Year—and Happy Reading in 2011!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Remember: An Original Memoir Poem for Christmas

Last Friday, I posted an original memoir poem titled Christmas Eve, which is about childhood memories I have of spending time with my family on December 24th at the home of my maternal grandparents—Michael and Anna (Chalupka) Kozicki. Michael and Anna were Polish immigrants who came to America in the early part of the 20th century. They met in Boston, got married, and moved to the North Shore of Boston where they settled and raised four children—two girls and two boys.

Following, is the last memoir poem from my collection A Home for the Seasons. This poem also takes place on Christmas Eve—after dinner. The "us" in the poem is my sister, my four cousins, and I.

By Elaine Magliaro

Dzidzi tells us to put on our coats.
He steps off the front porch
and leads us down the stone walk
into the night.
Standing at the edge of his garden,
He looks up at the winter sky.
“There,” he says pointing to Orion’s belt.
“There are the Three Wise Men.
They followed a bright star to Bethlehem.
They journeyed far from home
just as Babci and I did many years ago
when we left Poland to come to America.”
He turns his eyes toward the house,
red lights glowing in the windows,
then gazes at his snow-covered garden.
“Remember this night,” he tells us.
“Remember this place.
Remember all the happy times we have shared here.
Every Christmas Eve look up at the Three Wise Men
and remember.”

You’ll find two more Christmas Eve memoir poems—Christmas Eve Polka and the Christmas Babkahere.

Note: I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting much lately. I got sick right after Thanksgiving and fell behind with all my Christmas shopping and preparations. I’ve been really busy the past few weeks playing catch-up with all the things that I have to do. Now, I have most of those things crossed off my list. I’m hoping things will settle down after the holidays so I can focus on my writing and blogging once again.

I must get back to work in the kitchen and bake two sour cream chocolate cakes—which I frost with homemade whoopie pie filling and then coat with a bittersweet chocolate glaze. This is one of my family’s favorite desserts.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at A Year of Reading.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Eve: An Original Memoir Poem

I’ve already begun food preparations for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. We still dine on traditional Polish foods on December 24th. Fish and pierogis, which look a lot like Chinese potstickers, are what we eat—no meat on Christmas Eve. One of the traditional dishes we don’t eat any longer is jellied carp. EW!!!

Yesterday, I prepared the stuffing for the potato and onion pierogis. Today, I’m going to get to work on the stuffing for the mushroom pierogis—which I make with mascarpone cheese and mushroom duxelles. This weekend my daughter, my two nieces, and I will be stuffing about 150 pierogis. (One of my nieces is going to make the potato and cheese pierogis at her house.) Then we’ll freeze all the pierogis and cook them up just before our Christmas Eve feast.

My older niece, who will be our holiday hostess, will bake haddock and scallops. We’ll also have pickled herring. We’ll serve the fish and pierogis with sour cream, horseradish, and my niece’s delicious homemade tartar sauce.

When I was young, my maternal grandparents hosted the family Christmas Eve dinner. It was always a magic night for me. I loved gathering together with my grandparents, aunts, my uncle, and my first cousins. We always had such fun together. We kids would stuff ourselves with pierogis. We’d dance around the house while my Uncle Benny played his accordion. We’d exchange presents—and share a lot of laughs.

Here’s a memoir poem I wrote about a typical Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house. The details are still clear in my mind after more than half a century.

By Elaine Magliaro

Just after sunset the whole family gathers
in my grandparents’ kitchen.
My father, Uncle Benny, and Dzidzi
bring up the spare table and chairs from the cellar.
Babci spreads white cloths printed with red ribbons
and bright green wreaths over the two tables.
Then she lays out platters of pierogis,
pillows of homemade dough
stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and onions
or sauerkraut, a bowl of jellied carp,
pickled herring smothered in onions,
and small dishes of horseradish
tinted pink with beet juice.
Before eating we stand around the table.
Dzidzi breaks the oplatek,
the thin white wafer blessed by the priest.
When everyone has taken a piece,
Dzidzi gives his blessing,
“May we all be happy, healthy,
and together in the year to come.”

Amy has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Poem Farm.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Here & There: December 15, 2010

Her book Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same! is one of the notable books!

The Quiet Book, one of my favorite picture books of 2010, is also on the The New Times Notable Children's Books list.

From Anita Silvey (Boston Globe, 12/5/20100): For Kids, 10 glittering stars of the year.

I was happy to see that Silvey included a poetry book on her list of stars. It was Joyce Sidman’s Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors.

Click here to read my review of Ubiquitous.


2010 Horn Book Fanfare

Two exceptional poetry books made the Fanfare list: Joyce Sidman's Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night and Marilyn Singers Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse.

Click here to read my review of Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.


From Publishers Weekly: PW’s Best Children’s Books 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

An Original Fairy Tale Poem about Jack and the Beanstalk

I dug into my unpublished collection of fairy tale poems this morning to find something to post for Poetry Friday. I’ve had problems with the beginning of the third stanza of the following poem about Jack and the Beanstalk for years. I keep changing the first two lines of that stanza. I even rewrote them this morning. I'll probably rewrite them again some day.

Q: Do you know who robbed the sleeping giant?

A: Jack, a boy who’s self-reliant.
He climbed the beanstalk near his shack
And stole some gold coins in a sack.
He raced back home and spent the money
On chocolate cookies, milk, and honey.

In ten days he returned again.
This time he poached the giant’s hen…
A hen that laid bright eggs of gold
(All over-easy, I’ve been told).

Then in a month—and in a daze—
Jack climbed the stalk and cast his gaze
Upon the castle in the sky.
Nobody knows the reason why
The newly wealthy farm boy Jack
Became a kleptomaniac.
He stole the magic harp for fun.
He really had no need of one.
And lo, the giant never caught
The little thief! An afterthought:
A good boy tempted may not heed
The Golden Rule. Ah! Such is greed.

Jama has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Alphabet Soup this week.

Friday, December 3, 2010

2009 NCTE Notable Poetry Books for Children

Just two weeks ago at the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando, the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Committee--of which I am a member--presented a session titled Poetry for Children and Teachers at Its Best: The 2009 Notable Poetry Titles. We read from and shared impressions of our favorite children's poetry books of last year, offered suggestions for incorporating poetry in the classroom, and talked about some of the best new titles of 2010. We even did some choral reading with the audience.
Members of the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Committee: Barbara Ward (Chair), Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Jonda McNair Mary Napoli, Terrell Young, and Elaine Magliaro
Here are our 20 Notable Poetry Books of 2009. I have provided links to review of the books.
Poetry Book Reviews by Wild Rose Reader
Messing Around on the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems in Two Voices
Written by Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Jessie Hartland

The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination
Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston

City I Love
Written by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Marcellus Hall

Incredible Inventions
Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach

The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Birding Poems
Written by Michael J. Rosen
Illustrated by Stan Fellows

Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes
Written by Alice Schertle
Illustrated by Petra Mathers

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Reviews by Other Bloggers and Journal Reviewers

Orangutan Tongs
Written & illustrated by Jon Agee
Review from School Library Journal

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings
Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Review by Kirkus

A Curious Collection of Cats
Written by Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Michael Wertz
Review by Elizabeth Bird of A Fuse #8 Production

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways
Written by Avis Harley
Photographs by Deborah Noyes
Review by Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems
Edited by Georgia Heard
Review by Esme Raji Codell of the PlanetEsme Plan

My People
Written by Langston Hughes
Illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr.
Review from Through the Looking Glass Book Reviews

A Foot in the Mouth
Selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Review by Kristi Elle Jemtegaard for Parents’ Choice

The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme
Ghostwritten by Bobbi Katz
Illustrated by Adam McCauley
Review by Kelly Fineman of Writing and Ruminating

Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles
Written by J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Lynn Munsiger
Review by Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect

The Underwear Salesman and Other Jobs for Better or Verse
Written by J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrations by Serge Bloch
Review by Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children

Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World
Written by Marilyn Nelson
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Review by Monica Edinger of Educating Alice

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems
Written by Deborah Ruddell
Illustrated by Joan Rankin
Review by Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA -- School Library Journal, 04/08/2009

Steady Hands: Poems about Work
Written by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Review by Sylvia Vardell of Poetry for Children


Tricia has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 Holiday Book Recommendations for Children

Buy children books for the holidays!

2010 Holiday High Notes (The Horn Book)
2009 Holiday High Notes (The Horn Book)
2008 Holiday High Notes (The Horn Book)
2010 December Holiday Books (School Library Journal)
2010 Holiday Roundup (Kids Reads)
2009 Holiday Roundup (Kids Reads)
2008 Holiday Roundup (Kids Reads)
Kids’ Christmas Books, 2010: For the Naughty & Nice (The Children’s Book Review)
Christmas Picture Books (Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews)
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights (KidsReads)

Winter Trees, Christmas Trees (WRR, December 2008)
Poetry Book Reviews: Under the Kisseltoe & Hanukkah Haiku (WRR, December 2008)
Poetry for Christmas (WRR, December 2007)
Picture Book Review: The Best Christmas Ever (WRR, December 2007)
Christmas Books in Verse (WRR, December 2007)
Picture Book Review: Christmas Magic (WRR, December 2007)
More Poetry for Christmas from Wild Rose Reader (WRR, December 2007)
Magic & Monsters: Picture Books for Hanukkah (WRR, November 2007)
Poetry for Hanukkah (WRR, November 2007)
Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Books (WRR, November 2007)
Winter Lights & Christmas Trees (BRG, December 2006)
Christmas Stories in Verse (BRG, December 2006)
A Hanukkah Story to Share: The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes (BRG, December 2006)


Best Books 2010: Picture Books (School Library Journal)
Best Books 2010: Nonfiction (School Library Journal)
Best Books 2010: Fiction (School Library Journal)
2010 Best Children's Books: The Complete List (Kirkus Reviews)
2010 Guide Book to Gift Books: An Annotated List of Books for Youth 2010 (Bulletin of the center for Children’s Books)
Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010 (New York Times)
Horn Book Fanfare: Best Books of 2009 (The Horn Book)
2010 Notable Children’s Books (Association for Library Service to Children)
2010 Notable Children’s Books in the English Language Arts (Children’s Literature Assembly of NCTE)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Two Poems Two Ways

Sometimes I like experimenting with poems that I’ve written. I may take a mask poem and rewrite it as a poem of address…or a cinquain…or an acrostic. I might take an acrostic and rewrite it as a mask poem, a list poem, or a poem of address. I might take a list poem and rewrite it as a mask poem, a poem of address, or an acrostic. This morning, I took two of my “things to do” poems and I rewrote them as mask poems. Would you care to tell me which version of each poem you prefer?

Things to Do If You Are an Orb Spider

Weave a web of silken strands
With spinnerets
(You don’t need hands.)…
A silver net…a sticky snare…
A clever trap that’s light as air.

Weave a web…
Then watch and wait
Upon your woven dinner plate.
No need to hunt to catch your prey.
A meal will soon be on its way.

An Orb Spider Speaks

I’ll weave a web of silken strands
With spinnerets.
(I don’t need hands)…
A silver net…a sticky snare…
A clever trap that’s light as air.

I’ll weave a web…
Then watch and wait
Upon my woven dinner plate.
No need to hunt to catch my prey.
A meal will soon be on its way.


Things to Do If You Are a Snail

S l o w l y . . . s l o w l y . . . take your time.
S l i d e along your trail of slime.
And everywhere you chance to roam
Bring along your mobile home.

Snail Speaks

I’m slow…so slow. I take my time.
I s l i d e along my trail of slime.
And everywhere I chance to roam
I bring along my mobile home.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have A Poet, A Poetry Panel, A Poetry Stretch, An Original Poem.

Jone has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Check It Out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Poetry for Thanksgiving Day


The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest is all gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain.
So open wide the doorway-
Thanksgiving comes again!

Thanksgiving Magic
by Rowena Bastin Bennett

Thanksgiving Day I like to see
Our cook perform her witchery.
She turns a pumpkin into pie
As easily as you or I
Can wave a hand or wink an eye.
She takes leftover bread and muffin
And changes them to turkey stuffin’.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Giving Thanks
Author Unknown

Giving Thanks
For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the "Land of the Free" -
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving

by Ivy O. Eastwick

Thank you
for all my hands can hold-
apples red,
and melons gold,
yellow corn
both ripe and sweet,
peas and beans
so good to eat!

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Thanksgiving Day
By Lydia Marie Child

Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

More Thanksgiving Poems

Thanksgiving by Myra Cohn Livingston.

All in a Word by Aileen Fisher.

First Thanksgiving by Aileen Fisher.

The Little Girl and the Turkey by Dorothy Aldis

Click here for even more Thanksgiving poems.


Monday, November 22, 2010

NCTE Poetry Award Announcement!

I’m a member of the NCTE Poetry Committee. Last Friday at the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando, our committee voted for the children’s poet who will be the 2011 recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. I am thrilled to announce that J. Patrick Lewis will receive the honor! Next year at NCTE, Pat will receive the coveted award—of which he is most deserving.

I hope to post more about Pat and his work in the future. At the moment, I’m busy with preparations for our family’s Thanksgiving feast.
Here are links to my interview with J. Patrick Lewis
and to my reviews of some of his poetry books.

My Interview with J. Patrick Lewis (4/4/2008)

Poetry Book Reviews: Under the Kissletoe

Click here for a printable poetry sheet with a list of the past winners of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Things to Do If You Are an Acorn: An Original Poem

It's been a hectic week for me. I've been trying to get some Thanksgiving preparations done before I head to Orlando tomorrow morning for the NCTE Annual Convention. I've also been busy preparing for two presentations.

I'm so looking forward to finally meeting Tricia Stohr-Hunt and Mary Lee Hahn at NCTE. I'm also excited about seeing my friends Janet Wong and Lee Bennett Hopkins again.

I decided not to take a laptop to Orlando because I'm going to have so little time to blog. That's why I'm doing my Poetry Friday post on Wednesday. I have another one of my "things to do" poems for you this week.

By Elaine Magliaro

Wear a bumpy, round cap
and a starched brown coat.
Grow plump,
snap from your stem.
Fall to the forest floor below.
Tempt a scavenging squirrel.
Let him bury you in a bed of moist earth
beneath a blanket of moldering leaves.
Dream the winter away in a frozen world.
Then, in spring,
Let a little oak

Diane will be doing the Poetry Friday Roundup at Random Noodling this week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NCTE: Poets & Bloggers Unite

Sylvia Vardell, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, and I have featured poets Pat Mora, Jame Richards, Marilyn Singer, and Lee Bennett Hopkins on our blogs for two weeks in preparation for our poetry session at NCTE in Orlando. We hope some of you who have been reading our posts will join us and our featured poets at Poets and Bloggers Unite: Using Technology to Connect Kids, Teachers, and Poetry (Session A.09) on November 19th in the Baja Room at the Coronado Springs Resort from 9:30 am to 10:45 am .


Here are the links to all of our NCTE Poetry Posts:

NCTE Poetry Posts at Wild Rose Reader
Lee Bennett Hopkins: WHY POETRY?

PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE!: A Wild Rose Reader Interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins

A Question for Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins: A Silent Mentor

PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE!: A Wild Rose Reader Interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins

The Anthologist: A Poem for Lee Bennett Hopkins

Eating Poetry, Number Two: A Poem for Lee Bennett Hopkins

Q & A with Lee Bennett Hopkins

NCTE Poetry Posts at Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry for Children
Featuring Pat Mora and NCTE

More on Mora

Pat Mora: On the Web and in Print

Featuring New Poet Jame Richards

Jame, Rivers, and Movies

NCTE Poetry Posts at Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s The Miss Rumphius Effect
Meet Marilyn Singer

More on Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer and Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse

Marilyn Singer and First Food Fight This Fall

Marilyn Singer and Monster Museum

Marilyn Singer and Monday on the Mississippi

Marilyn Singer and Turtle in July/Fireflies at Midnight

Friday, November 12, 2010

Q & A with Lee Bennett Hopkins

Last week, I invited blog readers to pose questions to Lee Bennett Hopkins. Here are Lee’s answers for you.

Toby Speed: I'm wondering how he knows when he has an anthology idea of rich enough potential to work. What decisions does he make when widening or narrowing the lens of focus? Does he choose the poems first and adjust the theme, or come up with the theme and then look for suitable poems?

Lee: Many ideas for my collections come from my teaching experiences coordinating poetry within all curricula areas. First and foremost I come up with THEME. Sometimes I go for a theme thinking there will be hosts of poems on a subject only to find there are few. I then turn to a group of poets I fondly call my "Take-Out Poets" giving them theme and guiding them through ideas, etc.Thus, it is theme -- then search!

I deal with many of the top poets in the country whom I am lucky to be friends with. We work back and forth until the poem is totally perfect. I also try to include poets who have not been previously published but this is becoming harder and harder due to the lack of publisher's interest in anthology.

We are seeing less and less collections. In 20l0, for example, there were only about five collections published by major houses -- three were mine, one was
by Jane Yolen and Andrew Peters, and a picture book collection by Jack Prelutsky.

Should interest continue to wane, anthology will become dinosaurs. Add that to
celebrity collections appearing by Julie Andrews and Caroline Kennedy and we'll
see less and less by respected children's authors.

It is a devastating time for poetry due to major publishers not wanting to move forward with the genre.

Laura Purdie Salas:Fabulous interview, Elaine and Lee. Thank you for sharing how you got started writing it, Lee. As many interviews with you (and books created by you) as I've read, I don't think I knew that's how you began writing children's poetry.

By the way, Sharing the Seasons is one of the most beautiful anthologies/collections I've read this year...

OK, here’s my question: When you write a poem, what do you focus on first? The meaning you want to express, emotion, the word choices, rhythm, imagery, the way it sounds read aloud...something else entirely? What is the aspect you start with? Or is it all so interwoven that it comes out of a piece?

Lee: The SUBJECT comes first – then words. Thanks for mentioning SHARING THE SEASONS. I love David Diaz’ artwork in this book.

Linda: My question: Once you've gotten your first draft down, do you go back and think, "Hmmm, where can I add a metaphor or some other poetic element, or do you not just allow it to happen naturally?"

Lee: After a first draft I do back and back again and again to find the right word, phrase and cutting out useless words such as 'the' and 'and'. I think of a poem as a piece of sculpture where one has to constantly mold until it is a finished piece. A hundred words might come down to 50 or less. In poetry, less is more, I feel.

Stella: Poetry is so different from fiction and general nonfiction. I know you've been advocating that the ALA offer an annual award for poetry comparable to the Caldecott or Newbery. It seems that such an award would raise poetry's status and arouse more interest in writing high quality poems for children. Has any progress been made on that front?

Lee: There has been no progress made regarding ALA sponsoring anaward for poetry. Interestingly enough NCTE and IRA have poetry awards.There are only four awards given for poetry in America; two have been founded by me.

Jeanine Atkins: Do you have a favorite writing prompt for children you're willing to share?

Lee: I have many writing prompts. Much depends on the age and gradeof the child. Many ideas are offered in my book, PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE! -- all of which have been child-tested by me.

Tricia: What makes a good anthology and how do you put one together?

Lee: This is a wonderful question. It is too complicated, however, for me to delve into at this time since there is so much on my calendar. Forgive me?

Sallye: I'm always looking for ways to help jump-start poetry writing lessons with first graders. Do you have any good ideas that I could try?

Lee: Again, see PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE! I include many ideas for use with younger children, including an entire section for use with Mother Goose rhymes.

Heidi Mordhorst: I have a question about the "useless words." I too believe that less is more, but I often struggle to reconcile what you might call pithifying the draft with maintaining the rhythm that the poem calls for. I wonder how you handle that, Lee, since it sounds like you still have to go back and carve those empty words out?

Lee: The rhythm of a poem should flow regardless of words used. My quirks deal with overusing 'and's' and 'the's' in works. Examples: "The grass ..." -- WHAT grass -- few grasses are the same. "The sky..." WHAT sky --skies have personalities of their own. SHOW. Don't throw these words away without adjectives. Little words cry for adjectives; they make an enormous difference.

Judy: I am an old "young" poet. How exactly would I go about seeking you out?

Lee: You seeked!

Lee said that one question came to him personally from:

Jasmine: How did CITY I LOVE come about and why aren't you writing more of your own work?

Lee: How did CITY I LOVE come about and why aren't you writing more of your own work? CITY... came about because there are so few books of poetry reflecting urban life. The collection contains works I wrote over four decades plus several new poems. It was my brilliant editor, Tamar Brazis at Abrams whose idea it was to set the work in urban areas throughout the world. Marcellus Hall, a jazz musician in New York City, had the task to illustrate the book focusing in on landscapes of major cities throughout the world. His touch of a dog and bird traveling the world was quite a unique idea. Thus, winter in Moscow, spring in London, summer in New York, fall in New Orleans.

I hope to concentrate on another collection in the near future. The discipline of putting this book together brought me to create two new picture books on the horizon -- FULL MOON AND STAR, also illustrated by Marcellus Hall (Abrams) due our next year in which a boy and girl write plays about the moon and stars for one another, and MARY'S SONG, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (Eerdmans) - our sixth collaboration -- about the Virgin Mary's quest to be alone to bond with her baby.

Poetry works in mysterious ways, dear Jasmine.


And the Winner Is...
The winner of our Wild Rose Reader drawing is Jeannine Atkins. Jeannine, email me the title of the Lee Hopkins poetry book that you want and I’ll order it for you.
P.S. I’ll also need your snail mail address.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have an original poem titled Letter from the Queen of Beasts that I previously posted at Wild Rose Reader.

Terry has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No More War: A Veterans Day Post

Here's the movie trailer for Body of War, a documentary directed by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue. The film is about an Iraq War veteran named Tomas Young who was paralyzed by a bullet to his spine. It follows Young on a physical and emotional journey as he adapts to his new body and begins to question our country's decision to go to war in Iraq.

Here’s a link to a video of Eddie Vedder singing No More, the song he wrote for Body of War.

No More War
By Eddie vedder

I speak for a man who gave for this land
Took a bullet in the back for his pay
Spilled his blood in the dirt and the dust
He's back to say:

What he has seen is hard to believe
And it does no good to just pray
He asks of us to stand
And we must end this war today

With his mind, he's saying, "No more!"
With his heart, he's saying, "No more!"
With his life he's saying, "No more war!"

With his eyes, he's saying, "No more!"
With his body, he's saying, "No more!"
With his voice, he's saying, "No more war!"

You can read the rest of the lyrics here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Note to Fans of Lee Bennett Hopkins

This Poetry Friday, I'll post the answers to questions that blog readers posed to Lee Bennett Hopkins last week.

I'll also announce the winner of the drawing. Remember...the winner gets to choose any book written or compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins that is still in print.

These are the people who left questions for Lee. Their names will be entered into the drawing:
  • Toby Speed
  • Laura Purdie salas
  • Linda
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Eating Poetry, Number Two: A Poem for Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Last November at the NCTE Annual Convention, we had a big celebration in honor of Lee Bennett Hopkins, "The Poetry Man," who became the 15th recipient of the NCTE Award in Excellence in Poetry for Children. You can read my post about our party for Lee here.

We presented Lee with a very special anthology compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong for the occasion. The book, Dear One: A Tribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins, contains poems written by children’s poets in honor of Lee.

Here’s the poem that I wrote for Dear One. The words printed in italics are titles of Lee’s poetry books.

Eating Poetry
by Elaine Drabik Magliaro

Here we are
sitting side by side,
eating through a day
full of poems,
chewing on wonderful words,
delicious words
full of surprises
words that flit, flutter, fly
from our tongues,
words that taste of
April, bubbles, chocolate,
words with the scent of
sky magic.

Here we are
sitting side by side
savoring similes,
munching on metaphors,
rhymes dribbling down our chins,
licking rhythm from our lips.

Here we are
sitting side by side
in the city I love
eating poetry
a l l d a y l o n g…

I decided to write another poem for Lee yesterday. Lee helped whet my appetite for children’s poetry. He introduced me to the works of hundreds of poets through his numerous anthologies. He provided me with a taste of many different delicious poetic voices.

Eating Poetry, Number Two
(A Poem for Lee Bennett Hopkins)
By Elaine Magliaro

I enjoy eating poetry!
It’s so delicious.
I love the way poets’ words
Taste on my tongue:
Sweet, sour, salty, bitter.
I favor every flavor.

I enjoy eating poetry!
Some poems are smooth as silk…
Slide down my throat
Like melted chocolate.
Some are crunchy
And crackle when I say them.
Some are light as air…
Dissolve like pink clouds
Of cotton candy in my mouth.

I enjoy eating poetry!
Some poems are best for nibbling on…
Bite by yummy bite
As I relish every metaphoric morsel.
Some poems are comforting,
Warm me
Like a bowl
Of steaming beef stew
On a frigid night.
Some poems tempt me
To eat more…promise:
“You’ll like your second helping
Even better than the first.”

I enjoy eating poetry…
Lots and lots of poetry—
Oodles of odes,
Heaps of haiku,
Bowls of ballads—
All its scrumptious varieties.

Here’s a poem.
Take a taste.
I know you’ll enjoy
Eating poetry