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Fun With Some Different Poetry Forms!


In my interview with Heidi Bee Roemer on April 3rd, she advised aspiring poets to try new poetry forms. She said “most new poets never go beyond the standard couplet or quatrain. There are so many other forms to explore!” I think this is good advice for published poets as well. It never hurts to expand your field of writing and challenge your creativity.

On the No Water River blog, Heidi read her poem, "Food Fest". Food Fest is an analogy poem, a poem that compares things that are alike, or similar. I’d never written an analogy poem, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I spent several hours working on my poem, making lists and putting words with similar meanings together. Not as easy as it looks! Of course, good poems always look easy to write because they’re easy to read and to listen to. Here’s my first draft:

Backyard Garden

Green is to string beans as red to tomatoes
Pull is to carrots as dig to potatoes

Birdbaths to splashing as feeders to eating
Bees are to buzzing as robins to tweeting

Trees are to apples as vines are to grapes
Sun is to shadows as shadows to shapes

Hares are to hopping as hawks are to flight
Sunrise to morning as moonlight to night

(Backyard Garden—copyright Peggy Archer. all rights reserved)

This is still a work-in-progress. I can think of so many other things that could relate to a backyard garden! What I need to figure out is what to include and what to leave out, and how to put it altogether so that there’s a thread going through it to connect everything, with a beginning, a middle and an end. And I do think there should be a beginning, a middle and an end just like in a story. Because, like a story, a poem leaves the reader with an emotional response and something to think about.

In his book IMMERSED IN VERSE, Allan Wolf lists some different types of poems. Here are a few that you might try:

Concrete poetry is a poem in which the words are arranged to visually show the subject of the poem. For example, the words might be arranged on the page in the shape of a tree or an umbrella. This is also called a shape poem. Check out Brad Burg’s website where you can see some examples of shape poems.

A cinquain is a five-line unrhymed poem.
Line one consists of one noun that introduces the subject of the poem.
Line two consists of two adjectives that describe the subject.
Line three consists of three verbs related to the subject.
Line four is a phrase; it tells the writer’s feelings or describes the subject.
Line five is a different noun that sums up the poem.

A found poem is created by gathering existing words from different places like newspapers, books, magazines, signs, license plates, etc, and rearranging them into a poem. I have a friend who writes found poems and it’s amazing what she ends up with! I think it would be fun to gather words or phrases that are fun to say and work them into a poem.

Give it a try—take a step away from whatever form of poetry is comfortable for you and have some fun!

Please stop by on Wednesday this week and visit with children’s author and poet, Amy Sklansky, who will be sharing her books and a bit of her writing life with us!

Don't forget to leave a comment to get in the drawing for one of my books! And thanks to children's author and friend Cynthia Reeg for sharing my book giveaway on her website.  Read More 
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Join the Poetry Fun on the Web!


Blogs for reading, Blogs for writing—which is your choice?

Come join the party and celebrate poetry! Whether you like to read poetry or write it, and even if you think you don't like poetry at all, there‘s a blog for you! Here are just a few of the blog sites that are celebrating poetry this month.

Blogs for people who write children’s poetry:

30/30 Poetry Challenge 2013
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a poem based on the prompt received for that day. Sign up to receive a prompt every day during April, or view it on the website. You receive your prompt by noon. You have until noon the next day to complete the challenge! If your poem is selected, it will be posted on the website on the evening your poem was received. Complete instructions are posted on the website, including a Poetry Challenge for kids.

Writing the World for Kids
Watch the Poem Starter Video on Laura Purdey Salas’ blog, then take on its challenge to write a poem in 15 words or less. Each day in April features a poem by a different children’s poet.

30 Words 30 Days
It started with a single word on April 1st. Each day another word is added, inspired by readers’ suggestions in their comments. At the end of the month there will be a complete 30-word poem! Take a look at the first 5 words and then join in the fun.

Stem Friday
Write a STEM poem and learn about Haiku. Select your topic from Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM). Then share your STEM poem in the comments on the Haiku page.

Blogs for readers of children’s poetry:

Gotta Book: 30 Poets/30 Days
Every day during April, author Greg Pincus will feature an unpublished poem by a favorite children’s author on his blog, Gotta Book. The poems are fun to read, and many schools incorporate the event into their lesson plans.

Poetry Foundation Children's Poetry
Watch videos of children’s Poet Laureates reading their poems and talking about poetry for children. There are also links to other resources and articles.

2013 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem
Watch a poem grow day-by-day, as it travels across the Kidlitosphere! Every day throughout April, different people take turns at adding a new line to a growing poem. Start reading here and follow along each day.

Websites for those who think they don’t like poetry:

Giggle Poetry
Visit Bruce Landsky’s website for a look at some fun poems and some poetry fun and games.

Poetry 4 Kids
More poems, fun and games for kids (and grown-up kids) at Ken Nesbitt’s poetry website.

Jack Prelutsky
If you’ve never visited this poetry site for kids you’re in for a treat. Fun poems with animation and sound.

Shel Silverstein
A fun interactive website with poems, puzzles, games and more.

This is just a taste of what’s out there! Enjoy!  Read More 
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A Visit with Children's Author Heidi Bee Roemer!


Heidi Bee Roemer is an award winning author of children’s picture books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in many poetry anthologies, and she has sold nearly 400 poems, stories, and articles to various children’s magazines. Formerly an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature, Heidi also served SCBWI-Illinois in various capacities, most recently as Assistant Regional Advisor.

Heidi’s upcoming publications include several poems in Highlights Hello! and High Five magazines, some of which will appear under her pen name, Rikki B. Romerez. Her poems also appear in The Poetry Friday Anthology, Grades K-5 and The Poetry Friday Anthology, Grades 6-8, edited by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.

Welcome, Heidi! Thank you for being a part of poetry month here on my blog. You are such an amazing poet, and an inspiration to me as a children’s poet.

Are there any authors that have helped or influenced you as a children’s poet?
Thanks for inviting me to be one of your guests, Peggy! My first encounter with a published poet was the 1998 Butler University Conference. Rebecca Kai Dotlich, one of the speakers, had recently published Lemonade Sun. Rebecca graciously critiqued several poems for me and patiently answered my newbie writer’s questions. At another conference Rebecca introduced me to master poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins. I was overjoyed when Lee later accepted several poems for his anthologies. (BTW, Lee was recently honored by Guinness as “the world’s most prolific anthologist of children’s poetry, with 113 titles to his credit.” Way to go, Lee!)

There were others. Author Esther Hershenhorn nudged me toward my first works-for-hire poetry job, and Patricia Rae Wolf gave me one of the best tips ever when she encouraged me to write for magazines. And, Peggy, you and I have critiqued, commiserated, and celebrated together, too! Without Rebecca, Lee, Pat, Esther, Peggy, and other generous authors, I might not have stayed the course.

Are there any books that have influenced you as a children’s poet?
Early on, I fell in love with Kristen O’Connell George’s Old Elm Speaks—pure magic! From Verla Kay’s Orphan Train I learned about terse verse and succinct writing. School Supplies, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, taught me that even a poetry collection must have a beginning, middle, and end. For example, the opening poem describes the arrival of the morning bus. A lunchtime poem is positioned midway, and the final poem is about homework. Doodle Dandies by J. Patrick Lewis and Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham, inspired me to write my own “picture poems”. Come to My Party and Other Shape Poems, was a 2004 Monarch Award nominee.

Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas abound! But your mind has to be open to recognize them. An idea may land smack-dab on your nose, but if your thoughts are preoccupied elsewhere, that idea will flutter off to inspire someone who’s paying attention. To be a better writer, I must make a conscious, constant effort to be curious and observant.

When I do get stuck it’s time to “feed my brain,” so I head to the library or art museum. Sometimes a painting sparks a story. A scientific fact may jumpstart an idea for an article. (“Mature female aphids clone themselves up to 10 times a day!") I might find an unusual poetry form. (A palindrome! I wonder if could write one?) A single sentence from the newsletter once jumped out at me and resulted in a story that was published in Focus on the Family magazine. If you feel like there are no creative ideas to write about—go on a treasure hunt and goose your muse! There’s no excuse!

Do you have any advice that you can offer to aspiring poets who want to write for children?
• Read—no, study!—good children’s poetry. Stake out a corner at your local library or bookstore regularly.

• Type up poems you especially like. Observe language, imagery, wordplay, sounds, rhythm, rhyme, form, etc.

• Try new poetry forms. Most new poets never go beyond the standard couplet or quatrain. There are so many other forms to explore!

• Seek magazines that offer theme lists and chose a topic to write about. When your poem is finished, you already know where to send it!

• Study how-to-write poetry books such a Pass the Poetry, Please! by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight by Bernice Cullinan and David Harrison, and For the Good of the Earth and Sun: Teaching Poetry by Georgia Heard.

Many writers have been published as a result of your ABC’s of Poetry workshop. Are you still teaching your poetry correspondence course?
I accept students on a case-by-case basis. Most of my students live in the U.S., though a growing number hail from Canada. A former Canadian student, Carol-Ann Hoyte, and I recently produced an anthology called, And the Crowd Goes Wild!: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems.

Yes, I know! Your latest venture in children’s poetry has been as an editor for And the Crowd Goes Wild!,! Can you tell us what that was like?
Carol-Ann invited me to join her on an adventure—to create a children’s anthology of sports poems. I’m a fitness fan and a poetry freak, so I eagerly jumped on board. In July, 2011, Carol-Ann issued a world-wide call for poetry submissions. Though thousands of mile apart, thanks to the internet, we worked together to log in over 300 poems from around world, communicating through email, and—to this date—only twice by phone.

What were your responsibilities?
Selecting the poems was a shared labor of love, though the arduous task of contacting poets with rejection and acceptance notices fell to Carol-Ann. I worked with most of the poets on revisions. Once we made our final selection, I assembled the 50 poems in logical sequence. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of organizing the poems, creating the book’s “beginning, middle, and end,” and making the topics flow smoothly from one to the next.

I'm sure the hardest part was choosing just the right poems. How did you ultimately decide which poems would make the cut?
The poems fell into three groups. Group A was easy. These stellar poems yelled, “Pick me!” Group C was also easy. They moaned, “Not me!” Group B was the trickiest; many poems were in nose-to-nose competition. We scrutinized the writing quality, topic, age appropriateness, and emotional content. We also wanted to feature as many varied poetry forms as possible. In addition, we wanted a global perspective, so the poet’s residence became a factor.

Interestingly, sometimes Carol-Ann felt strongly about a poem I thought was so-so, and other times the reverse was true. Upon reviewing our own guidelines, it became easier to decide whether the poem in question was a keeper or not.

Who is your audience for this book?
Though targeted for ages 6-12, I believe the stellar poems in this collection will also appeal greatly to parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians, poetry lovers, ringside judges, umpires, referees, coaches, and—Rah! Rah! Rah!— sports enthusiasts and poets around the world!

What can readers look forward to if they buy your book?
Name a sport! Very likely it’s included in this grand-slam poetry anthology. Written by 50 poets from 10 countries, And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems, is jam-packed with sport and sport-related poems. Nearly 30 different poetry forms are presented as well as identified, making this collection a great resource for teachers.

Congratulations! I understand that And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems, is the winner of The Moonbeam Award, 2012, Children’s Poetry division. How has the book promotion been going?
Thanks, Peggy. We’re thrilled to have the Moonbeam Award seal on our book. Carol-Ann and I have done book launches in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, several Illinois contributors and I banded together to form the Olympic Poetry Team U.S.A. Our “Poetry + Sports = Fun” message has been enthusiastically received by packed-out crowds. The Olympic Poetry Team U.S.A. offers educational and inspirational poetry presentations in the Chicagoland area.

What other types of presentations do you offer for school and library visits?
As a writer-in-residence for several Chicago Public Schools, I share my passion for poetry with students on a weekly or monthly basis. I also offer presentations based on my nature books, What Kinds of Seeds are These? and Whose Nest is This? Volunteers roll a coconut like a bowling ball, toss maple seeds into the air, and compare the hummingbird’s walnut-size nest to the sea turtle’s 10-foot nest. Students interested in the publishing process are surprised when I display my towering stack of rejection letters; it weighs as much as a medium deep-dish pizza! Whatever age my audience is, I’m always happy to share poetry and a “never give up your dream” message.


Click here to see five poets (from Australia, Ireland, Africa, Canada, and the U.S.) read their poems from And the Crowd Goes Wild.

Click hereto watch Heidi read her poem, "Food Fest" from The Poetry Friday Anthology, Grades 6-8. (Both links will take you to Renee LaTulippe’s blogsite, No Water River.)

Click here to find out more about author/poet Heidi Bee Roemer.

And the Crowd Goes Wild: ISBN-10: 1770979530; ISBN-13: 978-1770979536

Many thanks, Heidi, for giving us a glimpse into your writing life!  Read More 
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Poetry Month—and Book Giveaways!

It’s April 1st and the official start of Poetry Month!

National Poetry Month was established in the United States in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.

Here on my blog during the next four weeks I’ll be posting interviews with four terrific children’s poets. Check back this Wednesday to hear from my first guest, Heidi Bee Roemer, children’s author and poet, teacher, and editor!

I’ll be sharing some favorite websites featuring children’s poetry, and links to other ways to celebrate poetry.

I’ll also be giving away copies of my picture books, NAME THAT DOG! and FROM DAWN TO DREAMS, to two lucky blog readers in a drawing at the end of April. No fooling! To be entered in the drawing just leave your comment on any of my blog posts this month. Official rules are posted on the left on my blog page.

Here are some poetry books for children that I’ve recently read and recommend—

OUT ON THE PRAIRIE by Donna M. Bateman, illustrated by Susan Swan; Charlesbridge 2012, picture book/poetry/non-fiction

OUT OF THIS WORLD, Poems and Facts About Space, by Amy E Sklansky, illustrated by Stacey Schuett; Alfred A. Knopp, 2012, picture book/poetry/non-fiction

SERENDIPITY and ME by Judith L. Roth, Viking 2013, middle grade novel in verse

AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!, a Global Gathering of Sports Poems, compiled by Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester, Friesen Press 2012, middle grade anthology/poetry

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate, Harper 2012, middle grade novel in verse, 2013 Newberry Medal winner

Two other places that are giving away books during poetry month are:

To win an autographed copy of AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!, A Global Gathering of Sports Poems, on Story Patch go to Story Patch.

The Academy of American Poets: The Academy will edit and distribute 30,000 free copies of a special anthology of poetry for children ages 10 to 14, HOW TO EAT A POEM: a Smorgasbord of Tasty and Delicious Poems for Young Readers. With a foreword by U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, the anthology includes 70 poems by well-known poets such as W.S. Merwin, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Kenneth Koch, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, and Thom Gunn. Find out more at The Academy of American Poets website.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you here during April!  Read More 
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