Wow! What a weekend! I can’t imagine there has ever been a greater celebration of children’s poetry than the Poetry Camp organized by Sylvia Tag and Nancy Johnson, founders of Poetry CHaT at Western Washington University, and Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, the creators of the Poetry Friday anthologies. All four of these wonderful women are doing everything possible to celebrate and promote children’s poetry.
On Friday more than 30 Poetry Friday contributors got together to talk about poetry and how to share it in schools and libraries, at conferences, and over the internet. It was such a pleasure to meet and connect with poets from around the country. Holly Thompson made the trip all the way from Japan.
Friday night we had the absolute pleasure of participating in a found poetry workshop with Robyn Hood Black at Village Books in Bellingham. Robyn had prepared kits for us—with cards about shells, sticky notes, scissors, tweezers, sponges, stamp ink, stamps, and tiny anchors. She carefully walked us through the process of finding poems on the cards and then turning our cards into visual art. I was reminded how much I enjoy making things. Robyn is a maker extraordinaire, and I have purchased beautiful cards and jewelry at her etsy shop artsyletters.
On Saturday we expanded the conversation to include more than 100 local teachers, librarians, writers, and poetry fans. Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong gave two keynote speeches, and poets offered workshops on topics including: Playing with Sound, Writing for Journals and Anthologies, Poetry and Science, Poetry and Movement, etc. Irene Latham and I led a workshop on simile and metaphor. It was wonderful to work with Irene; I learned so much from presenting with her.
The afternoon ended with a performance by the great Jack Prelutsky. Two groups of local elementary school children did a fabulous job reciting a few of his poems; they even pretended to be annoying mosquitoes!
Here are just a few of the wise and important messages I brought home. Though I’ve tried to attribute the messages to their speakers, these are my words, not theirs. Forgive me if anything below isn’t quite right. Our conversations were fast and free-flowing and comments built on one another.
Poetry is not just for special occasions, like birthdays, wedding, and funerals. Poetry is for every day, every occasion! (Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong)
Poetry is not just for the language arts classroom. Poetry is a powerful way to introduce or extend the learning in science, social studies, math, art, even PE! (Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong)
Poets and scientists work similarly. Their work grows out of a powerful sense of wonder. Their understanding grows by taking different perspectives. They learn through process. Their work develops through iteration. (Jeannine Atkins)
Restrictions create opportunities for creativity. (Julie Larios)
Works of art can be a wonderful starting point for writing. (Cynthia Grady)
When choosing a word, consider the how saying the word affects the face. Is that facial expression consistent with the content of the poem? (Brod Bagert)
Poetry can come from a visual place as well as a performance place. (Bob Raczka)
Metaphors and similes come from life experience. You must go out and live to expand the possibilities available to you when you write. (Irene Latham)
Rejection is part of the process of seeking publication. (Bridget Magee)
More than anything else, the weekend was inspiring!
For more about the camp and today’s round-up, visit Violet Nesdoly.
I met a girl in a book—
a sister to me, my heart
sang to be so understood.
I met a girl in a book—
a stranger to me, my heart
sang to hear her melody.
Sister, stranger, girl, or boy—
in my heart their printed souls
find a voice and turn to song.
Last week I shared a septercet I wrote in response to Jane Yolen’s September challenge at Michelle Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty. Like potato chips, septercets can be addictive, and I found I couldn’t stop at just one.
I’m sure the theme will be a familiar one to many of you. Readers need to be able to see themselves in what they read; they also need opportunities to read about other people’s experiences. For both reasons we all need more diverse books. The We Need Diverse Books movement and organization has brought new attention to this chronic deficiency.
If you haven’t already seen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk The Danger of a Single Story and Grace Lin’s TEDx talk The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf, you must. Both writers speak powerfully of their experiences with limited access to mirrors and with people who have had limited access to windows.
I’m at Poetry Camp at WWU this weekend! I couldn’t be more excited to see old friends, meet people I’ve only known on line or on paper, and take a good long time to celebrate poetry and children. I hope to share about that next Friday.
In the meantime, Happy Poetry Friday! Karen Edmisten has the round-up.
© Elizabeth Steinglass 2016
What? Were you talking to me?
I’m sorry I didn’t hear.
I hope you will understand.
Even though you can see me,
I’m not actually here.
I’ve been sucked into my book.
This month Michelle Barnes shines her spotlight on Jane Yolan. To celebrate her book The Alligator’s Smile and Other Poems, Jane has challenged readers to write septercets, a form she invented. Septercets are composed of stanzas of three lines; each line has seven syllables. The poems can have any number of stanzas and may be rhymed or unrhymed. I found them interesting to write. Every form has its own characteristics and part of using a new one is discovering its secrets. Apparently I was not alone in finding the septercet appealing because Michelle’s September padlet is booming.
Next week I’ll be at Poetry Camp at Western Washington University with many other Poetry Friday poets. I can’t wait to meet everyone in person. I’m pretty sure we’ll be breaking the world record for most children’s poets in one place.
Happy Poetry Friday!
I know it sounds mundane—
silly even. Everyone wants free
shipping and the ability to return
the things they don’t want
without paying for them. But this time,
I’m willing to fight
for the $5.95. I deserve it,
I explain to the woman responsible
for taking my call. I want free shipping
because I only ordered the seafarer striped sham
to see if the navy blue sheets I also ordered
(from a competitor) would match
the seafarer striped duvet cover I ordered
only to learn (ten days later)
was on backorder and wouldn’t come
for another four weeks. I want
the free shipping on the sham
because what I really wanted
was for my first-born, college-bound son
to go to sleep in a strange, new place
wrapped in soft, stylish bedding.
Hi! It’s been a busy summer–carting kids to and fro, visiting with family, and getting ready to send our oldest off to college. Wow. It’s an emotional process. We’re so excited for him and completely confident that he’s ready but boy are we going to miss him. It’s truly been a pleasure to have him around and see him grow and change and become more and more himself. While I haven’t been blogging, I have been writing, a little. This poem is a tiny taste of what my summer has been like. I hope you all have had a wonderful season. I look forward to blogging more when school starts up again.
All my best,