Happy Poetry Friday!
Welcome to Poetry Friday!
It’s a little crazy at our house these days. In the next month we’ll have one child graduate from middle school, another graduate from high school, and my book Soccerverse: Poems about Soccer will make its way into the world!
Soccerverse includes 22 poems about everything soccer—the ball, shin guards, uniforms, teammates, dribbling, fans, and even the handshake after the game. Some of the poems are whimsical, some funny, and some address the more difficult emotions that are part of the game. The poems use 13 different forms, which I describe in a note at the end. The book was illustrated by Edson Ikê, a fabulous graphic designer from Brazil (perfect, right?). The images are bold, colorful, and creative, and best of all, the kids in the book reflect the beautiful diversity of our world. Happily, Kirkus Review says Soccerverse is “A pitch-perfect ode to the details and delights of playing soccer.”
To celebrate the publication of the book, I’m visiting a few blogs, including Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ Today’s Little Ditty, where I’m currently in the “Spotlight.” This month’s challenge is to write a poem giving instructions to an inanimate object about how to do its job. The idea came from my poem “Instructions for the Field,” which you can read on Michelle’s blog.
I thought it might be fun to share the first draft of that same poem today. Here it is in all its first-draft glory:
INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEING A SOCCER FIELD
Never slouch or slump or pull
The ball into a pocket.
Keep your toes up.
Use your hands
At the other end and let
The spiders weave the nets.
Grow a thick green
Beard. Never shave,
But keep it trim.
Wear the same striped suit
Every day. Don’t
Giggle when we tickle
You with our feet.
Catch us when
When it rains,
It’s interesting for me to look back at this and compare it to the final draft. What strikes me first is that there’s a lot in here that stayed—Lie flat. Never slouch or slump. Most of what happened during the revision process of this particular poem was cutting. By taking words away, I was able to focus in on one image and get rid of the excess and the distractions. I like the idea of the spiders weaving the goal nets, but it’s a little much for this poem. You’ll see I even cut the extra words from the title. I also notice that the first draft seems to have two endings that work quite similarly—Catch us when/we fall and Wait/for us. I took the second one out and moved the first one to the end. As I recall, those toes stayed in there for quite a while, until I think my critique group firmly said they made no sense. Looking back, I’m a little sorry the tickling and the giggling disappeared. In any case, I’m happy to say the final draft is much stronger than the first one.
I also thought I might share a poem that didn’t make the book. This one is close to my heart because it celebrates diversity and I snuck my kids into it.
Amos always kicks it hard.
Bella hates to lose.
Charlotte likes to head the ball.
Dylan wears red shoes.
Edith has the most assists.
Finley looks to pass.
Goren’s got a fierce left foot.
Hal’s allergic to grass.
Igor gives loud half-time talks.
Jody lives offside.
Kojo takes the corner kicks.
Lucy loves to slide.
Marco mumbles when he runs.
Naomi’d rather read.
Ollie makes amazing saves.
Piper’s got great speed.
Quincy draws a lot of cards.
Rachel guards the post.
Sarah wants to be a star.
Travis likes to boast.
Ulric keeps an eye on time.
Vera gives high fives.
Walter scores on penalties.
Xena sometimes dives.
Yuli cheers no matter what.
Zach can run all day.
All of us are different.
All of us can play.
I still like this poem, but even at the collection-level, less can be more. Thanks to editor Rebecca Davis, I think the collection includes just the right number and combination of poems.
I hope that you all saw Michelle’s incredible Classroom Connections series celebrating National Poetry Month. Each day a different children’s poet discussed how to bring their work into the classroom. Though we have all barely recovered from NPM, Michelle reprised the series and invited me to discuss how to bring Soccerverse to school. I hope you’ll take a look. I’m also happy to say an educator’s guide for Soccerverse will be available on my website soon!
Mary Lee asked me to point out that there are a couple of changes to the Poetry Friday calendar coming up. Michelle Kogan and Margaret Simon have swapped places. Next week, May 17 will be at Margaret’s blog, Reflections on the Teche.
One last thing, I hope you’ve noticed that my website has a new look. I want to thank Gabe Seiden at Connect4Consulting for the fabulous redesign.
Please add your link below.
Happy Poetry Friday!
Many, MANY congratulations on Soccerverse. It’s a great idea and a great title. This week, I am responding to your poem of instruction challenge from Michelle’s wonderful interview with you on Today’s Little Ditty. Since I have a daughter graduating from HS, its very related to her graduation.
It’s pretty fun to see your early draft of Soccer Field and the abedcedarian poem. I always wonder how someone knows when their work is ready. It’s cool to get a peek behind the scenes here. Enjoy the fun of this book’s birthday. And, keep writing!
Many congratulations on your lively new book Liz, looks lovely all wrapped up too! What a fun and colorful abecedarian–maybe you can sneak it in the educator’s guide, or find another home for it. Thanks for hosting the Roundup.
So so many congratulations on this book that is sure to be loved by many a soccer player and fan! I will be sharing this one in classrooms and with teachers regularly. Thank you for the peek at an early draft and one of your other poems. Thank you, too for hosting today. Cheers! And good game! xx
Congratulations!! What a wonderful spring you’re having, with so many exciting milestones to celebrate! I really enjoyed seeing your rough draft and comparing it to your final version. I can’t wait to get a copy of your book. I know it’s going to be a hit in my fourth grade classroom. Thanks so much for sharing and for hosting today.
So many congratulations to you and your family, Liz! Love the new website design, and your book is going to be treasured by soccer players, fans, and non-athletes like moi aussi. Enjoy each crazy moment! :0)
Congratulations! As a (former) soccer mom, I can’t wait to read Soccerverse. The poems both you and Michelle shared fro the book ring so true. I enjoyed seeing the first and final drafts and hearing your thoughts on their transformation. Thanks for hosting today!
Big Congrats on Soccerverse! LOVE the sample poems I’ve read thus far, and I’m sorry the abecedarian didn’t make it into the book. I also like the giggling and tickling in your earlier draft :). Thanks so much for hosting this week.
Liz, I am SO EXCITED for you. I can’t wait to get my hands on your book so I can share it with the third graders I’m working with right now. They are a very sporty and poetic bunch. It was fun to read your Abecedarian poem!
Congratulations again on the book, Liz – it sounds awesome. And thanks for hosting, and for allowing us a peek inside the process of how it came together!
Congratulations on your new book! As a former soccer mom, I look forward to reading the entire collection. I love the imagery in the field poem and the diversity represented in the alphabet poem. I took you up on your ditty challenge, and my post today is a poem entitled Instructions To Wind. Thank you for hosting this week!
My son played soccer for years & many of my students, too, Liz. I imagine your new book will be loved by many families and classrooms. Congratulations on this news, and your graduation celebrations. My grandson is graduating from high school in a couple of weeks. It is very exciting. I enjoyed seeing the changes you made in your drafts, & really loved the Players poem. Perhaps it can sneak into your teacher packets? Thanks for hosting!
You’ll have to save “The spiders weave the nets” for your sequel, Liz! It’s an awesome line, for sure. I also love your abecedarian—even more so knowing your kids are in there. 🙂 Thank you SO much for all the time, effort, and care you put into your interview responses both last week AND this week on TLD. I feel very grateful.
Congratulations on Soccerverse, LIz! It’s sure to be a favorite. Thanks for sharing this about revision: “Most of what happened during the revision process of this particular poem was cutting. By taking words away, I was able to focus in on one image and get rid of the excess and the distractions.” And I love that you shared how you cut things that you really, really liked. I will be sharing your words with teachers and students. Cutting is one of the hardest things for students to do.
Best of luck with your new book Elizabeth it sounds wonderful and prompted me to share an Aussie Footy poem
Liz, as someone with a sporting background I enjoyed both poems you presented for our reading enjoyment. Sport as a focus for writing poetry has instant broad appeal, from poetry lovers young and not so young. I wish you every success with this new book.I particularly like the fact you have incorporated thirteen different poetic forms. This enhances the poetry experience for readers and provides additional options for teachers to ponder. It presents a much broader view of poetry.
Thanks for hosting and congrats on your fabulous new book! I am excited to read it, and I enjoyed hearing your process.
One of these days, Liz, maybe we’ll be able to get together since we don’t live that far apart! Maybe I can come see you when you are doing a book signing at Politics and Prose or something.
Thanks for hosting!
Yay for SOCCERVERSE! Liz, so happy this book is making its way into the world, and into readers’ hearts! Rebecca is indeed a keen editor… I am excited to read the whole thing. Thank you for sharing this sneak peek! xo
What fun, Liz! I saw your book extremely briefly at TLA last month–so exciting! I, too, had to let go of many lines and entire poems that I liked for IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Ah, it’s hard to cut!
Congratulations, Liz! I loved seeing the first draft of one of your poems and reading about the revision process. Your poems are wonderful, and your book is sure to be a hit!
Thank you all for the support and good wishes! I’m visiting my niece’s school today, but I promise to come back later and visit with everyone.
Liz, congratulations on your new book that sounds like it will be a hit with soccer moms and players. Of course, schools will enjoy it also because so many children love sports. I loved hearing about your editing process. I can see that there was a good amount of weeding in order to find just the right words for each poem. Also, thank you for hosting. I may be late to the PF poetry but I have been working on one of my NPM goals: unveiling my autumn gallery. I am only showing a sneak peek today.
Thank you for sharing your 1st draft! It is always so much fun to see where the revision process takes a poem. Thanks for hosting too!
Congratulations are in order on all accounts, Elizabeth. My soccer-playing Kindergarteners will adore this collections for certain. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! Cheers, and thanks for hosting the roundup! — Christie
Congratulations on Soccerverse, Liz! It looks like a collection my students will love! Thank you for sharing the first draft of “Instructions For Being a Soccer Field” and for giving us a peek at your revision process. It can be so hard to let go of lines we love, even though the finished version is stronger because of our edits. Thank you for hosting this week, too!
Congratulations on SoccerVerse and thanks for sharing your first draft. It is reassuring for me to see that it’s ok to revamp a poem so intensely. I will be much more comfortable with just getting something out there the first time.
Congratulations on Soccerverse–and the graduations! So many wonderful things happening for you and your family. I enjoyed reading the first draft of instructions for being a soccer field–and look forward to seeing the final product. And your name poem is really fun even if it didn’t make it into the book Thanks for sharing and hosting!
I am really enjoying visiting everyone’s blogs. I look forward to getting back to it later today. But first I need to squeeze in a little more time with my sister and her family before I head home.
Sorry I had to drop my link and run on Friday. I am SOOOoooo excited that your book is out in the world! Excited for you and excited for my readers! They ask for more sports poetry all the time. Plus, I will love pulling this book out and telling them it’s by my Poetry-Friday-friend-I’ve-never-met-IRL (we’ll change that in November)!!