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
  • Stella
  • Jeannine Atkins
  • Tricia
  • Sallye
  • Heidi Mordhorst
  • Judy

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

Monday, November 8, 2010

Disappearing Desmond Book Giveaway

Desmond....where are you?

I can never find you when I want you!
You're always disappearing on me!
You think it's funny, don't you???
Well, I'm not going to stop looking until I find you!
You hear me?
There you are!
I should have known
I'd find you outside playing
with your friend.

Oh no! Desmond's disappeared...again!
Can you help me find him?

Written & Illustrated by Anna Alter

To celebrate the release of Anna Alter's new book, for the first two weeks of November she is running a Disappearing Desmond book giveaway!
Ten winners will get their very own copy sent to their doorstep.

All you have to do is find Desmond as he appears on various children's book blogs around the web and click on him before the contest disappears.
The Disappearing Desmond book giveaway will run from Nov. 1st through Nov. 14th, with ten winners selected at random on Nov.15th.
Folks can enter as many times as they like.

*Please note, giveaway is for US residents only. *

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Anthologist: A Poem for Lee Bennett Hopkins

I’m featuring poet/anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins at Wild Rose Reader this week and next week. Tricia Stohr-Hunt is featuring poet Marilyn Singer and Sylvia Vardell is featuring poets Pat Mora and Jame Richards. We’re doing this in preparation for a session we’ll all—bloggers AND poets—be participating in at the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando in two weeks. The title of our session is Poets and Bloggers Unite: Using Technology to Connect Kids, Teachers, and Poetry.

Today, I have a poem for Lee titled The Anthologist. It's is about Lee searching for poems for his wonderful anthology Sharing the Seasons.

The Anthologist
By Elaine Magliaro

SO many poems to pick from.
HOW many should I use
in my poetry book of seasons?
WHICH poems should I choose?

This little poem paints autumn
with colored leaves that blaze—
cinnamon, copper, pumpkin, red—
and gold October days.

This little poem shivers on the page.
Its icy words send chills
with images of snow white streets
and frosted windowsills.

This little poem brings warm green winds,
a drizzle of April showers,
robin redbreasts, wiggly worms,
bees buzzing in bright flowers.

This little poem shouts: School is out!
It sizzles with summer fun…
picnics, peaches, popsicles,
a smiling yellow sun.

This little poem…and that little poem…
and these little poems too—
will sing a song of seasons
in this book I make for you.

More on Mora

This Week’s NCTE Poetry Posts at The Miss Rumphius Effect
Meet Marilyn Singer

This week I’ve been a guest blogger at the law blog of Jonathan Turley. Here are links to my posts at the Turley blog that include my original poems.

Dirty Dog!: A Sunday Pooch Poetry Post

The Best Government Money Can Buy: A Video and a Verse

A Bachmann Concerto


JoAnn has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Teaching Authors.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lee Bennett Hopkins: A Silent Mentor

Lee Bennett Hopkins & His Poetry Friends
at NCTE 2009
(Back Row-L toR: Walter Dean Myers, Rebecca kai Dotlich, LEE, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis)
(Front Row-L to R: Georgia Heard, Sylvia Vardell, Janet Wong)

Yesterday, children’s poet Heidi Mordhorst left a comment for Lee Bennett Hopkins and me at my post PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE!: A Wild Rose Reader Interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins.
She wrote: “Really enjoyable exchange! I especially like the idea of "silent mentors"--we all have them, I guess, and they play a different role to the "talking mentors" we may also have.”

I had one very special “talking mentor”—the late David McCord. David was the first children’s poet honored with the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Award for children in 1977. I met David in the early 1980s. We became fast friends. He visited my classroom every year after his first presentation at my school. Some years, he even came twice to speak to my students and share his poetry. We had a big birthday party for him when he turned eighty-five. (Note: David and I shared the same birthday!)

My students and I—with the help of our art teacher—prepared an audio-visual poetry presentation for his birthday. My students selected their favorite David McCord poems, memorized them, and then I taped my students reciting David’s poems. The art teacher helped my students illustrate the poems. Then he and I photographed the paintings and made slides of them. David was truly touched by my class’s slide/tape presentation of his work. The party was a memorable experience for all of us.

I’ve had dozens of “silent mentors”—including the recipients of the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award. My two MOST important silent mentors were Myra Cohn Livingston and Lee Bennett Hopkins.

I read Lee's book Pass the Poetry, Please!—both the second and the third editions. I have dozens of sections starred and underlined in the books. Through the book(s), I learned about children’s poets “From Adoff to Yolen”—and read a potpourri of poetry ideas “From Acorns to Zinnias.” I learned about ways to spark children to write poetry.

Yesterday, I posted Lee’s answer to a question I had asked him about why he put more of his creative energy into compiling anthologies than into writing his own original work. In his answer to me, Lee wrote: I do know I wanted to create anthologies so that readers would have a wide variety of voices and subject matter in their classrooms.

Lee sent me a list of all the poetry books he’s both written and compiled. I went through my library and discovered that I own—at the very least—fifty of those books!

Through those books, Lee helped introduce me to hundreds of poets. I sought out books written by many of the poets I discovered through Lee. I read their work. I heard their unique voices speaking to me. All this helped me to internalize poetic language. It helped me to become a better writer of poetry. For that I will be forever thankful to Lee.
After all these years, I think the time has come for me to thank this silent mentor of mine...with poetry.

A Poem for a Dear One: Lee Bennett Hopkins
By Elaine Magliaro

My silent mentor
Never knew how
He inspired me
To write poetry…
Until now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Question for Lee Bennett Hopkins

Yesterday, I asked Lee a question that had popped into my head after I had completed my interview with him. I thought I'd post my question and Lee's answer for you today.

Once again, I encourage readers to pose their own questions to Lee by leaving them in the comments section or by emailing them to me. If you do, your name will go into a drawing to win a poetry book written or compiled by Lee--and you get to pick the book!

P.S. I'll post Lee's answers to your questions next week at Wild Rose Reader.

My Question
I got to thinking yesterday about all the poetry books you've published over the years. You've written a few/several books of poems--but you've compiled about a hundred anthologies. Did you make a conscious decision years ago to put more of your creative energy into producing anthologies on a variety of subjects than on producing your own original work?

Lee's Answer
Regarding your query about my work: I never thought about it before. I do know I wanted to create anthologies so that readers would have a wide variety of voices and subject matter in their classrooms. I have created more anthologies than anyone else in the history of children's literature in the United States, another thing I never thought about until someone mentioned I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records!

I always believed poetry should be an integral part of the curriculum: Read a nonfiction book about dinosaurs and read a poem about a dinosaur; play soccer-- share a poem about it; read a novel--share a poem about the subject of a book. In other words, bring poetry into children's lives all the time--not just in April!

Poetry has taught me so much. It has lead me to prose with two picture books on the horizon: Mary's Song (Eerdman's) and Full Moon and Star (Abrams). Mary's Song is about the Virgin Mary's quest to be ALONE with her baby; Full Moon...about two children who write plays for one another about the moon and stars. I'm SO excited over this new venture.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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

Lee & Me at NCTE
Can you tell us how and when you first got hooked on children’s poetry?
I first learned the impact poetry can have on children when I began teaching sixth grade.

When did you publish your first anthology? What was the subject of that anthology?
My earliest collection was Don’t You Turn Back: Poems by Langston Hughes.

Do you have a favorite among all the poems/poetry books you have written?
I still marvel at my creating Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (Boyds Mills Press) published over fourteen years ago…so long I almost forget writing it. The book received great national attention including being an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book and winning the Christopher Medal which was presented to me by James Earl Jones! But – I couldn’t attend the affair in NYC due to a prior commitment to a friend who had asked me a long time prior to speak at a dinner meeting in South Carolina! As I was eating spaghetti all I could think of was Mr. Jones. My agent, the great-late Marilyn E. Marlow accepted the award for me…and never let me forget the moment!

Is there anyone in the world of children’s poetry whom you consider to be your mentor?
Langston Hughes and Carl Sandburg were my silent mentors. Their work spoke to me loudly and clearly.

You’ve included the work of many “new” poets in your anthologies. How do you learn out about the poetry of writers whose work is not well-known?
Many ‘young’ poets seek me out. It’s not hard to find one these days!

When you were a teacher, you first began using poetry as an aid in the teaching of reading. Is that the reason you’ve compiled a series of I Can Read Poetry books for young children?
No. I began the I Can Read Poetry Series because I felt there was a need for such work nationwide.

What advice would you give to educators about how to approach the teaching of poetry in the classroom?
I’ve written extensively on this subject, particularly in my professional book, Pass the Poetry, Please! (HarperCollins).

I learned so much about poetry from reading Myra Cohn Livingston’s book Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry. Unfortunately, it is now out of print. Are there other books that you’d recommend to teachers as excellent poetry-writing resources?
I highly recommend Sylvia M. Vardell’s Poetry People: A Practical Guide Children’s Poets (Libraries Unlimited).
How did you get started writing poetry?
Having used poetry as an elementary school teacher for many years and seeing what it can
do to enhance the lives of all children, everywhere, the genre became a favorite of mine. I suppose I started by accident.

The first poem I penned, “Hydrants” written in the late l960’s was a result of my city-living. The first person who heard it was May Swenson, the great American Poet, who further encouraged me. At her home in Long Island I read it to her (cautiously) before dinner. After dinner she asked me if I would read it again! After her comments all I did was want to write.

The more I read the more I wanted to write. I absorbed the best at the time: David McCord, Myra Cohn Livingston, Lilian Moore, Eve Merriam, Karla Kuskin, Aileen Fisher etc., all of whom later became personal friends of mine.

What new “Lee Bennett Hopkins” poetry books can we look forward to reading in the next year? Spring, 2011 brings an exciting collection I Am the Book (Holiday House) illustrated by the Columbian artist, Yayo, and a loving book of first prayers for children Hear My Prayer (Zonderkidz) illustrated by newcomer Gretchen “Gigi” Moore.

Some words of poetic wisdom from Lee Bennett Hopkins:
Poetry should be used every day throughout the curriculum for nothing– no thing–can ring and rage through hearts and minds as does this genre of literature.

I’ve written it, I’ve shouted it, I’ve said it, I’ll say it over and over and over again–PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE!

Questions, Anyone?
I invite readers to pose questions to Lee Bennett Hopkins all week long. I'll forward the questions to Lee and post his answers some time next week. You can leave your questions for Lee in the comments section of any of my posts about him--or you can email them to me.
Book Giveaway!
I have a very special book giveaway planned. Everyone who writes a question for Lee will have an opportunity to win a book written or compiled by him. The winner will get to choose the book! I will order any one of Lee's books that is still in print for the winner.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lee Bennett Hopkins: WHY POETRY?

Lee Bennett Hopkins

This week at Wild Rose Reader, I’ll be featuring award-winning poet and anthologist extraordinaire (drum roll, please) Lee Bennett Hopkins—Mr. Poetry Man himself!
I’ll be posting my interview with Lee tomorrow. I encourage readers to ask Lee their own questions anytime during this week. I’ll be posting Lee’s responses to your questions next week.

(Note: You may email your questions to me (edotdrabikatyahoodotcom)—or you may leave your questions for Lee in any of the posts I write about him.)

Today, I’m just posting Lee’s poetic answer to a question he’s so often asked and links to reviews that I’ve written of some of the wonderful children’s poetry books that he has published over the years. I thought by doing this I'd help whet your Lee-terary appetites. Please come back tomorrow for my interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Why Poetry?
Lee: I have been asked this question so many countless times that years ago I decided to write a poem to answer it:

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

(Reprinted by permission of Curtis-Brown, Ltd.)

Why poetry?
Why sunsets?
Why trees?
Why birds?
Why seas?
Why you?
Why me?
Why friends?
Why families?
Why laugh?
Why cry?
Why hello?
Why good-bye?
Why poetry?

That’s why!

Wild Rose Reader Poetry Book Reviews

Poetry Book Review: Incredible Inventions Compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Book Review: Sky Magic Compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Valentine Hearts: Poetry & A Picture Book in Verse

Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees

More School Poems: Review of School Supplies

Words…Wonderful Words, Words, Words

More Poetry for Christmas

Poetry for Hanukkah


NOTE: Along with fellow kidlit bloggers Sylvia Vardell and Tricia Stohr-Hunt, I’ll be participating in a poet/blogger session at the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando in November. Sylvia, Tricia, and I will be featuring the poet members of the panel (Lee Bennett Hopkins, Jame Richards, Pat Mora, and Marilyn Singer) at our blogs this week and next week and inviting reader participation.

Session Title: Poets and Bloggers Unite: Using Technology to Connect Kids, Teachers, and Poetry
Date: November 19th
Session/Time: A.09—9:30 am to 10:45 am
Format: Panel

Meet Marilyn Singer at The Miss Rumphius Effect
Featuring Pat Mora and NCTE at poetry for Children