New Hall of Fame Poets PLUS the Word of the Month for April

The last day of the month is always a biggie. I have the pleasure of announcing the newest Monthly Hall of Fame Poet and Young Poet and also reveal the word that I hope will inspire you to write a poem for April.

Without further ado, here are our March winners. In the adult group we have our first tie for first place: Laura Purdie Salas from Minneapolis, Minnesota and Jackie Huppenthal from Dyer, Indiana are co-Hall of Fame Poets for March. Second place is also a tie between and DeLane Parrott from Springfield, Missouri and Fahad A. Careem from Sri Lanka. Congratulations to everyone!

Our Young Poet for March is Colin Hurley from Springfield, Missouri. Second place goes to Josh from Springfield, Missouri and third place goes to Sophie from Springfield, Missouri. A clean sweep!

We’re proud of all of the students who posted their poems in March and, as always, we’re grateful to the teachers who somehow find time in their busy days to encourage their young poets to enjoy the Word of the Month challenge.

And now we come to that other important moment that occurs on the last day of each month: the announcement of the new word.

The word for April is SPRING.

You have until 10:00 CST on Friday, April 23 to complete your poems and get them posted.

Voting will take place from Saturday, April 24 through Thursday, April 29, and the April Hall of Fame Poets will be announced on Friday, April 30.

Ladies and gentlemen of all ages, start your engines.

David

Poetry tip #4

REMINDER: This is your last day to vote for the March Hall of Fame Poets and Young Poets. Go the boxes posted on March 25, scroll down the list to the poet of your choice, click on the circle beside his or her name, go to the bottom of the ballot and click on VOTE. That’s all there is to it. Cutoff is tonight at 10:00 CST and tomorrow I’ll announce the month’s winning poets.Headed inito our final day of voting, Laura Purdie Salas leads the way among adult poets with Jackie Huppenthal in second and Fahad in third. Among young poets, Josh and Colin are tied and Sophie is close behind. Good wishes to all!

POETRY TIP #4: VISUAL ELEMENTS

A poem’s shape may lend a visual dimension to how we experience the words. In some cases the poet may arrange lines to create a spatial effect that provides the reader/viewer with clues to the mood or premise of the message. Georgia Heard helps us “see” the flight of her hummingbird in this poem from Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky (Boyds Mills Press, 1992) by staggering the lines on the page the way a hummingbird hovers and zigzags through a garden. I can’t get the lines to do that here but believe me, in the book they do indeed zig and zag!

HUMMINGBIRD

Ruby-throated hummingbird

zig-zags

from morning glories

to honeysuckle

sipping

honey

from a straw

all day long.

In Paint Me a Poem (Boyds Mills Press, 2005), Justine Rowdon arranges her lines, screened colors, and even the sizes of her words to add a sense of galloping urgency to her poem about George Washington. Again I cannot duplicate the layout here but the lines, which begin like this, rush forward as the words grow in size and intensity.

Why, of course, it’s George
Riding toward Valley forge.

faster, Faster, FASTER!

Trotting into surrounded towns,

faster, Faster, FASTER!

In more obvious cases of line arrangement and shapes (concrete poems), the poet intentionally forms a picture with his/her words in a recognizable shape. I lack the tools and skills to present samples here of concrete poems but there are plenty available if you search the Internet.

More commonly poets use line breaks, punctuation, and capitalization to add visual effects to what they write. Paul Muldoon is a Pulitzer winning poet and one-time professor of poetry at the University of Oxford. In his rhyming verse poem, “You Gotta Take Out Milt (Peotry, The Humor Issue; July/August 2006, pp 293-294) Muldoon divides 46 lines into five stanzas and three refrains without punctuation but for a single question mark and not even a period at the end. Why?

For one thing, it’s a funny poem and gets funnier if you read it aloud the way a guy might sound given his discovery that his wife’s out to get him. Who would break for commas under such circumstances?

On the other hand, each and every line begins with a capital letter, a reminder to the reader that this is indeed a poem and the poet is aware that he’s breaking rules at one end of the line but is observing traditional etiquette at the other. Somehow the effect of starting each line with a straight face enhances the surprising antics of the lines themselves.

In “An Earl Martyr,” (William Carlos Williams   Selected Poems, A New Directions Book, 1985, page 89) the poet begins the first word in every other line with a capital letter whether it needs it or not and even though the poem is told in free verse, which normally doesn’t require capitals except to start a new sentence or stanza.

Rather than permit him
to testify in court
Giving reasons
why he stole from
Exclusive stores

Why? In my case as a reader, this tactic makes me slow down in reading to examine each line and consider why the poet chose to alternate capitalization while ignoring most punctuation.

You can find many other examples of poets who choose to punctuate, arrange, and capitalize their work to gain a certain desired effect. Here’s Constance Levy in A Crack in the Clouds (McElderry Books, 1998) with her poem, “Seagull Tricks.”

You may think
he’s not thinking
about your sandwich
because he is looking
the other way.

You may think
he’s not scheming
because he is dreaming
and stands like an innocent
statue in gray.

Notice how Connie arranges her lines and chooses her capitalization. These stanzas end in rhyme: way/gray, yet her lines all run over into the next (enjambment lines) so she begins them all with lower case letters to allow the reader freedom to keep moving.

In Music of their Hooves (Boyds Mills Press, 1994), Nancy Springer’s title poem is told in two 4-line stanzas. She chooses iambic and anapestic meters to echo the thundering hooves of galloping horses but also omits punctuation, capitalization, and even standard borders to free our spirits to run with the horses:

The earth is a drum
their hooves pound the beat
the cantering cantering
rhythm of their feet

My heart is a drum
every beat of it loves
the galloping galloping
music of their hooves

Let me know if these occasional poetry tips are of interest to you and/or helpful. I don’t want to bore readers with information you don’t care to receive. Thanks.
David

Coming up this week

REMINDER: Time to vote for your March Word of the Month favorite adult and student poems. Tomorrow night at 10:00 CST is the cutoff. Congratulations to our leaders so far. Laura Purdie Salas and Jackie Huppenthal are tied in first place followed closely by Fahad, drj3kyll, DeLane Parrott, and Liz Korba (a previouis winner). Students are led by Colin Hurley with Anne, Josh, Victoria, and Fareid all tied in second place.

Make today and tomorrow count with your votes! Thanks.

Hello everyone. Here are some events to expect this week.

Tuesday, March 30: Poetry Tip #4 will be posted. I’ll discuss punctuation and capitalization plus how words and lines can be designed and/or arranged to help enhance the impact and underscore the intent of your poem.

Tuesday night at 10:00 CST we’ll cut off voting for the March Word of the Month Poems.

Wednesday, March 31: March Hall of Fame Poets will be announced and the word of the month for April will be revealed. You don’t want to miss that!

Thursday, April 1: I’ll post the biographical information about this week’s guest, Nile Stanley. Nile is an author, teacher, poet, and performer. You’re going to enjoy his appearance on Friday.

Also, if anyone wants to post an April Fools Day poem in the comment section, that’s the day to do it.

Friday, April 2: My guest Nile Stanley will present some remarks and also share a “digi-poem” with us.

It promises to be a busy week so I hope you’ll join us.

David

The week at a glance

BULLETIN: Somehow a humorous poem by Percy Bisque Silley managed to get sidetracked in my system and just surfaced even though the poem was submitted ten days before the cutoff for March. My sincere apologies to the poet! I’ve just added Percy’s poem to the ballot box: “If Life Had a Wife.” Please give this poem a read under the WOM page. I’ll add it to the “Click to Read” box this afternoon.

On a sadder note, 4th grader Taylor McGowan’s poem, “Life,” didn’t arrive until three days after cutoff so we can’t vote on it with the other young poet offerings, but that won’t keep us from reading and enjoying Taylor’s poem. Please check it out under the Young Poet’s page.

First, I want to thank Pat Lewis for his excellent and thought-provoking article yesterday. Judging from comments, I’d say that many of you agree that Pat not only writes beautifully but he has much to tell us about the craft. If you haven’t had a chance to leave a comment for Pat, I hope you’ll do it. Pat and all others who have graced my Friday blogs over the past months have given up time from their own work to contribute here and I know they appreciate hearing from you.

Next, please don’t forget that Rebecca Dotlich will join us on April 16 and she has asked for questions in advance. You can contact Rebecca directly by going to her website at http://www.rebeccakaidotlich.com/ or scroll to the bottom of my announcement of her scheduled appearance (March 22) and leave questions in the comment section.

As you know, I think that part of the fun in seeing so many poems and comments on this page is to determine where they come from. In fits and spurts, I send out notes of inquiry. Some of you prefer your anonymity; others feel comfortable telling me your location. I haven’t checked for the last two months, during which we’ve been joined by a good many new voices. Here’s what I knew in January. If your state or country isn’t included and you would like to add to the information, please let me know. Thanks.

States and Countries Represented
In Word of the Month Poetry Challenge
January, 2010

Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Florida
Indiana
Maryland
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Oregon
Rhode Island
Virginia

England
Malaysia
Philippines.
South Africa
Sri Lanka

A reminder that voting is now going on for March’s Hall of Fame Poets (see the ballot boxes posted March 25) and that you can vote once for your choice in each of the two groups: adult poets and young poets. If you are joining us for the first time, the rule is that no one can win the title twice during the same twelve month period ending this September. Previous winners are welcome to contribute poems each month, and their fans and supporters can certainly vote for them, but they can only be recognized once until the next cycle begins.

In the adult poets division, our previous Monthly Hall of Fame Poets are Mimi Cross, Liz Korba, Linda Kulp, Steven Withrow, and Beth Carter. Monthly Hall of Fame Young Poets are Alyssa Kirch, Claire Scott, Priya Shah, John Sullivan, and Megan Barnett.

David