Chap book update

David publicity photo

Hi everyone,

Thanks to all of you for the many good wishes. We enjoyed our anniversary celebration and were warmed by your lovely comments.

I suppose that the story I’m writing isn’t really a chap book when you consider that the protagonist is 12 years old, her brother is two years older, and the first draft runs 20,000 words, but for better or for worse I’ll finish the second draft this week. An editor agreed to look over what I had a few weeks ago so I should get a first response before long.

I love second drafts. So many elements change during the process of tying up loose ends, correcting discrepancies, eliminating pet phrases, correcting course, etc. Great fun.

A favorite poem by Kalli Dakos

Hi everyone,

Kalli DakosContinuing with this series of poems selected from treasures recently purchased at the Friends of the Library book sale in Springfield, Missouri, today’s poem is “YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and it comes from the book of school poems by Kalli Dakos called MRS. COLE ON AN ONION ROLL, published in 1995 by Scholastic. When I asked Kalli for permission to post her delightful poem here, she said it’s a personal favorite that she often uses when visiting schools or addressing other audiences. I’ll be in St. Louis with Kalli in July for the Poetry Olio at ILA so if you’re going to the conference I hope you’ll come to the event.

by Kalli Dakos

When my teacher said,
“You passed your test,”
I jumped on my desk
And yelled,

Surprised myself,
And my teacher,

(C) by Kalli Dakos, all rights reserved

A favorite poem by Marilyn Singer

Hi everyone,

Marilyn SingerFor the past few days I’ve been selecting poems from collections I recently purchased at a Friends of the Library book sale in Springfield. Most of these are out of print now, a sad reminder that even the best books don’t remain in print forever. Today’s feature is a poem by Marilyn Singer. It’s selected from FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF, POEMS ABOUT THE EARTH, published in 2002 by Alfred A. Knopf and is metaphoric poem called “Dormant Dragons.”

As many of you know, Marilyn was chosen by National Council for Teachers of English for its 2015 Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Thank you, Marilyn, for granting permission to post your work here. I apologize for my inability to space lines on the blog the way they appear in the book. It’s a disservice to the poem but I have no tool to place lines where I might like them. I typed and spaced each line exactly as it appears in the book, and it looks that way on my blog page, until it goes to post, at which time all lines default to flush left. Part of the positive experience of a poem is in how it looks as well as what it says. Alas, you won’t get the full benefit here.

Dormant Dragons
by Marilyn Singer

Volcanoes there are that sleep
the sleep of dragons
With cool heads and hot bellies
they crouch
solid and still
where the earth meets the sky
Till something wakes them
Then furious they breathe fire and smoke
hot spittle and wrath
to burn and choke
whatever lies in their path
leaving in their wake
an odd treasure
of stone sponges and glass
and an occasional lake.

(c) by Marilyn Singer, all rights reserved

A favorite Jane Yolen poem

Hi everyone,

Today I want to show you the poem I chose to feature from Jane Yolen’s book, RING OF EARTH, A CHILD’S BOOK OF SEASONS, published by Harcourt in 1986. Jane says it is out of print but will come back in digital form. I look forward to it.Jane Yolen

Here is what I said about her poem, “Autumn Song of the Goose.” Here Jane gives full flavor to the point, the majesty, and the dangers of the annual migratory flight. Her masterful use of language (“…dying land/where the headless stalks/of flowers bend”; “Along the road of air/where the strong winds blow”; “where the trees rise up like fists”) makes fascinating reading for readers of any age.

And now, the poem.

by Jane Yolen

Rise up, rise up, my mate,
from the chilly land,
for a rich, warm smell
as subtle as a poem
rides the air
and calls us home.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

Rise up, rise up my friends,
from the dying land
where the headless stalks
of flowers bend
in their earthen tombs
and there are left but a few
of summer’s brittle blooms.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

The sun hangs between mountains,
the air is crisp and cold.
It is the time of flight.
Rise up, rise up, my mate, my friends,
into the piercing light.
Along the road of air
where strong winds blow,
along the gray tunnel
lit by the pale moon,
gray sky above,
gray mud below,
and the long winds singing
their mournful old tune.
Then down to the lake
to keep our feet warm.
Nibble and shake,
nibble and shake,
a few more miles across autumn
a few more miles safe
from winter’s cold alluring charm.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

Into shallow sleep we fall,
while all about
the lullaby call
murmurs across the changing land.
Even in sleep
night whispers its warnings:
fox and stoat,
and the hunter with his gun,
blindly waiting in the early mornings.
Rise up, rise up, my friends,
and mount the singing air.
Over the changing autumn fields,
past ponds veiled in mists.
Past trackless mountains
where the trees rise up like fists.
Past houses, past towns
where small people live small lives.
It is morning, my mate,
my friends. Rise up. Rise.

Kerhonk. Kerhonk. Kerhonk.

We fly wingtips apart.
No compass, no compass but the heart.

Kerhonk. Kehonk. Kerhonk.

(c) by Jane Yolen, all rights reserved