Let the voting begin!


Can you believe that we are about to conclude the first full year of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge? We are! Beginning in October, we start a new year and all the previous monthly winners will again be eligible to be named Monthly Hall of Fame Poet.

On October 2, I’ll put up the ballot boxes for our twelve monthly winners and we’ll select our two Hall of Fame Poets for 2010, one adult and one student.

I’m so pleased this month to see the return of student poets to the blog. Thanks to Jana Smith in Ohio and Marjie DeWilde in Missouri and their talented poets for bringing us four fresh poems to appreciate. I hope to see many more young poets join us in the weeks ahead.

I’ve updated the letter to principals, which you’ll find in the tool box along the top of this page. Teachers, librarians, and parents, please pass along the information to the principals at your schools.

And now it’s time to start finding out who will be our September Hall of Fame Poets. To refresh your memories on this month’s poems, I’ve listed them below the ballot boxes.

Let the voting begin!


Steven Withrow, © 2010

Between commutes, night workers have
Houdini’d a two-lane overpass,
Leaving steel-studded supports
Bookending the old post road,
Totems, tomes, magician’s lore,
A sleight of civil engineering
Conjured wholly out of place,
Span of vanished expectation,
As though traveling a novel
And slamming, mid-sentence, into
Ellipsis … blank caesura
Of a chapter break … cliffhang-
Ing, bridge-defying business,
No job for the faint (the feint?)
Of heart—this morning, are those
Hard-hatted daysleepers dreaming
Of dawn’s interpolation
In night’s rhythm of wreck and rest,
Or are they too done in by toil
To presto forth illusions
On the disappearing scrim of sleep?

Lee Ann Russell, (c) 2007

Library bookshelves hold
volumes and volumes of tomes
reaching from floor to ceiling in pursuit
of life from new to old.
Crisp or musty pages roam
through centuries where authors substitute
the printed page for speech.
Storytelling is an art
Gutenberg perfected in pure pursuit
allowing one to reach
beyond oral counterpart
among gigantic shelves of author’s fruit.

Gay Fawcett

Head out
Heavy load
Once a week
Two miles
One way
Musty smell
Dark quiet
Stuffed shelves
Do things
Her way
Icy glare
Return here
Face up
Neat piles
This way
20 more
I shall
By age ten
Read all
My way
30 more?
40 more?
50 more?
She bought more?
No way!

Ken Slesarik,(c) 2010

To my fellow bookworms, who dine on this book,
before you take a bite, be sure to look.
You’ll find missing some vowels that I’ve devoured
and the c’s and q’s before they soured.
I’ve left you the e’s and most of the u’s
and they are yours to sample, should you choose.
Most of the consonants, for me lacked flavor,
but the b’s and x’s are ones to savor.
Some final advice, I’d almost forgotten,
don’t eat the g’s because they are rotten
and irregular blends, you’ll wish you had waited,
because they will make you constipated.

Liz Korba

From tree to leaf – each side a page,
But now the leaves are leaving,
As did the scroll
(The noun, not verb)
So many years ago.
Do not lament these leaving leaves –
The paper that you know,
Where once was stone, papyrus, clay
And parchment long ago.
From tree to leaf – each side a page
A way to hold us – Words,
But we can’t stay –
For it’s our way
To move
From time
To time.

Euleta Usrey

I can recall
the exact moment
it happened.
It was better than
the proverbial light bulb
clicking on.
The teacher was reading
about Dick
about Jane
and Spot
while I held the book.
And I got it
the words on her lips
came from
the letters on my page.
So began
my lifelong love affair
with books.

Julie Krantz

I ran
deep green
and played
in fields
of corn
Words on paper till the wind…
I slept
the August
and didn’t
till dawn
Words on paper till the wind…
And tho’ I’m
a city kid
who’s never
a farm
Words on paper till the wind…
I ran through
deep green
and played
in fields
of corn.

Oya H. Mwanza

First Bell
Jamal struts across the threshold with a song in his hair, a poem in his heart and a flair in the air…
He’s ready!
Su Lin has her translator dictionary (audio version), 5 questions on last night’s home work, and 5 new vocabulary words she’s learned…
She’s ready!
Pearl smacks her lips, brushes her hair, clicks the makeup case and puts away her copy of Seventeen Magazine…
She’s ready!
Miguel made it today after working a late night shift. He has some of last week’s work done and some questions about make up work….so much work…but he finished the novel…He is determined…and …
He’s ready!
Jonathan enters…looks at the agenda…”Oh, Snap!!! I forgot my homework!!!….Can I get on the computers???”…He walks to the back of the room…
He’s ready!
Actually, Anita was the first to arrive. She has special privileges (because of her wheel chair) … She’s gifted, Ivy League bound and …
She’s ready!
Second Bell
“Good Morning, Class!!!”
“Good Morning!!!”
Instructor Profile: M.Ed. in Content Area, Certified in Content Area, ESOL Endorsed, Reading Endorsed, Gifted Endorsed, Special Education Certification, Tech Savvy, and…

Wynee Wang

Bear, Bear, Bear
By Wynee Wang
“What is this word?” asked my mother,
“Um…um…” my face turned red.
Next comes a slap that makes me shiver
“Bear, bear, bear” she read.
“How many times I have to tell you
This word here is pronounced bear!
You’re dumb, dense, and know so few,
It makes me pull out my hair!”
“Bear, bear, bear” I whispered
As tears streamed down my watery eyes.
“Xiong” should be the word that’s heard,
But Chinese needs to say its good-byes.
“BEAR, BEAR, BEAR” she cried
And throws the book back at my face.
I don’t know why but at least I tried,
I’d rather read at my own pace.
“Please, please, please” I breathed,
Praying this pain will seize.
Some day I will teach children to read
So they may learn in peace.

Jane Heitman Healy

Geese vee across the sky,
Wings spread as open books.
Every wing stroke turns a page
From northern marsh
To southern swamps.
Every flap of every feather
Relates chapters:
New horizons,
Changing seasons,
Fresh fields to feed
On tender grass and grains
Near nests of downy reeds,
Onto the same waters,
Over the same flyways,
Honking vees narrate migration.

Barbara J. Turner

“Welcome to my parlor,”
said the spider to the child.
“Come in, get comfy cozy.
Sit and stay awhile.
I will spin a web and wrap you
in the pages of a book.
Come inside,” the spider said.
“Come. Please take a look.”
The child came in and settled down.
The spider laughed with glee.
She spun a web so wondrous
the child could not break free.
And still today that child sits
enraptured in a book.
“Come inside,” the spider says.
“It’s your turn. Take a look.”

Mary Nida Smith ©

I am
The Book Protector
Be kind to books
For I am watching
I am
The Book Protector
You can not hide
I see everywhere
If you are unkind
To books
I will jump out
Take the book away
For I am
The Book Protector

V. L. Gregory

Along a secluded river strand–
Squatting beside dying embers–
A cowboy stokes the fire he manned
To illumine the treasure in hand.
He sits down, relaxes–remembers.
A comely woman with raven hair
And delicate lavender scent;
Her eyes, doe-brown, her complexion fair.
She sheltered his youth, absolved his care.
Until Cholera–Blue Death–was spent.
He was left alone when Papa died;
An orphaned child of only ten.
Death bequeathed to him this gem, his pride;
A cherished book always at his side.
A book where wisdom changed boys to men.
It was penned in Mother’s sweeping script.
Family tales–joyful and dire.
Lifetime scenes from crib to crypt.
Dog-eared, but not a single page ripped.
Revealing her hopes, plans, and desires.
He mutely mouths words as pages turned,
Each tale etched in his heart and mind.
For the old times, his heavy heart yearned;
Times at her knees when he might have learned
To read these words and name she signed.

Jackie Huppenthal

he looks
crawls over
scoots back
until he reaches my lap
his tiny warm body presses into mine
I load his legs with stories and rhyme
rub my chin over his soft golden hairs…
I read; he listens, he cares
he was so young
but already knew
for it was our favorite thing to do
read his picture books

Cory Corrado

Outside, autumn wind and rain are venting,
unleashing their blustery cold wetness,
sweeping the last of summer away…
Inside, window-side she perches
wrapped in a blanket; delicious warmth
ripples through her body and soul.
On her lap, another world rests.
She fingers the hard cover trying to remember every detail:
the textured jacket, the spine firm and thick;
the bold lettering; the soft rich illustrations.
The title she reads over and over;
recalling how she had been magnetized to it…
In the palm of her hands, a whole universe dwells.
Embedded in every page: the sun, the wind, the moon and the rain;
the birds, the bees, the flowers, and the trees;
the love and energy of every living thing.
Outside, cold windy and wet
Inside, warm delicious and dry
Excitedly, mindfully the reader flips to page one.
The opening lines grab her …
Time stands still.

Silindile Ntuli

It started as a joke,
A dare between young mates.
You knock on the door and run,
She’ll have to step out of the shower.
Knock and run, we’ll take pictures.
Willy was a skinny kid
A wimp (as his peers called him)
He will never do it,
Hicken Willy was his middle name.
“Today is the day” Willy thought,
Charging for the door, heart pounding.
He reached it, thump thump his heart pounded,
But Wimpy Willy was fed up.
He rang the brown door, turned to run south,
His left foot on his right lace,
Willy had no way of knowing,
He wanted to prove a point.
Now he’s screaming in pain,
broken leg, bruised arm.
Banged head, bruised ego.
Book him in, says the nurse,
Look at Willy,
Banged but chicken no more.


Courtney Clawson, grade 6

I wonder what would happen
if you jumped into a book
You could meet your favorite characters
and maybe take a look
At the enchanting pixies flying
and the lands above the trees
Look at the dragons roaring
and the fish beneath the seas
Or maybe it goes deeper
right into your heart
And that is what makes a book
such a work of art –

Maria Ciminillo, grade: 6

A book,
a normal object you think.
you are wrong.
It is a door,
a portal.
To a magic world,
a different place to everyone who enters
It is blank.
No color.
No life.
No sound.
As you flip a page the world is colored in,
bit by bit,
page by page.
The rivers fill with words
The sky with imaginary birds.
Then it is there.
You made it!
Your own kingdom!
When you close the book the kingdom stops filling in,
the rivers stop flowing,
the colors stop rolling in.
It awaits your return.
The book sits there,
your kingdom inside.
Trying to find a way to make you open up and imagine more.
Then you flip again
and enter the kingdom.
And the life
and sparkle in the kingdom
is revived.
You begin to feel like,
you belong in this world
like what you live and breathe for
is finding better ways to develop it
to make it better
more interesting
a bigger and better kingdom.
It becomes impossible to leave,
impossible to shut the heavy wrought iron gate
and lock it away forever.
Leaving the kingdom that
rains words,
the kingdom that can hold every emotion at once,
the one where anything is possible,
where the sun shines at night
and the moon glows at dawn.
And you know that the gate will
remain open.
You will never close your book.

Kaartikeya Raj Gupta (KK), grade 6

I am irritated
I am locked away in a prison
I am trapped inside
I am pinned to homework
If I was free
If I was not inside
If I had no homework
I would be in my Redwood fort
I would take a book and dash to the top
where you can feel the cool breeze against your skin
I’d sit there and …

Clio, grade 5

Books are smart,
books are funny,
books are relaxing,
books are nice,
books are great,
books are cool,
books are super duper,
books are helpful,
you don’t need a computer to read,
books will not be happy if you read the computer,
books are just like us because they are living things, too,
so don’t be mean to books.

4 comments on “Let the voting begin!

  1. Hi David, I tried the number you gave me but there was no answer, I figured maybe its because yesterday was a holiday and today is Saturday, I’ll try again Monday or rather mom will try.

    • Hmm, I hope you’re right, Silindile. If you still get no answer on Monday, let me know and I’ll ask the publisher to confirm the number.

      Thanks for letting me know.


    • I know what you mean. I love it when students compose poems and share them with us. It’s a great first step toward becoming writers.


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