February winning poets and March word of the month

Hi everyone,

Thanks again to all who participated in Word of the Month Poetry Challenge in February. FEATHER inspired a number of good poems!

Our judges have selected the following for WORD OF THE MONTH POETS.

Adult Poet: Steven Withrow. However, Steven has already won during this 12-month cycle and therefore cannot win again.

Adult Poet runner-ups: Jane Heitman Healy and Beth Carter tied. Therefore Jane and Beth become our Word of the Month Poets for February.

Young Poet, grades 3-7: Rushil Rana

Young Poet runner-up, grades 3-7: Samina Hejeebu

Young Poet, grades 8-12: No entries

Here are our February HALL OF FAME POETS selected by popular vote.

Adult Poet:Jane Heitman Healy. However, Jane has already won during this cycle and cannot win again.

Adult Poet, runner-up: Steven Withrow, but he has already won during this cycle.

Adult Poet, runner-up: Gay Fawcett and Jan Gallagher tied so Gay Jan become our February Hall of Fame Poets.

Young Poet, grades 3-7: Samina Hejeebu

Young Poet runner-up, grades 3-7: Ishani Gupta

Young Poet, grades 8-12:No entries


And now for the word for March.


Patricia Hermes today

Hi everyone,

Every year Pat Hermes and I sit next to each other at the signing tables during the Children’s Literature Festival in Warrensburg, Missouri on the campus of Central Missouri State University. Every year I ask Pat to show me her latest family pictures. If she ever fails to have a purse full of them, our friendship is off! Pat will kid and tease with the best of them but she takes her work quite seriously and she’s one of the best in the business. Here she is.

Where do you get your ideas? I think kids ask me that more often than any other question: Where do your ideas come from? Well, my honest answer is this: I don’t know! It just happens. But I know this: I have to be quiet. I have to listen for the voices inside my head. Some people think hearing voices is a sign of insanity, but for authors, it is not. It is, rather, a crucial part of our lives. So I’m quiet, and I hear the voice of a character speaking to me. It’s most often a girl, probably because I am a girl, but sometimes my main character is a boy. (I have one daughter, but I also have four sons, so I know quite a bit of what boys are all about.) And so the character in my head begins to come to life for me. You might find me, during my writing time, staring out a window. I do that a lot! But I am not simply staring. I am creating, writing, or maybe it’s better called ‘pre-writing.’ I daydream. I listen for that voice. What is she trying to tell me? What’s she concerned about? What kind of kid is she? Because you see, you can’t write a story with plot, until you know what the characters are like. If she’s spunky and noisy, then the plot probably won’t concern a kid who lives quietly in an attic reading books, or talking to her pet mouse.

And now, as I am writing this, I think: there’s an idea for a story! It just came to me. Maybe I should write about a kid with a pet mouse. Now what will I call her? Why does she have a pet mouse? Does the mouse have a name? Does she have any other friends besides her pet mouse? Where does she live? Does she really live in an attic? Why? Hmm. Does she have a mom, a dad, any siblings? Maybe she’s poor. Or maybe she’s sickly.

Ah! Now comes a little bit of truth to the story: When I was a child, I was sick frequently. I had something wrong with my heart, and I spent a long time in a hospital. Maybe my child with the mouse has been sick and isn’t allowed to run and play. (I wasn’t allowed to run and play because of my weak heart.) So I know how sad my pretend character feels at times.

Hmm. Good start.

But now, I’m thinking: Now that, is a stupid story line. Who wants to read about a sick kid with a pet mouse? Forget that idea, that voice.

But I can’t. I’m stuck with her. Every time I sit down at the computer – and yes, I write on the computer – she comes back to me. I can even begin to see her now. I think she’s wearing white, a long white dress, or maybe it’s a nightgown. She always wears white, and . . .

So do you see how story ideas develop? My newest venture is a series of books called Emma Dilemma. Emma gets into all sorts of mischief and trouble, though she’s a good kid at heart. Emma is very much like I was as a child. She loves animals. She has a gazillion pets. And sometimes those pets cause trouble. Sometimes, Emma causes trouble, too! My newest book will be called Emma Dilemma and the Best Horse Ever – because Emma is trying to persuade her parents to buy her a horse. They won’t. But Emma has her own plans for getting this wonderful horse Rooney.

And. . . . ?

So David – if they get someone at the festival with a name closer to Harrison than Hermes, I’ll just change my name. I’m thinking of Harriman. So the new guy could be to your left, and I’ll be to the right.

If that should ever happen, Pat, we’ll show them how a real revolt looks!

Patricia Hermes tomorrow

Hi everyone,

I’ve said this before but one of the best things about hosting a blog is the opportunity to bring so many talented writers to my little bully pulpit. Tomorrow you’ll meet Patricia Hermes. She’s another good friend who has been sweet enough to accept my invitation. I’m getting deeper in debt all the time to all these generous people. Here’s some backgrouond on Pat that I copied off her site.

Patricia Hermes is the author of almost fifty books for readers from early middle grades through young adult, as well as two nonfiction books for adults. Her books have won many awards and recognitions: American Library Association Best Book, Smithsonian Notable Book, C.S. Lewis Honor Book, Ira Children’s Choice, as well as many state awards, four of them for the novel,You Shouldn’t Have to Say Goodbye.

As a lecturer and speaker at schools and libraries, she engages her audience with her lively presentations, underscoring key qualities of good writing, and, of course, good rewriting. (She has been known to revise her books ten times!) She has researched and written six historical novels in the Scholastic Dear America/My America series. Some of her historical fiction:

–The Starving Time

–Westward to Home

–A Perfect Place

–The Wild Year

–Season of Promise

–Our Strange New Land

–The Brothers’ War

–Salem Witch

Other novels include:

–Summer Secrets

–Mama, Let’s Dance

–You Shouldn’t Have to Say Goodbye

–Kevin Corbett Eats Flies

–When Snow Lay Soft on the Mountain

–Christmas Magic

Two nonfiction:

— A Time to Listen — Preventing Youth Suicide

— The Self Sabotage Cycle (co-authored with Dr. Stanley Rosner.)

Let the voting begin

Hi everyone,

We had another good month of original poems inspired by one word, in this case, feather. Now it’s time to read them all again and choose our poets of the month by casting our ballots. Our judges will also begin their deliberations to tell us which poems they like best. For a reminder of our outstanding panel of judges, here’s how to find them. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/very-important-announcement/

Below the ballot boxes you’ll find all the February poems so read, enjoy, and vote.

Seagulls Glimpsed in a Side Lot
by Steven Withrow

They seem tipsy,
these ransackers
of rubbish,
wind-whipped white
blowsy with rain.
They’ve slashed
a fast-food bag
and are swaying,
slurping up
a drunk’s feast
of sopped leavings,
hurling seasoned
curly fries
with mellow flicks
of their beaks
to the wobbling
water’s edge
of a sloshed
storm drain
before scudding
out of sight.

(c) Steven Withrow, 2011

By Cynthia Elomaa

Floating softly in the breeze
do be careful not to sneeze
The soft light touch won’t feel like much,
but as number grow they will show
How feathers warmth will certainly grow.

by Sid

Flying aloft
Swirling soft
Falling slowly
Curling lowly
Whispering wishes
Flying Fishes
Leaping lightly
Falling nightly
Frosting noses
Striking poses
Smiling silly
Feathers thrill me
Downy white feathers of snow.

by Don Barrett

As I was walking to my barn
to do the evening chores.
I spotted the beautiful blue feather,
the poor bird had perished in this worst
of the century weather.
I know death is a part of life,
it creates such saddness, sorrow, and strife.
I simply hate the finality of it all.
Just wish I could have saved the bird from
it’s deadly fall.
So much wind and snow, at times
it’s hard to know which way to go.
My friend the bluebird simply reacted too slow.
seek shelter from lifes storms, that is my creed.
Wether it be a barn, home, or church,
help your friends when they are in need.
God will smile and say you have done a good deed.

Slumber Party
by Jane Heitman Healy

Glitter polish
Ghost stories
Plop! Plop! Plop!
F E A T H E R S!

© by Mary Nida Smith

Birds of a feather
Flock together
Protecting each other
From feather heads
Gathering cozy feathers
To feather their beds
And jackets for winter warmth.
Feather-weights will pull
Tail feathers to feather
Their nest while birds
Go naked by day
And freeze by night
As two legged creatures
Nestle down in cozy
Feather beds gathered
From birds that
Flock together.

by julie Krantz

On soft warm earth,
The sparrow swoops
To nip a tasty worm.
On cold wet snow,
The reindeer stoops
To taste a nippy fern.

by Liz Korba

I hold this hope
In feather form –
A light
I know…
No more

God’s grace
by Shalander Samuels

Have you ever been in love,
With…. the sunrise….
Or the sunset?
Have you ever been kissed by the wind’s invisible lips;
as gentle as a feather upon your cheek?
Every painting has its inspiration,
And every color it’s place.
Have you ever felt the sand through your toes?
Do you feel the earth’s sadness when it rains?
When the sky is angry, do you feel it for the clouds
when a thunderous growl rolls across heaven’s floor?
Why is the snow cold?
Is it because love is getting old?
I have seen the trees laugh,
And flowers dance even when the wind is angry.
I have seen the sun smile too, even when clouds were gray.
But have you ever been in love…with God’s grace?

Bird Watchin’
(Great Horned Owl)
by Ken Slesarik

Seemingly such bashful eyes
it catches some folks by surprise
to learn this modest feathered fowl,
known as the Great Horned Owl,
prances, dances, moves and shakes
and often even goes and takes
his feathers off (shudder, scoff)
don’t take those feathers off!
Dancing naked as a Blue Jay.
Prancing proud most every day.
Somedays he’ll wear a wispy thong
and friend I find that wrong.

(c) 2011 by Ken Slesarik

by Gay Fawcett

The first horse I saw
Took me by surprise
My daddy was wrong.
“This horse cannot fly!”
“Horse Feathers!” he’d say
Each time he was mad.
“This horse has no wings,”
I said to my dad.
“Horse feathers,” he said,
“Is a nice way to cuss.”
I planned to say it
When I got old enough.
The first time I took
Our Lord God’s name in vain
Dad took out the soap.
“It’s just not the same.”
If daddy had heard
What that V.P. gal said!
“WTF” she blogged
“Say horse feathers!” instead!

by Beth Carter

His lips brushed my cheek.
His touch: gentle, feather-light.
My sweet wake-up call.

By Janet Kay Gallagher

Feathers shaking out of my pillow.
Did they drift past that big willow?
Or get caught in the leaves
Of those big trees?

Feathers come in many shapes and sizes.
Beautiful colors, several considered real prizes.
Soft and fluffy, hard and strong.
Protecting birds, allowing them to fly along.

Now shake and shake the bed tick.
Without losing more feathers, that’s the trick.

A feather pillow for my head.
A feather matress for my bed.

Life is a feather drifting my way
As I fall asleep on this joyous day.

Cory Corrado ©

Feathery forms free-fall, frenzied
from faraway far-

From faraway far
flawless flakes fling, frazzled-

Fleece fluffs float, fretless-
from Fairyland, faraway far …

The Peacock Feather by Taylor McGowan, Grade 5

along an old road
we rumble along
our ears tuned well
to summer bird song.
The barn is approaching
big, bright and red
described as “aging”
but there’s things left unsaid
we walked up the drive
our hearts full of cheer
and headed for the house
in the property’s rear
Here comes the owner
tall, thin and old,
“Listen to her well,”
us children had been told.
She smiles at us
Teeth stained but straight,
She sends us away
Then to me, yells “PLEASE WAIT!”
I listened well
Sat right in the dust
Leaned against a car
That was peeling with rust
She enters the house
Then comes back to me,
Something hidden in her fist
That only she could see
Kneeling down before me,
She smiles once again,
She says “I’m want to show you this,”
And I say “Where and when?”
As rain falls down hard,
She opens her fist
And I squint to see
Through the depressing gray mist
At the very sight
There’s no more rainy weather,
For in her hand,
Is a peacock feather!
Momentarily blinded
By jaded blue
Dazzled by green
This feather is authentic and true.
“It’s beautiful,”
I say to her.
And there were stars in her eyes!
I swear there were!
She says to me
“Keep it close to you.”
I answer with
“That I can do.”
She walks away
And I don’t try to follow
Instead I listen
To the chirp of a swallow
Then down the road
I walk again,
Clutching the feather,
Just a girl at age ten.
When again I’m home,
I begin to feel ill
And as the day progressed
It grew worse still
Then I brought close my feather
Touched it to my face
As soon as I did,
My heart started to race!
My stomach stopped churning,
My eyes ceased to sting,
My ears quit getting sore
When the phone would ring!
“Thank you, Miss,”
I yell to the sky,
And wonder about the gift
Will it revive me if die?
A mere week later,
I fell off my horse,
Straight into a patch
Of weeds, thick and coarse.
I’m pricked by thorns
Scratched by spikes,
Seemingly attacked
By claws, and the likes
But there was the feather
In the depths of my coat,
Hidden beside a draft
Of a story I wrote.
I touched it to my wounds
And quick as light
My Peacock Feather worked,
And ended my plight.
The next day we drove back
To the hot, dusty place,
And out came the owner
Moving at a rapid pace.
“Look!” I yelled,
Waving my feather.
“It’s helped me when hurt,”
“Or under the weather!”
The woman just smiled
And came close to me
And said, “You’re special,
Can’t you see?”
I said, “Not too well,”
“I’ve no talent at all,”
“I’m far from smart,”
“Too short, too small.”
And she says to me,
“For once you are wrong,”
Have they heard your skill on the piano?
Or your voice raised in song?”
“Well, no,” I admit,
“But how did you know?”
She says, “I know lots of things.”
“And tonight there’ll be snow.”
I didn’t believe her,
Not till that night,
When the snow came down thick,
And drifts rose to grand heights.
I ran back the next day,
“You knew that? You did?”
“Of course, little one,
I don’t joke, or kid.”
I said alright.
She let me go,
Back onto the path,
Laid thick with snow.
But before I left…
She called to me,
Read now, and well,
And then you’ll see…
“If you ever need me,”
Come running on out,
‘cause I don’t care,
If you’re short or stout!
Just come fluttering by,
Like a bird through the heather,
And be sure to bring,
Falling Feather by Tanner, Grade 4

Black is a shadow following me in the day.
But it is not there in the night
Yellow is the cheese stuck up in the midnight sky.
I think it’s moldy.
Blue is the sea waving at me.
I think it would be rude to wave back.
Grey is the stormy sky.
Time to go home.
I’m just a feather falling down.
There is no home for me.

Pillow Feathers by Kinley, Grade 4

Pillow feathers everywhere
Pillow feathers in the air.
Pillow parties just begun
And feathers are flying
down up.
down up
and up
Everywhere here and there
Tick, tock pillow times up
Time for dinner
We put up our pillow
and eat up up up!

Feather vs. Weather by Trey, Grade 4

A feather could never beat the weather for the weather is too strong.
And I don’t think that I’m wrong
No wrong I am not
It definitely couldn’t
No definitely not.

Nest at Rest by Rushil Rana, Grade 6

Among the trees
Is a bird’s nest
And in the nest
Are three eggs,
At rest…
Mother bird
Covers her children
With her great
Big Feathers
Still letting
The three eggs
Lay at rest…

Creatures of the Bird Dance by Zack Zhao, Grade 6

The old tree that held the bird’s nest was occupied.
With only beaks showing their beauty in the night sky,
They would dance the bird dance
and gently fly to the next available branch and do the same.
The pecking of a branch and the singing of the creatures made majestic music.
Left and right they would dance with a magical rhythm.
I saw something drop to the ground by the trunk of the old tree.
It was a feather.

No Limits, Not Even the Ground by Ishani Gupta, Grade 5

The wind howls
In the mists of the gray autumn day,
Soon, a small aspect of an evergreen,
Snaps off it’s mother.
It tumbles and stumbles,
Just like a feather, through the air.
Left then right,
And right then left,
Without any limits,
Not even the ground.

The Beautiful Flower by Nicolai Salgau, Grade 5

Sitting on an oak tree,
Waving in the wind.
Limited on where he goes,
That little leaf
As the seasons change,
The air gets thinner.
The Old Oak lets go of the tight, tight grip
That little leaf
Floating like a feather,
Falling to the ground.
Wandering so aimlessly,
That little leaf
Waiting to be raked
Into a giant pile
The air gets even thinner,
The leaf runs out of water
He begins to crack,
He looses his grip on life
And becomes fertilizer
Helping to begin-the-life-of-a-young
Beautiful flower
Begins his new life
As a beautiful flower
Sitting in the sun.
That little flower…

The Ultimate Pillow Fight by A. J. Johnson, Grade 5

My friend and I
Were about to start the
ULTIMATE pillow fight
“START!” we both screamed.
Our pillows collided
Blow after blow
Feathers everywhere
Around our battlefield
We swung again and again
We realized the mess we made.
We tried to get out of the room
Mom came in
She saw the mess we made 5
And we had to clean it up
“Awwww, maaannn!”
we both moaned.
As I lay by Samina Hejeebu, Grade 6

The perfect green leaves
Hang everywhere.
The sun beams down on me,
giving me a sun burn.
Grass pricks my back.
Birds chirping songs.
Clouds snowy white,
Light, and fluffy
Like cotton candy.

I lay looking at this
For hours.
I finally see it,
A giant bird,
Gracefully flying through the sky.
Like it takes no effort.
A feather falls.
At first it shoots down to earth,
But then it slowly falls,
Swaying to the sides,
Back and forth.
Like it has nowhere to go.
Finally it reaches the prickly grass.
It falls gently on my chest.
Like it’s meant to be.

I sit up trying not to move it,
and look at the design.
It’s different shades of blue,
All blended together,
With the little hairs all going the same way.
It looks like something that
Can’t exist in a world like this.
I’ve never seen something this delicate.
I don’t touch it,
because I’m afraid I will break it.
But it’s so pretty.
I can’t just leave it there,
It’s part of the bird,
Part of the reason why it can fly.
What would happen if everyone
Took one from every bird they see.
We would have no more.
So I left it,
Even though it was so intricate,
So delicate,
that it would break with one touch,
It was the prettiest thing in the world.