Winners for April and new word for May

Hi everyone,

The tallies are in and here are the results.

Word of the Month Poets chosen by our judges:

Adult: Sidanne for her poem, “Lately.” Judge’s comments: “Jaunty use of stream-of-consciousness (e.g. “…jumbled/And jangled and bruised”);
good use of internal/external rhyme and clever original metaphor (e.g. “…my wishbone/
My wand of what if?”) This is a playful, thought-provoking poem that is memorable and
fun to reread. The poet’s lyrical use of language reminds me of Millay and the syntax
reminds me of cummings.”

Runner-up: Ken Slesarik for his poem, “Halley’s Comet.” Judge’s comments: “The poet’s initial comments to the comet must have been made when he was twenty years old, and the pre-fun of figuring out his age only added to my enjoyment of Ken Slesarik’s poem.

The lines scan well, and I like the occasional surprise with the rhyme scheme—the couplets are not always written in one-syllable pairs. The rhyme “crisis…ices” has a beautiful ring to it, and I love the phrase: “mass of dust and ices.” Nice use of alliteration: “freak façade” and “with vim and vigor, vehemently.”

This poem is a great read-aloud, with the lively (although brief) dialogue between the comet and the poet.

But apart from appreciating the poet’s clever use of various poetic devices, this poem has a delightful element of fun in it. I think it would be enjoyed by readers of all ages.”

Young Adult, Grades 3-7: Evan D. Abdoo for his poem, “A Visit Inside.” Judge’s comments: “An imaginative journey inside a whale (a la Jonah!).
Original descriptions of “The eyes of a devil/
Stare blankly at my face/Like buttons on a doll/
Or small black holes in space.”
The touch of wit in the last stanza made me smile.”

Runer-up: Bailey Hannan for her poem, “Creature.” Judge’s comments: “I like the idea of giving the raindrop a personality—having it reach out “…like a mother reaching to her son.” The vivid images given in the list of “reaching” examples are very effective: the family, child, hunter, tree. This listing device works again under the “crawling” image: baby, climber, child, sketcher.

The poet uses similes beautifully, especially in the last line: “…like sand in the wind.” A lovely image to finish the poem.

Poets are observers, and the writer makes note of this in the 2nd stanza: “I observe…” Other important aspects of being a poet are also mentioned: “I watch” and “I wonder.” This poet really does observe, watch, and wonder at the beauty and mystery of a single raindrop.

There is great sensitivity in this poem.”

April Hall of Fame Poets chosen by ballot:

Adult: Tie between Mary Nida Smith for her poem, “Stay Out!” and Ken Slesarik for his poem, “Halley’s Comet.”

Young Poet: Tie between Evan D. Abdoo for his poem, “A Visit Inside,” and Peter Meyer for his poem, “Woodpecker.” The highest number of votes went to Samina Hejeebu for her poem, “Alone,” but Samina won in February and cannot be named winner again during this 12-month cycle. Thanks, Samina.

Congratulations to all of our winners and to everyone who made this another good month to celebrate poetry by exercising our imagination and writing poetry stimulated by a single word. Great job, everyone.

And now are you ready for the Word of the Month for May? Here it is:


Lois Ruby today

REMINDER: Voting ends today at noon CST. Tomorrow I’ll announce April winners and give you the new word for May. Don’t miss tomorrow!

Hi everyone,

Today it is my honor to present Lois Ruby as my Featured Guest. Many of you are familiar with her work. I have a feeling that many others are going to be checking her out. Lois, the floor is yours.

David, I’m honored to post on your blog. Seems like your guests have already said everything on earth about children’s books, but since the saying goes that there’s nothing new under the sun, I’ll try to shine my own peculiar glow on some common thoughts.

Why am I a writer instead of, say, a circus clown? Well, I can’t juggle, nor could I squeeze my body into one of those tiny cars. I’m not athletic or artistic or math-proficient or musical. But I can do words. I started doing them as soon as I learned to read in first grade, because I was sure that language could and should be more captivating than “Run, Spot, run.” I’m still writing. I guess I never grew up.

When today’s world is so complex and enthralling, why do I spend so much of my writing energy on historical fiction? Someone recently asked me if we’re losing aspects of our past. This has nothing to do with dementia. It’s about whether young people value the long trail traversed before they began their journey. There’s a lot more past than there used to be, and I feel a responsibilty to capture some of it and render it palatable to young readers. History was boring when I was a kid, because it was taught in the least appetizing way – facts, dates, and wars — rather than people and places and times of high intrigue. I try to transport myself to those times and places and into the skin of the people in my stories. How would I have endured being a slave? How would I have handled fleeing my homeland with Hitler on my heels, and readjusting to life in China? What would it have been like to be apprenticed to a barber-surgeon in 1607 Jamestown, before the advent of modern medicine and surgery? What if I were unjustly accused of murder, and my soul roamed restlessly until some courageous teen discovered the truth 170 years later?

Of course, writing about the past gives me freedom from the trappings of contemporary life. This week a reader stumbled upon an old book of mine that was “contemporary” circa 1987. The reader shared with me her startling discovery that those characters got through tough experiences without a cell phone and without being able to Google every question that popped into their heads. How ever did they manage? She asked, if I rewrote the book today, would I put all those techie things in? Hmm… I don’t know.

Am I just making it extra hard on myself by writing most of my novels with two narrative voices? Of course it would be easier to use just one narrator through whose eyes and ears a story is revealed. But each story has its own integrity, and the author’s job is to follow where that story leads. In my regular (non-writing) life, I rarely see things from only one point of view. Shades of gray make my perception all the more colorful. So, it comes naturally to me to tell a story from both a girl’s and a boy’s point of view, or from the perspective of narrators in two different time periods. I almost can’t help it; I hear two voices in my head, and by golly, they often don’t agree with one another! That’s conflict, and no story has zing and zest without conflict.

After writing 13 books steeped in reality, both contemporary and historical, what possessed me to write a ghost story, The Secret of Laurel Oaks? It was awfully hard for me to let go of reliable reality. In the literary world, this is called suspension of disbelief. I like that rather high fallutin’ expression, because I tend to be a world-class disbeliever. I have to see it to believe it, believe me. But when a publisher asked me to write a scary novel, I stretched as far as I could until I latched onto a fascinating true story about Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. It’s on an official Smithsonian list of the ten most haunted houses in America. Who knew there was an official list? I made a special trip to Myrtles to see if I could encounter one of the dozen or so ghosts said to haunt the place. It was a spooky experience, and it freed me to delve into the mind of a ghost who seemed to want me to tell her story. I did my best to be true to her. The first words of that novel are listen, listen. I did. What’s more, I’d like to try writing a ghost story again, if I find the right tale that compels me to jot down what I hear.

What’s my advice for emerging children’s authors? Oh, it all sounds trite, but here’s what I’d say. The hardest thing is to disregard the trends in the market, e.g., vampires are on their way out, though they do tend to reappear every generation or two. Can you afford to wait that long? The problem with trends is that by the time you write the story, the ever-dynamic market has changed, and you’re clinging desperately to its coattails. Instead, write what fascinates you, drives you to ask compelling questions, and fits your artistic style and moral perspective. Then hope, hope, hope that the market will catch up with you.

Then there’s the usual advice: read, write, find a critique group or a mentor who will be gently honest with you about what works and what doesn’t in your writing. Travel, turn off the TV and computer, cherish time with the children you write about and for, and finally, spend a week every year at a writer’s retreat. Not possible? Then at least escape to your own space – both mentally and geographically — for an hour or a day and let ideas flow without distraction. Most important, enjoy!

Lois Ruby tomorrow

UPDATE: Have you voted yet? Polls close tomorrow at noon CST. Current leaders among adults are Mary Nida Smith and Ken Slesarik. Young Poet leaders are Samina Hegeebu and Peter Meyer.

Hi everyone,

I’m happy to tell you that tomorrow my Featured Guest is Lois Ruby, a very gifted and accomplished author and lecturer. I was delighted when Lois agreed to appear and I know you’ll enjoy her remarks. Be sure to read her tomorrow. For now, here is a brief bio provided by Lois. It’s much too modest but here is a link that will tell you much more about her.

After reading a thousand books in her young adult department of the Dallas Public Library, Lois decided she could write the stories herself. Since her first book was published in 1977, 13 more have seen print, and she’s no longer a working librarian. Her time is divided among family, research, writing, and visiting schools to energize young people about the ideas in books. Lois shares her life with her psychologist husband, Dr. Tom Ruby, in Albuquerque, as well as their three sons and daughters-in-law, and five amazing grandchildren, who are scattered around the country and – for this year – in India.

W.O.M. poetry judges

REMINDER: Don’t forget to vote and encourage others to join the fun. Cutoff for voting is at noon this Friday, the 29th.

Hi everyone,

Here is a list of our W.O.M. judges and several links that provide more information about them. I thought you might like this as a reference.

Bobbi Katz / / /

Charles Ghigna / / / /

Avis Harley

Laura Purdie Salas / / /

J. Patrick Lewis / / /

Rebecca Dotlich / /

Sara Holbrook /

Let the voting begin

BULLETIN: Yesterday my blog turned another milestone. It was visited for the 80,000th time. The visitor was a young writer named David Campbell III who has his own website where he posts his poems and stories. Thank you, David, for stopping by when you did. For visitors who want to know more about you and your budding career, here is the link to you site. Keep writing! /

REMINDER: You still have time to register for my poetry workshop in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, June 2-5. There is room for four more. Right now we have registered two from Quebec, two from Arizona, and one each from Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Pennyslvania. I look forward to meeting everyone and spending time together thinking, talking, writing, and reading poetry. It’s a lovely setting and we’ll have an enjoyable experience together.

Hi everyone,

Time to begin rereading all the poems posted for April Word of the Month and voting for your favorites to become the April Hall of Fame Poets. At the same time, our judges are hard at work deciding which poems they believe should be named as the April Word of the Month Poets.

Starting this month our lineup of judges has changed slightly in that Jane Yolen has left the panel and Avis Harley has joined. My thanks to Jane for all her help and welcome to Avis! Soon I’ll post a link to all of our judges. I know you enjoy their work and hope you will tell them so when you visit their sites.


1, BRADBURY’S ROCKETS by Steven Withrow

Bradbury’s rockets are targeting Mars
And packing enough plutonium power
To overshoot the nearest stars—
Rambling bumblebees rumbling flowers!

Bradbury’s rockets are held in a field
Of clipped Ohio summer grass,
Such spirited horses, whose wagons are wheeled
For homesteading Alpha Centauri. Alas—

Bradbury’s rockets are grounded for good
By the penalty tax against dreaming of flight,
As Armstrong, the Kitty Hawk Wrights understood it,
Who will pay no passage through limitless night.
©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved
2, Understanding by Jane Heitman Healy

the final frontier–
fly far, dig deep within space
of the human heart

3, POOR PLUTO by Steven Withrow

I’ll tell you, when I really get annoyed,
Is when you people call me “Planetoid.”

OK, I’m not as big as Earth or Mars,
But names, like meteors, still leave their scars.

You bumped me off the planetary team
And damaged my celestial self-esteem.

The things that count in any solar system
Are things I’ve got in spades, and I can list ’em:

Solidity—I’m solid rock and ice.
And gravity—my orbit’s pretty nice.

And maybe I’m too cold to ever melt,
But that’s from living in the Kuiper belt.

I demand a full retraction—make it soon—
Don’t jerk around a guy who dwarfs the moon!

©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

4, SLOW THOUGHTS by Don Barrett

Writing poetry.
Finding time and place
morning, noon, or night
they just come to me.
Riding my horse
while watching a plane in flight.
The stars come out so bright,
such beauty in outer space at night
the jet trail shines so bright.
I turn my pony toward home
all i can think of is good night.

5, STAY OUT! by Mary Nida Smith

You are in my space.
My private space!
A space where
I feel happy.
Happy to enjoy
the space around me
without anyone
squeezing in on me
or conforming me
to their ways.
A space where
the wind blows
against my skin.
Where I can look up
watch the clouds
rush across the sky.
Birds fly playfully
Untouched wild flowers
grow in a natural state.
I want my space
unruffled and uplifting
to be a free thinker
to dream, be still
while lost in space.
In my space
my own
private space.
© By Mary Nida Smith

6, Agora-acro-claustro-phobia and more by Jackie Huppenthal

I’m afraid to fly
but that’s not all
I don’t like heights
I don’t like tight places
I need elbow room
and lines are terrible
for me too
I don’t like people
bumping into me
nudging, shoving
stepping on my heels
I like to have space
but not up in the sky
stuck up high
in an airplane
you can’t get out
you can’t get away
and the bathrooms
are really small
no space to move
around in there at all
I don’t like being
I like room
room to move around
but safe on the ground
no, I absolutely
don’t want to fall
from the sky
falling to the ground
from up high –
that scares me the most

I’m afraid to fly,
but I still want to.

I booked a flight
so I will be flying this July
and I’ll be praying
a lot.

7, Lately by Sidanne

The words are all jumbled
And jangled and bruised
Thoughts so contagious
Turn curly confused
My head’s in a tailspin
My minds all awhirl
Today I’m not sure
If I’m a boy or a girl
Where is my wishbone
My wand of what if?
I need a vacation
Just to float adrift
Thoughts all ajumble
Words out of pace
Just give me some headroom
My brain needs more space!

8, Halley’s Comet by Ken Slesarik

I could be curt and rather rude,
some say I had an attitude
for back in nineteen eighty-six
to Halley’s Comet I said this;

“Your show is such a boorish scam,
with freak facade so glib, not glam.
Then there’s your queer, lackluster tail,
it’s dreary, dull and downright pale.”

She growled, giving “the evil eye,”
and spoke to me while soaring by.
With vim and vigor, vehemently,
from outer space she said to me;

“Other comets may be brighter,
their gassy tails a little lighter,
but I can’t hack you talkin’ smack,
so boy you better watch your back.”

Today, I view it as a crisis
how that mass of dust and ices
can terrorize me all these years,
conjuring up my darkest fears.

So now in twenty sixty-one,
illuminated by the sun,
she’ll be back to power dive
and end my life at ninety-five.

Copyright 2011 by Ken Slesarik
All Rights Reserved

9, Timeline by julie Krantz

In the space
of a day—
or so it seems—
the winter-white world
turns yellowy-green.

In the space
of an hour—
or thereabouts—
daffodils bloom,
maples leaf-out.

In the space
of a minute—
no more,
no less—
crabapples fall,
storm winds
blow west.

In the space
of an instant—
a nano,
a blink—
the blistery sun
turns purplish-pink,
and the shadowy
goes grey.
Snowflakes alight
in the blustery
and the wintery
is once again

10, A Space Flight by liz korba

Infinite, open, deep, dark – not enough
A sky filled with stars – and my closet with stuff
The place between people
And words on a page
Distance that’s needed – not wanted
An Age
Of one – two dimensions
Those ads on TV
In magazines, papers – “Must Buy” “Guarantee”
A place for the car – and for trees, plants to grow
The freedom to come – and the freedom to go
To be independent, to ask and explore
“Space” is a word that makes space – and much more.

11, Lovers Wait by Don Barrett

Night flings her sable curtain
Across the space of the day
The twinkling stars come, one by one.
Down the milky way.
A little bird sings softly,
to its happy mate.
All the world is waiting for love-to celebrate
sweet springs returning,just as I wait for you
to come at dusk and find my lips with your kiss
which thrills me through.

12, Untitled by Sidanne

In the space of a trembling moment,
an infant walks and joins the giddy
ranks of toddlerhood.

In the space of years
passing, it seems momentarily,
a shy boy boards a bus
for his first ride to school.

In the space of wind rushing
through decades, an adolescent
yearning toward manhood
emerges ever upward, stretching
toward infinite potential.

In the space of my lifetime,
I have nurtured a miracle
that smiles and laughs
and joins wholeheartedly
into the tumble of space,
moments, days, years,
and reaches with open arms
toward the freedom of future.

13, S p a c e by: Cory Corrado ©

I love to gaze at endless skies;
behold the boundless seas.
I love to wander among the trees;
look out into the vast unseen.
I love to meander with the stream
and delight in freedom’s flow.

Give me the space to find my place,
to set my pace and live with grace.
Give me the room to find my groove,
to breathe,
to be,
to feel wind-free.

I need vastness of endless skies.
I seek the freedom of birds that fly.
To me and to my heart I give
s p a c e – to breathe,
to live and love,
to thrive and grow-
to be just ME.

14, U s (the space between us) by Tamra Jenkins

When did we forget how to laugh?
How to hold onto our sides to keep them from falling out?
Now we hold ourselves for different reasons
Like we’re afraid to let go
Remember when s— was simple between you and me?
When the dead air over the phone line didn’t hover over our heads,
When the conversation wasn’t strained
But flowed like water for these four ears alone.

We were children then
rushing to grow up.
And now that it’s here for real
we behave like little kids
Playing hide and seek, but never sticking around long enough to find anything.

Is it because we’re afraid to find
that nothing’s there anymore?

Somewhere between children, men, bills, schools, countries and other people
we forgot how to just be us.

We forgot the simple shrills of excitement we got
from walking down the street.
We forgot about summer days and crazy nights
And sisterhood that ran deeper than bloodlines would allow
We forgot how to lie to our mothers
the way our children will someday lie to us.
We forgot that we told each other we’d never forget.

So today I’m going to lay out a huge blanket
and let’s turn off the lights
so you can tell me a dream.
And I’ll tell you one too.
But this time let’s tell a tale of two women
who weathered the storms of their lives
Who’ve come back to this place slightly changed by circumstance
But underneath it all, they realize
that friendship means never having to apologize for lost time.
Because the time was never lost,
it just moved on

But this time around when it moves
they will move together
And like the little girls they once were.
They will build new memories,
look back at them one day
and laugh like h—.

15, SPACE IS AMAZING by Janet Kay Gallagher

Space is amazing.
It can be a tiny place
where you live.
Either in a home structure
or in your mind.
What imagination can open up
in these two areas is unlimited.

Space is amazing.
It can mean wide open spaces.
Then we think of a large land area.
Then we populate it with people and
animals trees and everything that is
Space is amazing.
It can mean the whole universe.
That brings thoughts of exploration
and adventure.
What IS out there in space?
Space is amazing.
It can be the space of time.
We devide that into incriments.
Although there is no limit, we
fit time into our own thinking.
Probably not allowing the true
space to grow and flow.
Space is amazing.
Thank you God for giving us the
space within us that allows us
seperation from daily negatives.
And lets us renew our strength.


1, Lost in Space by Emily Martinez

I sit there
lost in space
About what will happen after school.
All of a sudden,
My thoughts leave…
When someone
my shoulder.
It’s my teacher.
She asked a question.
I don’t know the answer.
So here’s a tip…
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Fifth Grade, Toledo, Ohio
Teacher: Nan Valuck

2, A Visit Inside by Evan D. Abdoo

That crooked dorsal fin
Gliding throughout the night
I hope I wont feel
His un meaningful bite.
The eyes of a devil
Stare blankly at my face
Like buttons on a doll
Or small black holes in space.
The jaw of a monster
His teeth are pearly white
I believe I can see
What he ate last night.
It smells rotten in here,
And I can’t see a thing,
But, I do feel feathers…
Is that a pelican wing?
Maumee Valley Country Day School
6th grade, Toledo, Ohio
teacher: Jana Smith

3, Alone by Samina Hejeebu

I’m secluded
In a tiny bubble
With transparent glass
Revolving around me.
I can’t get out
Can’t become involved.
I watch them
Laughing, talking
Pointing at me
And laughing again.
Laughing because I’m
I try to ignore them,
But I envy them so much.
I just can’t do it.
I can’t become friends,
With Anyone.
I can’t talk
Can’t speak
Can’t become close to friends
Too much space
between us.
Maumee Valley Country Day School
6th grade, Toledo, Ohio
teacher: Jana Smith

4, Woodpecker by Peter Meyer

A woodpecker flies by me
Only an inch of space
Between us
He has a bright red head
White stomach and black wings
I lose sight of him as he dashes between tall trees
From branch to branch, vine to vine
Looking for some bugs to eat
Making leaves tumble
Back and forth all the way to the ground
Vines swing like they want to be rid of him
He stops one last time
Before flying away.

Maumee Valley Country Day School
Grade 6, Toledo, Ohio
Teacher: Jana Smith

5, Creature by Bailey Hannan

I sit in the car
driving down the highway
driving in the rain.
I watch a raindrop
glide down the window.
I wonder…
Is this rain drop alive?
I observe how it reaches out to another raindrop…
when there’s still space between the two drops.
Like a mother reaching to her son
A family reaching to a relative in the military
A child reaching to a dying grandparent
a hunter reaching for his gun
or tree branches reaching to the sky.
And as it seems to crawl across the window
like a baby learning to walk
a rock climber scaling a wall
a child learning to ride a bike
or a bad sketcher learning to draw
And then it gets whisked away like sand in the wind.

Fifth Grade, Toledo, Ohio
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Teacher: Nan Valuck

6, Out of My Mind by Natalie Bawab

Everything inside my skull
is absolutely
wacko and nuts
Space inside my head
filled with craziness
random things
colorful happiness
and amazing ideas
My brain
is not one bit normal
(nothing about me is normal)
and definately not perfect
I’m weird
and sweet
people say
But that is what makes me special,
but yet out of my mind!
Fifth Grade, Toledo, Ohio
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Teacher: Nan Valuck