Avis Harley today

REMINDER: Don’t forget to vote for this month’s Hall of Fame Poets. The ballot boxes were posted yesterday.

Hi everyone,

Avis Harley loves poetry in all its many forms and faces. As my Featured Guest today Avis demonstrates her skill and passion by presenting her remarks in — what else? — verse. Read on!


By Avis Harley

A good poem gives repeated pleasure.
Tender or tough: it is a treasure.
But all too often through the years,
delight in poetry disappears.

The adult count is very small
of those who read a poem at all.
Did ‘Simile Safaris’ in days of yore
burden poetry and make it a chore?

Whatever the reason, we need to effect
ways that have kids and poems connect.
How about poetry as a daily diet?
Imagine if everyone would try it!

It’s a World of Words, so inviting—
but it’s crafty business: poetry writing.
Sometimes I stare at a blank white page
stuck in the tabula rasa stage.

What to say? Where to begin?
How to get out what is within?
Should it be free verse? Limerick? Haiku?
Acrostic? Sonnet? Clerihew?

My poems go through multiple revisions.
Over and over I review decisions.
polishing a poem, line by line.

Always, I read the lines out loud.
Does the rhythm flow? Do the syllables crowd?
Does the subject dictate how the form should be?
Do words resonate inside of me?

Like a butterfly in its chrysalis stage,
lines take shape within the page:

(Editor’s note from David: I cannot get this poem to line up to show off the acrostic poem below. Be assured I’m trying and I apologize to Avis for my failure so far! Anyway, please note the initial letter in each line.)


“At last,” cried Butterfly,

Over its
Empty chrysalis,
“My final draft!”

Many poems grew out of my teaching career,
recording those moments, year after year.
Life in the classroom is a wonderful place
for a poet to find ideas to embrace.


My teacher said I should look up
I’ll check it out when I get home,
it’s just a little wait.

But after school my friends drop by,
we laugh and play and fight;
then suddenly it’s dinner time,
I’ll look it up tonight.

But now the television’s on,
homework’s looking bleak.
PROCRASTINATE can wait a bit,
I’ll look it up next week.

If kindergarten kids know Tyrannosaurus
(and longish words should never bore us)
why not onomatopoeia and alliteration?
Such delicious words for exploration!

Children will ask what makes a poet.
The best preparation, as I know it,
is to be an observer—take second looks,
and read and read all kinds of books.


This book is the best—
I woke up to read it
Before getting dressed.

This book is so cool—
It’s the first thing I grabbed
When I rushed home from school.

This book is a winner—
I forgot I was hungry.
I almost missed dinner.

This book is just right—
I’m reading by flashlight deep into the night
Deliciously thirsty to see how it ends.

Books are such mind-thrilling
Spine-tingling friends!

Encouraging poetry memorization
offers the wonderful realization
that a favorite poem off the shelf
is a lifetime gift you can give yourself.

My advice to writers is never lose heart.
Poem rejections all play their part.
Choose a subject where passion lies
and try to describe it with fresh clear eyes.

Nature themes appeal to me
and invite me into their mystery.
Whether it’s stars in the galaxy…


In the language of stars
lie stories of old
brilliant legends
told and retold.

Spelling out sagas,
Spilling out light,
a mythical manuscript
filling the night.

…or creatures gliding beneath the sea:


Examine the suckers on tapered limbs –
moon sequins pale as porcelain skins.

See how the flow of elbow and angle
smoothly moves in a tasteful tangle.

Think how this creature can gracefully scroll
down through the tiniest, narrowest hole.

And imagine the pageant with eight arms at play
when they bow at the end of their octo ballet.

It falls on adults to bring to light
the magic of poetry—to share the delight
with kids as they savor words at play.
A poem-a-day is a wonderful way.

2 comments on “Avis Harley today

  1. I first got turned on to Avis Harley’s poems through Paul B. Janeczko’s anthologies. She is a builder of words and images that reach their apex everytime!!!! In short, this lady can rhyme!

  2. I’ve been reading along in my Children’s Lit text book all morning and googled Avis Harley (as I tend to do with references). I came across your lovely site, and am happy to have a great new resource!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s