Thank you, Sylvia Vardell

Hi everyone,

This week Sylvia Vardell, my friend and beloved authority on children’s literature, does me the honor of posting about my journey as a writer on her famous blog. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to drop over to Sylvia’s and have a look.
Sylvia, thank you again for all you do for those who create literature for young people. You are a blessing.

A new twist

Hi everyone,

I met poet Joy Acey Frelinger in 2011 when she attended my Highlights Foundation poetry workshop near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Joy, Jeanne Poland, Ken Slesarik, and Cory Corrado were in the same group and I love it that we’ve all stayed in regular contact over these last eight years. That’s Ken and Joy (in red) in the picture.

Yesterday Joy sent me a note about my contribution to Jane Yolen’s new form, which she has dubbed the Tendrillon. Here’s Joy’s note/suggestion.

“I like your reply poem to Jane’s challenge BUT your ending couplet didn’t make much sense to me. I’d like to suggest for the last line:
I’ll drink martinis, very dry.”

And here’s my response.

“Thanks for the suggested revision. I meant my tongue in cheek ending to smack of irony: after over imbibing on wine for so long, my speaker decides to turn to vodka until he gets all that vine out of his system. Your suggestion changes my meaning but is a clearer solution. I’ll mention this on my blog.”

Sometimes when a writer dashes off a line to reflect his meaning, the result isn’t as clear to his reader as it seems in his mind because he knows what he means to convey and the reader has to be told. This may be a good example of it. The floor is open if you care to add your own thoughts to this example or perhaps to speak in general on the subject of clarity of expression. Thanks, Joy, for creating the teaching/learning moment.

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #12

Hi everyone,

Here’s #12, the final poem in the brief series of favorite poems. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. If anything I think they demonstrate that my interests and moods vary and my poems go where they go.

This poem is from CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS, Boyds Mills Press, 2018. The book was chosen to represent Missouri at the 2018 National Book Fair in Washington D.C., which is attended by approximately 200,000 visitors. NCTE also selected the book as a Notable Book of Poetry for 2019. By invitation I will be at NCTE in Baltimore in November to serve on the panel that presents the winners and will read some of my poems to the audience.

Horsefly Grade Card:
Doesn’t Play Well with Others

In my heart
I know, of course,
it isn’t nice
to bite a horse.

They’ve tried to teach me
but after school,
as you can guess,

Even though I feel remorse,
I must go out
and bite a horse.

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
reprinted by permission

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #11

Hi everyone,

Here’s #11 in the series of favorite poems. One more after this.

This one came from A PLACE TO START A FAMILY, Charlesbridge, 2018. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) chose the book for its list of Outstanding Science Trade Books of the year and Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) chose it for their Young Reader’s Choice Awards Program Master List, 2019 – 2020.

Yellow Garden Spider

You throw a line of silken thread
and let it flutter where it will
to catch on limb or windowsill,
then use your ancient weaver’s skill
to make it hold you when you tread.

Back and forth you bridge the gap,
spinning out the thread to sew,
crafting in the dark you go,
putting on your magic show,
creating your artistic trap.

Now it’s done and now you wait
till fragile moth or careless fly
has bad luck to blunder by
so you can greet it eye to eye
and at your leisure seal its fate.

And when the tiny eggs you guard
hatch, as baby spiders must,
spiderlings the size of dust
sail away on gentle gust
to seek their fates across the yard.

(c) 2018 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
reprinted by permission

A brief series of favorite poems and their histories, #10

Hi everyone,

Here’s #10 in the series of favorite poems. After this one I’ll post two more.

Appeared in the collection, NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T, Charlesbridge, 2016. The book was selected by National Council for Teachers of English as a Notable Book of Poems and by Society of Midland Authors as the best nonfiction children’s book of the year.

Dear Mr. Vole:

Find me,
If you can,
My sssskin
Helpssss me
Among thesssse

Find me,
If you can,
On dappled
Lounging by
Thissss pile of

Find me,
If you can,
Atop thissss
A broken
A branch
Along thissss

Find me,
If you can,
For if you
I’ll be here
Tomorrow . . .

Mr. Copperhead

(c) 2016 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
reprinted by permission