Word of the Month for September

APOLOGY: I’m sorry that I’ve not had a moment to remove August LINE poems to make room for September TENDRIL poems. We’re having a party for twenty; an outdoor party; it’s raining. Jane has already pitched in a dandy but had to put it under Parroties for lack of a space under Adult W.O.M. Poems. Sorry Jane, I’ll do better soon. Maybe then you won’t mind reposting or let me do it. Thanks for getting us started!

Hi everyone,

The word of the month for September is TENDRIL. Be creative!


August poets and the word for September

BULLETIN: This just in from Nile Stanley. He and Gary Dulabaum will be appearing at the Nebraska State Reading Association in 2012. Nile and Gary have both been my Featured Guests and Nile was our judges’ selection for Word of the Month Poet in November, 2010 for his poem, “Words.” Congratulations to Nile and Gary. http://coe.unk.edu/nsra/Index2012.html#Nile_Stanley

Hi everyone,

It is my pleasure to announce our winning poets for August. Joy Acey, who lives in Tucson, Arizona and attended my poetry workshop at Honesdale in June, takes top honors in both categories with her poem, “The View from the Iron.” It doesn’t happen often that a poet wins both Hall of Fame Poet and Word of the Month Poet in the same month. The last one to accomplish it was Susan Carmichael from Columbus, Ohio, another poetry workshop attendee, who pulled it off in June for her poem, “Such a Good Puppy.” Susan has since placed her poem with Petsitters.com Magazine.

Here are some comments by judges this month about Joy’s winning entry.

“One particular line ‘loose tongues when they went to town,’ is really splendid.”

“I love the easy rhyme and whimsical story of the snowman poem but really love the story of the
iron and the family … sooooooooo, soooooooooooo
I think I will go with ‘View from the Iron’ as my first choice, since it is so different and I do like the details in the poem.
But I really like ‘Can’t/Won’t Compromise,’ also.”

“Can’t/Won’t Compromise?” was posted by Liz Korba from New Jersey. Liz tied with Steven Withrow in January 2011 for Hall of Fame Poet with her poem, “Fathom,” and this month she finished in second place for Word of the Month Poet.

Congratulations to Joy for sweeping honors in August, to Liz for a close second, and to all of our poets who seized on one word to create a new collection of original poetry. I’m delighted each and every month by the diversity of approaches and voices and I’m grateful to everyone for supporting the exercise.

Once again, my thanks to our judges.

Are you ready for the word for September? Here it is: CLASS

September is the 12th month of our second one-year cycle of Word of the Month. During the first twenty-three months, Steven Withrow and Mary Nida Smith have posted poems in each month. Liz Korba posted a poem late one month but still posted it to share, making her another who has posted at least twenty-three times. There are others who are close to that number. I’ll try to bring the records up to date before long and post the whole thing. It’s fun to see how many poets have joined the fun over the past two years.

Beginning the third cycle of Word of the Month in October, I expect to make some changes regarding the voting aspect of the exercise. For some time now I’ve thought about dropping the voting process and focusing on the fun of writing, posting, and commenting on poetry. Steven Withrow has also suggested it and put it well. Here is a note from Steven a few weeks ago.

Hi, David.

I visited your blog to vote today, and it started me wondering if you might consider evolving your word-of-the-month “contest” into a word-of-the-month “challenge” — not unlike the Miss Rumphius Effect weekly poetry stretch, but on a monthly schedule.

The basic setup would be the same as you have now, and finished poems would be posted at the end of each month. It would eliminate, however, the competitive aspect as well as the time you invest in managing the judging and voting process. I noticed that the number of votes is generally low (for the adult side) compared with the number of entries — and the great thread of comments — each month.

People mainly participate for the camaraderie, sharing, challenge, support, feedback, and inspiration that come from a regular group activity. We’re less concerned about whose poem wins. We also might think of new ways to encourage poets to revise their work based on group feedback.

Perhaps it’s something you’ll consider for the start of 2012? Or as early as September, with the start of the new school year?


Although I’ve made no final decision yet, I’m leaning toward doing exactly what Steven suggests. We have another month to decide and I am interested in hearing from others. Please let me have your comments about how Word of the Month should operate starting in October. Thanks very much.


Mary Downing Hahn tomorrow, our September Hall of Fame Poets, and the Word of the Month for October

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Congratulations to our September Hall of Fame Poets! Euleta Usrey is our poet of the month for the adult division and Courtney Clawson is our poet in the young poet division. Clustered behind Euleta were Steven Withrow, V.L. Gregory, and Gay Fawcett. In the young poet race, Maria Ciminillo was only 9 votes behind Courtney, 159 to 168. What a contest! My sincere congratulations and gratitude to everyone who enriched our lives this month by writing poems and sharing them with us.

And now for the first word of a brand new year of poetry. The word of the month for October? CHANGE. I’m eager to see what you do with it.

Here we are at Thursday again when it’s my pleasure to announce my new Featured Guest. This is one of my favorite blog activities. Tomorrow you’ll meet Mary Downing Hahn, and you’re going to enjoy the experience. As you know, I always ask my guests to provide a bio in their own words to give you an early glimpse into their lives and their voices. For additional information about Mary, visit her site at http://www.hmhbooks.com/features/mdh/

I was born in Washington, DC and have spent my whole life in Maryland, within 30 miles of my birthplace. Not that I haven’t traveled — it’s just that I’ve never had an official address outside my home state.When I was a kid, I loved reading, drawing, and getting into mischief, not necessarily in that order. I was lucky to grow up on a street with five like minded girls — the Guilford Road Gang we called ourselves. We spent our summers exploring woods and creeks, climbing trees, spying on suspected criminals (the result of an overdose of Nancy Drew mysteries) and spending as much time as possible out of sight of our parents. As long as we were home for dinner, no one cared. College Park was a small town then — what could possibly happen to us?

With the exception of reading and drawing, my school career was distinctly lackluster. I daydreamed, read library books in my lap, doodled on my homework, never mastered long division or learned my multiplication tables, and was in general unmotivated. Because of my math problem, I thought of myself as stupid.

Junior high and high school were not much better. If I read my diary correctly, I spent my teens yearning for a boyfriend, going to football and basketball games (in hope of meeting a boy), hanging out with my friends, getting out of class whenever I could, buying rock and roll records with my babysitting money, going to the swimming pool (in hope of meeting a boy),and complaining about my parents. Not a word about current events. Although I never mentioned them in my diary, I remember thinking the McCarthy hearings were incredibly boring.

After I graduated, I entered the University of Maryland, a half hour’s walk from my home in College Park. At first, it seemed like grade thirteen, but by my sophomore year, I realized I had a brain after all. I majored in Fine Art and minored in English, spending most of my college years doing what I loved best — drawing and painting, reading and writing. By the time I received my B.A., I was torn between a desire to paint and a desire to write. I did both for many years, mainly for my own entertainment. I also spent a disastrous year teaching junior high school art, returned to UMD to earn a Master’s in English, worked briefly for the telephone company, a department store, and the Navy Federal Credit Union, the sorts of jobs people with liberal arts degrees are offered.

After marriage, children, and divorce, I returned once more to UMD and began working toward a PHD in English. It was the 70’s, and there I was with the baby boomers. There were no teaching jobs for any of us.

I ended up taking a job as an associate librarian in the public library’s children’s department. I planned to write my dissertation and look for a teaching position later, but I wrote a children’s book instead. Hard work, yes, but definitely more fun than spending years researching an obscure English poet.

So here I am. all these years later, still reading and writing, drawing and painting and loving every minute of it — well, almost every minute.Thanks, Mary. See you tomorrow.