Quick report and new contest!

Sorry for the late posting today; been off playing with friends.

Sunday is the last day of October, which means the following:

1) The final day of the contest to see who leaves the most notes on my blog during October.

2) The final day of the contest for a drawing among those who have signed my website guest book.

3) The final day before I give you a new poem-starter word for November.

4) The final day before I present the results of the poll to help me develop a better profile of visitors to my blog.


ANNOUNCING a popularity poll between now and Sunday night to determine the favorite dirt poem for the month of October.

You can vote for your own poem or for someone’s elses (excluding mine). All of the dirt poems received so far appear on the October 23 post. Read them again and cast your ballot by Sunday night. (Helpful hint: It’s fine for family, friends, and even total strangers to vote too!) TO VOTE, CLICK ON COMMENTS UNDER THIS POST AND LEAVE A NOTE SAYING, “I VOTE FOR ______ BY _____.”
And what will our winner receive?

1) He or she will be listed in our Monthly Hall of Fame, a list of high honor reserved for poets whose winning work was inspired by a single word.
2) The obvious end result of this will be the first Annual Hall of Fame winner, to be chosen by popular vote among our twelve monthly winners.

So get with it everyone!! November will be here before you know it!

Article about teen books

votesm2If you are interested in writing books for teens and tweens, especially books for girls, there’s an article in the current issue of The New Yorker (October 19) that you’ll find interesting. This well written piece by Rebecca Mead introduces the reader to Alloy Entertainment, which produces books and creates other properties for the preteen and teen-age market.What I found helpful was the the description of all the editorial brainstorming that each idea must survive as it makes its way from suggestion to finished product. It struck me that Alloy has several people involved doing what an individual writer must also do. The trick for us, when evaluating a new idea, is to be as critical, focused, and unbiased as the whole team in an organiation like Alloy.It is far more sensible to weigh a new idea, find it lacking, and discard or revise it than to plunge optimistically forward into the writing process, hoping that somehow the story will turn out okay. For a lone individual, this is one of the hardest and most fundamental lessons we must learn. And learn. And learn.

If you have any comments about the article or about how you go about judging the merits of a new idea before you commit to writing it, please share it with the rest of us!


Of contests and dirt poems

votesmThanks to everyone who has completed the PollDaddy survey to help me get a better idea
of who you are and how my blog can serve you better. If you haven’t done so yet, I hope you will.  Just click the “Vote Box” on the left to vote.  It takes less than a minute to click a few buttons and like I said, it will help me focus on the right content.


My thanks to everyone who is participating in this month’s contests. At the end of October I’ll draw a winning name from those who have signed my website guest book. The winner will receive his or her choice of an autographed book or a critique of some poetry or a picture book.Also at the end of October I’ll send an autographed copy of Partner Poems to the person who has left the most comments on my blog site during this month.

I’ve been delighted by all the poems you’re shared this month! It’s amazing how many ways the word dirt has inspired us. The first of November I’ll announce a new word so I hope you’ll participate again and spread the word to others who might like to join the fun.

I expect to see more dirt poems come in but here’s what we have so far. I thought you might enjoy seeing them all in one place. Let me know if I’ve overlooked anyone.


I liked you the first time we met,
at least I thought I would like you
if I got to know you,
except for your nails.
I couldn’t help noticing
the foul moon-rims of grime
clutching at your cuticles.
The thought occurred that dirt,
which you like enough
to pack at your fingertips,
might have a poem buried in it.
Honestly, I had little hope for my subject.
It’s hard to hold something in high esteem
that one tracks in on one’s shoes.
Only my respect for you kept me going.
Turns out there’s more
than meets the eye with dirt.
Roots slow-motionly wriggling down
like moles in the dark after water
prize off tiny flecks of bedrock.
Mix enough rock parts with humus
and you’re getting somewhere, dirt-wise.
Humus is a dry gumbo,
the handiwork of dentrivores,
a multiracial gang of ruffians, mostly
fungi, worms, bacteria, mites, and insects –
mercenary goblins that dine on decay,
slurping dead plants and animals
till you could easily mistake diner for dinner.
Thanks to dentrivores, not all dirt
tastes the same. But considering
the supply you keep on hand,
I may not be telling you something
you don’t know.
When you think about dirt,
and I can’t seem to stop,
dirt provides lodging for a zoo
of creatures that grub, grope, and burrow
through its gritty underworld.
Mixed with water dirt fortifies bird nests and
helps mud daubers stick their homes
in annoying places such as
above my garage door.
By contrast, dust courts the corporate crowd.
Swirling like a truant genie,
dust grants wishes to carwash owners
and supports entire industries
of polish, soap, and facial tissue makers,
but I digress. The thing is, I was right
about liking you in spite of your nails
crammed with limestone powder, worm goo,
and the odd molecule of bee leg or roach
(all in a day’s work for humus).
But I can’t resist suggesting that dirt
should stick with dirt and you might consider
returning your private stash to the garden
or perhaps to a trash sack headed to
the dump. Then, I believe,
at least I hope very much, that
I can put down this thing about dirt
and wipe it off of my worry list.
— David L Harrison


Just sitting here a thousand years – not doing much it seems,
But without me you wouldn’t see that field of flowing green.
There wouldn’t be a hilltop there and vessels made of clay,
No spot for seeds to hide and grow, no place for mice to play
Or other creatures great and small – from moles to bears in caves.
Some things would not know where to stop – like rivers, lakes and waves.
Just sitting here a thousand years – if you dig deep, than more!
I’d let you know so many things – if I had lips like yours.
I’d tell you if the dinosaurs were green or blue or grey,
What ancient people liked to do and what they had to say.
And how the Moon in eons past drew near, was giant-size!
I’d share with you the wonder of that very first sunrise.
I wish that you had all the time that I have sitting here
To slowly watch the changes taking place each million years.
And oh, the things that happen, if you have more time than this.
I’m sorry for those things you haven’t seen and all you’ll miss!
The earth, it moves! And mountains form! New creatures come and go.
Whole cities rise and fall and then will once more start to grow.
Just sitting here thousands of years I’ve watched a lot go by.
I know you cannot live this way, but sometimes, won’t you try
To think about the things I’ve seen and all that I might see.
Remember that I look to you and when you walk on me
The silent dirt that’s all around – the soil, sand and clay
Imagine all you’d be and share if you were me one day.
— Liz Korba


Young Bobby went outside to play
In a black-muddy, spring-sloppy way.
He took off his shoes
As he danced in the ooze
And gave thanks for the glorious day!
– Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved


concrete rivers hide
hungering, slumbering clay
sleeping gardens wait
– Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved


Did I hear you say,
“Eeeuuu, worm poop”?
Well, let me tell
you something, Missy–
worm poop is just
another name for dirt.
Dirt may be an odd
way of saying life, but
for me that’s exactly
what it is. So, if you
want me predicting
your love life, you’d
better be showing
those worms a little
more respect. Got it?
– Diane Mayr


The opposite of clean is dirt
Like ketchup dribbled on your shirt
Or grass stains on your favorite jeans
Or brown stuff stuck to fresh plucked beans
It’s bunnies made of dust and hair
And specks and flecks found everywhere!
— Tricia Stohr-Hunt


Dirt, Oh boy. mud pies!
I’ll make up lots and lots
and set them here to dry
When that kid down the road comes by
I’ll make him eat them pie by pie.
— Jan Gallagher


Pies for sale!
Mud pies for sale!
The finest mud pies
In the world for sale!
Mud pie cherry,
Mud pie peach,
Mud pie apple,
One dollar each,
Mud pie chocolate,
Mud pie lime,
Mud pie gooseberry,
Two for a dime!
How about you, Sir?
Give a pie a try?
Step right up
For a nice mud pie!
If you don’t like
How my pies are made,
Try a nice glass
Of my mud lemonade.
— David L Harrison


Mud is like Silly Putty
it is for playing.
Mud puddles after rain
a slpash delight.
Mud is for mud pies,
but who eats them.
To a cow,
mud is cool.
To a pig,
a beautiful thing.
Toe prints are nice.
Mud fights are not.
— Mary Nida Smith


When you talk about dirt,
You gotta talk about dig.
When you talk about mud,
You gotta talk about a pig.
Oh baby . . .
How do I make my way?
When I start with common dirt – I naturally head straight for a cliche.
My Grandma said, “You eat a peck
Of dirt before you die.”
But I say, “What the heck?!”
I can avoid that if I try!
Oh Grandma . . .
What can you tell me now?
I gotta write this dirty poem, but I cannot – figure out how.
I guess I’ll start from scratch.
With a wordy mud pie.
That way I’ll use a bit of dirt
And mix it with these tears
I cry . . .
Out of frustration and fear.
I’ve got a grimy little blues song – that no one else will ever hear.
— Mimi Cross


Yummy, yummy mud pie,
I eat it all the time.
It’s brown, watery, and smells real bad,
But I’d rather eat it with a lime.
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
It looks just like brown mush.
It’s getting weirder everyday,
Don’t step in it! Eww (Squish).
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
Now it’s on your shoe.
It’s getting green and ugly,
I wish I had some too!
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
Now it’s almost gone.
Yummy, yummy mud pie,
I guess I’ll make another one!
— Alyssa Kirch, 5th Grade


The dirt of earth is often thought
to be a thing not pretty.
It may be black or tan or red
and rocky, smooth or gritty.
But dirt is probably the most
important thing we’ve got.
Without it where would orchards grow
or clay to make a pot?
Or what would bricks to build a house
be made from without dirt?
Or sandbags to protect a town
and people from flood-hurt?
A mound of dirt piled up real high
could be a climbing hill;
a tiny rose might spring from soil
upon a window sill.
God even formed the first man from
the dirt of earth, you see.
So when we stop to think of it,
without dirt where’d we be?
— Reta Stewart Allen


The earthworm knows no books.
He chews, instead, hard news
That gravels through his crooks.
He grinds each borer’s bit
Of literary grit
And feeds wildflower’s muse.
— Steven Withrow


How to get started

Since we are seeing a growing number of poems inspired by dirt, I thought this would be a good time to demonstrate one of my favorite methods to get started on those days when my muse seems to be out for coffee. I call this Association. Here’s how it works.

Write a word at the top of the page on the left, leaving room for two more columns to the right. Below that word, write at least three things the word makes you think of. Choose one of those three to head the second column. Again, think of three things that word or phrase makes you think of. Choose one of those three to head the third column and repeat the exercise.

You now have nine thought starters. Of course you can make your lists longer and keep adding columns if you wish. I’ve made columns as long as a dozen associations. You can see how quickly this engages your imagination. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for ideas for poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. As an example I’ve chosen (what else?) dirt.

(1st column)


dishing the dirt
dirty trick
dirty joke

(2nd column)


not fair

(3rd column)


breaking a leg
two tests in one day
missing the bus

Notice how far the list has evolved by the third column and how dissimilar the ideas have become. Even if you don’t develop an idea further, this is a good warm-up exercise to kick start the day.


The other day I suggested that you look at Kathy Temean’s announcement about YOUNG AUTHORS AND ARTISTS GROUP (http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/young-authors-and-artists-group). Since then I’ve accepted Kathy’s invitation to serve on a panel of authors who will be involved in offering advice to young writers. I look forward to working with Kathy and other members of the panel for this new organization. I copied the information below from Kathy’s blog. Please refer to Kathy to learn more.

Do you know a young adult or child who is interested in writing or art? I would like to introduce you to a new organization – Young Authors and Artisit Group, fondly known as YAAGroup – http://www.yaagroup.org

If you are a teacher and want to use their materials in you classroom, they have a special for you, too. http://www.yaagroup.org/teachers.htm

If you are a published author and want to be considered for placement on their Author/Illustrator Panel, click here for the form and please e-mail it to the link below.  There are lots of advantages for authors & illustrators, so check it out.  One is having your picture, bio, website and books listed.  Plus, children and teachers will be regularly reminded about you and what you do when they visit.

Guest Book Contest

Thanks to everyone who has dropped by my website and signed my guest book. http://www.davidlharrison.com/guestbook.htm  I love to hear from you.

To encourage others to sign my guest book,


At the end of October I going to take all the names of everyone who signed my Guestbook , put them in a hat, and draw a WINNER. 


A SIGNED COPY OF PIRATES. The book was selected by NCTE as a notable poetry book for 2008 and by VOYA for its nonfiction honor list in 2009. Soon I’ll have some new good news to share about Pirates.


A PICTURE BOOK OR POEM CRITIQUE – if you write poetry for young people or have a picture book and would like your work critiqued, I’ll give you that choice if you’re our winner.


Poetry submissionno more than three double-spaced pages in regular 12 point type.

Picture book  — in rhyme or otherwise — no more than five – 12pt, double-spaced pages. Be sure to leave your e-mail address!

Hope to see you on the guest book!  http://www.davidlharrison.com/guestbook.htm

Am I the only one working on a poem stimulated by a single word? Yesterday (on day four) I finished a rough draft of the one I’m writing based on dirt. I hope on Sunday to hear from others who took the challenge!  David