July winners and August W.O.M. word

Hi everyone,

For the first time since I started my blog, I’m skipping a Sunday Poem of the Week slot. I haven’t run out of published poems. It just worked out that today is when I need to post winners for July and I didn’t want to delay doing it in order to post one of my poems. I’ll get back on track next Sunday.

Congratulations go to Heidi Mordhorst for being the judges’ pick for Word of the Month Poet with her poem, “tart text.” Thanks, Heidi, for introducing some of us to the cryptic vocabulary of the world of text. Here are some comments by the judges.

“tart text” is certainly contemporary and would no doubt appeal to a host of readers.

“tart text” is an original, clever text-message poem.
I’m sure the old purest out there will cringe at its
use of cryptic symbols in place of traditional words,
but there’s something fresh and fascinating about it.
It’s the kind of contemporary poem I’m sure
e.e. cummings would enjoy.

Michelle Ellison took second place with her poem, “Sour.” One of our judges had this to say: “Sour” has a strong emotional feel to it and I appreciate the sensitivity involved in this brief scene. I like the repetition of “Sour is…” plus the use of alliteration in “feel the fluid.”

Our winner for July’s Hall of Fame Poet is Cory Corrado for her poem, “Sour Luck.” Way to go, Cory! Congratulations to you and my thanks to all who participated in the fun for July.

And now, the word for August: HOT

Let the voting begin

Hi everyone,

We had another energetic month of poetry. If you are here for the fun of choosing a favorite poem to receive your vote, you’ll find all fifteen offerings from our adult poets listed immediately below the ballot box.

Don’t forget, you are entitled to one vote but it’s acceptable and encouraged to contact your network of friends, family, and fellow poetry enthusiasts to seek their support. The highest number of visits this blog has received was when two of our student poets locked into a contest that eventually brought more than 1,800 hits during a twenty-four hour period.

Even as we are selecting our July Hall of Fame Poet by popular vote, I’m sending poems to our panel of professional judges so they can select their top pick for July Word of the Month Poet. To remind you of our judges, here’s a link with their names, pictures, and places to learn more about them. As always, I ask that you read their work and let them know you appreciate their time and talents. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/word-of-the-month-poetry-judges/

I’m sorry to report that we didn’t receive enough student poems this month to hold a vote, but that’s understandable during the summer. Our thanks to Taylor McGowan and Madi Montford for their delightful contributions. As for those missing other student poets, just wait until school starts again!

1, “Sour?” by Susan Carmichael

fever, achy, muscle pain
it feels just like the flu
drippy nose and droopy eyes
croupy coughing too

sinus pressure, ears stopped up
what am I to do
when Doctor Sunshine
breezes in and asks,
“S’our YOU?”

2, Sourpuss, by Steven Withrow

Too tart today
To grin—
The sour mood
I’m in
Tastes vinegar
And bittersweet.

I woke up late
And tried
To greet
All with a smile—
And faked it for
A little while—

But the tangy mango
On my tongue
That is my placid
Suffered acid

And now life’s flavor’s
How thin my lips
Are pursed—
With coffee made
With lemonade.
©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

3, Woodland Epiphany, by Sidanne

Treading silent, slow
Soft pine needles give
Grace to aching knees
Blue sky beckons forth
Come on, just a little more
Girl, you gotta go
Forth and find your dream
Amidst these trees, secrets
Stay kept, and greening leaves
Rustle flutter-by whispers
While the winds says hush
Now, quiet is kept and the
Birds betray nothing, chirp
Joyful nonsense, singing
Sweetly sour melodies of Now.

4, TESTY, by Mary Nida Smith

Sour is what
sour does
it gives puckerpower
to sing a sour note
while being a sourpuss.

5, Sour, by Joy Acey
(Note from David: This is a concrete poem but my program won’t let me establish different lines and margins. So sorry, Joy! To see what the poems really looks like, see it on Joy’s blog: http://poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com/2011/07/another-concrete-poem.html )



atop the

Eiffel tower

feeling a great
sense of power

when along comes
an April Shower.
Boy does that make
the day seem sour!

I walk back down,
it takes an hour, all the while
thinking of a whiskey sour.

I guess I shouldn’t be so gloomy
and dour. But SHUCKS,
only ducks like rain
on their parade.

6, PUCKER UP, by Beth Carter

He’s such a sourpuss.
What a grouch.

That hateful old man
Who lives next door.

He never smiles.
He never laughs.

Maybe he just needs
a big kiss.

Pucker up!

7, SOUR, by Janet Kay Gallagher

What a powerful big bower.
Tall as a tower.
It’s pretty when in flower.
Big red cherries, “mighty sour.”

8, Moonshine Pie, by julie Krantz

Cocoa, sugar,
milk ’n salt—
sweeter than
chocolate malt.
But when my
gets good
and dry,
all I want is
Mee-maw’s pie—
pucker-up cherries,
blue tit plums,
sour mash rhubarb—
yum, yum, yum!
when the
one thing’s
sure to hit
the spot—
skip the sugar,
skip the salt,
even skip that
chocolate malt.
But forget those
Forget those plums
Heck, no, Mee-maw—
get some!

9, Immigrants So Often Ask – “What Does That Word Mean?” by Liz Korba

I am Lemon.
Not “Sour” as they call me
(If they do not use my name to say –
“Too broken to be fixed”)
I am.
Summer sunshine’s twin.
Soft buttercup’s first cousin.
A golden glow that grows within a single tree
Bright as table’s candlelight
Notwithstanding wind, the night.
Is my name.

10, The Way of All Things, by Jane Heitman Healy

Deals dissolve
Fortunes fail
Success sours
Friendships fade
Marriages mire
Families fracture
People pass
Egos erode
Memory misses

Faith fixes
Hope heightens
Love lasts.

11, Mud, by Don Barrett

6 am the morning is fresh
summertime in the ozarks,
in just a minute or an hour
the temps go from wonderful
to hot and sour.

my morning shower left me feeling refreshed
my morning walk as always a delight
by 10 am i am the one who is a fright
physical labor and a lot of sweat
makes the one who is sour.
I thank the good lord for this wonderful
heat, but ask if we could spread it out
from july to december and make our winters
more fun to remember.

12, A Sour Poem, by Jeanne Poland

Eeenie, meanie, miney moe
Catch a pickle by the toe;
If it hollers let it go
Sweet to sour it did go.

13, SOUR LUCK, by Cory Corrado

blushing-red pearls dangle
from fertile boughs

appraisers of every feather wing to the feast



I’m out of luck!

pits dangle, frustratingly bare
sated birds scatter, never twittering a care
my-once-cherry-mood has turned

14, Sour, by Michele Ellison

Sour is the word to describe
the feeling in my stomach
when my daughter has turned away from me.
Her parting shot
hit me in the gut.
I feel the fluid
reacting to the pain
and filling me up
capsizing my heart
and spilling out of my eyes.
Sour is the expression on her face
as she walks away.

15, tart text, by Heidi Mordhorst

u r screwing up yr mouth
u r squinting yr eye
u r sending me not
sweet ❤ xxx’s
but sour H8
+ silence
sugar i guess
we r thru?


1, Secrets, by Taylor McGowan

Middle School
a haunted place
Your enemies
Found face to face

Sour expressions
And bitter tones
Populars chatting
on jewel-covered phones

Avoid the cliques
and find a cove
Of peace and quiet
a treasure trove

Find your friends
And keep them well
Protect them from ambush
And where enemies dwell

Keep secrets safe
Give them to friends
If your wounds are still painful
They’ll help you mend

Like an overripe lemon
Plucked late from the tree
Middle School has its chains
Now set yourself free

If you simply keep quiet
and don’t fight, only face
You’ll win your school battle
And do best in life’s race.

2, The Sour Ones, by Madi Montford

Gummy worms are my best friend
the sour ones are the best
I suck on them til the end
Til I chew them like the rest

June WOM winners and July WOM word and WRITERS AT WORK: We get letters — and e-mails, too! (Part 4)

Hi everyone,

Today has three parts.
1) Announce our winning poets for June Word of the Month.
2) Present the WOM word for July.
3) Post the 4th segment of June’s WRITERS AT WORK.

1) Remember, we have two categories for winning poets. Hall of Fame Poets are chosen by ballot and Word of the Month Poets are selected by judges.

This month we had no poems posted by young poets in either of our two categories: grades 3-7 and grades 8-12. We had nine poems posted by adults. That may be a record for the fewest poems we’ve seen since starting Word of the Month in October 2009. Also, voting was unusually light. It must be summer!

My thanks to everyone who pitched in a poem for our readers’ pleasure. I love it when one word blown on the wind cames back in so many forms and with such a multitude of messages. I hope you agree that the exercise is a good way to keep your imagination flowing. Many of you now have a collection of fifteen or twenty poems inspired by WOM.

This month our Hall of Fame Poet is Susan Carmichael, from Columbus, Ohio, for her poem, “Such a Good Puppy.” Some comments from our judges: Love the originality of this one
told from the puppy’s point of view.
“Espadrille” does sound like the name of a small, furry animal
instead of a lady’s shoe! 😉
This poet not only has a keen sense of humor,
but also has a well-tuned ear for poetry.
The rhythms and internal/external melodies are brilliant,
(e.g. “…how cunning are my hunting skills…”
“…teasing me to take a taste…”
“…but Sunday’s news sounds savory…”).
“Great metaphors and voice. Love the ending.”

Joy Acey, from Tucson, Arizona, placed second with her poem, “Our New Puppy.” One judge commented, “I like the way the poet begins by offering
images that are believable in a puppy’s
repertoire of chewables, than builds toward
a litany of unbelievable, unchewable items
in this hyperbolic tour-de-force that ends
with the poet begging for someone to give
his puppy a bone! Clever!”

Our Word of the Month Poet is also Susan Carmichael who won in a close race with Cory Corrado from Quebec, Canada, for her poem, “Letting Go.” But a win is a win and I say, “Way to go, Susan!” Technically, Steven Withrow got more votes but he’s a past winner in this cycle so he has to sit this one out. But Steven, your poems are always anticipated and enjoyed. Keep ’em coming!

Congratulations to everyone who plays the game of writing poems each month to post on my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy the experience and to find support and encouragement for your work. I’m pleased that so many have found us over the months and then return to read and/or participate. We welcome poems from the pros and are always glad to see early efforts from writers who want to try their wings as budding poets.

2) The word or July.



Letters, We Get Letters – and Lots of Email, Too
Response 4 – David
June 28, 2011

Sandy, as we conclude June’s four-part chat about the correspondence authors receive, I confess that this topic has brought back more memories than any of our others. And I know why, at least in my case. We’ve both said many times that the first thing an adult reader must do when presented with something written by a child is to celebrate the gift. One of my favorite quotes is by Susan Ferraro who writes, “To a great extent, we are what we say and write. Laugh or sneer at how we express ourselves, and we take personal offense: Our words are all about us.”

It’s easy to forget to appreciate the gift of a beginning writer, whose work is disjointed and filled with errors, when our first impulse is to suggest how to make it better. Teachers know this and remind themselves all the time to look past the mistakes to the vulnerable child who is holding his or her breath, hoping for a kind word of congratulations before the red ink comes out. Professional writers, when confronted with less than professional efforts by emerging writers, have to resist the same temptation to make judgments before seeing that adults have the same vulnerability that children do. We may think we’re tougher, but Ferraro got it right: “Laugh or sneer at how we express ourselves, and we take personal offense.”

So, Sandy, back to me, and why I think those letters from fans of all ages mean so much to an author. It’s because they represent unsolicited affirmation that our words are good. We got them right, at least this time, and so maybe we’ll get them right again on something we do in the future. They are, often, among the few positive remarks an author receives. Most editors are good about complimenting what they like, but during the course of editing a book, getting it ready on time to ship off to the copyeditor or artist, exchanges between writer and editor become mostly about the business at hand. Adults who buy books for children rarely take time to send fan letters of their own and most children are not likely to think about writing a letter to anyone these days, or an e-mail to someone they don’t know.

That’s why those letters, notes, and e-mails that manage to make it to my mailbox or computer screen are meaningful. They got here to my house against some pretty serious odds and are all the more appreciated because of it. Recently a little girl wrote to say, “I like your poems. They are fun. I enjoy reading your poems a lot. Your friend, Camrin.” Camrin took the time to tell me specifically which of my poems she liked best. That made me smile. I got those poems right! She printed her letter on a piece of lined paper, addressed it herself, and (I can imagine) placed it in her mailbox so the postman could pick it up and send it on its way to me.

Sandy, I mentioned last time that people who write asking for information about getting published are another category of an author’s correspondence. Sometimes such letters come from kids but more often they are written by young adults or adults who love the idea of becoming a published author and wonder how to go about it. Such letters can be time consuming to answer, and sometimes the temptation is to rush through them and keep them short. Why can’t these people figure it out on their own? But then I remember how confused I was in the first few years of struggling to get the words right, and how much I appreciated any encouragement and help I could get. And I realize that to be asked how to do it is a form of flattery. The person asking must have decided that I do indeed, at least on occasion, get it right. And so I do my best to see the vulnerable person behind the question who wants very much to become published, and I take a little longer to give a response that might help.

So, Sandy, it’s a wrap for June’s topic about letters and e-mails. I’ve had a good time and know that you have too. We’ve also been blessed with a number of warm comments from readers, which are appreciated!

Folks, Sandy and I are taking off the months of July and August before considering what to do this fall. We are both swamped with work and have travel plans as well.


May winners and June word of the month

Hi everyone,

WRITERS AT WORK, regularly scheduled for today, will appear tomorrow this week so that I can announce this month’s honored poets.

First, the Word of the Month poets chosen by our panel of distinguished judges.

Ken Slesarik for his poem, “Yeti’s Promise.” Ken is from Arizona and last month tied with Mary Nida Smith (Arkansas) for the Hall of Fame voting. Here’s a comment from one of the judges. “Certainly original, with a touch of the absurd! This imaginative poem has an interesting rhyme scheme, with line 7’s chime echoing loud and clear. Repeat vowel sounds also work well: ‘sassafrassin’ and ‘horoscopes in hopes.’ Congratulations, Ken!

Runner-up for May’s Word of the Month Poet is Cory Corrado from Montreal for her poem, “Promises.” One judge had this to say about Cory’s poem. “I love these lines especially: ‘Buzzing pollen kisses,’ ‘Cherrilicious red harvest,’ and ‘Nature’s pledge-unspoken, unbroken.’ Way to go, Cory!

Several past winners in both divisions who are ineligible to win again during this cycle nevertheless joined in the fun of Word of the Month and entertained us with their work. Thanks to Gay Fawcett, Julie Krantz, Steven Withrow, and other previous winners who continue to support W.O.M.

Every judge commented on how strong the young poets’ work was in May. As a group they all deserve much credit.

The poet selected to be May Word of the Month Young Poet is Maya Dayal who attends 6th grade in Ohio at Maumee Valley Country Day School and whose teacher is Jana Smith. Maya’s poem is “Broken Home, Broken Field.” Congratulations, Maya. The judges were moved by and loved your poem!

In a close second place is Emma Lavetter-Keiden, a 5th grader at Maumee Valley whose teacher, Nan Valuck, posted her lovely poem, “Balance.” Here’s what one judge had to say about Emma’s poem. “I like the light and dark contrast created in this poem: ‘One shedding light/ The other stealing it.’ The occasional use of a single word per line is effective. Repetition works well in the last three lines. A nice piece of writing — with an air or mystery about it.”

I should mention that a previous winner in both divisions (Word of the Month Young Poet and also Monthly Hall of Fame Young Poet) turned in another strong effort this month. He couldn’t win again during this period but we still appreciated the work of P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit for his poem, “The King’s ‘Grammer.'”

Now we turn to May’s Hall of Fame Poets who were selected by popular vote from readers and fans.

Jackie Huppenthal from Indiana wins in a tight race for her poem, “It’s Sneaky — Be Aware.” Previous winners who were also in the race include Gay Fawcett for her poem, “Foolish Games,” Ken Slesarik for his poem, “Yeti’s Promise,” Steven Withrow for his poem, “Right Whale Bones,” and Janet Gallagher for her poem, “Promises.”

Our winning poet for May is Ishani Gupta, grade 5, for her poem, “Unbroken.” Runnerup is Rory Hopkins, grade 5, for his poem, “Curse You Homework.” Rory’s poem is the only one for two voices that we’ve ever received. Both students are from Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio.

Congratulations to all of our winners and to everyone who spent the time and effort to participate in the month’s Word of the Month exercise. I’m grateful and I look forward to your contributions next month. And now . . .

The Word of the Month for June is PET.


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: