Announcing a new Friday guest: Me


Thanks to you who have let me know your preferences among the features I’ve introduced since starting my blog last August. Many readers have dropped by to review the boxes:
But I could use a lot more votes and comments. I swear, where’s the love!

Among the comments I have received is a request for information about developing a manuscript (poetry or picture book) from start to finish. I’ve decided to take that one on myself so I’ve exercised my authority to volunteer for a guest spot on Friday, May 28.


Calling all young poets!


Believe it or not, our Word of the Month Poetry Challenge is now in its seventh month. Today I want to stress the need to support student writers and their teachers who help them participate in the challenge.

The word for April is SPRING. Cutoff for entries for “spring” poems is 10:00 CST on Friday, April 23 so there is plenty of time to get those poems written and posted. For complete guidelines, go to the box right above this blog and click on Young Poets W.O.M. Poems.

I know there are many demands on a teacher’s time so to work in the opportunity to write poems and enter them in this monthly exercise in imagination is not an easy thing to do. Yet teachers in Missouri, Maryland, Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have, and we are looking for other teachers who will also help their students join the fun.

If you or a teacher you know is interested and needs more information, it’s easy to contact me. Send your question through Contact on my website. I’ll get right back to you.

Here is a summary of our Monthly Hall of Fame Young Poets through the first six months. I know you will remember many of these talented young poets.

October 2009:Alyssa Kirch, 5th Grade
Disney Elementary
Springfield, Missouri
Nancy Raider, Teacher

November 2009: Claire Scott, 7th Grade
Monocacy Middle School
Frederick, Maryland
Linda Kulp, Teacher

December 2009: Priya Shah, 7th Grade
Monocacy Middle School
Frederick, Maryland
Linda Kulp, Teacher

January 2010: John Sullivan, 6th Grade
Maumee Valley Country Day
Toledo, Ohio
Jana Foster, Teacher

February 2010: Megan Barnett, 6th Grade
Maumee Valley Country Day
Toledo, Ohio
Jana Foster, Teacher

March 2010: Colin Hurley, 3rd Grade
Jeffries Elementary
Springfield, Missouri
Chloe Shank, Teacher

Quite a lineup of young poets and supportive teachers! Other great teachers who have participated so far include:

Becky Kruger, Ray Miller Elementary, Kirksville, Missouri
Mrs. Chapman, Ray Miller Elementary, Kirksville, Missouri
Janet King, Joel E. Barber School, Lebanon, Missouri
Becky Kruger, Ray Miller Elementary, Kirksville, Missouri
Miss Poston, Ray Miller Elementary, Kirksville, Missouri
Jennifer Harrison, William Walker Elementary, Portland Oregon
Marjie DeWilde, Boyd Elementary, Springfield, Missouri
Mrs. Wormington, Field Elementary, Springfield, Missouri
Andrea Wimberley, Field Elementary, Springfield, Missouri
Mr. Bax, Field Elementary, Springfield, Missouri
Amanda Demster, Boyd Elementary, Springfield, Missouri
Mrs. Swafford, Boyd Elementary, Springfield, Missouri
Sharon Brock, Study Middle School, Springfield, Missouri
Michelle Heinrichs (parent), Glen Acres Elementary, West Chester, Pennsylvania

And here’s a quick look at other young poets who have entertained and impressed us with their creative work.

Tasha Freed
Maisha Khan
Peres Reed
Kelsey Winfrey
Serena Berrey
Beau Coffie
Naresh Moudgil
Cassidy Redding
Hope Murphy
Fareid Elgafy
Karena Amy
Natalie Skaist
Maddy O’Donnell
Chase Cantrell
Will Grosser
Zane Wimmer
Ian Wooten
Seamus Williams
Marleigh Banaei
Jessie Hummer
Teea Orem
Levi Graham
Zimm Reeves
Aaliyah Brizendine
Laura Bigbee
Cecily White
Sam Shekut
Brandy Johnston
Rachel Heinrichs
Grace O’Leary
Bennett Miller
Victoria Kessinger
Anne Fox-Strauss
Victoria Kessinger
Taylor A. McGowan

A standing round of applause for all participants please!


Calling on young poets


For teachers who have not visited this site, let me tell you about the Word of the Month Poetry Challenge, which is free and open to all students from grades 3 – 12. Just above this post you’ll see Young Poets W.O.M. Poems. Click on that and you’ll see the simple guidelines. Essentially, classroom teaches are invited to post up to three of their students’ poems each month so that other readers of the blog can enjoy the young poets’ work and offer encouragement.

Each month we choose a winner, known as the Monthly Hall of Fame Young Poet, by popular vote. At the end of the twelve month period, the twelve winners’ poem will be posted again and we’ll have a vote for Young Poet of the Year.

Each month I post a new word. The word for March is “life.” Young poets write poems inspired by the word of the month and we’ve seen tremendous variety in voices and subjects that spring from that simple beginning. If your principal would like additional information about this project, you’ll find a letter to principals also posted at the top of this page. If your students are home schooled, we welcome their poems too.

Adults have their own category and each month we see poems posted from the United States and abroad. I don’t think we’ve heard from any young poets in other countries yet but I look forward to that. If you have any questions, please let me know. The idea is to give students a taste of the fun of writing and help build confidence by taking a single word, considering what might be said about that word, and composing a poem based on those thoughts.

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you,


A houseful of ideas

For several months now we’ve been challenging ourselves to write poems that spring from one word. I’ve been impressed again and again by the number and variety of poems you have posted. We’ve enjoyed the work of poets in numerous states in this country as well as in India, South Africa, Philippines, and U.K. There may be other areas represented that I haven’t identified so let me know if I’ve overlooked someone.

Yesterday Kathy Temean chose another of my published poems to feature as the Poem of the Week. As I’ve mentioned, I never know which poem Kathy will pick so I look forward to seeing her selections. Yesterday’s choice came from The Alligator in the Closet, a collection I wrote to demonstrate the power of observation for the writer. To start the book I walked around my house making notes of things I saw, heard, or remembered. At some point my imagination clicked in as if joining the fun and I found my list including things that didn’t exist, such as the mouse in the pantry.

All is fair in writing poetry so I didn’t throw out the idea of a mouse in the pantry simply on the grounds that we have no stair, no pantry there, and certainly no mouse. An observation is an observation whether fact or fiction. I rather enjoyed imagining a cudly little creature bedded down in a box of facial tissue and the artist enjoyed the idea of illustrating it. As far as I know, kids like the poem too. So it would have been a shame to discard the notion becasuse I didn’t actually see the mouse.

I’m telling you this because you may feel moved to try a similar exercise on your own. Move from room to room and record your observations, sensations, hopes, and memories. Before you know it you will have a list long enough to keep you writing for weeks if not months.

Have fun!

Kathy Temean today


Today it’s my pleasure to bring you Kathy Temean.

Kathy’s advice about blogging will help anyone who is in the “business” or ever wanted to be.

Read on!

I don’t offer any advice on writing here, today. Anyone who is interested in writing related tips, can visit my
writing and illustrating blog at

What I do offer is some advice on marketing yourself. You don’t have to be a published author, illustrator or a known personality to start building a reputation and begin connecting with people on the Internet. Just the fact you are here reading David’s blog, means you are someone who should consider joining the social media explosion.

If you write, illustrate, dabble in photography, have something to show off or just have something to say, then you should think about promoting yourself with a blog.
Two years ago, I would have said, why would you want to torture yourself with a blog? But now with Twitter, I have changed my mind. Twitter has changed everything. By spending only a few minutes a day on Twitter you can drive people to your blog, that would never have found
you before.

You might ask why I didn’t start off by directing you towards having a website? Well, I started with blogs, because they are free, easy to use and you don’t need a web designer to have one. If you don’t have something to sell or promote, then starting out with a blog is an easy way to get your name out there and a quick entry into Social Media.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Decide what you can blog about and how often you will blog. Don’t start blogging unless you are committed to blogging on a schedule.

2. Pick a topic. You may be good at knitting, skiing, rock climbing, raising children, training pets – the list goes on and on. Now decide who you see as your target audience – kids, parents, seniors, women, men, etc. What ever you do, just don’t make it about what you did during the day, because no one cares – unless you are a celebrity.

3. Once you have decided on how many times a week you want to blog, stick to it. The worst thing you can do is start blogging, build an audience and then lose them by dropping the ball.

4. Once you have decided on the what, the when, and the look, then you need to set up an RSS Feed and give your visitors the option to sign up for automatic e-mails.

5. Encourage visitors to respond to your posts by asking questions.

6. Always respond to a person when they leave you a comment.

7. Visit other blogs and leave comments. This will help build traffic.

8. Twitter three or four times a week about something on your blog. Since you can only use 140 characters, counting spaces, it should only take you a minute to do this.

9. The other three or four times a week when you are not tweeting, go to Twitter and re-tweet something you find from someone else. This will help get your name out there. Re-tweeting is only a matter of hitting a button.

10. Always use tags when you blog. Tags help search engines and feeds pick up your blog and distribute your posts around the Internet (You can find them on your blog’s dashboard).

Tip:  Remember to put a limit on your social media writing.  You still want your creative writing to be part of your plan.

Kathy, thank you for this and for everything else you do for me.


While we have everyone’s attention, I’m reprinting here some good advice to writers that Kathy recently added under comments. I think these tips are well worth sharing here. DH


I love these mini lessons on how to approach a new poem or story – keep them coming.

Since I do not know how many people on this blog are published, I thought I should point out to the group, you do not have to apply for a formal copyright for the poems you write. As soon as you write something, it is automatically copyrighted.If you do spend the money to copyright your work, it will only hinder a publisher when they want to publish your writing. Most new writers don’t know that, so it is kind of a “newbie red flag” if they tell a publisher they have a copyright on their work. 

Will you run into poems or stories that sound similar to your writing?  Yes, but that probably will happen even if you never put your writing out for the public to read.

If you see something someone else has written that you think is good and would like to post on your blog, then send them a note letting them know and ask if you can post it.  If they are smart, they will say, “Yes.”

Marketing is a very important thing and getting your name out there and associated with good writing is a great marketing plan. 


BULLETIN: Tomorrow I hope everyone will join us in a discussion of children’s poetry. The whole day is dedicated to the subject so share your thoughts and read what others have to say.