Planning ahead for Word of the Month Poetry Challenge

Hi everyone,

Becca, Susan, Joy, Carol-Ann, and Jeanne

In a few more days it will be time to post a word for the September Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. For the past many months I’ve posted each new word myself, but I think it’s time to share the fun again.

The first Highlights poetry workshop I gave in Honesdale, in 2011, was attended by the following good people CORY CORRADO, JEANNE POLAND, KEN SLESARIK, SUSAN CARMICHAEL, JOY ACEY, HEIDI MORDHORST, BECCA MENSHEN, and CAROL-ANN HOYTE. In previous posts I’ve mentioned this group of poets, most of whom came to the workshop as strangers and left friends. Many have remained in touch over these past eleven years.

Cory and Carol-Ann

With that original group in mind, I’m going to ask each in turn to provide the Word of the Month word for the coming months of September (Cory), October (Jeanne), November (Ken), December (Susan), January (Joy), February (Heidi), March (Becca), and April (Carol-Ann). If someone would rather not or can’t be located in time, we’ll always have me as Plan B.

Ken, Carol-Ann, Heidi, Joy, and Susan

So Cory, you’re up first. Send me a note in the next few days at with your word for September and I’ll post it on September 1. Thank you in advance!

About June and Poetry Pals and conferences and poems

Hi everyone,

Have you tuned into “Poetry Pals,” the on-air 5-minute segments of readers reading children’s poetry being broadcast on KSMU Public Radio each Wednesday morning at 9:45 CST? The program is a collaboration of KSMU, Springfield-Greene County Library District, and me. I hope you’ll provide your support by listening to the program and sending the station comments of appreciation for what they are doing in care of News Director Jennifer Moore ( ). You can hear the segments from anywhere in the world via the station’s website live streaming. Here again is how you can find it. Tomorrow will be the third in the series. I did the first one and yesterday I prerecorded a second episode that might be used at a later date. It’s great fun and I hope to see the audience continue to grow each week. Tell everyone you know! Here’s how to find the 5-minute program.
91.1 FM in Springfield
90.5 FM in Point Lookout/Branson;
90.3 FM in West Plains;
88.7 FM in Mountain Grove;
98.9 FM in Joplin;
103.7 FM in Neosho
And wherever you are you can find it at KSMU-Ozarks Public Radio live-streaming on its website,

In other matters, NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) has now been cancelled for late this year, making it a clean sweep of all major conferences in 2020. The conference coordinators are going to attempt to carry on the best they can with online presentations so we’ll see how that goes. Fingers crossed for everyone concerned, including me.

Meanwhile, my thanks to Jeanne Poland and Jane Yolen for leading the way in this month’s poetry challenge. Great fun so far and I must say the guys are going to have to go some to keep up. I haven’t given enough thought yet to what I’ll write about but can already see that June is busting out all over. So in spite of it all, come one come all, and let’s make poems together. Teachers, if you need any last minute exercises for your students, please don’t forget the opportunity to post their work here.

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.

My August Word of the Month poem

Hi everyone,
Thanks again to Jeanne Poland for providing OOMPH for this month’s word challenge. Being a musical man of limited vocabulary who tends to repeat himself, here’s mine.


oomph dooby oomph
oomph dooby oomph dooby oomph oomph oomph

boomph dooby boomph
boomph dooby boomph dooby boomph boomph boomph

oomph oomph oomph
boomph boomph boomph
oomph dooby boomph dooby oomph oomph oomph

boomh boomph boomph
oomph oomph oomph
boomph dooby oomph dooby boomph boomph boomph

oomph dooby dooby dooby

boomph dooby dooby dooby

boomph dooby boomph dooby boomph dooby boomph dooby
boomph dooby boomph dooby boomph dooby

On the lookout for summer bugs

Hi everyone,

Next on our summer topic suggestions is this one from Jeanne Poland, who sent this entertaining challenge.

“Today a house fly sat on my deck rail and said hello. Jeanne PolandPlease entertain us with some summer bugs. I want kindergarten science on your blog. I’m sure you wrote the poems already.”

Jeanne, here are two I may have posted before. The first is from the book called bugs, poems about creeping things. The second appeared in The Book of Giant Stories. I have many bug poems but kindergarten children might like these. I’ll look for others but in the meantime the floor is open for others to post their own bug poems, including the clever Jeanne herself.

David L. Harrison

Never kiss
The centipede,
Pick him up
Or hug him.

The centipede is
All you’ll do is
Bug him.

In his youth,
The centipede
Never learned
To play,

Never learned to
Or kiss.
Now he’s
That way

So never kiss
The centipede.
I say
Not once
But twice,

The centipede’s
A waste of time.
He simply

The Gnat
David L. Harrison

A careless giant once sat
On top of a very small gnat.
The gnat looked around
And said with a frown,
“That giant has ruined my hat!”