My sidewalk poem

Hi everyone,

I’m grateful to Ken Slesarik for taking these pictures. Ken teaches at Esperanza Music Academy in Phoenix and is a gifted poet who visits a lot of schools. I featured him on this blog on September 16, 2013 and included his own book of poetry as well as the one written by his students.Ken Slesarik Photo
I met Ken when he attended my poetry workshop at Honesdale in 2011. Everyone in the group was fascinated by Ken’s ability to find oddball, surprising, fun rhymes. Kids must adore him. Here’s his book of poetry. It’s a good read and I hope you’ll get a copy.
Ken Slesarik's book CREATURES

This week Ken took the trouble to visit Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix to check out the sidewalk in the Children’s Garden. Some years ago the Phoenix Suns sponsored the sidewalk in the new garden and someone on the committee discovered a poem in my book, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, that fit the spirit behind the garden. I was flown out for the opening ceremony and read the poem. I’ve shown it to you before but here it is in sections as taken by Ken. Thank you, Ken! I see that a lot of feet have walked on these letters now. They are beginning to look comfortably used. I love it.

DH 1
DH 2
DH 3
DH 4


Ken Slesarik’s new book

Hi everyone,

Ken Slesarik was in our poetry workshop in 2011. He teaches school in Phoenix at Esperanza Elementary School and is the father of Kenny, Cathy, and Bonnie. Ken Slesarik Photo We all loved Ken’s poems. He has a wry sense of humor and wonderful way of finding rhymes where no one else would expect them. He is passionate about teaching poetry to the kids in his school and works tirelessly to encourage them to discover the joy of writing.
Ken Slasarik's book POETRY ROCKS
Last year Ken published a book of poems by his students called POETRY ROCKS 2012. His own work has appeared in several of the anthologies published by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell and he appears among Renee La Tulippe’s collection of poets reading their work over at No Water River .

Now Ken’s own book of poems has come out.Ken Slesarik's book CREATURES It’s called CREATURES, CRITTERS, BEASTS AND VARMINTS, A POETIC GUIDE TO OZARK WILDLIFE and you can order it on-line.

I’m going to bring my copy to the workshop in Honesdale to read and share some of Ken’s work. He not only writes humorously about wildlife but tells the reader what poetic devices he used and relates some factual information about the subject on nearly every page. Way to go, Ken!! Kids will have fun with the collection and teachers will appreciate the additional information.

I know that Ken also does school visits so if anyone is interested in learning more about him and how he can come to your school, contact Ken directly at


A new poetry workshop in the works

ANNOUNCEMENT: Our friend and fellow poet, Ken Slesarik, is featured in a video on Renee La Tulippe’s marvelous No Water River site, ( ) immediately following Jane Yolen’s video. Don’t miss it. We met Ken at the poetry workshop in Honesdale in 2011. He’s a gifted teacher who does wonderful things for his students, including the creation of an anthology of their poetry, POETRY ROCKS ( )

Hi everyone,

I’ve accepted Kent Brown’s invitation to return for another poetry workshop next year as part of the 2013 Highlights Founders Workshop series in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The date is set for September 30 – October 3. Nothing is posted about the event yet but I’m told it’s okay to tell you about it now. I conducted a workshop there in 2011 and another in 2012, which was a three-way event that also featured Eileen Spinelli and Rebecca Dotlich. In 2013 I’ll go back to doing a solo workshop but look forward to having distinguished visitors join us along the way.

I haven’t written the description of my workshop yet but here’s how it read for the one in 2011. If you want to know more about these events, here’s a link.

Highlights Foundation
Somebody Ought to Write a Poem

Workshop Description

Date: September 30 – October 3, 2013

Designed For: Anyone with an interest in writing poetry, from just getting started to seasoned pro.

Maximum Capacity: TBA

From you I receive,
To you I give,
Together we share,
From this we live.
— Old Sufi song
In this workshop, as in life, we come as teachers and learners.

Group activities will include:
• Sharing favorite poems and exploring why we like them
• Reading poems with alternating voices to build teamwork and camaraderie
• Brainstorming ideas for poems using a variety of practical techniques
• Discussing what makes poetry poetry
• Arguing the pros and cons of verse and free verse
• Debating the relevance of children’s poetry
• Participating in four useful workshops on key aspects of conceiving, writing, improving, and marketing poetry

Individual activities will include time to:
• Practice writing what you’re learning
• Be still with your thoughts
• Start something new
• Have your work critiqued by your workshop leader
• Meet and chat one-on-one with your workshop leader

What we will accomplish:
• Write poems!
• Work on fundamental elements of poetry
• Send you home loaded with ways to find and develop ideas
• Make you a better poet

Sunday Poets, W.O.M., and such

BULLETIN: You owe yourself a visit to Renee La Tulippe’s wonderful site at No Water River: . That busy Renee is celebrating THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY and featuring not one, not two, but four new videos of poets reading their poems from the book. The poets are Jane Yolen, Michael J. Rosen, Stephanie Calmenson, and Ken Slesarik. And of course Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell are there for an interview. This one is a real keeper. Way to go, Renee!

Hi everyone,

If you’re enjoying the Sunday Poets feature, please consider sharing one of your own poems on it. Just e-mail the poem to me, along with the links you want posted with it, and I’ll do the rest. Cutoff each week is Friday for poems to be posted that Sunday. Nothing to it!

Yesterday I spoke to seventy-five third grade students at Eugene Field Elementary School in Springfield. Several of the students had written poems inspired by this month’s Word of the Month: WEB. They were cute poems and I hope to see some of them posted this month for others to enjoy. It reminds me that even though we currently have no teachers posting poems by their students on Word of the Month, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t having fun in their classrooms watching what we do here and writing their own poems for the fun of it.

My thanks again to J. Patrick Lewis for his recent poetry challenges. If you haven’t tried them yet, it’s never too late in Blogland. Here are the dates they were posted. August 24: Parroty; September 17: One Worder; October 18: Ionic a Minore. We’ve enjoyed all your comments and the many good examples of these challenges that have been posted so far. If you still want to add your talent to the pool, jump in by all means!


Poetry Rocks

Hi everyone,

I want to tell you more about POETRY ROCKS, the collection of student-written poems inspired, coached, collected, and published as an e-book by Ken Slesarik. Actually, I’m going to let Ken tell you in his own words. Ken, once again, congratulations on this great project. I hope sales from the book help raise a lot of money for your school.

Esperanza Elementary School’s “Poetry Rocks 2012” e-book!

Please make our poetry project a success by purchasing our e-book (priced $3.99).

You can find it on Barnes & Noble at  for Nook. If you go to, you can find it at

Also, free apps to download to your computer are:

And here’s the free Nook app:


In April of 2011, I came across an article by children’s author Janet Wong talking about the possibilities of e-book publishing in regards to children’s poetry. I was especially impressed by her enthusiasm for promoting the genre and it got me thinking about how I could promote poetry at my small, Title 1 school.

After giving it some thought, I drafted a proposal for an after school poetry club to encourage students to write with the eventual goal of publishing an e-book. The profits from this fundraiser would be used to promote poetry in our school by funding author visits, poetry book give aways and drawings. My principal, Denise McGloughlin has been very supportive throughout this project and we hope to continue and refine the process in the next year(s).

We called our club “Poetry Rocks!” and it is made up of 10-12 core members from grades 3rd through 6th. We decided to open it up to the whole school to submit and students as young as 7 years old wrote poems for our book. It has been exciting and rewarding to facilitate as for many students it is their first attempt at writing poetry.

Children’s author David Harrison graciously donated several signed books that we gave away in drawings from a pool of names of those that submitted poems. This incentive was a big hit.

Our club meetings consisted of mini-lessons that built on each other and introduced aspects of poetry. Performing our poems was also an essential element of the project and that was wonderful to observe. We were fortunate to have guest poets Joy Acey and Jeanne Poland visit us to share their knowledge and creative spirit.

At last our goal has come to fruition and it is my hope that other teachers will improve upon this model in their respective schools to encourage a love of poetry.

Ken Slesarik (Mr. “S”)

My thanks and congratulations to Ken. On the home front, today I’ll be signing my newest poetry collection, COWBOYS, from 11:00 – 2:00 at Gamble’s Gifts at 2704 S. Glenstone in the Brentwood Center in Springfield. Sandy and I have owned Gamble’s since 1984 but I’ve rarely taken my books there for a signing. This time I have an inventory of a dozen or more titles on hand and look forward to greeting and signing.David