Last day of my poetry display

Hi everyone,

Today is the last day of my display in the entrance hall of The Library Center in Springfield, Missouri. It has been a pleasure to know that a lot of people have seen my samples during April and I’m grateful to everyone at TLC for inviting me to put my poetry related books and materials in the showcase to celebrate National Poetry Month.
If you live in the area and would like to see the display, it will be up all day today and I’ll go out at 10:00 in the morning to put everything back in boxes and take home.

Happy Poetry Month

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the good wishes yesterday. Our event went well and I think the kids who came with parents and grandparents had a fine time. Some brought their own poems and others preferred to read poems from my book. Kathleen O’Dell was everywhere doing everything to make it all happen smoothly (including taking pictures and video) and Melinda Arnold came with two staff members and a volunteer from Dickerson Park Zoo to wow the audience with a milk snake, a corn snake, two screech owls, and a hawk. It was a beautiful way to spend a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in spring and I’m grateful to everyone who came to join the fun!

Here’s my display for National Poetry Month. It’s in a case in the entrance hallway at The Library Center. I hope you’ll stop to see it if you’re there this month.

Hey! Look at this!

Hi everyone,


If you’re somewhere near and can join the fun, the address is 4653 S. Campbell Ave. Springfield, MO 65810. Phone:(417) 882-0714. The program is free and open to the public. We’ll start at 3:00 and finish by 4:30. Barnes & Noble will be there to sell copies of NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T plus a few other titles and naturally I’ll be happy to sign them.

We’ve divided the program into three parts. I’ll take the first thirty minutes to introduce the new book and read from it. During the next third, folks from Dickerson Park Zoo will display some of the animals that appear in the book and talk about natural camouflage. Kids will take us out on a high note by reading their own poems or some of mine, and young brothers and sisters can color pictures that will be put on display for a week after the event.

National Poetry Month


REMINDER: Counting down to the cutoff for April’s Word of the Month Challenge. Here’s a reminder of the schedule.

April 23 — Cutoff for posting April poems: 10:00 p.m. CST.
April 24 — Voting begins for April Hall of Fame Poets.
April 29 — Voting ends at 10:00 p.m. CST.
April 30 — April winners declared and May word announced.

I told you that I would post an article about National Poetry Month so here it is. This is for a general reading audience, published in the Springfield News-Leader.

Poetically Speaking

April is National Poetry Month. If you haven’t read much poetry lately, you’re in for a surprise. In Grandfathers’ time, poetry went formal or foppish, depending on who held the pen. It favored frock coats and wandering the hills counting daffodils.

Poetry in our parents’ day loosened up a bit, learned how to smile on occasion and make eye contact with the common man. Today’s poetry still keeps fancy duds in the closet but it usually dresses in the same mirror we all use so it leans toward T-shirts and jeans. Billy Collins is a past United States Poet Laureate. Collins is nearly rock star popular for his poetry that slouches in a doorway to chat while you sip your morning coffee. Does that sound like Grandfather’s poetry? Or even Father’s? I don’t think so.

Some men shudder at the thought of reading a book of poetry. In a survey of 8,000 English children, girls chose cookbooks over poetry. Boys preferred almost anything else. Two of the top five reading preferences among both genders were text messaging and websites.

But things aren’t always what they seem in surveys. Poet J. Patrick Lewis points out that children may not gravitate to poetry on their own. For many it may be an acquired taste that must be introduced and nurtured by parents and teachers who love poetry themselves and pass on their passion to the next generation.

Steven Withrow remembers how he first fell for poetry or, more precisely, how poetry fell for him. Eight-year-old Steven picked up a book on the floor in his school library. Luckily for him, the book was Dogs & Dragons, Trees & Dreams, a collection of poems by Karla Kuskin. Steven read one poem and was hooked. He went on to study writing and literature and today, twenty-eight years after he accidentally stooped to read a poem, Steven is a teacher, poet, storyteller, author, and documentary producer. I bet Steven is celebrating National Poetry Month.

Where is the line between big kids’ poetry and little kids’ poetry? For sure there are plenty of adult poems too dense or sophisticated for young readers. But in many cases it’s hard to say where or whether a line exists. When I read selected poems by Collins and Ted Kooser (another former U.S. Poet Laureate) to students in fourth grade, they like what they hear. Good poems have the knack of bringing people together. That alone seems worth celebrating.

Each month on my blog I announce a single word. For April the word is spring. Poets from nine into their seventies respond by writing poems inspired by that word. They come from across the United States, England, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Australia . . . They come to celebrate poetry, not just in April but all year. What are you waiting for? Write your own poem. Enjoy someone else’s. Come on! Celebrate!


National Poetry Month


Hi Everyone,

Today I’m on a quest to learn what you are doing in your community to celebrate National Poetry Month. I’m writing an article about it — okay so it’s a little late — for my own community so I’m curious. I’ll share my article when it’s done and will be happy to include good ideas from other areas.

One thing we know is that poetry isn’t for everyone. A lot of men are not fond of the genre. Many boys are equally reluctant to pick up a book of poems. Girls, in a survey in England, ranked reading poetry below magazines and cookbooks. So what’s the deal about celebrating a genre that relatively few people voluntarily read, understand or write?

It’s a fair question. What good is poetry? Does it matter? We recently read an excellent article by J. Patrick Lewis on this blog about the subject. Now it’s my turn and I need to do it before leaving this weekend to speak to student writers at a conference in Warrensburg, Missouri.

If you have your own reasons why poetry matters and why we should celebrate it nationally for an entire month, let’s hear from you. It seems to me that we who love poetry need good answers to the question: Why poetry?