Taking a semi-sabbatical

Dear friends,

I’m at work on four books and have a full schedule this spring and summer. Something has to change, for now, if I’m to make my deadlines.

DURING JUNE AND JULY I’LL GO WITH A REVAMPED SCHEDULE:

 Word of the Month Poetry Challenge continues without interruption.
 I’ll announce a revamped way to select month-end winners as soon as I figure out a good way.
 Friday blog guests will continue to appear as they file their articles with me. Some great ones are coming up soon.
Kathy Temean will continue to post my Poem of the Week.
 If you would like to do a guest blog this summer of 500 words or less about something of interest to writers and illustrators of children’s literature, please let me know. I’ll post one a week as they come in.
 If you want to post one of your poems, and include a picture, I’ll be glad to feature you. I’ll do one poem at a time but don’t mind featuring you more than once over the summer.
 This offer also applies to our young poets!

That’s it. I’ll continue to enjoy your comments and respond to them.

I’ll return in August on a more routine basis.

I wish you a wonderful spring/summer filled with good experiences and lots to write about or remember. Thank you all for visiting me here, for participating in my surveys, for posting your comments and advice and, most of all, for your warm reception to my first year’s efforts to learn about this blogging business.

David

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The poll results are in

REMINDER: SUNDAY NIGHT AT 10:00 CST IS THE CUTOFF FOR THIS MONTH’S POEMS. DON’T MISS IT!

rubberman

Yesterday Marjorie Maddox’s guest appearance was a big hit and drew warmly appreciative comments from fans new and old. Thank you again, Marjorie, for agreeing to be my guest.

My thanks for the feedback you have provided this past week by indicating what you like most and, by process of elimination, least about various features of my blog. This has been helpful.

For each 1st place vote I assgned a value of 3; a 2nd place vote was worth 2; and a 3rd place vote was given a 1. Only a few people voted but I assume that they are representative of those who remained silent on the issues. Here are the results.

24 — Monthly Word of the Month Challenge
14 — Occasional Poetry Tips
11 — Friday Guests
6 — Sunday Poem of the Week
3 — Monthly Voting for Hall of Fame Poets
2 — Monthly Teaching Tool
1 — Monthly Kids Activity

It seems clear that the fun of writing and posting monthly poems far outweighs the process of voting for a monthly winner. Therefore I’ll change that beginning next month. For this month, which cuts off Sunday night, we’ll vote as usual. After that I’ll rethink what we do. I could skip the selection process altogether or seek some way to select monthly winning poems without a general vote from readers. What I do not wish to do is become involved in personally critiquing all those poems each month. Sorry, but this has to be fun for me too. Maybe I’ll hit on a few friends to help me by reading the poems, casting ballots among ourselves, and then I could announce the winner. Let me know if you have comments on this.

I’m not sure how to respond to the low votes for the Teaching Tool and Kids Activity pages on my website. We didn’t have much of a turnout for this voting and I don’t know if any teachers were among those who cast ballots. Teachers tell me they find those pages helpful so for now I’m inclinded to keep them. I often wonder how many blog visitors click onto the website itself but I figure there aren’t many. The more I get into this blogging, the more I can identify with the new human specie affectionately known (to me at least) as a blog hopper. That’s where a lot of fun and action seem to be.

Thanks again for your help. Don’t forget to post a poem based on STONE before Sunday night at 10:00!

David

Marjorie Maddox tomorrow

REMINDER: SUNDAY NIGHT AT 10:00 CST IS THE CUTOFF FOR THIS MONTH’S POEMS. DON’T MISS IT!

rubberman
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. Voting ends Saturday.
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/which-features-do-you-like-best-about-my-blog

I’m happy to introduce Marjorie Maddox today by posting her bio. I became familiar with Marjorie and her work last month on Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s month-long celebration of poetry. I like Marjorie’s work very much and was glad that she accepted my invitation to appear as my guest. I am sure that many of you are already familiar with Marjorie, but for those who do not, you are in for a new treat.
Marjorie Maddox Hafer
(pen name: Marjorie Maddox)

Biography
Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at
Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published Weeknights At The Cathedral, (an Editions Selection, WordTech, 2006), Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (2004 Yellowglen Prize, WordTech Editions), Perpendicular As I (1994 Sandstone Book Award), When The Wood Clacks Out Your Name: Baseball Poems (2001 Redgreene Press Chapbook Winner), Body Parts (Anamnesis Press, 1999), Ecclesia (Franciscan University Press, 1997), How to Fit God into a Poem (1993 Painted Bride Chapbook Winner), and Nightrider to Edinburgh (1986 Amelia Chapbook Winner), as well as over 350 poems, stories, and essays in such journals and anthologies as Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, and Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion.
Her fiction has appeared in many journals, newspapers, and magazines, including The Sonora Review, The Great Stream Review, Cream City Review, Art Times, US Catholic, Midway Journal, and the anthology Dirt, published by The New Yinzer in Pittsburgh. Her short story collection, What She Was Saying, was one of three finalists for the 2005 Katherine Anne Porter Book Award and a semifinalist for Eastern Washington University’s Spokane Fiction Book Award and Louisiana University Press’s Yellow Shoe Book Award.In addition, she is the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (Penn State Press, 2005) and has two children’s books, A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry (WordSong, 2008) and Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems (WordSong, 2009). Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation was a runner-up (Brittingham), finalist, or semifinalist at 20 national competitions, including the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, OSU The Journal Award, the Vassar Miller Prize, New Issues Press, the Coffee House Press Poetry Prize, and the Winthrop Poetry Series Prize from Pleiades Press. Local News From Someplace Else has been a finalist for the Samuel French Morse Poetry Award, sponsored by Northeastern University, for the Kentucky Women’s Prize, sponsored by Sarabande, for the Magellan Prize, sponsored by Button Wood Press, for the Mammoth Books Poetry
Award, the Ashland Poetry Press, Prize, and a semifinalist for the Crab Orchard Poetry Award, and elsewhere.

Marjorie studied with A. R. Ammons, Robert Morgan, Phyllis Janowitz, and Ken McClane at Cornell, where she received the Sage Graduate Fellowship for her M.F.A. in poetry in 1989, and at the University of Louisville with Sena Jeter Naslund, where she received an M.A. in English.

Her numerous honors include Cornell University’s Chasen Award, the 2000 Paumanok Poetry Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Seattle Review’s Bentley Prize for Poetry, a Breadloaf Scholarship, and four Pushcart Prize nominations. She lives with her husband and two children in Williamsport, Pa., birthplace of Little League and home
of the Little League World Series. She is the great-niece of baseball legend Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers manager who helped break the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson.

For further information about Marjorie, check out her reviews page: http://www.lhup.edu/mmaddoxh/reviews.htm

Whew! All that in one lifetime! If you are impressed by Marjorie and her accomplishments, you are going to really like what she has to say tomorrow. Be back then!

David

Poetry Tip #6

REMINDER: FRIDAY NIGHT AT 10:00 CST IS THE CUTOFF FOR THIS MONTH’S POEMS. DON’T MISS IT!
rubberman

Today I’m happy to present Poetry Tip #6. This one is about the two shortest forms of verse, the couplet and the tercet. Next time I’ll get to the four line stanzas.

POETRY TIP #6: SHORT STANZAS: COUPLETS AND TERCETS

In 1959 I sat in an auditorium in Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia to hear Robert Frost speak. At 85 and rather frail, he thrilled us with his famous poems read as only the poet could read them. Toward the end of his presentation, Frost confided that he no longer had the energy to compose longer works but he still loved writing couplets.

COUPLET/DISTICH

A couplet, that shortest of all stanzas, can stand alone as a single poem or be used as a building unit for longer poems of any length. Writing couplets is a great way to get into verse (structured poetry). Ogden Nash made mirthful use of the two line poem when he penned:

The cow is of the bovine ilk,
One end is moo, the other, milk.

In my case, I found frequent use of the couplet in BUGS, POEMS ABOUT CREEPING THINGS. For example:

The termite doesn’t eat the way it should.
It’s not his fault, his food all tastes like wood.

In the first case, Nash uses four beats per line of iambic meter so we call that structure iambic tetrameter. My poem is also in iambic but uses five beats per line, making it iambic pentameter. These two are the most popular forms but there are many other combinations.

For example, here are two samples from T. S. Eliot’s work, taken from his wonderful “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” which provided the basis for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, CATS. Eliot employed seven beats per iambic line to introduce us to GROWLTIGER, which begins:

GROWLTIGER was a Bravo Cat, who lived upon a barge:
In fact he was the roughest cat that ever roamed at large.

It took eight stressed syllables per line to tell the tale of The Old Gumbie Cat:

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots;
Her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and leopard spots.

Contrast Eliot’s long, playful lines to my quick report in BUGS regarding my inability to manage a chocolate covered grasshopper:

Me chew it?
Can’t do it.

You can also write a two-line stanza of verse that doesn’t rhyme. There’s even a name for such a form. It’s called a distich. Change one word in Nash’s poem:

The cow is of the bovine kind,
One end is moo, the other, milk.

We have now established an internal rhyme (bovine/kind) in line one. Line two still retains its alliteration with moo/milk, and the two lines still form a perfectly valid poem. However, it’s now technically a distich rather than a couplet.

Many poems are written in a series of couplets. Again using BUGS for examples, I used two sets of couplets to tell about no-see-ums:

No-see-um’s tiny bite
Keeps you scratching half the night.
No-see-um’s no fun.
Next time you don’t see ‘um, run!

I took three sets of couplets to tell on these beetles:

Two dumb beetles set out to float
Across the sea in a tennis-shoe boat.
Sadly, the tennis shoe sank before
The beetles had sailed a foot from shore.
The beetles cried with red faces,
“Duh, we shoulda tied da laces.”

TERCET/TRIPLET/TERZA RIMA

A stanza one line longer than a couplet is a tercet. If all three lines of the tercet rhyme, it’s called a triplet. As you might imagine, finding three consecutive rhymes is not easy so the triplet is a fairly rare bird. However, it isn’t too unusual to compose three-line stanzas in which only two of the three end in a rhyme.

One version, called the terza rima, calls for the first and third lines to end in the same sound in stanza one. In stanza two, the ending sound of the middle line of the first stanza becomes the rhyme sound for the first and third lines of the new stanza, and so on.

Here is an example of how I’ve used tercets. In “Daydreams,” from CONNECTING DOTS, I used three-line stanzas in which the second and third lines rhyme, leaving the first lines to set the scene for each of the six stanzas. Like this:

I remember the turtle
beneath our basement stair.
I see him sleeping there.

Maybe he’s dreaming of clover,
shade beside a tree,
days when he was free.

In THE MOUSE WAS OUT AT RECESS, the poem “The Bus” is told in tercets in which the first two lines rhyme and the third line is a kind of refrain that appears with slightly altered wording in each of the nine stanzas:

You know what’s cool
About going to school?
Riding on the bus!

You wave at your friends
When the day just begins
And you’re riding on the bus.

In “It’s Better if You Don’t Know” from THE MOUSE WAS OUT AT RECESS, I devised sets of three-line stanzas in which the second lines of consecutive stanzas rhymed. The third lines of the same stanzas also rhymed but not with the same sound. Like this:

There’s a Welcome sign
On the principal’s door,
(But try not to go.)

Her office is long.
There’s a rug on the floor.
(Never mind how I know.)

As you can see, two-line and three-line stanzas can be employed in a variety of ways to get your ideas told. To be such short forms, they are surprisingly adaptable.

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. Voting ends Saturday.
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/which-features-do-you-like-best-about-my-blog

Announcing a new Friday guest: Me

rubberman

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:
https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/which-features-do-you-like-best-about-my-blog
 
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.

David