Announcing the Hall of Fame Poets of the Year

Hi everyone,

Voting was extremely light for the second annual Hall of Fame Poets of the Year. We attracted a lot of readers so maybe that’s the main thing. A tie gives us two winning adult poets. Congratulations to Ken Slesarik from Prioria, Arizona for his poem, “Halley’s Comet,” and to Joy Acey of Phoenix for “The View from the Iron.”

Only one vote was cast in each of the two young poet divisions. But fair is fair and a win is a win. Therefore, congratulations to NowEl Willhight, from Maumee Valley Country Day in Toledo, Ohio for his poem, “Here Comes the Sun.” NowEl wins in the grades 3-7 category. In the grades 8 – 12 group, our winning poet is Jason Stiles from Crescent City, Florida for his poem, “Water.”

We have now concluded the last 12-month cycle. From now on, there will be no vote at the end of the month and no need for 12-month cycles. We’ll simply go on enjoying the friendly chat and challenge of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. I hope to see all my old friends and gain many new ones as we go.

Thanks again, everyone.

David

We’re voting for the Hall of Fame Poet of the Year

Hi everyone,

We have dispensed with the month-end selection of winning poets. However, we still have one item of business to complete from this last 12-month cycle, and that’s to vote our choice for Hall of Fame Poet of the Year.

Below I’ve posted a ballot box with each month’s winning Hall of Fame Poet listed. In case of a tie, I’ve posted both. Below that, I’ve posted each poem that won. Now it’s our pleasure to reread those winning poems and select the poet of our choice.

I’ve also posted a ballot box for the monthly winners among our young poets. So have at it and enjoy their poems too!



2011 Winning Poems, Adults

September
Passing Notes by Bridget Magee

I got in big trouble in class
For all the notes that I passed.
To the “Time-Out” chair I was sent
To sit and think and then repent.

So I sat and I thought,
But repent I did not.
For my notes were for Mr. Brown
To tell him his fly was down.

©2011, Bridget Magee

August

View from the Iron by Joy Acey
Spraying the starch, pressing the shirt,
Hot against the ironing board,
Made her give thought to her father,
Who hated the process,
Feared the watching, he kept trying
To make it go away.
He took his shirts to the laundry,
Where the crumpled piles, smelling of him,
Returned paper crisp fresh
On hangers wrapped in plastic.
The oldest boy, second of seven,
He figured this a treat
He could afford for himself.
The first, a girl,
Not quite right in the head.
It had fallen to him
To protect her from loose tongues
When they went to town,
He held her hand, helped her and the young ones
Buy penny candy at the general store.
One day while Mama ironed, Sister teased
And he gave chase around the pressing board.
She ducked to get away.
The board collapsed like their family.
The hot iron fell, hit Sister in the head.
The smell of burning flesh was drowned by her screams.
They took Sister away, he never saw her again.
But he had to mind the children on Sunday afternoons
When Mother went to visit.
The weight of her memory kept him from enjoying
The view from the iron.
July

Sour Luck by Cory Corrado
blushing-red pearls dangle
tantalizingly
from fertile boughs
appraisers of every feather wing to the feast
P E R C H
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand
pick
peck
pluck
deeeeelicious!
pick
peck
pluck
deeeeelucious!
sourliciously-sweet
to
the
ve-ry
last
pluck!
pick
peck
pluck
ONCE AGAIN
I’m out of luck!
pits dangle, frustratingly bare
sated birds scatter, never twittering a care
my-once-cherry-mood has turned
cheeryless-sour…
June
Such A Good Puppy, by Susan Carmichael
Basking in the summer sun
sated by the kill
how cunning are my hunting skills
to snare the espadrille
Tentacles of ribbon
flow from top the beast
teasing me to take a taste
of rayon cottons feast
Braided jute and turquoise canvas
oblivious to the queue
waiting for this so full predator
to finish off the shoe
This day of wild foraging
will find me in a crate…
but Sunday’s news sounds savory
just one more day to wait!

May

It’s Sneaky – Be Aware, by Jackie Huppenthal
I’m going crazy
out of my mind
that creepy little ivy
was the poisonous kind
I didn’t even know
that’s how this plant works
days later rash shows
it itches, it hurts
I try not to scratch
poor body’s rubbed red
each bump, swollen patch
keeps growing; it spreads
It’s vicious and mean
but I restrain; stay strong
apply calamine cream…
Still, recovery takes long
Well, I did learn a lesson,
how to ID and give care –
So now I promise you skin
I’ll watch out. I’ll beware!
April

Stay Out! by Mary Nida Smith
You are in my space.
My private space!
A space where
I feel happy.
Happy to enjoy
the space around me
without anyone
squeezing in on me
or conforming me
to their ways.
A space where
the wind blows
against my skin.
Where I can look up
watch the clouds
rush across the sky.
Birds fly playfully
Untouched wild flowers
grow in a natural state.
I want my space
unruffled and uplifting
to be a free thinker
to dream, be still
while lost in space.
In my space
my own
private space.
© By Mary Nida Smith
Halley’s Comet by Ken Slesarik
I could be curt and rather rude,
some say I had an attitude
for back in nineteen eighty-six
to Halley’s Comet I said this;
“Your show is such a boorish scam,
with freak facade so glib, not glam.
Then there’s your queer, lackluster tail,
it’s dreary, dull and downright pale.”
She growled, giving “the evil eye,”
and spoke to me while soaring by.
With vim and vigor, vehemently,
from outer space she said to me;
“Other comets may be brighter,
their gassy tails a little lighter,
but I can’t hack you talkin’ smack,
so boy you better watch your back.”
Today, I view it as a crisis
how that mass of dust and ices
can terrorize me all these years,
conjuring up my darkest fears.
So now in twenty sixty-one,
illuminated by the sun,
she’ll be back to power dive
and end my life at ninety-five.
Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved
March
Sandpiper by julie Krantz
He scurries
to the water’s
edge on skinny
piper feet.
He roots
around the frothy
sand with spiky
piper beak.
He noodles in
the silky surf
for tiny clams
and eggs—
then scampers from
the rising sea
on
s
k
i
n
n
y
p
i
p
e
r
legs.
February
OMG! by Gay Fawcett
The first horse I saw
Took me by surprise
My daddy was wrong.
“This horse cannot fly!”
“Horse Feathers!” he’d say
Each time he was mad.
“This horse has no wings,”
I said to my dad.
“Horse feathers,” he said,
“Is a nice way to cuss.”
I planned to say it
When I got old enough.
The first time I took
Our Lord God’s name in vain
Dad took out the soap.
“It’s just not the same.”
If daddy had heard
What that V.P. gal said!
“WTF” she blogged
“Say horse feathers!” instead!

A Feather Drifting My Way, by Janet Kay Gallagher
Feathers shaking out of my pillow.
Did they drift past that big willow?
Or get caught in the leaves
Of those big trees?
Feathers come in many shapes and sizes.
Beautiful colors, several considered real prizes.
Soft and fluffy, hard and strong.
Protecting birds, allowing them to fly along.
Now shake and shake the bed tick.
Without losing more feathers, that’s the trick.
A feather pillow for my head.
A feather matress for my bed.
Life is a feather drifting my way
As I fall asleep on this joyous day.

January
Fathom, by Liz Korba
More than half of me is water
Drips and drops of H2O
More than half of me is water
I am rain, sleet, hail and snow
There’s a piece of me that’s ocean
I’m a little raging sea
And a bit of stream and river
Puddle, pond, a lake – that’s me!
More than half of me is something
That refuses to be still
I may wear down rocks, great mountains
Make a valley from a hill
There are times when I am able
To help living things to grow
And it’s true that I can take a life
Flash flood, an undertow
In great clouds you’ll find me floating
Though at times I’m underground
There are days when I erupt, make noise
Or not a single sound
Since so much of me is water
This explains a lot of me
But not all of me is water
There’s a part that’s mystery!
December

Weather Riddle, by Jane Heitman Healy
ROARING
like a lion defending its den
ROARING
like a trainload of quartzite
ROARING
like a race car lapping the track
ROARING
like heavy metal music
ROARING
like a mob of football maniacs
ROARING
like a migraine behind the eyes
ROARING
like eternity—
What am I?
The persistent prairie wind.
Climate Change in Faeryland, by Steven Withrow
All the trolls from the Kingdom of Klaarjj
Floated off on a large wooden barge
In search of high ground where the Flood
Had not drowned every field into mud,
And the rains of decay would not pelt
Night and day, and the sun would not melt,
As they’d heard it had done, sparking fires
In the realm of Prince Caspian’s Spires.
And running aground on the Islet of Ice,
Which once had been home to a nation of mice,
The Klaarjjian trolls stomped their furious feet,
For in this cold clime…they found nothing to eat.
In a sea without fish, flora, kraken, or whale
Rode a bright tale of hope on a gossiping gale,
And the trolls who were frostbit and hungry and sad
Repeated these words till they nearly went mad:
You will sail many leagues before morning,
You will cross many miles after dawn,
But you all will arrive without warning,
In a place where fine summer lives on.
And the troll-children sang in their Klaarjjian brogue
About Camelot, Oz, Shangri-La, Tír na nÓg,
And the echoes of Neverland, Narnia rose
Through the cloud-crowded skies, over empty ice floes.
All the trolls from the Kingdom of Klaarjj
Floating still on a large wooden barge,
And they follow the song of the breezing
That keeps their poor troll-paws from freezing,
That fixes their eyes on a haven that seems
As far as the stars and as close as their dreams…
And even in your world—have the rains started falling?—
It’s the voice of imaginings lost you hear calling.

©2010 by Steven Withrow. All rights reserved.

November

To Teach or Not to Teach the Classics, by Lisa Martino
Should I delve blindness to the word of old
And open their minds anew
Should I continue on the course ahead
And connect them, unscathed newborn
Or inspire, muse, arouse sleeping wit
Entice all, magnetic lure
Do I assist them, relate, painless thought
With modern themes, common words
It’s an enigma, a challenge to me
Ancient deliberation
Or conspicuously apparent sound
October
This Change, Wishing it Away, by Silindile Ntuli
I’ve seen the devil’s eyes,
Filled with hatred and hungry for torment.
I looked into those eyes; I was just a little girl.
Each touch, no each yank left a bruise on my skin,
Each drag made me scream out loud,
But my heart was suffering the most,
In a fog I could not understand.
A slap across my face followed by harsh words,
The smell of his body suffocated me,
That alone brought him to a smile.
I looked in the eyes of hatred,
Wondering what my crime was.
Till I found myself facing a knife,
I was not even five.
This sudden change was new to me,
But I knew it was evil at its best.
Send me down my angel,
Fling him down, throw him down.
I need help, because my soul is dying.
They told me about angels,
I need mine by my side.
Just a few minutes ago,
I was playing with my teddy.
Now my head is pinned to the dirty ground,
I am only a little girl.
Minutes later I’m sleeping on the ground,
Tightly holding my teddy.
My clothes are dirty from the dragging,
My body is in pain,
The kind I never knew existed.
My soul is filled with hatred,
And burning with anger.
Traumatized little girl,
Heart shattered into pieces.
I cry myself to sleep on the floor,
Clutching my brown bear.

2011 Winning Poems, Young Poets

May

Unbroken, by Ishani Gupta, grade 5

I’m two,
sitting on your lap
looking into your old eyes
You hold out your pinky
I peer at it…
“Promise me,”
You say,
“That you will
stay with me forever.”
I nodded my two-year-old head
And hold out mine.
I’m five
Packing my bags
With you,
We seal boxes
Tears stream from your eyes
As we load them into the car
I get in,
But you don’t.
You wipe a tear
I lean out
and whisper,
“I will always be with you,
Forever.
In there.”
I say
while pointing to your heart
You nod you 63-year-old head
and wave you hand
as the door shuts.
I’m seven,
Pushing past the hospital curtains
to find you,
Lying there.
I run to the side of your bed,
and grab your hand,
and repeat our promise.
We nod our heads
and look into each others eyes
I never thought that,
I would see you like this.
I sit there
Letting tears,
Drip from my eyes
until the nurse escorts me out.
Back then, I didn’t know
that we would
Never
meet again.
But now,
Every time
I gaze at the stars
I see your constellation,
Smiling down at me,
Pointing to your heart.
And there it is…
Our promise.
Unbroken
Teacher-Nan Valuck
MVCDS
Toledo, OH
April

A Visit Inside by Evan D. Abdoo, grade 6
That crooked dorsal fin
Gliding throughout the night
I hope I wont feel
His un meaningful bite.
The eyes of a devil
Stare blankly at my face
Like buttons on a doll
Or small black holes in space.
The jaw of a monster
His teeth are pearly white
I believe I can see
What he ate last night.
It smells rotten in here,
And I can’t see a thing,
But, I do feel feathers…
Is that a pelican wing?

Maumee Valley Country Day School
Toledo, Ohio
teacher: Jana Smith
Woodpecker, by Peter Meyer, grade 6
Whoosh,
A woodpecker flies by me
Only an inch of space
Between us
He has a bright red head
White stomach and black wings
I lose sight of him as he dashes between tall trees
From branch to branch, vine to vine
Looking for some bugs to eat
Making leaves tumble
Back and forth all the way to the ground
Vines swing like they want to be rid of him
He stops one last time
Before flying away.
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Toledo, Ohio
Teacher: Jana Smith
March

Here Comes the Sun by KnowEl Willhight
I walk out of the cathedral
The warm summer sun settling on my shoulders.
I walk down the steps slowly,
Thinking.
I look at the tree that she loves so much,
Loved-
That she loved so much.
Grandma had said “I remember the day she died,”
She always told me that she loved that tree,
And on the day her grandma died, she looked at it.
And she swore she saw her grandma go right on up to heaven.
She taught me and
She spoke of where she was going
She spoke of a place where people were always happy,
A place where the angels sing of
Peace,
Love,
Joy.
A place of light.
A place of pure light.
So, right now
I look at the tree,
With its roots reaching out towards me.
And I think of one thing,
And one thing only.
Her all time favorite song-
“Here Comes the Sun.”
“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and it’s alright”
I sing softly as I make my way down the steps.
I sit on the bottom step, and I look at the tree,
With its roots reaching out towards me
and it
Reaching up towards the sky.
Towards heaven.
And I say,
“It’s alright.”
Like I’m giving her permission
To go
To heaven.
And after I say that,
After I say those words,
I swear— just like grandma said
That I saw my grandma going right up to heaven.
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Toledo, Ohio
Teacher: Jana Smith

Spring by Ashley Swartz, grade 10
The root of a tree
deeply filled with limbs of spring
weather makes me sing.
Crescent City Jr /Sr High School
Crescent City, FL
Teacher: Lisa Martino
February

As I lay by Samina Hejeebu, Grade 6
The perfect green leaves
Hang everywhere.
The sun beams down on me,
giving me a sun burn.
Grass pricks my back.
Birds chirping songs.
Clouds snowy white,
Light, and fluffy
Like cotton candy.
I lay looking at this
For hours.
I finally see it,
A giant bird,
Gracefully flying through the sky.
Like it takes no effort.
A feather falls.
At first it shoots down to earth,
But then it slowly falls,
Swaying to the sides,
Back and forth.
Like it has nowhere to go.
Finally it reaches the prickly grass.
It falls gently on my chest.
Like it’s meant to be.
I sit up trying not to move it,
and look at the design.
It’s different shades of blue,
All blended together,
With the little hairs all going the same way.
It looks like something that
Can’t exist in a world like this.
I’ve never seen something this delicate.
I don’t touch it,
because I’m afraid I will break it.
But it’s so pretty.
I can’t just leave it there,
It’s part of the bird,
Part of the reason why it can fly.
What would happen if everyone
Took one from every bird they see.
We would have no more.
So I left it,
Even though it was so intricate,
So delicate,
that it would break with one touch,
It was the prettiest thing in the world.
Maumee Valley Country Day School
Toledo, Ohio

January

The Journey, by Courtney Clawson, grade 6
Trudge, trudge.
As I plod along, each step seems like an eternity.
My head aches.
My mouth is dry.
I am parched.
Suddenly, like a mirage in the desert, it appears out of nowhere.
I run now, pushing through the crowds, ignoring the
infuriated swarm of people.
I reach my destination.
THE WATER FOUNTAIN!
Slurp,
gulp.
The cold water runs down my throat with a tingling
sensation.
I take another drink, this time long…
and refreshing.
The water soothes my aching head.
I peer behind my shoulder at the aggravated mob of people,
realizing I just pushed through them to get to the beginning of the line.
And I prepare myself for the journey back…
with another sip.

Maumee Valley Country Day
Toledo, OH
teacher: Jana Smith
Water, by Jason Stiles, grade 10
Water
So gentle
So graceful
Water
So powerful
So strong
Water
So destructive
So devastating
Water
Destroys what it
Creates

Crescent City Jr Sr High School
Crescent City, Florida
Teacher: Mrs. L. Martino
December

Winter’s Crossing, by P. Andrew Pipatjarasgit, grade 6
The howl of the wind
Crosses through the forest
Sweeps the snow
and shakes the barren tree
The white blanket of snow
Covers the land into milkshakes
Branches creak and crack
with certainty they’ll break
The howl of the wind
twirls the sleet around
Ice deep in a nullah
Halts the water dead
The roughest of the elements
Cruel and brutal winter
Stormy weather arrives
and annihilates the sycamores
The darkness of the night
Blindly finding its way to the ground
With the gloom not heard in the day
and chilling of the air
The brightness of day
chops the night in half
A nanometre of light
Daylight will come
The whiteness of the snow
It shines on your eyes
Very quiet
The pitter and the patter
The day passes by and
the snow pounds down
and keeps falling
On the seemingly lifeless world
And evening comes
To fall on us once more
And back to the darkness
To the howl of the wind
Maumee Valley Country Day
Toledo, OH
teacher: Jana Smith
Sunset Thanks, by Katie Scott, grade 9
As the sun goes down and the winds whistle in my hair,
I remember them days when I always say Thanks Lord.
My mother always say, you are right,
all the pain I have and the suffering.
I Thank the Lord for all he made right for us
Thanks is a wonderful word. Thanks is joy and happiness
You can just feel the warmness and joyness
as your heart beat faster and faster
Thanks I say Thanks for the Sunset of Life
Crescent City Jr/ Sr High School
Crescent City, Florida
Teacher: Mrs. Lisa Martino

November

Without a Word, by Ella Foster, grade 5
Cries of laughter.
Joy was spread throughout the church.
Everyone was talking in hushed voices,
Yet all the sounds combing in my little head sounded as if
Every word a new little firework
Sent out on its journey through the sky.
She walks in everyone goes silent,
Her beautiful white gown flouncing as she appears,
So gracefully,
So silently,
So gently,
She takes a step forward,
My heart’s racing, another step
She walks down the aisle,
Her head raised as if she wasn’t afraid.
Maybe she wasn’t but I was.
As she takes another step
Her train floats over the petals I had softly strewn.
As she takes her last steps
She looks down at me and smiles.
Without a word she calms my heart.

Maumee Valley Country Day
Toledo, OH
Teacher: Nanette Valuck
Thankful, by La’ Joi Word, grade 10
Everyday I wake
I give thanks
To see the sun rise
I give thanks
For a family that is wise
I give thanks
Life, health, and strength
Nothing but thanks
To the one up above

Crescent City Jr Sr High School
Crescent City, FL
Teacher: Lisa Martino

Cries of laughter.
Joy was spread throughout the church.
Everyone was talking in hushed voices,
Yet all the sounds combing in my little head sounded as if
Every word a new little firework
Sent out on its journey through the sky.
She walks in everyone goes silent,
Her beautiful white gown flouncing as she appears,
So gracefully,
So silently,
So gently,
She takes a step forward,
My heart’s racing, another step
She walks down the aisle,
Her head raised as if she wasn’t afraid.
Maybe she wasn’t but I was.
As she takes another step
Her train floats over the petals I had softly strewn.
As she takes her last steps
She looks down at me and smiles.
Without a word she calms my heart.
Crescent City Jr /Sr High School
Crescent City, FL
Teacher: Lisa Martino
Thankful
Everyday I wake
I give thanks
To see the sun rise
I give thanks
For a family that is wise
I give thanks
Life, health, and strength
Nothing but thanks
To the one up above
October
Four Little Rain Boots, by Emily Rigby, 5th grade
A drifting leaf,
Mud sloshing,
Raindrop after raindrop,
Four little feet running out of a barn,
One little yellow boot on each,
Two little children.
Oh, how they run,
play,
splash,
dream.
If only they knew,
How lucky they are.
Curly red hair,
flowing,
bouncing,
shimmering,
Hiding the giggly face behind it.
If only they were aware of how much others envy them.
For, they still carry their innocence.
These happy expressions will stay happy for a while.
These two minds hold no knowledge of,
betrayal,
dishonesty,
cruelty.
Laughter floating around the rustic red barn remains loud.
And they begin to
spin,
twirl,
dance,
near the field.
Their lives are still sugarcoated.
And they should stay that way.
But change is imminent.
There’s no way around it.
Maumee Valley Country Day
Toledo, OH
teacher: Jana Smith

September winning poets, new guidelines, and October word of the month

Hi everyone,

I’m happy to announce our winning poets for September. They are:

Word of the Month Poet (chosen by our judges) is Liz Korba from New Jersey for her poem, “English as a Second Language Class.”

Here is Liz’s poem.

English As A Second Language Class

One heavy door that opened in
A hole where lock and key had been
(We needed to pass code.)
What kind of flame could cause concern
For cinder block and concrete floor?
The smell of sulfur in the air…
Perhaps that could explode…
Once storage space, now holding class –
(Not elements for science labs)
No windows, central air or heat
Were needed to pass code…
Still through the open door they came
With Buddha and a Sanskrit prayer
The Star of David, Crescent Moon
And Crosses made of gold and wood.
Chains, marked – I could not help but see.
In awe I knew I could not know
Such silence seeking sound.
First A…then O…that Y – sometimes…
U…and one day …
I
The word made flesh in sacred space
Inside one open door.

Second place goes to April Sopczak for her poem, “The Worthy Exense of Charm School.”

Hall of Fame Poet (chosen by ballot) is Bridget Magee of Tucson, Arizona, for her poem, “Passing Notes.” Here’s her winning work.

Passing Notes

I got in big trouble in class
For all the notes that I passed.
To the “Time-Out” chair I was sent
To sit and think and then repent.

So I sat and I thought,
But repent I did not.
For my notes were for Mr. Brown
To tell him his fly was down.
©2011, Bridget Magee

Congratulations to our winning poets for September!

Our word for the month inspired 14 poems, a bumper crop, and my congratulations go to each poet who shared his or her work. Many thanks!

October begins our third year of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. As I mentioned the other day, I’m dropping the business of voting at the end of each month. Some of you may be sorry to see this activity dropped. If you are one of them, I apologize for the disappointment. Someday maybe we’ll revisit the idea of choosing someone to win each month but for now I want to try it this way. It’s simpler and allows us to focus on the fun at hand, which is to take a single word and see where it takes us poetically. It remains one of the best exercises I know for stretching the imagination and practicing at least once a month at writing a poem. And many of you have expressed how much you appreciate the comments of others throughout the month. We seem to have created a good support group and a number of poets have worked up the courage to post a poem for the first time on this blog. I’m proud of that.

Our new word for our first month of year three is NEW. Have a good time with it.

July winners and August W.O.M. word

Hi everyone,

For the first time since I started my blog, I’m skipping a Sunday Poem of the Week slot. I haven’t run out of published poems. It just worked out that today is when I need to post winners for July and I didn’t want to delay doing it in order to post one of my poems. I’ll get back on track next Sunday.

Congratulations go to Heidi Mordhorst for being the judges’ pick for Word of the Month Poet with her poem, “tart text.” Thanks, Heidi, for introducing some of us to the cryptic vocabulary of the world of text. Here are some comments by the judges.

“tart text” is certainly contemporary and would no doubt appeal to a host of readers.

“tart text” is an original, clever text-message poem.
I’m sure the old purest out there will cringe at its
use of cryptic symbols in place of traditional words,
but there’s something fresh and fascinating about it.
It’s the kind of contemporary poem I’m sure
e.e. cummings would enjoy.

Michelle Ellison took second place with her poem, “Sour.” One of our judges had this to say: “Sour” has a strong emotional feel to it and I appreciate the sensitivity involved in this brief scene. I like the repetition of “Sour is…” plus the use of alliteration in “feel the fluid.”

Our winner for July’s Hall of Fame Poet is Cory Corrado for her poem, “Sour Luck.” Way to go, Cory! Congratulations to you and my thanks to all who participated in the fun for July.

And now, the word for August: HOT

June WOM winners and July WOM word and WRITERS AT WORK: We get letters — and e-mails, too! (Part 4)

Hi everyone,

Today has three parts.
1) Announce our winning poets for June Word of the Month.
2) Present the WOM word for July.
3) Post the 4th segment of June’s WRITERS AT WORK.

1) Remember, we have two categories for winning poets. Hall of Fame Poets are chosen by ballot and Word of the Month Poets are selected by judges.

This month we had no poems posted by young poets in either of our two categories: grades 3-7 and grades 8-12. We had nine poems posted by adults. That may be a record for the fewest poems we’ve seen since starting Word of the Month in October 2009. Also, voting was unusually light. It must be summer!

My thanks to everyone who pitched in a poem for our readers’ pleasure. I love it when one word blown on the wind cames back in so many forms and with such a multitude of messages. I hope you agree that the exercise is a good way to keep your imagination flowing. Many of you now have a collection of fifteen or twenty poems inspired by WOM.

This month our Hall of Fame Poet is Susan Carmichael, from Columbus, Ohio, for her poem, “Such a Good Puppy.” Some comments from our judges: Love the originality of this one
told from the puppy’s point of view.
“Espadrille” does sound like the name of a small, furry animal
instead of a lady’s shoe! 😉
This poet not only has a keen sense of humor,
but also has a well-tuned ear for poetry.
The rhythms and internal/external melodies are brilliant,
(e.g. “…how cunning are my hunting skills…”
“…teasing me to take a taste…”
“…but Sunday’s news sounds savory…”).
“Great metaphors and voice. Love the ending.”

Joy Acey, from Tucson, Arizona, placed second with her poem, “Our New Puppy.” One judge commented, “I like the way the poet begins by offering
images that are believable in a puppy’s
repertoire of chewables, than builds toward
a litany of unbelievable, unchewable items
in this hyperbolic tour-de-force that ends
with the poet begging for someone to give
his puppy a bone! Clever!”

Our Word of the Month Poet is also Susan Carmichael who won in a close race with Cory Corrado from Quebec, Canada, for her poem, “Letting Go.” But a win is a win and I say, “Way to go, Susan!” Technically, Steven Withrow got more votes but he’s a past winner in this cycle so he has to sit this one out. But Steven, your poems are always anticipated and enjoyed. Keep ’em coming!

Congratulations to everyone who plays the game of writing poems each month to post on my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy the experience and to find support and encouragement for your work. I’m pleased that so many have found us over the months and then return to read and/or participate. We welcome poems from the pros and are always glad to see early efforts from writers who want to try their wings as budding poets.

2) The word or July.

SOUR

3) Now for WRITERS AT WORK.

WRITERS AT WORK
Letters, We Get Letters – and Lots of Email, Too
Response 4 – David
June 28, 2011

Sandy, as we conclude June’s four-part chat about the correspondence authors receive, I confess that this topic has brought back more memories than any of our others. And I know why, at least in my case. We’ve both said many times that the first thing an adult reader must do when presented with something written by a child is to celebrate the gift. One of my favorite quotes is by Susan Ferraro who writes, “To a great extent, we are what we say and write. Laugh or sneer at how we express ourselves, and we take personal offense: Our words are all about us.”

It’s easy to forget to appreciate the gift of a beginning writer, whose work is disjointed and filled with errors, when our first impulse is to suggest how to make it better. Teachers know this and remind themselves all the time to look past the mistakes to the vulnerable child who is holding his or her breath, hoping for a kind word of congratulations before the red ink comes out. Professional writers, when confronted with less than professional efforts by emerging writers, have to resist the same temptation to make judgments before seeing that adults have the same vulnerability that children do. We may think we’re tougher, but Ferraro got it right: “Laugh or sneer at how we express ourselves, and we take personal offense.”

So, Sandy, back to me, and why I think those letters from fans of all ages mean so much to an author. It’s because they represent unsolicited affirmation that our words are good. We got them right, at least this time, and so maybe we’ll get them right again on something we do in the future. They are, often, among the few positive remarks an author receives. Most editors are good about complimenting what they like, but during the course of editing a book, getting it ready on time to ship off to the copyeditor or artist, exchanges between writer and editor become mostly about the business at hand. Adults who buy books for children rarely take time to send fan letters of their own and most children are not likely to think about writing a letter to anyone these days, or an e-mail to someone they don’t know.

That’s why those letters, notes, and e-mails that manage to make it to my mailbox or computer screen are meaningful. They got here to my house against some pretty serious odds and are all the more appreciated because of it. Recently a little girl wrote to say, “I like your poems. They are fun. I enjoy reading your poems a lot. Your friend, Camrin.” Camrin took the time to tell me specifically which of my poems she liked best. That made me smile. I got those poems right! She printed her letter on a piece of lined paper, addressed it herself, and (I can imagine) placed it in her mailbox so the postman could pick it up and send it on its way to me.

Sandy, I mentioned last time that people who write asking for information about getting published are another category of an author’s correspondence. Sometimes such letters come from kids but more often they are written by young adults or adults who love the idea of becoming a published author and wonder how to go about it. Such letters can be time consuming to answer, and sometimes the temptation is to rush through them and keep them short. Why can’t these people figure it out on their own? But then I remember how confused I was in the first few years of struggling to get the words right, and how much I appreciated any encouragement and help I could get. And I realize that to be asked how to do it is a form of flattery. The person asking must have decided that I do indeed, at least on occasion, get it right. And so I do my best to see the vulnerable person behind the question who wants very much to become published, and I take a little longer to give a response that might help.

So, Sandy, it’s a wrap for June’s topic about letters and e-mails. I’ve had a good time and know that you have too. We’ve also been blessed with a number of warm comments from readers, which are appreciated!

Folks, Sandy and I are taking off the months of July and August before considering what to do this fall. We are both swamped with work and have travel plans as well.

David