NEW THING: Woza Woza Poem!

ANNOUNCEMENT: My thanks to Mimi Cross for writing such a lovely article about her experience in my three-hour poetry intensive session at the New Jersey SCBWI state conference in June. I just received a copy of Sprouts, Issue 3, 2010, which carries Mimi’s article. Thanks to Editor-in-Chief Kathy Temean, Executive Editor Anita Nolan, and especially to Mimi. Here is the link to the journal: .

Hello Everyone,

I’m pleased to show you another of those marvelous videos that Jana Smith and her students have created. This one, by Hope, is a real delight. If you like it, please let her know in your comments.
Here is the poem link:

If you are among those who indicated on the survey that you enjoy writing poetry, here’s another challenge. This one comes from South Africa and from none other than our friend Silindile Ntuli, who goes by Soul Dose on her site ( ).

Silindile suggested this new poetry challenge, which is open to adults and students, and shall be known as a Woza Woza Poem. Woza woza is a Zula term for something that has such strong appeal that we find ourselves returning to it again and again. At least I think that’s the definition. If I’m not quite accurate, I trust Silindile to correct me. Little by little she has been teaching me a few words and terms of Zulu.

Here’s the proposition.

1) Today I give you the first line of a poem.
2) After tomorrow’s post is up, someone else must add a line.
3) Post your suggested next line in the comments box.
4) I’ll choose one of your suggested lines to add to the poem.
5) Each day I’ll repeat the process of selecting one of the new proposed lines to add to the growing poem.
6) We’ll do this all month until the final poem is 30 lines long.

That’s it. Sound interesting? Are you hooked?

I think a Woza Woza poem can be composed in verse or in free verse. It can even be a combination of both over the course of the 30 days of November. However, I propose to start this first poem in free verse. Here is my first line.

Today I saw something I’ve never seen before.

Got it? Okay, be thinking about a second line. Tomorrow I’ll expect to see some killer ideas!

My thanks to Silindile for suggesting this new fun challenge. Let’s try our first Woza Woza Poem and see where it leads.


Mimi Cross today


BULLETIN: Click the link above to listen to Mimi’s wonderful voice singing her poem below.

Greetings everyone. Our friend, previous Hall of Fame poet, musician, and singer, Mimi Cross is today’s Guest Reader. If you don’t know Mimi yet, her easy, conversational style will soon make you think you’ve known her for years. As an additional treat, Mimi has posted her voice singing the poem you’ll see below. And if you like the picture of Mimi the mermaid, ask her who took it and where she was. Welcome, Mimi!

David, I’ve been working on something for your site. After perusing my poems and deciding I didn’t want to send any of them—too this, too that, too old, too not quite right—I started working on an essay about the strange state of my creative process.As I think I’ve told you, my muse was high jacked several years ago around the time my son was born, needless to say, nothing has been the same since. Besides being thrilled to be a mommy, I am now a songwriter writing a novel. Hmm. No, I am a songwriter obsessed with writing a novel. Actually, I’m working on the second novel. In fact it appears I’m writing a sequel to Shining Sea, the manuscript I finished in May.After writing a 1200 word essay called Hormones and Caffeine: Notes on the Mystery of the Creative Process for your site, I decided that besides needing to cut it in half, the essay wasn’t what I wanted to send you either. I began to think that what I really needed to do was to get back to my new novel (or at least continue revising the first one!)

Then I got a cool idea. I decided my main character should write a poem for your site instead of me. I don’t want to divulge too many details, but my protagonist is a seventeen-year old budding singer songwriter who falls in love with a boy who has a hypnotic voice of his own. Shining Sea is a YA paranormal romance, just to give you an idea of the tone.

In the beginning of book II, a heartbreaking event occurs. Rather than ‘lie down and die’ so to speak, my protagonist pours herself into her music. I began to explore what kind of poems and songs this newly awakened young girl would be writing at this difficult time in her life. The fact that she’s seventeen, in love with a pretty dangerous guy, heartbroken for the first time, and just becoming an artist, made writing the following poem and song a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy them. Please keep in mind they’re unpolished, maybe even unfinished!

Thanks once again for the inspiration David!

Diving Signals

Far beyond my efforts
Somewhere I’ll never be
I used to think I’d meet you there
Out on the shining sea.

We’d float then we’d go under
We’d swim and then we’d sink
Going down for plunder
Approaching every brink

Of underwater canyons
Yawning gap of ache
Chasm of dark longing
Where everything’s at stake

We risk running out of oxygen
The risk of no return
Tug upon the tender’s rope
Hold breath until it burns

My underwater guide
Each note you sing is clear
You only need to use your eyes
To calm my every fear

No need for you to point
Your fingers to your ear
I have no choice; I listen
Your voice is all I hear

Swim up we break the surface
Climb back upon our boat
Back into our bodies
Visceral bell cote

A storm blows in a cloud
Of circling white birds
I fall asleep and dream
A shining sea of words . . .

Song to My Siren

I saw you from a distance
In this wild place
Recognized resistance
On your perfect face

When you opened your mouth
A genie came out
Granting my every wish

Now I’m a ghost in this house
Wandering about
My lips sealed with your kiss

I’ll keep your secret
If you’ll return
I’ll keep your secret
Just give me my turn

Even now that you’re gone I still hearing you calling me
Your words move like music over the shining sea

Flying like an angel
Through my darkest dreams
Underwater stranger
Muffling my screams

I can’t open my mouth
A hand holds my shout
Stealing my every wish

He’s a cat with a mouse
My prayers turn devout
Drowning in this abyss

I’ll keep your secret
If you’ll return
I’ll keep your secret
Even if it burns

Even now that you’re gone I still hearing you calling me
Your words move like music over the shining sea

Even now that you’re gone I still hear you calling me
Your voice in my head like your hands were on my body

Over the shining Sea . . .

I’ll keep your secret if you’ll return
I’ll keep your secret if you’ll return
I’ll keep your secret until it burns me alive
I’ll keep your secret until I die

Announcing Dan Burr

Dan Burr

and I had a terrific time creating Pirates. Dan will explain how he and I worked on the book and share numerous helpful insights into how a first rate artist thinks and approaches each project when he appears as my blog guest on March 19. I’m excited to present him to you.

It’s hard to image that we’re now entering our fifth month of Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. Each month we are joined by a large percentage of poets who take the challenge regularly and welcome several new poets who have joined us. I thought you might like a recap of our Hall of Fame Poet and Hall of Fame Young Poet winners from the first four complete months. No one can win twice during the twelve month period ending this September, but that doesn’t keep our previous winners from sharing their poetry each month and garnering their share of votes from fans old and new. Congratulations again to all winners and everyone who has become part of this monthly exercise that’s meant to strengthen our imaginative approach to writing, be it poetry or anything else.

Hall of Fame Winners

OCTOBER Word: Dirt
Adult Poet, Mimi Cross, New Jersey, Dirt Blues
Young Poet, Alyssa Kirch, Missouri, Mud Pie

NOVEMBER Word: Thanks
Adult Poet, Liz Korba, New Jersey, You’re Welcome
Young Poet, Claire Scott, Maryland, Thanks for Nothing
Adult Poet, Linda Kulp, Maryland , Wishes
Young Poet, Priya Shah, Maryland, A Mother’s Wish
JANUARY Word: Time
Adult Poet, Steven Withrow, Rhode Island, The Time Ship
Young Poet, John Sullivan, Ohio, End