I’m back

I had a fine time in Paterson, New Jersey and my flights were on time coming home last night. Now it’s time to get back to work.

Here’s an update on our Woza Woza Poem. Who will add the next lines? Things are getting tense for our mystery critter!

She came to me, a stranger, and climbed on my lap.
She is so cute, I smiled and knew we would be friends
I stroked her fur; felt the scar upon her floppy ear.
Suddenly she jumped off my lap and headed for the door.
Out of nowhere a non-stop thumping echoed through the house
She suddenly stopped.
Fear filled her eyes as the thumping sounds came nearer.

And here’s where we are with the game of Poetry Tag. Remember, each poem added must tie in with the most recent one. However, the connection can be whatever you say it is. The idea is to have fun with the game. For example, I’ve just added a poem at the end of the list to follow up on Janet Gallagher’s poem, King Size Bed. I chose a My Bed from The Alligator in the Closet because both poems use a bed as a central idea.

Orthopedic Shoes Don’t Flamenco
by Jane Heitman Healy
Orthopedic shoes don’t flamenco.
They don’t tango, fandango, or romp.
They don’t cha-cha or foxtrot or two-step.
Their only dance is the stomp.

Orthopedic shoes help my feet grow
Into the shape they should.
Someday I’ll swirl, twirl and pivot
And give up orthopedics for good.

Untitled
by Cory Corrado
There once lived a girl who wished she could twirl;
The shoes that she wore only made her hair curl.
With a snippety, snip, snip
Her locks she did clip
When she stuffed them in her shoes, she began to pivot and swirl.

Untitled
by Scarred Poet
It was, I think,
The crutches that made me blink.
Look, now! The Orthopedic Shoes!
Made to shuffle the blues!
But man, they shine!
So, I won’t whine!
Soon I will be going fast,
Crutches lost at last!
And a chance…
Yes, a chance, perhaps, to dance!

Style Statement
By Ken Slesarik
Rhinos choose to wear shoes in hues of blues
and when venturing out in groups of twos
they’ll wear mismatched tuxes and ill fitting gowns
to sample fine dining in deep jungle towns.
But what does he eat, the powerful rhino?
How should I know?

The Perfect Diet
by David L. Harrison
Mrs. LaPlump weighed 300 pounds,
Her husband weighed 202.
“I’ve got to lose some weight,” she said,
“I’ll give up potatoes and pizza and bread.”
Mr. LaPlump said, “I will, too.
My darling, I’ll do it for you.”

When each of them lost 100 pounds,
He weighed only 102.
“I’ve got to lose more weight,” she said.
“This next 100,” said he, “I dread
For when we are finished I’ll only weight 2,
But darling, I’ll do it for you.”

They lost another 100 pounds,
Her figure was perfect and trim,
But there is a lesson here I think,
Mr. LaPlump continued to shrink
And one day disappeared down the sink,
And you may find this grim, my dears,
But it was the end for him.

A Perfect Diet follow-up…
by Cory Corrado
The potatoes were sour-creamed and plump-baked
The pizza was spicy, hot, and well-beyond dressed
The bread was warm, thick, and buttered-crusty
I gobbled them down with gusto and gluttonous-glee
Then bubbling like a ready-to-burst balloon
To the bedroom I waddled and flopped onto my bed

I tossed and I turned
I lashed and I thrashed
I dreamed of mountains of potatoes and pizza and bread,
I dreamed of baking and shaking, of banging and bursting
I dreamed of rumbling and grumbling, of rolling and mumbling. THEN…
a loud CRASH!!!

When in the morning I woke spread flat on the ground
I knew the dreams had not been dreamed in my head
The weight of the potatoes and pizza and bread made ‘TWIN’ see RED!

So now here I lie- my twin-bed is dead.
I pledge to give up (a few pounds of)
potatoes, pizza, and bread
And buy me a new king-size one instead!

King Size Bed
By Janet Kay Gallagher
I wanted one one for years
even cried a few tears.
Finally got a King size bed
for years a wonderful place
to lay my head
No more hugging the edge of
the mattress when hubby made
me mad
Now he is gone and I am sad
No more need for a king size bed
I need to get a full size bed instead

MY BED
by David L. Harrison
(from Alligator in the Closet)

Lazy me
Lazy day
I should be up
And on my way
Instead of lying
Here in bed
Pillows propped
Behind my head.

I should be dressed
But here I lie
Content to let
The world go by
Snuggled in
My toasty nest
Doing what
I love the best.

Lazy day
Lazy me
Nowhere else
I’d rather be
Than with a book
I haven’t read
Cuddled down
To stay in bed!

I’m delighted to see so many good Word of the Month poems being posted this month. There is still lots of time so don’t forget to post yours!

rubberman

David

Update on WOM, Woza Woza, and Poetry Tag

Hi everyone,

Here’s an update on our three concurrent poetry exercises this month.

ONE:

Word of the Month Poetry Challenge needs more poets and poems. At this point we can be grateful for Steven Withrow, Gay Fawcett, Ken Slesarik, Julie Krantz, Cory Corrado, new poet Autumn Harrar, Mary Nida Smith, and Euleta Usrey for sharing their efforts. As for our WOM Young Poets, thank goodness for Omar Teran who has posted the only poem so far. Don’t forget, the word for December is WEATHER.

TWO:

Our Woza Woza Poem got off to a good start before everyone put their pens away and headed for the mall. Here’s as far as we got before the specials hit the papers.

She came to me, a stranger, and climbed on my lap.
She is so cute, I smiled and knew we would be friends
I stroked her fur; felt the scar upon her floppy ear.
Suddenly she jumped off my lap and headed for the door.
Out of nowhere a non-stop thumping echoed through the house

(I’m eager to learn more. What is this creature? Who is doing the thumping?)

THREE:

We also got off to a quick start with Poetry Tag but we haven’t had as many takers lately. Here’s the history so far.

Orthopedic Shoes Don’t Flamenco
by Jane Heitman Healy

Orthopedic shoes don’t flamenco.
They don’t tango, fandango, or romp.
They don’t cha-cha or foxtrot or two-step.
Their only dance is the stomp.

Orthopedic shoes help my feet grow
Into the shape they should.
Someday I’ll swirl, twirl and pivot
And give up orthopedics for good.

Untitled
by Cory Corrado

There once lived a girl who wished she could twirl;
The shoes that she wore only made her hair curl.
With a snippety, snip, snip
Her locks she did clip
When she stuffed them in her shoes, she began to pivot and swirl.

Untitled
by Scarred Poet

It was, I think,
The crutches that made me blink.
Look, now! The Orthopedic Shoes!
Made to shuffle the blues!
But man, they shine!
So, I won’t whine!
Soon I will be going fast,
Crutches lost at last!
And a chance…
Yes, a chance, perhaps, to dance!

Style Statement
By Ken Slesarik

Rhinos choose to wear shoes in hues of blues
and when venturing out in groups of twos
they’ll wear mismatched tuxes and ill fitting gowns
to sample fine dining in deep jungle towns.
But what does he eat, the powerful rhino?
How should I know?

The Perfect Diet
by David L. Harrison

Mrs. LaPlump weighed 300 pounds,
Her husband weighed 202.
“I’ve got to lose some weight,” she said,
“I’ll give up potatoes and pizza and bread.”
Mr. LaPlump said, “I will, too.
My darling, I’ll do it for you.”

When each of them lost 100 pounds,
He weighed only 102.
“I’ve got to lose more weight,” she said.
“This next 100,” said he, “I dread
For when we are finished I’ll only weight 2,
But darling, I’ll do it for you.”

They lost another 100 pounds,
Her figure was perfect and trim,
But there is a lesson here I think,
Mr. LaPlump continued to shrink
And one day disappeared down the sink,
And you may find this grim, my dears,
But it was the end for him.

A Perfect Diet follow-up…
by Cory Corrado

The potatoes were sour-creamed and plump-baked
The pizza was spicy, hot, and well-beyond dressed
The bread was warm, thick, and buttered-crusty
I gobbled them down with gusto and gluttonous-glee
Then bubbling like a ready-to-burst balloon
To the bedroom I waddled and flopped onto my bed

I tossed and I turned
I lashed and I thrashed
I dreamed of mountains of potatoes and pizza and bread,
I dreamed of baking and shaking, of banging and bursting
I dreamed of rumbling and grumbling, of rolling and mumbling. THEN…
a loud CRASH!!!

When in the morning I woke spread flat on the ground
I knew the dreams had not been dreamed in my head
The weight of the potatoes and pizza and bread made ‘TWIN’ see RED!

So now here I lie- my twin-bed is dead.
I pledge to give up (a few pounds of)
potatoes, pizza, and bread
And buy me a new king-size one instead!

King Size Bed
By Janet Kay Gallagher

I wanted one one for years
even cried a few tears.
Finally got a King size bed
for years a wonderful place
to lay my head
No more hugging the edge of
the mattress when hubby made
me mad
Now he is gone and I am sad
No more need for a king size bed
I need to get a full size bed instead

I hope some of you will be inspired to pitch in to one or more of our ongoing exercises for the month. Thanks.

David

Gone fishing

Hi everyone,

I left this morning for a two day trip. I loved the initial reaction to our new poetry tag game and hope that while I’m away you will continue to find ways to relate other poems. At this point I suggest that we move away from Jane Heitman Healy’s original poem about shoes and branch out in other directions. We don’t have to be literal in making our connections.

For example, some shoes have tongues. Some loaf. Some leap higher than the tallest buildings. Tongues can lead us into gossiping. Loafing reminds me of drone bees. Leaping takes us to track games, to childhood, to hasty conclusions. Tall buildings inspire us with poems about cities. Cities take us all sorts of places.

Let’s see what comes to mind over the next couple of days. I’ll be back in touch soon. If anyone wants to start the next Woza Woza Poem, be my guest!

David

Happy Thanksgiving

rubberman

BULLETIN: Guess what? We have, for the first time, some poems posted by high school students! Thanks to Lisa Martino and her students in Crescent City, Florida, we can finally use our student group for grades 8-12! Thank you, Lisa, and thank you students. I hope everyone will click on WOM Young Poets, scroll to the last three entries, and enjoy the work of Lisa’s students.

REMINDER: Cutoff for November Word of the Month poems is tonight at 10:00 CST. So far we have a bumper crop of poems inspired by the word WORD. Don’t forget to post yours.

BULLETIN: For those who wanted to leave comments about my Tuesday post to WRITERS AT WORK: By a strange quirk, comments were shut off on that day — the only time this has happened — and we can’t seem to get it fixed. To save you from scrolling around, I’m cutting and pasting the whole thing again and asking you to try again if you wish to post a comment.

REMINDER: During my recent absences from the blog, I must admit that our Woza Woza Poem has not prospered. I’m reposting the last update we had, on November 12. November 12 was 13 days ago. Come on, poets, we need some help!

Today I witnessed something I’d never seen before –
A sea of cinnamon swirls surfed the forest floor.
The reason for the swirling suddenly dawned on me –
Tiny brown-clad creatures surfed that cinnamon sea!

Tiny brown-clad creatures wearing leather hats
Trimmed with golden feathers! Can you imagine that?
They danced in whirling circles, singing to themselves.
I blinked my eyes in wonder, these tiny folk were elves!

They sang of distant places, they sang of sea and foam,
They sang of Woza Woza, the elves’ ancestral home.
The magic of their voices carried me along
As faster whirled the circles, higher pitched their song

Of fairies, trolls, and giants, mere humans never know

Hello everyone,

I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with the pleasure of being with family and friends. My mother (at 98 our last living parent) will join us for Thanksgiving at our daughter’s house. We are saddened by the loss of Sandy’s mother but still have a lot to be thankful for. We also thank you for your kind notes of condolences at our recent loss.

Here once again is the Tuesday post to WRITERS AT WORK.

Hi everyone,

I’m adding my concluding thoughts on the subject of rejection. I heard plenty of comments about it during the NCTE conference that I can share with you.

Topic: The Reality of Rejection
Response 4: David
Date: November 23, 2010

So I’m attending a major convention. This morning I made a presentation about Word of the Month Poetry Challenge which, I think, was well received and might result in more teachers introducing their students to the project. Not ony that, I'm signing books at the Scholastic booth and last hour I signed books at the Boyds Mills Press booth. In both places, I greeted many old friends and met a number of new ones. When I finish here, I’ll attend the Authors Luncheon and sit around a table of teachers, each of whom will receive a copy of my latest book. They will ask me to sign their books and I’ll do it with pleasure. It’s hard not to feel good about this day. Until

I check my e-mail just prior to the luncheon. And there I find

a r-e-j-e-c-t-i-o-n.

And I am bummed.

Never mind how grown up we all try to be about having our work turned down, it still stings when someone says, “Not for us.” As Sandy says, we gradually reach a point where we take these rejections in stride as being part of the job. Maybe our sulk time shortens and the hysterics diminish. But come on, I’m having a Rejection Moment here. How about a moment of silence?

Okay, I’m back.

Today I visited with several other writers, among them some of the brightest and best. And guess what? One of them just got turned down twice; same for another. Others mention how hard it has been lately for them to get approval for new projects. These are STARS for Pete’s sake. I also talked with editors and they, too, lament how difficult it can be these days to get a book accepted. I mentioned earlier in my conversation with Sandy that I developed a habit years ago to keep a list of potential publishers for every new manuscript so that I could get a rejected manuscript back in circulation as soon as possible after it came back. The tactic still works. We’ve talked about dealing with rejection before the fact and how to handle it after it happens. Here’s my executive summary.

1. Write something.
2. Polish it until you can’t read it without sunglasses.
3. Study the market.
4. Make a list of potential publishers.
5. Submit to the one at the top of the list.
6. Remind yourself that there is a strong chance you’ll be rejected.
7. Be prepared to hold the briefest pity part possible before going to #2 on your list.
8. See #7.
9. See #7.
10. See #7.
Etc.
11. If you sell something, bask in the glow, but don’t get used to the idea that you are now invincible.
12. See #7
Etc.

Sorry to be so spotty lately with my posting. Once I’m home again it won’t take long to get back on schedule.

David

James Blasingame today

BULLETIN: My mother-in-law, Kathleen Kennon, died last night after twenty-two days in the hospital. She was 97. I’ll be off line for a while.

Hello everyone,

As promised, the following article by James Blasingame gives us a lot to think about. It’s my pleasure to introduce him today. Did I mention that Jim is an avid fisherman?

A Day without Reading is a Day without Enlightenment
James Blasingame

In a time when too many people seem intent upon getting books OUT of the hands of kids (see Dr. Wesley Scroggins, Missouri State University—look under IIB for “Ignorance Is Bliss”), it’s so nice to know some people are working like blazes (see “Hell Hath no Fury Like a Librarian Scorned”) to get books INTO the hands of young readers. A book can change a life, and the right book can even save a life, which is something that Denise Gary, PJ Haarsma, and Nathan Fillion (yes, THE Nathan Fillion of Castle, Serenity, and Desperate Housewives fame—see Heartthrob, in the index of Ruggedly Handsome) have teamed up to make happen. These three started an organization called Kids Need to Read to provide books to underfunded school and public libraries. To get the lowdown go to http://www.kidsneedtoread.org/  and play the video starring Nathan.

This past weekend KNTR had a fabulous fundraiser at Usery Mountain Park in Mesa, Arizona, where several bestselling authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, professors, young readers, local businesses, and the park system teamed up to put on a full day of hiking activities, including pledges to support various authors, like PJ (the Softwire series from Candlewick and a whole new series to be announced any day, now) and also Tom Leveen (Party, Random House, 2010). Janette Rallison, whose books have topped a million volumes in sales (Hurray for Scholastic Book Clubs!), was there doing face-painting (Hey, Janette, can you paint me to look like Nathan Fillion?), and Steven Riley was telling stories and drawing, along with Brooke Bessesen, Chris Gall, the Chick-File cow (who got a little hot in the desert sun), and all sorts of Phoenix area businesses who provided food and tents and drinks and even puppies (they were so cute!). What a great day.

Many thanks to students from Arizona State University and Professor Peter Goggin for hiking, pledging, and providing great camaraderie! The tally has not been completed but thousands of dollars were raised to provide books to young readers who need them so very badly.

Why put books in the hands of kids? Who cares about reading? Although it’s never been proven or disproven, upon meeting Harriet Beech Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Abraham Lincoln is alleged to have said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote this book that stirred up such a fuss!!” I don’t care whether he every really said it or not; it’s exactly the kind of thing he WOULD have said. Lincoln, who had an affinity for making such dry/humorous remarks, once complained very seriously upon being accused of being “two-faced,” remarking “Madame, if I had two faces, would I be wearing this one?” Uncle Tom’s Cabin didn’t start the war that freed a major portion of the human race from slavery, but its impact to move hearts and minds at the time is undeniable. Abraham Lincoln understood the power of books. He was a backwoodsman and feared barnyard wrestler who carried around law books and taught himself well enough to become a highly successful trial attorney and eventually the most important president in the history of our country.

Books continue to move the hearts and minds of people and make the world a better place. Thousands of kids write letters every day to authors like Chris Crutcher, Christopher Paul Curtis, Sherman Alexie, Bill Konigsberg, Coe Booth, and of course, Laurie Halse Anderson (whose book Speak has been the subject of Dr. Scroggins’ censorship efforts because it is about the rape of a ninth grade girl and how she survives). In these letters to the authors, young readers and their friends thank them for telling the stories of a thousand troubles, troubles that break body and spirit and often lead to suicide. I’ve seen the letters and blog posts to Laurie in which young women explain how Speak changed their lives and often save their lives. The feelings of humiliation, powerlessness, and self-doubt lead to self injury, abuse, and the sort of depression that is unbearable, but a book like Speak shows readers that they are not alone, that it’s not their fault, and that they can emerge victorious from even the most horrid of life’s events. The power of literature is an awesome thing in its full force.

Although he probably never really said it exactly this way, Sir Francis Bacon is often cited as extolling that “knowledge is power,” and very few educated folks have never heard the words of John, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” from the New Testament. John was talking about a very specific truth, one which has been the subject of reading by more people on the face of this planet than any other, in a book called The Holy Bible, and although I know you’ve heard of it, Dr. Scroggins, being the minister of a Christian church, I’m not sure you’ve ever really read it. There’s a lot in it about making the world a better place for other. Try reading it some time. Maybe it will change your life, too.James Blasingame is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University. He is the author of several books on reading and writing, and president of the NCTE’s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. He is a past winner of the International Reading Association’s Arbuthnot Award, and the Arizona State University Parents Association Professor of the Year. His monthly column on young adult literature can be found in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy

My thanks to Jim for providing us with so much to consider. Please share your thoughts and comments.

David
rubberman

Here’s the latest on our Woza Woza Poem. I borrowed from both Cory and Silindile to move us ahead another couple of lines. The space travel hasn’t worked in yet but this may be a bit early to leave the forest. I’m keeping a file of all your suggestions and working them in as we go. I don’t mean to take over this poem so please keep your ideas coming. Remember, we need to keep our thoughts on the logistical issue of how to sustain the poem over the entire month. Also, the lines have six beats each and the meter is iambic: ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA ta DA.

Today I witnessed something I’d never seen before –
A sea of cinnamon swirls surfed the forest floor.
The reason for the swirling suddenly dawned on me –
Tiny brown-clad creatures surfed that cinnamon sea!

Tiny brown-clad creatures wearing leather hats
Trimmed with golden feathers! Can you imagine that?
They danced in whirling circles, singing to themselves.
I blinked my eyes in wonder, these tiny folk were elves!

They sang of distant places, they sang of sea and foam,
They sang of Woza Woza, the elves’ ancestral home.
The magic of their voices carried me along
As faster whirled the circles, higher pitched their song

Of fairies, trolls, and giants, mere humans never know