April is National Poetry Month!

 

Ah poetry! I love reading it and writing it.

Poetry brings a different kind of music to the world, and it helps us see that same world through the eyes of some of the most sensitive and emotionally well connected artists who ever lived. Now, you’re probably thinking, “It’s a little late in the month to finally be talking about poetry Patti!” But really, is it ever too late to talk about something that is both beautiful and powerful? I think not!

For the writer, there are lots of ways to celebrate National Poetry Month! And if you haven’t done so already, here are some of my best suggestions:

  • Post some of your favorite poems on your social media sites. I love sharing works by Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson and James Whitcomb Riley on my Facebook page.
  • Get to know a new poet! It’s easy to fall back on your favorites when you want to spend time enjoying poetry. But we writers are to be students of other writers. This is one of the best ways to make your words stronger and more meaningful. So choose two poets that are new to you and study them for the rest of the month.
  • Rediscover some of your favorite children’s poems. I still have my Mother Goose book on my book shelf. I loved this book as a child, and I like to take it out occasionally. But as an adult and a writer, I look at it differently. Study some of your old favorites this month and focus on good examples of alliteration, rhythm, rhyming patterns and word play.
  • Participate in “Poem in Your Pocket Day!” This year the day is April 30th. On that day, choose one of your favorite poems, carry it around in your pocket, and take the opportunity to share it with friends, students and others at libraries, coffee shops and anywhere there is a spontaneous poetry slam!

And if you’re looking for great poetry resources to help you celebrate, here are some of my favorites:

 

 

So, even though there are just two weeks left in April, there’s still time to enjoy some poetry and share it with those you love. And if you’ve never written your own poetry, just throw those excuses out the window and do it! You never know where your words will take you.

  “In Just Spring,” by e.e. cummings


Sensibility- Poetry brings beauty, gentleness, wisdom and controversy to the world. The words of great poets ask us to think deeply and challenge us to be and do more than we thought we could.

Sense- Read your favorite poets, then as an exercise, mimic their writing. Use your own words, but model the pattern set for you and see how they fit into the poets mold.


Who is your favorite poet? Why?

 

“To all the little children:- The happy ones; and sad ones; the boisterous ones and glad ones; The good ones- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.”
James Whitcomb Riley, Little Orphant Annie and Other Poems

Aside

Never Forget!

In honor of Memorial Day, here’s a poem by one of my favorite poets, James Whitcomb Riley. Happy Memorial Day and thanks to all those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today!

A Monument for the Soldiers

By James Whitcomb Riley

A monument for the Soldiers!
And what will ye build it of?
Can ye build it of marble, or brass, or bronze,
Outlasting the Soldiers’ love?
Can ye glorify it with legends
As grand as their blood hath writ
From the inmost shrine of this land of thine
To the outermost verge of it?

And the answer came: We would build it
Out of our hopes made sure,
And out of our purest prayers and tears,
And out of our faith secure:
We would build it out of the great white truths
Their death hath sanctified,
And the sculptured forms of the men in arms,
And their faces ere they died.

And what heroic figures
Can the sculptor carve in stone?
Can the marble breast be made to bleed,
And the marble lips to moan?
Can the marble brow be fevered?
And the marble eyes be graved
To look their last, as the flag floats past,
On the country they have saved?

And the answer came: The figures
Shall all be fair and brave,
And, as befitting, as pure and white
As the stars above their grave!
The marble lips, and breast and brow
Whereon the laurel lies,
Bequeath us right to guard the flight
Of the old flag in the skies!

A monument for the Soldiers!
Built of a people’s love,
And blazoned and decked and panoplied
With the hearts ye build it of!
And see that ye build it stately,
In pillar and niche and gate,
And high in pose as the souls of those
It would commemorate!

Aside

I Graduated! A Salute to Angie Karcher, and Balancing Writing Challenges

This past month I participated in Angie Karcher’s RhyPiBoMo! Since April is National Poetry Month, it was a great way to celebrate and learn with other like-minded children’s writers. It’s a tough literary world out there for us rhyming folk, and it was so nice having a month and a program dedicated to those of us who think and even sometimes dream in verse. I loved learning that I’m not a rhyming writer swimming all alone in a sea of prose. So hats off to you Angie! It was a huge undertaking and I thank you so very much!

But it was just that, a huge undertaking! Angie provided us with so much amazing information and opportunities that by the middle of the second week I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. But the beautiful thing about the way she organized the program is that you could fully participate or pick and choose the things and timing that worked for you. Now I have a file of wonderful blog posts to read at my leisure so I can soak up all of the great information between writing gigs and working on my own manuscripts.

You may have noticed there are lots of opportunities like Angie’s popping up all over the writing world. What started as just NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has turned into a nearly-full, year-long calendar of writing challenges, blogging blitzes and twitter-pitch mania. It’s enough to make any writer’s head spin, especially since we all know that each new opportunity could be the “game-changer” we’ve all been waiting for. So here’s some advice for those of you thinking about signing up for these kind of opportunities:

  • Balance your time. If you sign up for a writer challenge or learning opportunity, unless you can quit your job and send your kids to their grandparents for a month, you must find a balance that works for you.
  • Don’t let writing challenges and learning opportunities take the place of writing. Writing is hard work. You can’t get around that. And as fun as these challenges are, they won’t take the place of the work you need to do to be successful.
  • Participate in only those challenges that apply to the type of writing you do. It’s hard for writers not to jump into every opportunity that seems like it might help them move their pawn a little further down the writing road. You must become an expert at what you do, so try and find things that best meet your writing needs at this time.
  • Build your own online platform. While doing challenges and twitter pitches and contests are great, don’t neglect the need to build your own online writer platform so you’re ready when opportunity comes your way.

I’m giving you a standing ovation Angie Karcher! You’ve done an amazing job and this rhyming-writer appreciates it more than you’ll ever know!


Sensibility– Taking advantage of writer challenges provides encouragement, networking opportunities and much-needed food for your writing soul.

Sense- Commit to the hard work it takes to be a writer and don’t get sidetracked by things that may or may not be helping you learn your craft.


What writing challenges have you participated in and why? Did you find them helpful?

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