April is sweet. Not only does the Chicago winter finally lose its grip and flowers poke up in the garden, but it's also the month for EVERYTHING POETRY. To celebrate, I thought a poetry post was in order.
While waiting for the muse to arrive, I began to straighten my workspace. That's when that cheeky muse struck me (literally) with an idea. A wonky stack of books slid off the shelf and onto my foot -- books about writing poetry.
A post on poetry resources! And so, here are some of the things that help me pump up my poetry:
Read! Books for Poets.
• A great rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. My preferred editions are Webster's New World Roget's A-Z Thesaurus (Wiley Publishing, 1999) and The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, edited by Clement Wood (Doubleday, 1991).
• Books about writing poetry. Top of my stack is Myra Cohn Livingston's POEM-MAKING: WAYS TO BEGIN WRITING POETRY. Its advice is simple enough for students, yet thorough enough for seasoned poets.
Two others, geared for students yet thoroughly useful to me, are KNOCK AT A STAR by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy and HOW TO WRITE POETRY by Paul B. Janeczko.
These books take me back to the basics and remind me that a clever couplet can be as sublime as a sonnet.
For books aimed at the (ahem) "mature" poet, I like THE ODE LESS TRAVELLED by Stephen Fry, which erases a bit of the intimidation and mystery that surrounds the writing of poetry. Two on my to-be read list, based on fellow poets' suggestions, are Mary Oliver's A POETRY HANDBOOK and Susan G. Wooldridge's POEM CRAZY. (Thanks Mandy, Dawn and Dianne!)
• A children's picture dictionary. I use this to un-stick me when I'm short on ideas to write about. I close my eyes, randomly open it, and plunk down a finger on an entry. Then I brainstorm ideas, based on the selection.
Learn! Take a Class.
• Local. My first poetry class was "The ABC's of Children's Poetry" by Heidi Bee Roemer, a Chicago-area poet/author. This four-day workshop reawakened my interest in poetry and kick-started my writing.
• Not-so-local. The Highlights Foundation offers a poetry workshop each year. This year it runs April 15 to April 19. I participated in a five-day retreat led by Rebecca Kai Doltich, Alice Schertle, and Susan Peerson. A real "highlight" on my poet's journey!
• Online. I'm saving my pennies to take Renée LaTulippe's "Lyrical Language Lab." The class covers 19 lessons over 4 weeks and aims to pump up your prose with elements of poetry.
Be Inspired! Visit Poetry Blogs.
Blogs challenge me, inspire me, educate me. Some of my favorites include:
• The Poem Farm by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
• Poetry for Children by Sylvia Vardell
• The Miss Rumphius Effect by Dr. Patricia Stohr-Hunt
• Today's Little Ditty by Michelle Barnes
• No Water River by Renée LaTulippe
• Poetry 4 Kids by Children's Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt
• A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt by Penny Parker Klostermann
Step Up to a Challenge!
• RhyPiBoMo -- Created by Angie Karcher. A full month of support and advice for those writing picture books in rhyme. Great fun!
• The March Madness Poetry Competition -- Brainchild of Ed DeCaria. In the spirit of college basketball's March Madness, the competition pits one poet against another. Each is challenged to write a poem that uses a random vocab word and readers vote for the winner in each round. This year's champion, crowned just a few days ago, was Buffy Silverman!
Find Your Tribe! Join.
• Poetry Friday. Every Friday, poets in the Kidlitosphere gather to celebrate poetry with original poems, reviews, and thoughts. Different blogs host, so this is a good way to get to know other poets.
• The Poetry Foundation, based in Chicago, is a national organization that supports poetry. They appoint a Children's Poet Laureate every two years, spotlight new poetry books, and offer a "Poem of the Day".
• On Facebook, the Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults promotes and supports kid's poetry.
So there you have it. My list of poetry resources.
What's on your list, GROG readers?