{psst! poetry peeps!}


Happy January, Poetry Peeps!

How’s the listening in and overhearing going? Don’t forget your “eavesdropped” conversation doesn’t have to be hearing Actual People (TM) since many of us are avoiding them just now – hearing a radio DJ in someone else’s car, taking the words from a billboard or a sign in front of a building where you’re not going – those all count, too. You’ve got time left to craft your creation(s) in any form, then share your offering with the rest of us on January 28 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. See you then!

{pf: poetry peeps play with words}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!


Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of November! Here’s the scoop: This month, we’re writing an Ode to Autumn. An ode is a lyrical song-like poem, and like the ancient Greeks, modern humans also enjoy marking an occasion with a song. Whether you choose an irregular ode with no set pattern or rhyme, or the ten-line, three-to-five stanza famed by Homer himself, we hope you’ll join us in singing in the season of leaf-fall and perfect pie. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on November 26th (the Friday after Thanksgiving, so plan ahead) in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Our wordplay poems this month are based on the very fun “________is a Word” poem challenge first introduced by Nikki Grimes when she visited with Michelle Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty. We had many directions we could go with these – so many that I, at least, had trouble choosing a word. Sometimes wordplay presents us an embarrassment of riches! When that happens, we have Laura on hand with her poetry dice to help us narrow things down.

Though many of these wordplay poems seem to land on concrete nouns for their defining roots, I began with an adjective. I chose “hungry” because honestly, when I started writing, I was.

HUNGER

Hungry is a hollow word:
The ‘h’ deflates a sigh
the ‘un-‘ hums onward greedily
Craves Havarti on dark rye…

Hungry swings its syllables
– two snicked-tight pantry doors
That house honey for your hotcakes:
Won’t you have some? Have some more!

Hungry growls its g-r-y,
Like stomachs growl their rage.
A hangry belly is the root
Of many a harsh rampage!

Hungry – just hung up on food?
Or starved, unfilled, abased?
That hungry ends with anguished “Why?”
We have extra, “just in case.”*

So, here’s to ‘hungry,’
Since the word we’ve chopped up to mincemeat
Has left me with a hole inside…
I’m just famished. Let’s go eat.

During our poetry time this month, The Poetry Sisters had a fun discussion about some of the words Laura rolled from the poetry Metaphor Dice. After rolling words we could use easily, we hit upon the word virtuous, to much commentary. It’s a difficult word, carrying baggage heavy enough for its own overhead compartment. Kelly reminded us of Míshlê from the Hebrew Bible, more familiar to some as the Proverbs (of Solomon). This book has a section called the Praise of the Virtuous Woman which Orthodox gentlemen sometimes sing to their wives. It’s a lovely image, but unfortunately, my 19th century British and American Literature undergraduate degree left me with the Nathaniel Hawthorne version of “virtuous.” It’s a hardtack, narrow, Puritanical, word, for me. The judgment I find within it is reflected in the poem I wrote. And, I’m aware – this technically isn’t quite fulfilling the wordplay challenge, because it’s less about the shapes and sounds of the word than my loathing of its meaning, but – oh, well, right?

Virtually Virtue

Virtuous is a sharp-edged word
It cleaves us with its ‘v’
and two looped ‘u’s restrain and herd
the ‘O’ for a pillory.

The frowning ‘ir’ looks down its nose,
At slattern, slanted ‘s’
A judging word, with narrowed eyes
Existing to oppress.

Though Puritans of Olden Days
Would judge me as unfit
History records less white than gray
Of those narrow hypocrites!

Um… Yay, Pilgrims? Happy Thanksgiving?


*clears throat*

Anyway! I loved doing those, and some of our discussion on this form really sparked some thoughts for me. I think I’m going to revisit wordplay poems during my “Gratitudinal” project this November.

Meanwhile, the Poetry Peeps in our digital neighborhood have superbly entertaining wordplay on tap. Sara’s poem is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s is here. Andromeda drops in here, and Tricia’s poem is here. Kelly’s poem is here as is Laura’s. Liz joins the party JoAnn’s poem is here. Rose’s poem is here, while Heidi’s is here. Carol’s playing along, and Michelle is too.. More Poetry Peeps will potentially be popping in all day, so stay tuned for a round-up of wordplay links.


Well, there goes October. What a strange end – torrents and floods in this state, and a wild, windy nor’easter on the other coast. Seems it might be a nippy winter – so I hope you have some wonderful autumnal adventures ahead to see you through. If you’d like to begin your adventures this morning, read more poetry! Poetry Friday today is genially hosted by Linda at Teacher Dance, and costumes are welcome (also, can you believe I’d forgotten it was almost Halloween!? Obviously I need to get out of my writing cave more often)! Here’s to the scarecrows and slightly spooky scares in store.


*I’m always horrified by the statistic that according the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations presented a few years ago, that the world produces agriculturally over one and a half times enough food to feed everyone, everywhere. But, that would require equal distribution, or sharing… something humanity hasn’t learned to do.

{slowly we begin}

My little sister texted me to ask what we were doing for Thanksgiving.

Ugh.

Writing a novel that has a deadline Wednesday, December 1 means that you don’t want anything to do with NaNoWriMo, nothing to do with Thanksgiving, and panic at the idea of Black Friday. I really don’t have time to do this! And yet, Thanksgiving 2020 didn’t happen at all, except in terms of a series of phone calls and waving at each other briefly over Zoom (which is its own special level-of-hell annoyance).

Thanksgiving has always been our family’s one holiday. Growing up poor, we didn’t do Christmas, which requires an outlay of funds to buy things – and we didn’t get that much into Easter. Our extended family is made up of very religious and very anti-religious people, so Thanksgiving – and, oddly, Labor Day – to us the least religious holidays – have always been the time for the biggest family get-togethers. Courtesy of Covid, our big Thanksgiving do will likely for many years be a thing of the past, so this year, a much smaller holiday-esque mystery party thing might have to happen.

AFTER Thanksgiving. Say, maybe December 12th?

Baby steps. We’ll get things back to some version of “normal” eventually, right?

At least that’s the dream…


P.S., Just in case my editor is reading this: I WILL FINISH. I’m fine. No worries! I’m going to make that deadline! Really! Promise!

P.P.S., Just realized looking at the picture I found for this that I really miss babies. All my book nieces and nephews are either not yet born or toddling/running, so their little thighs are no longer quite so pillowy. Bittersweet! But, they chew and drool much less, and are differently destructive with books, so that’s a win? Progress. Baby steps, as it were…

{pinned post: book events in september}

Thanks for your interest in my book events!
(This post will be continuously updated.)


Essay • “Checking the Weather” Teen Librarian Toolbox Blog @SLJ

Interview • “Writer Q&A” @NerdDaily

Interview • “Author Q&A” @Confessions of a YA Reader

Interview • Author Q&A @ at Karen B. McCoy’s

Interview • Conversation @ Edie’s Cotton Quilts

BOOK GIVEAWAY • from September 16th – 21st: CLOSED Recipients have been contacted on Twitter and Instagram. If you were contacted, please use the drop down the menu on the left “About This Site” and leave your address in the contact form. Thanks!


ICYMI: View the Crowdcast of my book launch with Janae Marks here.


View the Shelf Stuff conversation with Saadia Fauqi and Shanthi Sekaran, and educator, Dr. Dawn Bolton at Brave & Kind Books here.


View the Princeton Children’s Book Festival’s Book Jam with Damian Alexander, Kathryn Erskine, Lee Durfey-Lavoie and Veronica Agarwal here.


{so, poetry peeps, feeling Zen yet? or just tangled?!}

Okay, is it me, or has anyone else found the Zentangle form a bit… much?! Have you felt like your designs were too busy, too messy, too wordy, or just somehow subtly wrong? Don’t despair! We can make this work! Remember – it’s supposed to be fun. (I am telling MYSELF this, trust me.)

If you’re in need of a little design help, Strathmore has some great examples of patterns for the Zentangle. Can’t wait to see what you come up with Friday!

{#npm: 20 – possible}

A little PSA:Many people are involved with the children’s lit grassroots book awards, The Cybils. If you didn’t know, the name is shorthand for The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and I like to think of it as the awards-before-the-awards. Many readers love the idea of reading free books, but not as many have the time or impetus for follow through. We’d love you to join us – yes, you! – and bring along a friend or two. We’re especially hoping to encourage more people from underrepresented groups. /PSA.

Like the Grecian sibyls of old, the Cybils take the pulse of the popular reading public and usually predict at least a little of what the ALA is going to announce early the following year. While nominations open each year in October, the Cybils is a labor of love well before time. Behind the scenes there are board meetings, where we chip away at inclusivity goals and transparency, publishing PR meetings, where we seek sponsors and track nominations. There’s working on digital campaigns, and basically beating the bushes for new volunteers. It’s work – but for love of books, we’re there for it.

Fremont 397
opening books is
something like sunrise: fresh, new
possibilities

{don’t worry lissa, I’m leaving the pollinators alone}

In two recent notes/newsletters, author and gardener Melissa Wiley has reminded us lately that, due to the presence of hibernating pollinators, we’re not meant to be digging in the garden until we’ve had a week of nights out of the 40’s – and while we haven’t yet reached that, this past weekend we had a brisk, sunny day, and I put a few things in pots…

And then, well, I was already out there (WARNING: “putting things in pots” is just A Gateway Drug to gardening), so I had a wee shufti through the raised beds to see what leftovers and volunteers had popped up. And I found this:

(Yes, I have spared you the full, blinding glory that is my acid green sun hat. You’re welcome.) Here I’d thought this mass of greens meant I had a beet, and since it was undersized, I’d left it to overwinter… only to discover it’s a massive, woody radish! Oh, well. So much for my dinner plans.

I hope you’re finding the odd thing to make you smile this month.

{revealed: PARTLY CLOUDY, coming 2/16}

Ta-daaaah!

IT’S A CLOUD!


It’s a rainy Monday, and I’ve got clouds, folks!

I haven’t historically made a fuss over my covers, but my HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books book covers are so lively I’ve been unable to stop myself. And the upcoming PARTLY CLOUDY (coming SEPTEMPBER 7, 2021!) has got to be my favorite cover this year so far. Illustrated by the splendidly whimsical Geneva B (Dragons in a Bag, The Dragon Thief, Beyoncé: Shine Your Light, Curls) PARTLY CLOUDY somehow looks like it was done both in chalk pastels and digitally (how?) and captures all the heart and emotion of its main character, Madalyn.

Come back and see it tomorrow! Until then, enjoy your President’s Day, and… have some clouds.

{#winterlight: irony}

I found it just a bit ironic that I blogged yesterday about anger before I got on social media or read the paper, or heard anything about the attempted coup at the nation’s Capitol. After hearing nineteen million politicians blurt, “This isn’t who we are!” I feel like it’s a good day to resurrect a poem I wrote in 2017… after the first nineteen million times I heard politicians say this phrase, in defense of this indefensible presidency. Enjoy.

“…this is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.” – Ursula K. LeGuin, THE FARTHEST SHORE, Ch. 8

“you may experience feelings of momentary discomfort”

“This is not who we are,” good souls profess.
“This brief discomfort heralds changing views.”
The dream, America, is dispossessed.

And politicians wallow in the mess
Eyes rolling wild, while looking for their cues —
“This is not who we are.” Good souls profess

To understand the needs of the oppressed,
Who are not newly pressured, but eschew
The “dream America.” We, dispossessed.

“Just rhetoric and chatter,” pundits stress.
“A bigot’s dreams could never here come true.”
This IS. Not who we are? Good souls, profess!

Resist. Support, with dogged faithfulness
Those who, with courage march. We must push through
the dream and wake our country, in distress.

Distracted by your grieving? Reassess
Comfort you proffered those who are not you…
This. Is. Not. Who. We. Are. Good souls, protect
The dreamer, wakening, and dispossessed.