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 Princeton Children’s Book Festival’s Book Jam with Damian Alexander, Kathryn Erskine, Lee Durfey-Lavoie and Veronica Agarwal here.
I’m such a fan of “the beautiful nightmare” that is the English language (and occasionally it is a nightmare. I overheard Himself discussing comma splices with one of his coworkers for whom English is her third language, and she said, “Oh, NO! that’s a THING!?” Yes, dear. We all feel that way) that I’m also a fan of Word Matters, a podcast put out by Merriam-Webster. This week they take on the etymology of “introvert” and you can bet I’m deeply interested in THAT!
Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!
You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of July! Here’s the scoop: We’re writing villanelles on the topic of dichotomy – or, true opposites, if you will. Bifurcations. Incongruities. Paradoxes. Contradictions. We’re talking Luke/Darth (or is that a false dichotomy, and they’re two sides of the same coin??? Discuss), real or imagined, civilized v. savage, winter v. summer, function v. dysfunction. Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on July 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.
A Recounting of the Trials of Zentangling, Or, Artistic Poetry Wherein I Screwed Up: Okay, so the thing is, I am a CHAMPION doodler. I excel at mindless scribble that we could stretch ourselves and define as patterns. It’s not relaxing so much as… something I do when I’m not paying attention. You’d THINK I would be all over the Zentagle poetry form! Reader, I was not.
The process for a Zentangle poem is really enjoyable. I had a good time paging through catalogs in the mail, electronics manuals, and old grad school texts for likely words from which to craft poetry. I scanned pages which looked promising, and fiddled with them, using the computer to create squares and lines to show the correct flow of the words. I honestly found that part fairly simple, though there often wasn’t just the right word – or in the right form – to create the meaning I wanted, but that was mostly manageable. The poems tended toward the enigmatic – I felt like I was writing Poetry By Yoda, after a bit, but that was fine, too – from the Zentangle I’ve read, they do tend to be short, pithy and …sound more like quotations than poems, to my mind. (And yes: we had the whole What Is A Zentangle Poem, And Is This One Because I Say So” discussion amongst my Poetry Sisters. We decided YES, there are rules, but fewer than you’d think, but your mileage may vary.)
Where it fell apart for me was the artwork. At first, I used a highlighter and the first one I picked up was… horrifying pink. This was a mistake. I tried to fix it with yellow. Also a mistake. ::sigh::
The poem reads:
the system may reduce failure
if you adjust
It’s not terrible, but I wish I’d gone an artistic direction other than…pink. ((Shudder))
On my second try, I decided to mingle color AND black and white. I tried doing the outline of an image FIRST, and tried to let the flow of the words suggest an image to me. It… kind of worked? A bit?
The poem reads:
lived through history
Finally I thought I had a clue – just use black and white. That’s what the Zentangle artists do, who don’t try and use words but just make patterns. However, somehow my black and white was …too thick of lines? Too uncertain of pen-strokes? Or something. In the end, mine looked more like it intended to be blackout poetry, and also like it needed a watercolor wash, which I didn’t dare try adding because a.) I don’t know how to watercolor and b.) it was busy enough. I like the poem better, though.
The poem reads:
you have sometimes
Over and over
while small has
Whenever I whined – oh, so frequently – about this project, I remembered that Tricia’s stated purpose was to “push us beyond our comfort zones.” BOY, HOWDY did she succeed, so thank you, dear Tricia, I would never have attempted these on my own (and may never again. Perhaps. When the sting of defeat dies down a bit). I’m so excited to see what the rest of us came up with. Here’s Tricia’s zentangle, while Sara’s zentangle-ISH is here. We welcome Andi right here, and Cousin Mary Lee’s zentangle is here. Of course, artist Michelle zentangled with us, and Linda B’s zentangle is here. Carol V’s is summering here, Jone’s here, and here’s Margaret and Chicken Spaghetti’s blogger Susan! Welcome to the Poetry Peeps joining us for the first time! It’s been an intense month, and we’re all in different spaces with it, but as always, various Poetry Peeps will be added throughout the day, so stay tuned. Poetry Friday is capably hosted today by Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise. I hope your weekend is as randomly artistic and creative as you can make it. As Miss Frizzle says, “Where the road ends, adventure begins!” Here’s to pushing way beyond the boundaries of creativity (and good sense) this weekend.
If you, like me, had never before heard of the zentangle art phenomenon, it began way back in 2003. People drew tiny doodles and …relaxed, I guess? (YMMV) With the recent resurgence of adult coloring books, zentangle picked up speed and gained a new form – found word poetry, which is more familiar ground. If you don’t feel you’re an artist, and the idea of defacing a book feels you with fear, use a copier, keep it short and simple, and let yourself try. Nothing to lose there, right? Above all else, Peeps, remember: this is supposed to be FUN.
My favorite people tend to be teachers. For whatever reason, they make me comfortable. I still internally identify as a teacher, though by the time I met one of my favorite teachers, Mary Lee Hahn, in person in 2010, I hadn’t been teaching at all, not even subbing, for three years. With her calm, comfortable personality, and innate Teacher-ness, Mary Lee became an instant member of my family – especially as she shares a name with one of my most popular book characters.
Especially over the past couple of years, I’ve enjoyed Mary Lee’s teaching through eavesdropping via what she’s shared on her blog or on her Twitter feed. Both the writing assignments she’s done with her students and the reading she’s done on bias and anti-racism and how they can warp a child’s education showed Mary Lee as a truly wise, generous and effective educator, working on honing her own awareness of what her students needed so that they could, in turn, go out and be what the world needs. I can’t go back in time to be one of her students or one of her colleagues, but I’m proud to be one of her friends. Cousin Mary Lee, congratulations on your retirement.
wave and water, fish and sea
cycles all of destiny
as the cloud becomes sea spray
each has their own part to play.
Little streamlets bubbling on
soon become the Amazon
Every stream then finds the sea
learns to flow forth naturally.
River’s tumble is well-known
fisherwoman turns for home
after all the tumbling roar
such relief to turn for shore
wide, the sea goes roiling free
plunging outward now, carefree
clouds emerge from shifting wave
mist the water must now brave –
Fisherwoman home has brought
memories of each fish, well caught
then released to live their days
flashing through the waterways
wave and water, fish and sea
cycles all of destiny
fish and fisher played their part
teaching, learning, works of heart.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Christine at Wondering & Wandering. Lots more poetry and raised glasses to Mary Lee there!
On April 1, Tabatha announced her intention to celebrate short poetry in translation this month. She, as I did, took the pandemic as a little poke in the bum to dive deeper into language. While she chose Scottish Gaelic and French, I finally decided to seriously study Spanish, as I live in a state which boasts that as its first language. I also chose Dutch, since *ik hou van mijn Nederlandse vrienden, and their quirky, unique land and culture. Now, these language combos might sound a little hinkey, but when you’re in it, at least for me, tandem language studies are sometimes helpful. •Mi español ayuda a mi holandés, y vice versa. (Sometimes. Other days it seems I’m equally stupid all languages, as the w sounds like v or sometimes f and the ch/g-sounds-like-guttural h of Dutch invades my rolled r, ñ-laden, b-sounds-like-v Spanish. It gets wild.) I’m nearly to having studied one language or another for nine hundred contiguous days, though, so I’m hopeful, at least, that routinely cudgeling my little gray cells into greater activity is doing something for me.
In Dutch, twalig means bilingual. No handy mnemonic, but I remember it by thinking of twa (the Glaswegian Scots word for two – I know, don’t @ me, I *did* live in/near Glasgow for five years! You could also use twee for two in Dutch) and taal (the Dutch word for language). I love how Dutch builds on itself, such that the compound taalkundige is literally language + skilled. Language skilled. Linguist. Something in that – and in the number of idioms relating to the tongue – speaks to me.
succumb, yield to silver-tongues –
into wordplay, plunge
*mijn hoofd ik moet gebruik!
in the word garden
languages spring up like weeds
loved like hothouse blooms
Poetry Friday is ably hosted today by Tabatha Yeatts-Lonske at The Opposite of Indifference. Tapadh leibh, Tabatha!
As always, there’s poetry all around – don’t miss thing, including: Robyn Hood Black’s Friday explorations of Issa’s haiku in translation – a beautiful project. ♣ Did you know The Global Vaccine Poem project, a collaboration between the University of Arizona Poetry Center and Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, is inviting EVERYONE to share their voices and promote COVID-19 vaccination? We’ll be adding a stanza to a poem by The Naomi (Shihab Nye)! How cool is that??? ♣ Less cool is Linguicism – or linguistic bias and discrimination, which spills over into the workplace – and into the classroom. ♣ This piece from Kevin Simmonds in Poetry Magazine focuses charmingly on how our voices and words shapeshift and morph to mark or obscure identity – and how both music and voice inhabit poetry. Some good stuff.
Fijn weekend, feliz fin de semana, & Happy weekend! May language sing sweetly to you.
*I love my Dutch friends. Language. I have to use my head!* • My Spanish helps my Dutch. Language! Leave me to myself.•
In the earliest days of the vaccine, people danced – and cried – to hear that it was both viable and available soon. Many of our state’s vaccine centers have soundtracks playing as people come in to receive their inoculations. Many of them dance out – overjoyed and singing along to “Happy” or some other catchy, cheerful tune. The Moscone Center in SF actually publicized their playlist, because people wanted it for Spotify to play at home. I love this contagious joy – it’s a nice change from just having a wildly contagious virus.
bees, wearing pollen jodhpurs
hope. spring, eternal
Did you know that now the New York Times wants your poetry, too – on the theme of renewal? Not a lot of ordinary people get their work into the NYT for any reason, so you might want to take advantage! Meanwhile poet Amanda Gorman, whom European publishers are struggling to translate, is going to be on the cover of TWO issues of Vogue in late Spring. Poetry is making its mark on the public in some surprising ways.
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.
My Easter gift was a bright orange bud on one of my new plants. I peeked into the unfurling cluster of leaves and saw another emerging stem, and I’m happy. Also, discovered three nasturtium plants and a morning glory struggling up, so all the rain didn’t wash my seeds away, yay. (It’s gopher one, t, like, nine, so clearly, I’m winning.)