Poetry Friday: Jane Kenyon Went to My Pool?

  I started reading Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems recently, and was shocked when part of one of the poems described a landmark of my childhood, The Langford Hotel, in Winter Park, Florida. My family had a membership to the pool, and my dad put on pool/diving shows there, sometimes including my sisters (I took diving

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Quotation Motivation: Lost at Sea

  “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”–Andre Gide This is one of my favorite quotations, because I need to remind myself of this frequently with regard to my writing. In my life, I’m up for adventure and change and challenge. But in my writing, I find

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Poetry Friday: Seal Lullaby (by Rudyard Kipling)

Yesterday, I was catching up on a little blog reading from National Poetry Month, and Kathi Appelt in her interview at The Miss Rumphius Effect mentioned her father reading Rudyard Kipling poems to her as a child. I’ve shared this poem once before, but I love it–so here it is again. Seal Lullaby Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the

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Three Days With Fourth Graders: The Poems

Last week, I shared some of the highlights and the areas I needed to work on in my poetry residency with fourth graders. Today I want to share just a few of their poems. Most of these were first drafts, written in three minutes or less–we put the timer to good use! I loved how

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Words Matter: Let Someone Know

I got the loveliest email last month. It was from Autumn Lubin, a woman I’ve never met, who recognized my name in an article about a writing fellowship. She works with foreclosure intervention counselors who work with families facing foreclosure, and here’s part of what she wrote: I start each of my classes by reading your poem “Smaller.” One of my

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Jeanette and Laura at Pinewood

Three Days With Fourth Graders: The Good

Back in April, my first trip was a three-day poetry residency with fourth graders. Four classes, an hour per day with each class. Most of my school visits are large-group presentations, so I hadn’t worked with classroom-sized groups on multi-day projects in ages. I had a great time with the kids, but afterward, I wondered

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Always a Runner-Up, Never a Bride

I’m back from a two-day mini-vacation with my husband (yay!) and I’ve got some good news to share! I was named an Honorable Mention for the Loft McKnight Fellowship, a much-coveted annual award here in Minnesota. The winner, Debra Frasier, gets $25,000 (hence the coveting!). The Honorable Mentions (my crit group partner Connie Van Hoven, Lynne

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Poetry Friday: A Round of Rondeau Redouble

  So, every once in a while, I get to write poems with the Poetry Princesses, which is an intimidating thrill. First, we did the crown sonnet. Next up was the villanelle. And then, with barely time for a deep sigh of relief after we posted those in December, we somehow ended up embroiled in a

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More Ways to Get Young Kids Involved in Poetry Readings

Yesterday, I shared some of the ways I try to engage young kids, especially pre-readers, in poetry reading during school visits. I don’t want to just stand there and recite my poems. I want the kids to own the poems, too. But there’s always limited time, so I can’t repeat poems three and four times

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Making Your Poems or Book Interactive for School Visits and Readings

Last fall, I wondered how to make the poems in Stampede more interactive for readings with young kids. For either pre-readers who can’t read the entire poem up on a screen or for settings where there’s no screen available. I got some great ideas from you guys (thanks!) and did some brainstorming on my own. I’ve been

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Kids Write the Darnedest Things

At my school visit last week, one teacher brought me a set of thank you letters from her kids before I left the school that afternoon. Letters from the kids are one of the very best things about school visits. Here are just a few highlights of notes from second-grade students: …My favorite part was

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How I Spend My Writing Days

Wildly busy and varied, that is! In an effort to share with beginning writers and also interested readers just what one full-time writer’s life is like, I kept a diary of my work days for one week in December. Today, that diary is up at David L. Harrison’s blog. And last week, there was an

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Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School

Stampede Is a Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award!

Exciting news over the weekend. I got home from a game night Saturday night to find a congratulations email from Joyce Sidman–for Stampede’s choice as a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards! The other three finalists in this category are Joyce herself, Alison McGhee, and Marion Dane Bauer. Wow. I’m in unbelievable company! I clicked

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Quotation Motivation: Deadlines

  I’m under a lot of deadline stress lately, so I thought I’d post a quotation that actually looked at the positive side of stress. Here it is: That’s right. There isn’t one. I couldn’t find a single quotation extolling the virtues of stress. Dang. But I did find this about deadlines: A deadline is

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