Blow It Up, Pufferfish! Plus the Poetry Friday Roundup

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.) Today, I’m sharing a poem I wrote during a March Madness poetry competition several years ago. When I initially signed up to host, this would have been a Poetry Princesses Friday, but then we changed our schedule. Sooooooo, you get a random poem instead :>)

Blow It Up, Pufferfish!

Now, I’ve been thinking about anxiety lately.

  • About my writing career (these are very bad times for working writers)
  • About the world
  • About all my teacher friends starting school
  • About promoting my new picture book, Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, about a kitty who is anxious about and then overwhelmed by starting school
  • About folks new to the Poetry Friday Community who have mentioned feeling too nervous to share their poems, etc.

I can’t do much about most of these. But the last one…I thought I’d give it a try. I thought about what I might say to a student if I were still a teacher, or what I would say to Clover Kitty, or to a friend. So I’m offering a little poetry advice/reassurance. You can click on it for a printable .pdf (though my .pdfs aren’t loading properly in  Firefox, so try another browser, like IE, if it doesn’t open for you). Shoutout to Jeannine Atkins, the wonderful poet who shared that Kay Ryan quotation (go to to see the slightly longer full quotation).

Mr. Linky is rounding us up today, so please fill out the doohickey below to both leave your link and to check out all the other links you can explore. Thanks for being part of Poetry Friday, and I look forward to reading all of your posts throughout the weekend!





43 Responses

  1. Happy to meet “Pufferfish with his fabulous Fickliness… love all the alliteration in your poem Laura. Thanks for this robust, encouraging post, I’m happy to see the quote here again about a poem knowing more than we know, I so agree! Hope Clover Kitty brings in lots of readers and fans this fall! Thanks also for hosting the roundup.

  2. Laura, that Kay Ryan quote impressed me too. And, I really like your advice to new Poetry Friday friends. Oh, my goodness. If Jan Goodwin Anino hadn’t held my hand and showed me exactly how to connect to PF four years ago, I would never have jumped in. I was fortunate to meet Jan at a workshop at Highlights. Since then, four of our group at Highlights have published or in the process of publishing kidlit. I’m far, far, far behind the publishing target…but, I keep plugging along. Someday, I would love a PF face to face conference so that more of us could meet in person. Someday I would like face to face meetings of all sorts! I miss those.

    1. Luckily, the poetry journey isn’t just about publishing. And I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently, Linda, how strong your poems are. I don’t know if I’m just noticing them anew, or if your poetry skills have taken a big leap forward in 2020, but they shine! And yes on meeting in person, someday, somewhere…

  3. Oh! And, I never said a word about your wonderful Pufferfish! Sorry about that.….talk about a lesson in word play.…fickle, slimy, needle-grin, whim, elastically.…all in one spectacular, puffy poem. Bravo!

  4. I love your poem, Laura, and am amazed at puffer fish, actually have a shell found long ago while snorkeling. Your kind words of advice in a graphic will work across all ages. Thank you, and for hosting, too!

    1. WOW! When you said shell, I thought, huh? But Laura Shovan’s pufferfish skeleton comment made me look up photos, and I am gobsmacked. Nature is just unbelievable…

  5. Yay you, for picking one achievable thing that you can help deal with, Laura — and acting. My favourite poems are those written by friends. And what better way to make new friends than to read their poems? Yes please; write and share, I say. 🙂

  6. I love your playful pufferfish poem! It is delightful. And your advice to poets is just what I needed as I get back in the groove of writing and sharing poetry again. Thank you!

  7. Thank you for hosting Laura! Despite his “drastic, fickle shape” you pufferfish is one ‘sharp’ fella! 😉
    Thank you for sharing your anxieties and your step-by-step encouragement. You are a gem. 🙂

  8. What a clever pufferfish! Not pretty but very smart. Lot’s of nice assonance in your poem. Thanks for your encouragement to poets. It helps in this anxious time.

  9. Thank you for hosting Laura. Your pufferfish was full of his own importance, but I’ll swim past him. Loved your support for those anxious poets, particularly the idea of playing with words- so important. We must be willing to approach poetry with a willingness to play with language.

    1. Very true–my poetry play has become too staid…I’m looking through poetry diaries from 10 years ago and thinking, wow, I need some of that messy spark back!

  10. Laura, thank you so much for all of this post! Your pufferfish poem is anything but grim, and I appreciate the poetry tips. Congratulations on Clover Kitty!

  11. Laura, what lovely encouragement for others! Thanks for hosting today.

  12. Laura, your pufferfish poem is full of delightful craft moves and so much fun to read aloud! Thanks for including the encouraging tips for dealing with poetry-writing anxiety and for hosting this week.

  13. I love your Pufferfish and your cheerful words of encouragement. Here’s to not waiting until we’re ready! And thank you for hosting! Ruth,

    1. Thanks, Ruth–sending continued good wishes for you as you start the school year!

  14. I love your graphic and the inspiration behind it Laura. We have so much anxiety in our world today. And, you are correct that there are many causes of anxiety that we can not help with but helping where and how we can is a great idea! Thanks for sharing this with our poetry community!

    1. Thanks, and you’re welcome! Yep, it’s all about our circle of influence. Lots I can’t do in the big pic, so I’ll try to do my tiny bit for my small community :>)

  15. Thanks for hosting today, Laura. A pufferfish skeleton was one of our February Poetry Project prompts a few years ago. They are truly odd looking, as your poem reminded me. Best wishes as you launch your new book!

    1. Oh, wow, that is amazing to look at their skeleton. Like a basket woven of bone. Thanks, Laura, and same to you. Lovely to see your book with Saadi getting so much wonderful press!

  16. Thank you for hosting, and for rounding me up!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your pufferfish poem! So fun to read aloud. All those short i sounds. I’ll use this poem for an early poem observation with my class. THANK you!

  17. Laura, your pufferfish poem is so much fun and would be great for a poetry science book! I love your use of 2nd person point of view, rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and rhyme. Pufferfish are amazing! I love the freedom your advice gives to students or adults. Thank you. I think your virtual book visits are a great way to promote your books during the pandemic! Whenever I’ve read one of your books to a child, to a group of children, or to myself all eyes were on the book and all ears were listening. Good luck.

  18. Laura, last week I was in the throes of Tropical Storm Isaias’ cleanup process so I had not power, electricity, hot water, or internet. I missed my Poetry Friday friends so today I am offering a belated PF post. Joy Harjo’s poem about a kitchen table caught my interest and allowed me to reminisce about the days around my kitchen table. I enjoyed your pufferfish poem and your infographic that I am keeping. Have a wonderful week and thanks for letting my entry go through.

  19. What a delight to read your pufferfish poem! I never knew about pufferfish until I moved to the Pacific NW and my teaching partner had a pufferfish for our discovery table. It was fun to discover something I had never encountered before with my 3rd graders. I love your advice, especially #3. I remember fondly when I met you and Irene (two of the best poetry friends ever) at NCTE 2014!

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