Sunday, September 19, 2010

Seeing is Believing

You may have noticed that I had taken a break from blogging over the course of several weeks. I was enjoying much rest and relaxation during my summer break from my full-time job as assistant librarian in a boys' private school.

In addition to reading poetry to/with children and teens, teachers and librarians can also extend young people's exposure to the genre via the Internet. Audio recordings of poets reading their own work and others reading the work of notable poets exist in abundance online.

There are plenty of video recordings of poets performing their work on the Internet as well. Here are 10 sites where you can hear poets who write for young people recite/read/perform their poems:

John Agard

This Guyanese-born UK poet, who writes for children, teens, and adults, served as Poet-in-Residence at England's National Maritime Museum from August to November 2008. Here, Mr. Agard performs his poems “Poetry Jump Up”, “Hello from Cello”, “Hippo to Her Husband”, and “Hippo to His Wife”. (Note: His poems "Crybaby Prime Minister" and "Listen Mr. Oxford Don" are suitable for sharing with teens and adults). He is married to Grace Nichols, also a Guyanese-born poet, who writes for young people and adults.

Sheree Fitch

This Canadian children's poet recites her poem "Mabel Murple" (which is published as a book). She also reads her book If I Were the Moon, and shares poems from her books If I Had a Million Onions and If You Could Wear My Sneakers. Sheree had her first book, Toes in My Nose, published in 1987. She also writes novels (middle-grade, young adult, and adult) and has written poetry for adults. Sheree lives in Nova Scotia.

Steven Herrick

This Australian author writes verse novels and poetry for children, teens, and adults. Here, viewers watch him perform his poems "To My Son, Joe", "10 Things Your Parents Will Never Say to You", "Lost in the Mist", "Witches of William Street", and "Trains". Steven lives in the New South Wales town of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

Jack Prelutsky

Mr. Prelutsky is the author of 40+ books of verse and has edited several poetry anthologies. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the first U.S. children's poet laureate. This site features a 40-minute webcast of his appearance at the 2007 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. The author reads several of his poems during the presentation. Mr. Prelutsky lives in Seattle, Washington.

Robert Heidbreder

This Canadian children's poet reads his rhyming picture book, Crocodiles Play, which was published in 2008. This is his follow-up title to Crocodiles Say. In 2002, Robert earned the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. He taught elementary school for 30 years and retired from teaching in 2005. Robert had his first book, Don't Eat Spiders, published in 1985. He lives in British Columbia.

Roger Stevens

This UK poet has had poems published in more than 100 anthologies. "How Can I Be Lonely", "Teachers", "Dad Don't Dance", "A List of Words", "Summer Sea", "Best Holiday", "Pencil Incident" and "Never Trust a Lemon". Four more of his poems read by others are also featured. In addition to being a poet, Roger is a musician and artist. Why Otters Don't Wear Socks is his latest poetry collection for kids.

Brod Bagert

In 1992, Mr. Bagert shut down his 21-year law practice to become a full-time poet. Here, he recites his poems "Protein Passion", "Phantom Fear", and "A Star is Born". This American author, born in New Orleans, has written 15 poetry collections for children and adults. His latest titles are School Fever, A Bullfrog at Cafe DuMonde, and Shout! Little Poems that Roar.

Michael Rosen

This highly prolific and popular British children's poet served as the fifth U.K. children's laureate from 2007 to 2009. Here, Mr. Rosen recites his poems "Boogy Woogy Buggy", "Down Behind the Dustbin", "Spelling", and "Lord Jim" as well as reads his book, We're Going on a Bear Hunt. When his book, The Hypnotiser, went out of print, he was unable to find a publisher to reprint it. As a result, he created recordings of all its poems which can be enjoyed on his site.

Benjamin Zephaniah

This UK poet 's work is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica. The music videos for his various works ("Rong Radio", "Responsible" "Genetics", "Touch", "Tam Lyn") offered here are suitable for sharing with teens and adults. Zephaniah has penned several books including the poetry collections School's Out: Poems Not for School for teens and Talking Turkeys for kids. He lives in Lincolnshire, England.

Mary Ann Hoberman

Mrs. Hoberman is an American author-poet who has written 42 books including All My Shoes Come in Twos and The Llama Who Had No Pajama. Her first novel, Strawberry Hill, was published in August 2009. The National Council of Teachers of English presented her with the 2003 Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Mrs. Hoberman's two-year term as the second U.S. children's poet laureate ends this year.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today's Featured Guest Reader - Connecting the Dots

U.S. children's author-poet David Harrison
has penned nearly 80 books (about one-fifth which are children's poetry books). He is also the poet laureate of Drury University in Springfield, Missouri where he lives. (His term in this position was renewed in 2008).

Mr. Harrison hosts a blog called "Connecting the Dots" which is one of the four children's poetry blogs I read daily.

You can catch me today as the featured guest reader on his blog. He has posted my photograph along with my poem: "It Takes a Friend: A Poem for Two Voices".

Thank you again, David, for giving this emerging children's poet a chance to share her work with your blog readers.

"Prose is words in their best order. Poetry is the best words in their best order." -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Monday, June 28, 2010

News from the United Kingdom

On Friday, June 25th, I found two tidbits of UK kidlit news that I would like to share with you here.

Manchester Children's Book Festival (July 1st - 4th, 2010)

This event is the first of its kind to take place in the northwest of England.

Can't make it to the festival? Regardless of where you live in the world, you can still be a part of the event by participating in its Readathon.

Here is a list of U.K. children's poets who will be participating at the festival: John Agard, Gillian Clarke, Mandy Coe, Jackie Kay, Grace Nichols, Michael Rosen, and Carol Ann Duffy (the festival director).

More on Carol Ann Duffy:

Duffy is the UK poet laureate. In May 2009, she was named to this position which she will hold for ten years. Duffy is the first woman and Scot to hold the position as well as the first laureate to be selected in the 21st century.

Children's Poet Laureate in Wales

On June 2nd, 2010, author and bard Dewi 'Pws' Morris was named as the Children's Poet Laureate of Wales.

In the one-year position, he will work to raise the profile of poetry amongst young people and to encourage them to create and enjoy poetry.

Not only is he a member of the Welsh bardic team, Crannog, he is a singer, actor, and TV presenter as well. He hails from Treboeth in Swansea and now lives in Tresaith, Ceredigion.

To find out more about Morris and his appointment to the position, click here for a BBC news report written in Welsh and click here for a BBC news report written in English.

Twm Morys is the outgoing Wales Children's Poet Laureate.


"Poetry is my travel diary that shows I've been in a state of wonder."

-- Juanita Havill, U.S. picture book author

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Upcoming Guest Appearance on Connecting the Dots

U.S. children's author-poet David Harrison will be featuring me as one of the guest readers (of his blog) in the very, very near future.

For those of you who do not know him, he is the author of nearly 80 children's books (about one-fifth which are children's poetry books). He is also the poet laureate of Drury University in Springfield, Missouri where he lives. (His term in this position was renewed in 2008).

Once I have the date as to when he will be posting my poem and photo on his blog, I will let you all know. To view his blog, which is called "Connecting the Dots", click here.

I think it is so generous and helpful that he is giving readers of his blog a chance to share their work.

David will be leading Somebody Ought to Write a Poem, a workshop in writing children's poetry, which takes place from Thursday, June 2nd - Sunday, June 5th in 2011. This session will be offered as one of the Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops which are hosted at the home of the founders of Highlights for Children near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Click here for full details and registration information.

A Poetic Form Rooted in Math -- No Fibbing!

There's no getting away from mathematics. It springs up everywhere even in the act of writing poetry.

Fibonacci is the name of a mathematical sequence in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. The sequence begins with 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610 and continues on.

Background information on the sequence’s namesake

Leonardo Fibonacci (c. 1170 – c. 1250) was an Italian mathematician who was known by numerous names including Leonardo of Pisa, Leonardo Pisano, and Leonardo Bonacci. The sequence is named for him though he is not the one who discovered it. Fibonacci introduced the sequence to Western European mathematics in his 1202 book, Liber Abacis, but the sequence had been previously described in Indian mathematics.

Fibonacci Poems

A fibonacci poem consists of 6 lines made up of a total of 20 syllables. Here is the breakdown:

Line 1 - one syllable

Line 2 - one syllable

Line 3 - two syllables

Line 4 - three syllables

Line 5 - five syllables

Line 6 - eight syllables

Here is the sequence at work in the poem:

# of syllables in lines 1 + 2 = # of syllables in line 3

# of syllables in lines 2 + 3 = # of syllables in line 4

# of syllables in lines 3 + 4 = # of syllables in line 5

# of syllables in lines 4 + 5 = # of syllables in line 6

Here are three quick Fibonacci poems about colours which I recently wrote when I flexed my fibbing muscles for the first time:







indigo, aqua,

cobalt, turquoise, cerulean.







ruby, sangria,

candy apple, vermillion.







icterine, jonquil,

amber, mustard, sunglow.

So here's to fibbing (the good kind)!


"Everyday take time to start to learn a little poem by heart."

-- Mary Ann Hoberman, U.S. children's poet laureate (2008-2010)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday Poet -- We Love You So

Today, I would like to send a birthday shout out to poet Nikki Giovanni!

For those of you who are not familiar with her, this hip U.S. wordsmith writes poetry for both adults and children.

Giovanni has also served as editor on various children's poetry collections. She edited Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (2008) and served as an advisory editor (along with poets Billy Collins and X.J. Kennedy) on Poetry Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (2008).

Since there is no greater poetic experience than to hear a poet read his/her work, I encourage you to visit the following sites to hear Giovanni perform two of her poems.

Click here to listen to a short interview with Giovanni and her reading of her poem "So Enchanted with You" on the Poetry Foundation website. This poem is from her book "Bicycles: Love Poems" (2009)

Click here to listen to Giovanni recite her poem "All Eyes on Him" which she penned as a tribute to the late recording artist Tupac Shakur (1971-1996).

Here are three tidbits of trivia about Ms. Giovanni:

*Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia which was the site of a tragic shooting in 2007. She composed a chant-poem which she read at the memorial service held on the day after the incident.

*The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, which features her reading and talking about her poetry, was one of five Grammy Award finalists.

*The bat species, Micronycteris giovanniae, is named in her honour.

Visit her website to learn more about the poet and her work.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

To Market, To Market

As a poet for young people, you may dream of having a book published whether it be a poetry collection, non-fiction book told in free verse, picture book told in rhyme, or a verse novel. It can take years to write a book and years for your manuscript to see the light of day as a book after it has been selected to be published.

When a children's poet's first book hits the shelves, s/he wants to get the word out about the book to as many folks as possible. But you might be asking yourself: "Do children's poets have to wait for the release of their first book before they can begin to cultivate a following?" My answer to that question is a resounding "No."

Liz Brownlee is a children's poet based in England who has had her work published in 60+ children's poetry anthologies in the United Kingdom. Her first collection of animal poems is scheduled for release in 2011 with Iron Press. Greg O'Connell is a New Zealand children's poet who has had his work published several times in School Journal New Zealand. He has a presentation, Interactive Poetry Show, which he takes on the road to schools. He also has his first CD, A Spider's on the World Wide Web, featuring 100 children's poems, scheduled for release in November 2010. From what I've been able to figure out, he doesn't even have a book out. Are you convinced yet?

It is worth exploring the option of getting your poetry for young people published in children's magazines. Having your poetry published in quality children's magazines shows a book editor that other people have liked your work enough to publish it. In North America, at least, editors are known to consult children's magazines as a way to find contributors for anthologies of children's poetry. I have provided below a list of 23 publications that publish poetry for young people to help you get started on creating a following much sooner rather than much later. Good luck!


The Scrumbler
Michael Kavanagh, a Canadian poet living in England, is the founder and editor of The Scrumbler. This children's poetry magazine, aimed at kids 7 - 13, features work written by folks (young people and adults) from around the world.

Berry Blue Haiku
Online poetry magazine, for kids up until the age of 13, which makes its debut in June 2010.


Magazine is produced in two editions: one for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students and the other for Grade 4 to Grade 8 students.

Yes Magazine: The Science Magazine for Adventurous Minds, based in Victoria, British Columbia, is aimed at 10 to 15 year olds. Know Magazine: The Science Magazine for Curious Kids, also based in Victoria, British Columbia, is aimed at 6 - 9 year olds.

Crow Toes Quarterly (Richmond, British Columbia)
This magazine is described as a playfully dark arts and literature e-zine and limited edition print magazine for readers aged 9 and up.


Guardian Angel Kids
Online interactive e-zine for 2 - 12 year olds.

The following three publications are produced by the same publisher: Hopscotch is magazine aimed at girls in elementary school and middle school. Boys' Quest is aimed at boys aged 6 to 14. As for Fun for Kidz magazine, I would say that it is aimed at kids who are about 7 - 12 years old.

Children's Better Health Institute publishes three magazines: Turtle (Ages 3-5), Humpty Dumpty (Ages 5-7), and Jack and Jill (8-12).

Cricket Magazine Group publishes five magazines: Babybug (6 months-3 years old), Ladybug (3-6 years old), Spider (6-9 years old), Cricket (9-14 years old), and Cicada (teens).


Pearson Education Australia publishes three magazines: Comet (ages 5-7), Explore (8-10), and Challenge (11-14).


School Magazine Australia, founded in 1916, is the premier literary children's magazine in Australia. It is published by the New South Wales Department of Education. It is made up of four titles: Countdown (reading age around 7-9), Blast Off (reading age around 9-10), Orbit (reading age around 10-11), and Touchdown (reading age around 11-14).

School Journal New Zealand is made up of five sections which include Junior Journal (6-7 year olds), Part One (7-8 year olds), Part Two (8-9 year olds), Part Three (9-11 year olds), and Part Four (11-13 year olds).