Monthly Archives: April 2018

Poetry Friday: Introducing Henry Crawford

To celebrate the last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month, I’d like to introduce you to Henry Crawford.

Henry Crawford was a featured poet at Wilde Readings in November.

This fall, Henry was a featured reader at Wilde Readings — the local literary series I co-host with poets Ann Bracken and Linda Joy Burke.

I was intrigued by the way Henry’s work as a lawyer and software developer impacts the form, content, and rhythm of his writing. More than anything else, though, what draws me into Henry’s poems is his attention to the vivid, precise details that tell a story, or bring a person to life in a few words.

Today, I’m sharing Henry’s poem “Off-hours” from his collection American Software. I’ll link to another poem at the end of this post.

Off-hours
By Henry Crawford

After the late shift
the cops will drop by.
Shots and a beer.
Nightsticks on the bar.

In a back booth
I dream my mother laughing
and there she is — laughing.
Her smudged mouth wide,
always longing.

“We gotta go now
little guy,” her breath
wet and pine tree
sweet, her boiled eyes
looking hard to see.

The jukebox is dark.
A tired jumble of moths
circle the bald bar light.
Even the cops are gone.

These streets belong to us now.
The radio knows this hour well.
My mother is singing to the wheel.
I’m in the backseat
pretending to sleep, tracing
the roads in my mind
just minutes before morning
on that slow roll home.

“Off-hours” and “Every Morning Maddie” appear in Crawford’s collection American Software. Available at Amazon.

“Off-hours” was first published in Scryptic magazine (December 2017 issue). It is shared here with the author’s permission.

If you enjoyed this poem, please check out Henry’s poem “Every Morning Maddie.” 

Henry says this poem, “Just came out as a new video by students on YouTube and its being republished in the Sligo Journal next week. I’m very grateful for all the help it gives to young people and their parents dealing with the issue of drug addiction.”

 

Thanks to Irene Latham for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday round-up at Live Your Poem! Hope you had a great Poetry Month, Irene.

 

Happy Birthday, Lee Bennett Hopkins!

Shh! Welcome, but come in quietly. It’s a Poetry Friday surprise birthday party.

As a debut verse novelist, I was thrilled to meet Lee at a 2016 library conference.

The guest of honor? Lee Bennett Hopkins! (Whoops — no exclamation points. We’re trying to keep this party a secret.)

Lee is not only a wonderful children’s poet and Guinness World Record holding anthologist (really — the citation is here), he has also been a mentor to many, many poets — including me.

I love sports poetry. That’s why, even though my new middle grade novel is not written in verse, I kept Lee’s anthology OPENING DAYS close to my desk while I was writing TAKEDOWN.

The rhythm, quick pace, and word-bursts of poetry are a great way to communicate the action and emotion of sports.

To help celebrate Lee’s birthday, I’m sharing his poem from OPENING DAYS, “Final Score.” Note: the book is illustrated by Scott Medlock.

This poem was one I returned to over and over as I wrote the story of two sixth grade wrestlers, a boy and a girl, who are struggling to figure out who they are on the mat, and — more importantly — off the mat.

What I find so compelling about this poem is that it’s not about the competition. It’s about the moment after. It’s a pause in the motion.

I tried — in some scenes from TAKEDOWN — to capture that same sense of quiet, of emptiness and release after the last buzzer sounds. This is what Lee masterfully portrays in “Final Score.”

FINAL SCORE
By Lee Bennett Hopkins
From OPENING DAYS, Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Eventually
there’s
a final score
when
games
have ended

when
they’re
over–

no more.

No more
batting
kicking
tossing a ball–

No more
stumbling,
fumbling,
rising up from a fall.

Games
have been played.

They’re over.
That’s all.

***

Where is the surprise party happening? At Life on the Deckle Edge. Robyn Hood Black is this week’s special Poetry Friday/National Novel Writing Month/Lee Bennett Hopkins celebration host!

Happy birthday and lots of love, Lee!

 

 

National Poetry Month Giveaway!

Happy National Poetry Month, everyone!

Check out the back cover re-design!

The paperback edition of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary comes out this week. To celebrate, I’m doing a *big* giveaway: A class set of books for one lucky teacher or librarian!

How do you enter? Simple.

I want to hear — and share — how your students are celebrating National Poetry Month. Are you reading a poem every day? Creating a Poe-Tree display (with poems on the leaves) in your library? Holding a poetry slam?

Tell the world about it.

Post a description of your National Poetry Month activities using the hashtag #ourNPMproject on Twitter, Instagram, or post it to my Facebook page. Be sure to tag me on your post. Your class will be entered in the giveaway. I’ll draw one random entry on April 30 and that person will receive a set of Last Fifth Grade paperbacks.

This box of paperbacks is going to one lucky winner! Post your students National Poetry Month project with the hashtag #ourNPMproject to be entered.

“But wait, Laura,” I hear you saying. “I need some poetry activity ideas.” You’ve got it.

There are some amazing poets and bloggers who are doing NPM projects that kids can try or follow:

Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup has a list of National Poetry Month events, projects, and write-alongs throughout the kidlitosphere. Check it out here.

Do your students love verse novels? How about this challenge: As a group, read 30 novels in verse in 30 days. Lesley Roessing has a reading list for you.

You’ll find Mr. Schu’s daily NPM recommended books on his Twitter page: https://twitter.com/MrSchuReads

Finally, Renee LaTulippe at No Water River is posting daily poetry writing exercises, led by 30 children’s poets. The series begins here, with Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle.

Here is the full schedule of Renee’s National Poetry Month posts:

I can’t wait to hear about all of your creative celebrations and projects. Good luck!

Texas Library Association — Hats off to poetry!

It’s Texas Library Association week! Come say hello. This is where I will be:

Tuesday 4/3
Pre-conference Poetry Rodeo 1-5 pm
Hosted by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong of Pomelo Books

Jen Bryant and I are doing a short presentation on Poetry and Art at 3 pm, but plan to spend the whole day. The line-up is fabulous!

Wednesday 4/4
Signing at the Random House Children’s Books booth 11 am -12 pm

Thursday 4/5
Poetry Jam 2:45
Featured poets include Margarita Engle, Janet Wong, and Juan Felipe Herrera. Wow!