Archives: Poetry Friday

5 Questions for the Author: Stacy Mozer

It was the solstice this week, Poetry Friday friends. Summer is here. I’m not a hot weather person, but there is one thing I will go outside for: baseball.

I love going to Camden Yards for an Orioles game on a hot summer night, eating crab cakes, drinking beer or Icees, and spending time with my family through the long innings.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sports in the past several months as I finish up work on my next book, Take Down, which is set on a middle school wrestling team. Visiting me today for an interview — and to share a poem for Poetry Friday — is Stacy Barnett Mozer, one of the authors behind the blog Sporty Girl Books.

Stacy’s latest book is The Perfect Trip, about Sam (Samantha) Barrette, a girl who has just made the boys’ travel baseball league.

Thanks for joining me for 5 Questions for the Author, Stacy!

1. THE PERFECT TRIP works as a stand-alone novel, but can you fill us in on Sam’s first story, THE SWEET SPOT? How has the character grown and changed since that book?

In the first book Sam is struggling to find her place as a thirteen-year-old female baseball player. At the beginning of the book she learns that her coach feels she has an attitude and that the only way he’ll recommend her for travel baseball is if she gets a good performance at baseball camp. But when she arrives they expect her to be a boy and place her on the team with weaker and younger players and it goes downhill from there. As in this book, Sam’s family plays an important role in the story. At the start of the book Sam sees her stepmother Nancy as the enemy and is completely forgiving of her never-present birth mother. She has to learn to sort those relationships out too.

2. One of my favorite scenes in THE PERFECT TRIP takes place at a pick-up baseball game at a campground. A group of older boys is sure they’ll win against their younger brothers, even more so when Sam joins the younger boys’ team. I love the dramatic irony of this scene. Can you talk about how girl athletes challenge expectations?

Thank you for picking up on that scene. My two books were originally written in the reverse order and it was when I wrote that scene at the campground that I discovered the real motivation of my real main character. As an elementary school teacher, there have been many years that I have watched girls being undervalued when they want to play sports at recess. I used to be able to name on my hand the ones who were able to persevere and fight for the respect they deserved on the field. Fortunately, I do feel that trend is currently on the upswing. There has been more attention given to women and sports in the news and the boys don’t seem as surprised to see the girls playing with them. I don’t think it hurts that they all know about my book as well.

3. I loved the relationship between Sam and her younger half-sister, Deborah. Would you describe how you drew these sisters and made their moments of love, annoyance, and betrayal so believable.

My younger sister and I always had a very close relationship. Even though she is as different from Deborah as I am from Sam, I definitely put the emotion behind our relationship into the story. We had mostly good times, but there were those moments. Deborah also has in her some of my daughter Annie. Annie was Deborah’s age when I wrote the book and I would pluck some scenes and conversations from observing her behavior and interests. Then I would place myself in the role of her older sister to see how I would react.

4. Sam’s real name is Samantha — a name she doesn’t use much. One of the main characters in my upcoming book is a girl wrestler, and I played around with names and nicknames too. She’s Mikayla at home, but “Mickey” on the wrestling mat (on the advice of her older brothers). Why are names so important? When female athletes play on co-ed or male teams, do you think names impact how their teammates and opponents view girls and women?

When I first wrote The Perfect Trip Sam’s name was Zoey. When I realized I wanted the people at baseball camp to think she was a boy, I needed a unisex name. I wasn’t sure which one I wanted, so I took it back to my third grade class. They voted for Sam. I don’t think that names should matter, but in this case it was important for the mix up.

5. Who was your female athlete hero when you were Sam’s age? What was important to you about her?

I can’t remember any particular female athlete heroes from my childhood, but there were two movies with female athletes that I’ve never forgotten. The first was Quarterback Princess with Helen Hunt as a female football player. The second is a lesser-known movie called Blue Skies Again, which is about a female baseball player. I remember watching both movies over and over and thinking how amazing it was that these girls were fighting for their right to play with the boys. When I was older, I admired Mia Hamm, which is why I had Sam’s best friend Tasha give her a few shout outs during The Perfect Trip.

School’s out for Heidi Mordhorst! She’s hosting the first Poetry Friday of summer at My Juicy Little Universe.

Please stop by Stacy’s website to read her full bio. I had no idea we were both NYU grads!

Since it’s Poetry Friday, I asked Stacy to recommend a poem to pair with THE PERFECT TRIP.

Her choice? The perfect poem! Here is “First Girls in Little League Baseball,” by J. Patrick Lewis — shared with Pat’s express permission.

 

 

First Girls in Little League Baseball

By J. Patrick Lewis

December 26, 1974
Title IX of the 1972 Education Act is signed, providing for equal opportunity in athletics for girls as well as boys.

The year was 1974
When Little Leaguers learned the score.
President Ford took out his pen
And signed a law that said from then
On women too would have the chance
To wear the stripes and wear the pants.
Now what you hear, as flags unfurl,
Is “Atta boy!” and “Atta girl!”

Posted with permission of the author.

5 Questions for the Author: Meg Eden

Mary Lee Hahn is hosting this week. Stop by the blog A Year of Reading for this week’s poetry offerings from around the kidlitosphere.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone.

This week, I’m celebrating my friend Meg Eden‘s upcoming debut YA novel, Post-High School Reality Quest. I first met Meg when I was editing Little Patuxent Review. She is a talented young poet, and our journal published several of her poems.

Here’s what you’ll find in this post:

  • blurb of Post-High School Reality Quest from Goodreads,
  • interview with author Meg Eden (she has fascinating insights into transitioning from poetry to long-form fiction),
  • a poem by Meg,
  • link to a book giveaway!

PHSRQ publishes next week, June 13. Here is the description from Goodreads.

Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.

After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to life her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.

While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.

***

Congratulations on your debut, Meg! Let’s dive into the interview.

  1. I love quest stories with female leads. How does Post-High School Reality Quest follow and/or break with the traditional quest narrative?

You could say Buffy’s quest is for Tristan, but there’s nothing epic about it. She’s not going to any dramatic lengths to get him, despite how much she might want him. What might be more accurate is to say that Buffy’s quest is to survive, to return to normalcy. When I think of quest narratives, I think of journeys and characters that actively travel to get what they want. Buffy isn’t “setting out” on a quest. In fact, her desire is antithetical to “setting out”—if it was up to her, she’d be “setting in,” remaining in the comfort of her patterns. But instead the world is changing around her, the text parser is calling her to action, and she’s just hanging on for the ride.

It’s interesting that many girl-led quests are about a return to normalcy. There’s Alice, Dorothy, Coraline. But that’s a topic for another day.

  1. It’s clear from your main character’s name (Buffy!) that there are a lot of Easter eggs in PHSRQ for geeks and gamers. Can you tell us about a few of those without revealing any spoilers?

Buffy’s name for her backpack is “inventory,” a shout-out to a vital attribute in pretty much every game ever. There are some beautifully illustrated memes, including a nod to “You don’t say” Nicholas Cage and “I know that feel, bro.” Merrill’s house has the address number 404, as if it doesn’t exist (a reference to 404 website errors). There’s a love letter written out like code, and a birthday cake written in binary. There are Slave Leia costumes, an NES Super Scope, multiple Pikachu instances, a prized Pokemon Stadium N64 cartridge, and all sorts of other things I’m currently blanking on.

  1. Your book is written in second person. That’s a challenging point-of-view to write from, but fitting for a novel about video games. Would you explain the importance of the “You” voice for non-gamers?

Post-High School Reality Quest is the form of a classic text-adventure game–that is, those old MS-DOS games, before graphics, where the game would narrate what was happening, and you would type in commands to interact with the game (e.g., “You are in a room. There is an axe. Exits are: out.” and to move out of the room, you’d type “out”). By narrating in second person, these games attempted to place the player in the environment as a character in their story. You could say that in text-adventure games, there are two distinct voices: that of the narrator and that of the player. This would be totally different if the games were narrated as “I”—they would make the game and the player one in the same.

Narrating from the “you” in PHSRQ allowed me to create conflict between the text parser and Buffy, to have two different narrators and two different goals. First or third person narration wouldn’t inherently carry this conflict.

  1. You’re a published poet who is debuting as a YA novelist. How was writing fiction was different than putting together a book of poetry? How did being a poet benefit you as you worked on this novel?

This is a great question, and a hard one to answer. I think in short: a book of poems is about (to me at least) different angles on a related experience. There are lots of tendrils, and there’s an emotional rise and fall, but not usually a plot. There’s not necessarily a climax or conclusion, and it’s focusing more on the experience than the end-goal. A novel is about following characters through a narrative of wants and obstacles. Poetry’s structure is a rising line: imagery leading to a realization. A novel’s structure is an arc of obstacles rising to a climax and choice, leading back down to a resolution.

All types of writing are exercises, like going to the gym. Poetry stretches my muscles for using space and words efficiently, using object-oriented language and imagery, and leading to a realization. Fiction stretches my muscles for keeping the action moving and going: of figuring out what my characters want, and what gets in the way of that.

Being a poet helped me focus in on the objects and specificity in Buffy’s experiences in PHSRQ. It gave me a fresh approach to writing a novel, where I was less concerned about what needed to happen or hitting the “outline” of what a novel’s structure is “supposed” to be and instead just enjoying observing what was already there. I feel like my background in poetry made me thrive on the complexity of the characters and situations, and observe instead of imposing my “game plan” of what should happen.

  1. Imagine one of your favorite poets has just written his or her first prose novel for teens. Which poet is it? Why do you think this person would be a great fit for a YA novel? Any guesses as to what the book might be about?

I would LOVE it if Fatimah Asghar would do this. I teach her poem “Pluto Shits on the Universe” in so many of my classes for lots of reasons, but the big one that I love to point out is the language of the experience. She makes Pluto into a real character, with a believable and relatable voice.  Whatever her novel would be about, it would have character and voice and I would without question get sucked into it.

I asked Meg to share a poem in which she explores similar themes to those in PHSRQ.

Shigeru Miyamoto Goes Spelunking

with a line from an interview[1]

By Meg Eden. Previously published in Cartridge Lit. 

When you say you explored caves as a boy,
I think about the abandoned Sears catalogue homes
I grew up with: watching them rot, heavy with secrets.
What I’d give to go in that unreachable place.

Playing Zelda, seeing those doors on-screen
that resided on the other side of a wall—why
are there always so many walls? No matter
how many games I play there are always

impassable places. Disappearing places.
When McKenzie from down the street died
I told my dad I was biking to his house
to explore it & he didn’t stop me. I biked there

but couldn’t go inside: those ripped curtains
in the window, that sign on the back door
with drawing of a gun that read: If you’re here
today they’ll find your body here tomorrow.

I biked back home. If I was born a boy,
would I have gone inside? Or were there caves
in Sonobe that you were afraid of, too?
You say that going back home, someone has blocked

the entrances to your caves. Does that stop you
from going inside? I like to think I’ll go inside
the dilapidated houses I see off the side of the road
but instead I take pictures from my car & try

to rebuild them inside me. It’s not the same
as reaching your hand in a river & realizing
you’ve touched a fish but what else can you do
in this paved and partitioned world?

[1] from Master of Play by Nick Paumgarten (The New Yorker)

Would you like a copy of Post-High School Reality Quest? Enter this giveaway!

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School Poetry Workshop: Poetry Celebration!

Thanks to Buffy Silverman for hosting Poetry Friday this week. Stop by Buffy’s Blog for all of this week’s poetry links.

Happy Poetry Friday! I’m saying goodbye to Northfield Elementary School this week. For the past month, I’ve been conducting a poetry residency with the school’s third grade.

At the bottom of this post, I’m sharing a gallery of some of the poetry displays. The kids outdid themselves this year!

Our final workshop was on persona poems. You’ll find lesson details in my recent posts, linked at the bottom of this page. Let’s get straight to the poetry!

In Erin’s poem, I see an imaginative leap when an unexpected character enters the poem, adding tension to the story.

Poet: Erin A.

Hello, my name is Bob. I am
47 years old. I live in Florida
and love lamb. Today, I got a promotion
and raise. My family will be so
happy. I have two boys, a wife,
and a pet puppy. My family was
very happy, even my puppy.
It went better
than I expected.
We went outside
for dinner.
But suddenly,
my big brother came.
I knew
he was going
to make fun
of me. But
he didn’t. He said
very good things
about me. Right
at that moment
I felt really special.

*

Here is the updated poem, on display at our celebration.

Eva’s poem also has a moment where something unexpected happens.

Poet: Eva L.

Spring Day

It was a new spring day
on the field, many dandelions on the ground.
A little boy ran to the field.
He picked up a full dandelion.
He was thinking, let me make more
seeds for spring.
Maybe if I do that will I be a
spring hero.
The boy went to blow the dandelion.
Then a big wind just blew the dandelion.
The little boy worried the dandelion
is not blown by him.
Will he be a spring hero?
Or dandelion seeds not grow?
All will see in the next spring.

*

Alex wrote our only non-human persona poem this year. This one made me laugh! Wow — that’s some clever use of onomatopoeia.

Poet: Alex K.

I am a cat.
I have brown and black fur.
Hands pick me up!
Save me—ow!
My eyes glisten with unhappiness!
Put me down!
Get away.
You’re licking me!
Weird lady, get away!
She puts me down.
I scramble to hide.
Where do I hide?
An empty bowl?
I get in it and wait
‘til she finds me.

*

Miah’s poem is has an air of mystery. I feel sad for the character she created, who loves to play with friends, but seems to be struggling at home.

Poet: Miah A.

A child playing with friends,
laughing and active.
Playing until the moon meets.
Feeling happiness in all the other children.
Always active,
never resting.
Loudness disturbs Mom’s quiet time.
Waves goodbye, in her blue eyes,
they shine today, with the friendship.
But Jessie couldn’t do her homework.
Mom did not rest. They got mad,
but I just smiled.

*

I had a chance to hear Claire perform this poem for visitors today. She did a great job imagining what it might feel like to be a college student.

Poet: Claire D.

I like my friends Sarah,
Stella, and Lisa in college.
They are so kind. But especially I love…
MY UNIVERSITY! It’s beautiful.
It has good education and kind teachers.
When I read the books in the library
I feel I am part of the story.
But when I feel the potions
in Chemistry, it feels tickly on my fingers.
But I just love the people. They wave. They laugh,
which makes me feel like I belong.

*

Now for a quick photo gallery!

Haiku by Kevin Z.

Food poem by Abby W.

Thanks again to the Northfield 3rd grade team and families for giving me permission to share students’ persona poems.

*

Check out the previous posts in this School Poetry Workshop series:

School Poetry Workshop: Haiku Hike, May 12, 2017
School Poetry Workshop: Food and the Five Senses, May 19, 2017
School Poetry Workshop: A Second Helping of Food Poems, May 25, 2017
School Poetry Workshop: Persona Poems, May 30, 2017
School Poetry Workshop: Creating a Character, June 1, 2017

School Poetry Workshops: A Second Helping of Food Poems

Last weekend, I visited my home state for NerdCampNJ. (Hey, Jersey! Looking good.) There’s no better way to spend a rainy Saturday than surrounded by educators, authors, and super readers.

At NerdCampNJ with members of the Sweet 16s debut author group (L to R): Isabel Bandeira (Bookishly Ever After, YA), Kristy Acevedo (Consider, YA), Melanie Conklin (Counting Thyme, MG), me with my button-covered lanyard, and Kathy MacMillan (Sword and Verse, YA).

One of the highlights of my day was co-leading a workshop: Building Literacy with Poetry and Books in Verse. You can find notes from the workshop here.

I met two wonderful poet/authors.

Beth Ain’s new verse novel is IZZY KLINE HAS BUTTERFLIES. It’s a great book for kids who enjoyed reading THE LAST FIFTH GRADE. It has an upper elementary school setting and an inviting voice. Izzy is working through real life problems with humor and thoughtfulness. (Beth has a very cool writing activity that supports developing emotional intelligence. There’s more info at her Instagram account.)

Available July, 2017.

Emma Otheguy’s debut picture book in verse is MARTI’S SONG FOR FREEDOM a biography of poet and activist José Martí. You can read more about Emma’s book here. I’m a huge fan of picture book biographies and this book is gorgeous. The story is told in Spanish/English poems by historian Otheguy.

I still had a taste for food poems, since my Northfield 3rd Grade poets described their favorite delicacies so well. That’s why, for my part of the NerdCampNJ workshop, I walked teachers through the Mystery Food exercise (find it here) and shared the mentor text, “Good Hotdogs,” by Sandra Cisneros.

Stop by Margaret Simon’s blog, Reflections on the Teche, for more Poetry Friday poems, reviews, and posts.

Thanks to the Northfield 3rd grade team and families for giving me permission to share students’ food poems with our Poetry Friday community. Let’s read more poems focusing on using imagery of the five senses.

 

 

Kelly’s poem is filled with tactile details about chocolate.

Poet: Kelly J.

Chocolate

Brown and smooth
Comes in different tasty flavors
With sweet smells
And chewy sounds
It’s crunchy and juicy
With it mostly hard
Sometimes there are bumps
Sometimes there are cracks
They don’t taste as delicious
If they are all melted.

The milky bites in my mouth
Remind me of cake
Chocolate cake is
Creamy and
All mushy.

 

Can you hear the rhythm and near-rhymes that Benjamin plays with in this fun poem?

Poet: Benjamin W.

Bubble Gum

Stretchy fun blow a bubble
When it pops blow again
Lost its taste get another
Ran out buy another
Any kind, get some color
Crank it up, taste the sugar
Add some mint, make it smell good
Hear the sound when it pops
Change the color, blue green pink

 

I like the pet cameo at the end of Zola’s poem about chocolate.

Poet: Zola G.

Chocolate

On the shelf at Aldi’s
Milk chocolate
Just waiting to be
Bought.
After my dinner of
Potatoes, broccoli, and sausage,
I ask the sometimes
Devastating question
“Can I have a chocolate bar?”
“Yes, of course. You
Ate real good.”
I run over to our candy cupboard
Which some people think
Looks like Mr. Willy Wonka’s
Factory!
I grab my chocolate and
Sit down to eat.
The sweet, creamy taste
Is awesome on my tongue.
Gnocchi looks up at me and
Then the chocolate.
It’s poison for dogs!
I won’t give her any! All for me.

 

Annchi’s poem tells a whole story. Have you ever gone fishing for your dinner? I have.

Poet: Annchi L.

Fried Fish

A rock around
On the bank, I sit
Only me and Dad
My hand holds a fishing pole
The bait is worms.
I can feel the worms squirm in my hand
As I put them on the hook.
Holding the fishing pole I swing my arm
Plop!
I sit there waiting, talking with my dad
Suddenly, something pulls and tugs.
I pull the string with all my might
Beads of sweat doll down
There I battle with the fish
Like playing tug-of-war with my friends
My dad helps, with one tug
The fish gives up.
Two against one.
I bolted back to home.
My mother fried it,
Sizzling in the pan,
I gobbled it up, a meaty flavor
I spit out all the prickly things
At my brother.
I run back to the bank, wanting for more!

 

Isabella’s poem had me drooling.

Poet: Isabella H.

Chocolate Peach Crêpe

In Canada, we go snow tubing.
Me, my cousins, grandparents, Mom, and Dad.
Afterwards, we eat the perfect French
Delight. Cling, cling, go the coins. I watch
The baker place the batter on the pan.
She spreads it flat and talks to us.
She plops on the big, juicy peaches,
Drizzles on the chocolate, scoops on
The ice cream, and rolls it up. When I see
The plate, it is white and plain…
Until she adds the crêpe. It’s thin,
Soft and creamy. Oops. It’s gone.
I gobbled it down.

 

I like the way that Nieve listened closely to the mentor text and incorporated ideas  from “Good Hotdogs” into this poem.

Poet: Nieve T.

Pizza

Cheesy golden brown saucy
Two dollars for a piece
We arrive to the shop
Cheesy, crunch
Crust is golden brown
“Crunch, crunch, crunch”
Smells like olives and cheese
Grease dripping down
I hum
We drive home.
I save none for my sister
Golden brown crust.
Yum! That pizza was so good.

 

Max and I had a good chat about our favorite hamentashen flavors. This cookie is a traditional Jewish food, enjoyed during the spring festival of Purim. Haman is the villain in the story of Esther, which is retold and acted out at Purim celebrations.

Poet: Max S.

Hamentashen

Flatten that dough
Circled out
Put some Nutella in the circle
Folded into a triangle
Hardened and heated
Yummy cookie and Nutella!
We eat Haman’s hat.
Bad Haman.
Smooth brown Nutella
In Haman’s hat.

 

This is another poem with great energy. Kali shares the anticipation of waiting for a favorite food.

Poet: Kali L.

Papa’s Special Pasta!

Every summer
Once a year
Saucy, sweet
Red sauce
Boiling water
Come, come on
Everyone it’s here
I can smell it
Come on
Five people here
Waiting on two
Come on Come
on

Our last workshop at Northfield will be persona poems. Look for those next week.

Check out the previous posts in this School Poetry Workshop series:

School Poetry Workshop: Haiku Hike, May 12, 2017
School Poetry Workshop: Food and the Five Senses, May 19, 2017

NPM 2017: 5 Questions for the Verse Novelist, Featuring Shari Green

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone.

My series of interviews with verse novelists continues today with middle grade author Shari Green.

But first, a quick PSA:

This week, I did a guest posting at School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox blog. Blog team member Amanda MacGregor invited me to write up this year’s February Poetry Project as a social justice poetry prompt for teens. Check it out at SLJ online!

Shari Green is the author of ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES. Her latest book is the verse novel MACY McMILLAN AND THE RAINBOW GODDESS. Welcome, Shari!

NPM 2017 Feature: Verse Novelist Interviews

NPM 2017 poster by Maira Kalman. Request a free poster at this site.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! Are you ready to celebrate National Poetry Month 2017?

Like many Poetry Friday bloggers, I do an annual project for NPM. This year, my theme is novels-in-verse. I’ve got a great line-up of authors, ready to talk about the art and craft of the verse novel.

But, before the line-up, a big National Poetry Month announcement!

I’m very excited to be partnering with Nerdy Book Club on poetry outreach.

Tune into the Nerdy Book Club’s Facebook page this Sunday night, 9 pm EST. I will be live-streaming a poetry-lesson walk-through.

I continue to hear from educators who shy away from teaching poetry. Often it’s because they were taught (usually in high school) that analyzing a poem is more important than enjoying it.  Join me on Sunday as we discuss how teaching a poem can be fun, and help students learn analytical reading skills *at the same time*! This is a lesson/workshop that you can replicate in your classroom or home school.

You’ll find details and information about this event here. Wish me luck!

On Monday, April 3, my series of interviews with verse novelists kicks off with Jeannine Atkins.

Here is the full list of posts:

4/3 Jeannine Atkins, STONE MIRRORS: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis (Find the post here.)

4/6 Caroline Starr Rose, BLUE BIRDS (Find the post here.)

4/10 Leza Lowitz, UP FROM THE SEA (Find the post here.)

4/13 Shari Green, MACY McMILLAN AND THE RAINBOW GODDESS (Find the post here.)

4/17 Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, SOMEWHERE AMONG (Find the post here.)

4/20 Ellie Terry, FORGET ME NOT (Find the post here.)

4/24 Margarita Engle, MORNING STAR HORSE and FOREST WORLD (Find the post here.)

4/25 Tamera Will Wissinger, GONE CAMPING (Find the post here.)

4/27 Debut novelist Amanda Rawson-Hill (Find the post here.)

4/30 Holly Thompson, FALLING INTO THE DRAGON’S MOUTH (Find the post here.)

You can find a full list of National Poetry Month blog projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting Poetry Friday this week. See you over at the Poem Farm!

Laura’s Bookshelf: THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING

Karen Edmisten is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday round-up. Stop by her blog for more poetry posts.

Happy Poetry Friday. It’s been a while since we visited my bookshelf, friends.

In Bookshelf posts, I pair a middle grade or young adult novel with a poem, to be read and enjoyed side by side.

Earlier this month, my friend Jeff Giles visited Maryland as part of his book tour. Jeff’s debut novel, THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING, published in January.

I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) for this dark fantasy/romance novel last summer. Then I gave my signed ARC to my brother for his birthday, read an e-ARC, and spent several months kicking myself for not keeping the book. At last! I have a signed hard-cover copy of THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING and it is not leaving my hot little hands.

I don’t know if we’ve talked about this, friends, but Dark Romantic heroes have my heart. Give me Mr. Rochester, Heathcliff, and Darcy — GIVE ME WIZARD HOWL. Leave the happy, charming, sporty boys for someone else. If a book’s love interest is tall, dark, and handsome with a secret past and a brooding attitude, I am all in.

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING is about the otherworldly, unrequited romance between fiercely independent high-schooler Zoe and X, a bounty hunter from Hell (which he calls the Lowlands). Much of X’s charm comes from the fact that he is the Lowland’s only home-grown bounty hunter. He was born there and raised by a makeshift “family” of murderers and sinners serving their sentences in the afterlife. X and Zoe meet accidentally as he collects a fallen soul on a remote Montana mountaintop. She falls hard for this strange boy and decides to help him figure out who he is and how to break his bonds to the Lowlands.

This book is filled with great supporting characters, from Zoe’s goofy, loyal ex-boyfriend, to X’s surrogate mother Ripper, a sharp-witted Victorian murderess. Jeff Giles is a keen observer of human (and inhuman) nature. The bleak, snow-covered settings add to the story’s epic feel. This was a novel that I didn’t want to put down. (I may have sent Jeff a few “I just got to the part where this happens and oh my gosh you are killing me” emails while I was reading.)

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING published in January. Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING is appropriate for high school and up.

Who will like it?

  • Fans of urban fantasy.
  • Readers who swoon for Dark Romantic heroes and unrequited love. ((Raises hand.))
  • Anyone looking for a new, dark take on hero/quest stories.
  • Writers interested in models for world-building. Jeff’s description of the Lowlands, its history, politics, and rules, is easy to become immersed in.

I’m pairing THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING with a poem by that real-life fainting-chair-worthy hottie and hot-head, Lord Byron. This poem reflects X’s soul-weariness and his deep longing for a different kind of life.

 

 

So We’ll Go No More a Roving
By Lord Byron

So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.

Bonus for teachers: Have your students track the assonance in this poem. Oh, oh, oh — more swooning.

Guest Blogger Elena Kalodner-Martin on Rupi Kaur

Jone MacCulloch is today’s host. You’ll find Poetry Friday links at her blog, Check It Out.

Dear Friends and Poetry Friday bloggers, I have to begin this post with a thank you.

On Tuesday, I learned that THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY is the 2016 CYBILS award-winner for poetry. Many of you have cheered on my novel-in-verse for years — commenting on drafts of the poems on my blog, mourning with me when characters were cut during revisions.

I know how much time, thoughtfulness, and discussion goes into the process of selecting CYBILS finalists and an ultimate award-winner. Thank you to all of the judges for the work you do. I am honored!

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a guest blogger, poet Elena Kalodner-Martin. Elena is a senior at Towson University. It’s her birthday today! Happy birthday, Elena!!

A few months ago, I read an article about a young, feminist poet named Rupi Kaur. (You can find that article here.) Not only has her first book of poems, MILK AND HONEY, sold more than half a million copies, but she enjoys near-rock star status among teen and new adult readers, poetry lovers, and women.

When Elena shared a Rupi poem on social media several weeks ago, I wanted to learn more. I invited Elena to guest post today, to look at Rupi Kaur’s work and discuss its importance to readers.

Rupi Kaur: Feminist, Instapoet, and Woman to Watch
By Elena Kalodner-Martin

If you are on Instagram, Tumblr, or even Facebook, you have probably seen at least one of Rupi Kaur’s poems. Known as an “Instapoet” for the fame she garnered by posting her poems online, Rupi Kaur is a twenty four-year-old Indian-Canadian author who has taken social media by storm.

She published her first book of poetry, Milk and Honey, in 2015. It sold over half a million copies and made the list for Amazon’s bestselling poetry, as well as the New York Times bestselling list for 25 consecutive weeks. Its themes of love, heartbreak, abuse, healing, and femininity speak to poetry lovers everywhere and have contributed to her hundreds of thousands of likes, shares, and re-posts on social media platforms.

Milk and Honey is broken into four sections; “the hurting,” “the loving,” “the breaking,” and “the healing.” Each poem is typed in a black font and situated on a white page, often paired with black line drawings. The simplicity and beauty are aesthetically pleasing and allow the words to leave their impact. Whether she is writing about the complicated toll that alcoholism can take on a family, how she often felt oppressed by the belief that women ought to be submissive and silent, or the ups and downs of sex and love, she has hit home for so many young women. She reminds us to be soft yet powerful, strong yet giving, and loving yet fierce.

There is no better time to read poetry that reminds us of the beauty left in the world and of the importance of love and inclusion, particularly in the political climate in which we currently exist. She is unapologetic, unafraid to call out the areas on which we can improve. She is bold and fearless, a feminist role model, an artist, and a poet. She focuses on encouraging women to build one another up, advocating for peace and tolerance, and challenging people to relentless accept and love themselves.

As a young woman in college, reading Milk and Honey forced me to examine my own thoughts and actions: am I gentle with myself? How can I create a culture of kindness around me? How can I incorporate beauty into the ugly and hard parts of life? Rupi’s poetry knows no boundaries – immerse yourself in her simple yet beautiful book and challenge yourself to live more gently, more softly.

P.S. Good news for her dedicated fans: she recently posted that she has been working on her second book of poetry, which will be available shortly!

Elena Kalodner-Martin is a senior at Towson University, majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing and minoring in Health Sciences. She is in the process of selecting a graduate program for her MA/PhD in Rhetoric and Composition and hopes to be a college professor. She is a lover of words and coffee.

Thank you for guest posting today, Elena. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!

 

 

Poetry Friday: #10FoundWords

Poetry Friday blogger and picture book author Penny Klosterman is hosting all of the poetry links today. Stop by A PENNY AND HER JOTS for more poetry posts from around the web and around the world.

Happy February, everyone. This week, we kicked off my annual poem project, which has moved over to Facebook.

This year’s theme is #10FoundWords. We have a daily news story, speech, or current event selected by a project member. That person chooses 10 words from the news source, which makes up our word bank for the day.

Because we’re all writing with the same daily prompts, my favorite part of the project is reading the response poems. I notice the ways our writing overlaps, and cheer people on when their poems are unexpected, when there’s an innovation. (You can still join the project. Leave a note in the comments if you’d like to give it a try.)

Speaking of news — scroll to the bottom of the page for two announcements: an event with me and YA author Heidi Heilig, and a book giveaway.

Here’s one of my own poems, written as a warm-up exercise.

Division
By Laura Shovan

Remember learning long division?
This was long ago, 20th Century math.
Historical stuff. We’re talking
a solid wall between two different numbers.
The smaller number makes its appeal.
“Let me inside. It’s cold.
I’m suffering out here.”
The wall stays up because
that’s how division has always
been calculated. But the big number
is overcome with a generous spirit.
It sneaks the shivering digits inside,
counts how many will fit.
Soon, there are numbers
climbing on the roof, thankful numbers
tunneling underneath.
It’s a kind of freedom,
the way they gather on all sides
of the wall, which looks thinner,
less substantial, surrounded
by the orderly many.

This was Warm-up #6: January 29, 2017. Kip Rechea was in charge of this day’s #10FoundWords and news source.

division
wall
freedom
20th Century
overcome
spirit
historical
thank
appeal
suffering

Source: An appeal from the mayor of Berlin not to build a wall across the U.S. border with Mexico.

Still here? Great! Thanks for sticking with me. I’ve got two announcements.

Announcement #1: On February 8, I’m hosting YA author Heidi Heilig (THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE) as part of the Master Storytellers series run by the Ivy Bookshop. Join me and Heidi as we discuss the broad appeal of young adult fiction. You can find details and RSVP here. If you’re in town for AWP, it’s a short trip up to Baltimore. Hope to see you there.

Announcement #2: Foundry Media is giving away four copies of THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY on Goodreads. Sign up here to join the giveaway.

Announcement #3: (When I said “two announcements,” I was simply stating an alternate fact.) I’m excited to share that THE LAST FIFTH GRADE is a finalist for a Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award!

Poetry Friday: #10FoundWords

Thanks to Carol Varsalona for hosting Poetry Friday this week. Carol’s blog is Beyond Literacy Link, always a great resource for writing and education. Stop by for more of this week’s Poetry Friday posts.

It’s the last Poetry Friday of January. That means I am gearing up for the annual February daily poem project.

This year, I’m encouraging participants to engage with current events, news articles, political speeches, and interviews. Each day, we’ll be using 10 Found Words from a news-related source and building our poems around those words.

The February poetry project grew so large last year that I can no longer host it here at my blog. Instead, we are writing together in a closed Facebook group.

Interested? Read the full introductory post here. If you’d like to join the group, leave me a note in the comments. I will add you ASAP.

We’ve been working on a few warm-up poems before the project officially starts on February 1. Here’s my draft of the day. Do you think it’s “Unfair!”?

Under the Rug
By Laura Shovan

The arc-shaped flow
of his solar-blonde hair
defies gravity. Fluid,
odd, its color scorched
as a drought-tossed field
of wheat. When the wind
rattles its dried-out stalks,
the whole plain shifts, lifts
as if the hidden door of Hell,
slammed shut for so long,
has swung wide open
in the middle of America.

10 Words — found by Heather Meloche:

scorching
oddities
arc-shaped
whipped
shift
solar
fluid
flow
slammed
gravity

Source: “Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere,” by Ashley Yeager, Science News, January 17, 2017.