Archives: Original Poem

Poetry Friday: Chocolate Haibun

Thanks to Liz Steinglass for hosting the Poetry Friday round up this week!

I’m posting my Poetry Friday offering early this week. I’ll be traveling on Friday, visiting the niece and nephews mentioned in the poem below.

This is my first attempt at a haibun. It has also been forever since I shared a “random conversations” post. I wanted to capture the way an everyday moment (shopping) transformed into a moment of unexpected connection with a stranger. Haibun — because of its leap from prose to haiku — seemed a good fit. Has anyone else tried the form? What do you think about its hybrid style?

Cheer Down
By Laura Shovan

A quick stop at the local chocolatier. It’s Hanukkah, and I’ve had my eye on their white chocolate unicorn lollipops for my niece and nephews. What would be a brief transaction – customer, clerk – shifts when a George Harrison song begins to play. He is our favorite Beatle. Under the banter, recognition that each of us is settled down, grounded and calmed, by the same music.

Dusk on Main Street
Gray light, brown bag
Saffron truffles

A herd of white chocolate unicorns.

If you are ever in Maryland, the chocolate shop is Sweet Cascades in Old Ellicott City. Their truffles are divine.

And if you’d like to listen to George perform the song referenced in my poems title, you’ll find him here.

See you next week when it’s my turn to host Poetry Friday. I’m attempting Mr. Linky for the first time. Fingers crossed!

Poetry Friday: A Poem for Foodies

Linda Baie at Teacher Dance is hosting Poetry Friday this week.

Hey, friends! I’m heading to the National Council of Teachers of English in Houston today.

Will you be there too? My schedule is at the bottom of this post.

I thought it would be a fun week for a throwback poem. This one is from the 2013 March Madness Poetry competition, run by Ed DeCaria at Think Kid Think.

My Round Two, 2013 word in this competition was “speculate.” This poem still tickles me, especially because Mr. S is a *huge* fan of kale.

From Queensland Government/Queensland Health

A Bargain
By Laura Shovan

At dinnertime, I speculate
about the green stuff on my plate.
This gloppy mess, was it alive?
Could it be spinach, kale, endive,
or maybe radioactive peas
floating on a zombie’s sneeze?
Its pungent smell is deleterious
enough to make my brain delirious,
but I will eat the thing I hate,
if you’ll just let me stay up late.

***

Hope to see you at #NCTE18.

Poetry Friday: The Poetry of US

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Kay McGriff at A Journey through the Pages.

Happy Friday, poets and poetry lovers!

Autumn has arrived in full force. We had our first frost in Maryland this week, but I’m still thinking of the sunny days of summer.

Last Friday, I brought you with me on a visit to the Sea Turtle Hospital on the Florida Keys. Today, let’s visit the beach.

 

I was thrilled when J. Patrick Lewis invited me to contribute a poem to his wonderful new anthology, The Poetry of US, which contains “More than 200 poems that celebrate the people, places, and passions of the United States.” The book is published by National Geographic, so it’s no surprise that the photographs on every page are gorgeous.

My assignment was to write a poem about New Jersey.

People laugh when they hear that Jersey’s nickname is “The Garden State.” All they’ve seen of my home state is highways — and the factories and airports that surround them.

In fact, for a small state, New Jersey is geographically diverse. Its long eastern border is the Atlantic Ocean. It contains the Pine Barrens, part of the Appalachian Trail, and many state forests.

You *may* also have some thoughts about New Jersey if you ever watched the infamous reality TV show, “The Jersey Shore.”

When I sat down to write my poem, I wanted to show people the other side of New Jersey. I thought about summertime trips to the beach when I was a child, and how some of the places we loved best had been devastated by Super Storm Sandy in 2012. There’s a video showing the damage to our favorite boardwalk in Seaside Heights here.

Most of the time, my family avoided the bustle and busy-ness of the boardwalk and amusement parks. Instead, we would leave early, early in the morning to find a spot at Island Beach State Park. This is a preserved, undeveloped barrier island with beautiful, spare beaches.

I always loved running along the path, over the dunes, and catching that first glimpse of the Atlantic.


Beach Day
Island Beach State Park, New Jersey
by Laura Shovan

 We leave home before dawn, our car packed
with towels, sunblock, coolers of food.

There are closer beaches,
but they’re for boardwalk people.

We smile when we reach the park gate.
No hotels here. No tourist shops.

Can you smell the salt air? Mom asks.
The beach stays hidden behind miles of dunes.

At last, Dad finds a spot. We tumble out of the car,
race down a path through the scrub.

There! I am first to glimpse the wide, white beach,
first to stick my toes in the icy Atlantic.

I stretch my arms and spin. All I see are the dunes
and the ocean.  All I hear is the music of the waves.

***

Search the subject index of The Poetry of US and you’ll be sure to find places and people that are dear to your heart.

I have good friends in Albuquerque, and loved discovering Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ concrete poem, “Mass Ascension: At the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.”

Mary Lee Hahn’s poem “Bessie and Amelia,” about female aviators Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, reminded me of reading Pat Valdata’s book, Where No Man Can Touch. You can read my post about that book — all persona poems spoken in the voices of women pioneers of flight — right here.

Have fun exploring The Poetry of US!

Poetry Friday: Takedown Launch

Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Stop by Michelle’s blog to join the poetry party.

Greetings and salutations, friends. Happy Poetry Friday!

This week, I’m celebrating the launch of my second book for children, TAKEDOWN. (Read a review at the Nerdy Book Club.)

I think of this novel as a friendship story set in the world of youth wrestling.It’s told by two sixth graders: Mikayla, who wants to be a wrestler like her older brothers — until their coach says a girl won’t cut it on his team; and Lev, who is determined to beat his nemesis and make it to the state wrestling championship. Neither one of them is happy when they end up on the same team … as training partners.

The book covers the story of their season, how Mickey and Lev learn to work together.

Though this book is written in prose, its genesis began with poetic sketches.

Wrestling sketches from 2010!

I used to sit with my notebook at my son’s wrestling practices and tournaments, writing down what I observed. I couldn’t *not* include some poetry, so I gave my wrestling notebook to Lev. When he needs some downtime between matches, you’ll find him sitting at the top of the bleachers with a notebook in his lap and a pen in his hand, writing.

Lev has a handful of poems in the book. Here is one that came out of those early poetic sketches. Wrestling season is in the winter. Athletes often spend one or both days of their weekend at tournaments, arriving for weigh-ins before first light, and leaving (if they wrestle well) as the sun sets. This is Lev’s draft of a poem he’s working on for school.

Wrestlers Are Vampires
By Laura Shovan, from TAKEDOWN

Wrestlers are vampires.
Gyms are their caves.
They shut the doors,
stay locked inside,
and don’t come out
until day submits to night.
Wrestlers are vampires.
They never see the sun.
They push your face
into the mat until
your nose oozes blood.
They crush you flat,
break you down, bury you.
***

If you’re local to the Baltimore/DC area, I hope to see you at the book launch event this Sunday, 12 pm. The Ivy Bookshop is hosting.  Launch details and the address are here. We’ve got something really special planned.

10% off both books if you buy one, donate one.

Don’t know anything about wrestling? We’ve got you covered! Young athletes from Beat the Streets Baltimore will be on-hand to give a wrestling demonstration. We’re running a “Buy a Book/Donate a Book to Beat the Streets” program, so kids at Beat the Streets summer camps will receive a copy of the book.

Because food is very important to wrestlers, we’re going to have Lev and Mickey’s favorite tournament day treats: Twizzlers and donuts. ASL interpretation will be provided.

Thanks for all of your support during this book’s progress, Poetry Friday friends. It’s been two years since I first shared a poem from TAKEDOWN, which was not even a complete draft! You can read “Tournament Rap” here.

Ellicott City Floods — Again

Our beloved historic downtown has been hit with its second catastrophic flash flood in less than two years. If you would like to help with recovery and restoration efforts, please consider donating to the Downtown Ellicott City Partnership.

In 2016, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater asked me to contribute a current events poem to her wonderful collection, POEMS ARE TEACHERS.

It was late summer, 2016. The first Ellicott City flood had just happened. Days after the area re-opened to the public, my daughter and I walked down Main Street. The damage was breathtaking. Sidewalk and pieces of the street torn open, so that you could see into the basements of the historic brownstones. Only a handful of businesses were open.

Water can be a terrifying force. Of course, I knew what I would write about for Amy’s assignment.

Here is that poem, “Flood: Ellicott City, Maryland.”

Flood
Ellicott City, Maryland

By Laura Shovan

The river left its bed tonight,
woken by heavy rain.
It stomped down Main Street,
passed shops, houses
in a swirling rage. It’s resting now.
We stare at empty spaces.

It whisked cars down the hill.
Their underwater headlights
gave the flood an eerie glow.
A chain of strangers clasped arms,
pulled a woman from her spinning car.
A hillside washed away,
its green grass torn by claws
we did not know the river had.

It’s resting now. We stare at empty spaces
where the river grabbed doors from hinges,
peeled away sidewalks, made off
with random things — bricks and jewels,
and two people for no reason
other than they were in its path.

The river is resting. Now we stare
at empty spaces.

The author’s note included with the poem reads: My town made national headlines when a flash flood tore apart our historic Main Street. Writing a poem helped me reflect on the frightening images of this event. I think this is one reason why people turn to poetry during difficult times. A poem is a safe place to write about emotions like shock and grief. It is also one way to share those feelings with others.

I am sickened that our beloved downtown Ellicott City is experiencing this catastrophe again. Thanks to Amy for giving me the space to write about this horrific flood, which tore apart our historic downtown. The area had made an amazing comeback in less than two years, once again thriving — with many businesses reopening and several new shops and restaurants. Again, if you’d like to make a flood relief donation, Ellicott City Partnership is the recommended non-profit.

My aunt (currently in Kosovo) heard news of the Ellicott City flood. She asked, “Why the extreme flooding?” Here is my answer, if you’re also curious. Keep in mind — I’m not an expert, just a long-time resident and keen observer.

We live about three miles from historic Ellicott City. The quaint old downtown is an important part of our lives here.

Ellicott City is a pre-revolutionary mill town. The area that was flooded was the first terminus of the B&O railroad out of Baltimore. The original station house still stands and is now a museum. The area is about five or six long blocks of brownstones and historic buildings, most with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. It runs down a steep hill to the railroad trestle, finally making a “T” with the Patapsco River — the low point of the hill.

The Patapsco has a history of floods, some catastrophic. But that’s not what happened in 2016 or yesterday. We have lived here for nearly 20 years. This flash flooding tearing down Main Street is new.

Main Street runs alongside several small tributaries to the Patapsco — especially its parallel river, the Tiber — which flow down the hill and into the larger river. These smaller rivers may have risen, but they did not break their banks until August 2016. There is no question in my mind that aggressive building in the hills above Main Street are at the root of the flooding. Trees were cleared and soil was stripped for dozens of new construction projects. The water has nowhere to go.

They say the damage is worse than 2016. It’s hard to imagine that. The water broke storefront windows and literally rushed through buildings front to back last time, destroying everything inside. It tore up sidewalks and pieces of the street. The rebuilding project has been massive and successful, but I can’t understand why they undertook rebuilding without doing serious flood abatement. This was bound to happen again.

We’re absolutely heart-broken. Our local government must take care of the environment in order to protect one of our best and most beloved resources.

Laura’s Bookshelf: The Frame-up

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Jone at Check It Out. She’s got big news about the Cybil Award for Poetry!

Happy Poetry Friday! Thanks for visiting the Poe House with me last week. I pulled a random name from the comments and Jama Rattigan is the winner of the Poe Keepsake Journal. Congratulations, Jama!

Before I get to this week’s post, I want to thank Arnold Adoff and the Virginia Hamilton Conference. Last week, I learned that my debut novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, was named the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for New Voices honor book. “Surprised” is an understatement! It is a huge honor and I’m so grateful for the recognition. Please do visit the full list of award-winners. There are some phenomenal books among the 2018 awardees.

It’s been over a year since I started keeping a personal bullet journal. (If you’re not familiar with bullet journals, start with this post.)

Inspired by my educator friends, one of the new things I’m trying with my 2018 journal is tracking my reading. I’ve kept track via Goodreads before, but charting books is allowing me to take a close look at my genre preferences and how many children’s novels I read, versus YA or adult.

So far, it looks like this:

I am very excited about my most recent read.

Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s The Frame-up is about  boy who — spending the summer with his art-gallery-director father — discovers a great secret. Paintings are alive!

Let’s say you are a portrait. You keep all of the memories of your living person (the subject of the portrait) until the moment the painting is finished.

From that point on, you become your own entity, keeping quiet and still during the day, so museum goers won’t guess the truth. At night, you visit friends and neighbors in other paintings. And by visit, I mean going into a painting of a pub to drink and dance with your buddies or, if you’re a child, hopping into a seascape with a soothing pier for you to walk around. If that seascape is so soothing that you fall asleep in the painting — the wrong painting — no worries … as long as you’re back in your own picture by the time the museum opens.

But let’s say the gallery director’s son, Sargent Singer, happens to come along to the gallery one night and notice that your portrait frame is empty. And then what if he spots you, fast asleep on a pier, in the wrong painting?

This middle grade contemporary fantasy will be available in June. Pre-order now from Indiebound.

This is how The Frame-up opens. The painting that Sargent catches is that of a girl about his age, Mona Dunn. (You can view William Orpen’s Mona Dunn here.) The two of them spark a secret friendship, chock-full of adventures and mishaps.

How serendipitous that I’d have a chance to read the ARC right now, when our February Poetry Project is in the midst of writing in response to art! I know that members of this group are going to love how vividly MacKnight imagines the personalities of several paintings — all found at the real-life Beaverbrook Art Gallery in New Brunswick, Canada.

It’s also a super fun book. The climax (involving nefarious goings-on at the gallery) is exciting, both in our world, and in the world of the paintings. And the resolution? It totally tugged at my art-strings. (Get it?)

I went back to the first February Poetry Project, looking for a poem to pair with Wendy’s book. The theme that year was vintage post cards.

Many of those poems were portraits of the people pictured on the cards, but only one imagined that the people in the image are awake, thinking beings.

Luckily, this poem is a good fit for Valentine’s Week.

Cartoon Boy Meets Cartoon Girl
By Laura Shovan

You have no lips to kiss or speak.
I have no ears to listen.
Let me lean on this picket fence,
watch you hover
over a loop of jump rope,
your braids drawn up
by bat-winged ribbons.
You cannot see my baseball cap
or read my cautious expression.
Your lashes fell a moment before
the cartoonist imagined us.
But I will wait. The next panel,
with your fluttering lids, must come.
The artist — would he leave us
forever like this?

Sadly, these two are frozen in their art, unable to move or communicate. They’d much prefer being in the wonderful world of The Frame-up. Find the original post with this postcard and poem at Author Amok.

Poetry Friday: Come Like Shadows

Carol Varsalona is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Visit Beyond Literacy Link for the PF round-up and for Carol’s Winter Wonderland gallery.

Happy Poetry Friday! January is hobbling to its frigid, icy end. It’s been a cold month in Maryland, as the blue hues of my temperature scarf will attest.

The annual February Poetry Project members are warming up for our month of daily writing. This year’s project theme is “Ekphrastic at Home.” Each day, a member of the group will share a piece of art that they own or keep on display at home.

Today’s warm-up prompt is one of three paintings I own by my grandmother, Joy Dickson. A New Yorker, child of a German Jewish engineer and his Romanian wife, Joy was destined to be a concert violinist. While studying at Julliard, she met my grandfather, a percussionist who had moved to the U.S. from France as a young child. His name was Charles Dickson. They married, struggled to start a business together, had three children (my father was the eldest). I don’t know whether she completed her degree at Julliard, but Joy never picked up a violin again.

Still, my grandmother had a creative spirit. At some point, she took classes at Parsons School of Design. I remember her always in the midst of a project. There was the large loom taking up space in her living room, a fabric made of wool and tree bark half-woven on its strings. There was a trio of monarch butterflies from her print-making class, a found-wood sculpture she signed with the pseudonym “Jandelay” so she could ask for — and get — the honest opinions of family members on her work. There was the Thanksgiving we found out she’d gone to clown college. (She was a hobo clown.)

Oil on canvas, by Joy Dickson

Although she died nearly 15 years ago, I feel like my children have grown up around Joy because her art has always been a presence in our home. The piece I shared today, a portrait of her mother Rachel (known as Rose), was probably painted when Joy was in her teens or 20s.

It was an honor to Joy’s memory to read the poems everyone wrote in response to her painting today. Some people wrote about the deep connection between mother and daughter, as if they knew the story behind this portrait.

My own poem is a memory of the last words I heard my grandmother say. It was the summer of 2003, and she was doing hospice at my parents’ home in mountains.

Come Like Shadows

By Laura Shovan

We circled her like three witches,
stripped her clothes, the old
button-down shirt she favored
since my grandfather passed.
No one had heard her voice in days.
Her hair, once auburn, thick,
wrapped in a scarf to keep
the tumor out of sight. The shower
bubbled and when we three women
pushed her under its stream,
Joy said, “Wait a minute.”
She’d told me weeks before
she was ready for this, but
as the world rolled into shadow,
she clung to its fabric. My aunt
washed her hair and I held her,
and my mother held her. No eloquence
in her words – my grandmother’s last —
but what other demand
could she make as she leaned
out of the spray to plant
a kiss on my bare shoulder?

***

On Monday, I’m participating in a guest-post at Nerdy Book Club about distance reading groups. If you geek out about middle grade books, give it a read!

Currently reading: No One Waits for the Train, by Waqas Khwaja

Poetry Friday: Gingko

Happy Poetry Friday! Jan Godown Annino is putting on a poetry spread for us this week at Bookseedstudio.

This is a year of big transitions for my family. Our youngest turns 18 this week and is preparing to make the leap from high school to college. Shortly after that, Mr. S turns 50 and our eldest celebrates his 21st birthday.

(All of our birthdays, including Sam the dog’s, fall within five weeks. Mine is the last and — hard to believe — we are usually caked out by then.)

I am relying on long-term projects to sustain me in 2018. There are writing projects, of course. A new book is in the works, but my first goal is to finish the 2017 February Poetry Project prompts before February 2018’s new daily prompts begin.

27 down and 1 to go! More on that in a second.

I’m using nine colors in a variety of weights, but mostly sock yarn.

My second project combines knitting and science. A friend shared this pattern with me and I am in love. You pick yarn colors (9, 10, 15 — knitter’s choice) and create a chart of temperature ranges with corresponding colors. Over the course of the year, you chart the temperature (I’m doing daily highs), and knit a row or two in the corresponding color.

Instead of stockinette stitch — and after frogging a few false starts — I’m doing a K1, P1 rib.

I am having so much fun with this project! Here is the pattern at the Ravelry crochet and knitting site. It’s beginner friendly.

Back to poetry. When our children were small, we planted a tree for each of them not far from the kitchen window. Our eldest chose a gingko. Despite the cold weather, as evidenced by my knitting project, the tree is covered with little knobs. These will become buds in a few months.

As I work on the last few poems (late — so late!) from last year’s daily poetry project, it’s the ginkgo I see from my work space. And that’s how the tree found its way into this poem.

2/27/17 #10FoundWords prompt from Mary Lee Hahn
Source: “Could a Bumblebee Learn to Play Fetch? Probably”

10 Words: abilities, brain, decisions, fetch, flexibility, learn, memory, problem, puzzle, strategy

Gingko
By Laura Shovan

The gingko tree’s ability is rest–
long months of buds capped
tight under winter scalps.
Green brains sleep there,
ready to make decisions
to become fan-shaped leaves
fetching sunlight and rain.
The tree sleeps on its problems–
draught, neglect—forms
strategies for next season.
To do: learn to be flexible
in the wind.
I like to think
memories are stored
in the gingko’s puzzling mazes
of would-be leaves, because
then it could be true for all of us.
In the place where old growth
breaks away, something new
is considering spring.

 

Currently reading: No One Waits for the Train, by Waqas Khwaja

Poetry Friday: Peanut Butter Cookies

Where are the poets hanging out this week? With the Rain City Librarian! You’ll find links to original poetry, book reviews, and more here.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, Poetry Friday fans. That means baking season is upon us. At our house, Mr. S is the cook. Baking – that’s my job.

I’m not usually adventurous when it comes to baking. However, when chili-infused dark chocolate bars hit the market, so did some kitchen inspiration. I came up with a spicy version of traditional peanut butter cookies. After a few test batches, I had a winner — a cookie that my family loves. Mr. S, who is a fan of all things spicy, says these cookies are addictive. (Recipe below.)

This year, I got brave and entered my cookies in the Baltimore Sun’s annual holiday cookie contest. They made the first cut, but were not selected to appear in the paper. However, I’m not crying into my cookie dough. It was  fun to take a chance on something that was creative, but not writing-related.

Since it’s Poetry Friday, I went searching for a poem to pair with the recipe and came across Edwin Romond’s wonderful “Peanut Butter Cookies” at Your Daily Poem. And since I’m reading Nikki Grimes book of Golden Shovel poems, ONE LAST WORD: WISDOM FROM THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE, I thought I’d attempt a Peanut Butter Cookie Golden Shovel poem. I also made this poem an acrostic. You’ll find both Edwin Romond’s poem and my Golden Shovel after the recipe.

Laura’s Spicy Peanut Butter Cookies
AKA PB and Bay Cookies

My version is regional, using two beloved Baltimore ingredients. I’ll include a standard option for those of you out of state who want to give these treats a try.

Ingredients

DOUGH

½ cup butter

½ cup chunky peanut butter (I use Smart Balance)

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup crushed Utz potato chips, divided use (place between 2 paper towels, crush with rolling pin)

Standard option: Use potato chips of your choice

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, or to taste

Standard option: Chili powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

COATING

¼ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons crushed potato chips

1/2 – 1 teaspoon Old Bay or chili powder

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375. Grease 2-3 cookie sheets.

  1. Cream the butter and peanut butter.
  2. Cream in brown sugar, then beat in egg.
  3. Sift the flour and salt. Stir in with 2/3 cup of the crushed potato chips.

Dough will be stiff.

  1. Roll into balls. (I use a heaping tablespoon.)
  2. Roll the balls in the coating.
  3. Place about an inch apart on the cookie sheet. Press down on the top of each cookie with a fork, making a criss-cross design.
  4. Bake 9-12 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Delicious eaten warm!

Let’s wash down those cookies with some poetry.

Peanut Butter Cookies

By Edwin Romond

My mother made them from memory
giving me my own memory of winter
in our kitchen, the salty aroma
of peanut butter cookies from the oven,
and the torture of waiting for them to cool
on the window sill overlooking Albert St.
in the Eisenhower 50s of my childhood.
I remember her mixing brown sugar,
butter, and spoons of Skippy. She never
checked a cookbook and they tasted
like no other cookies tasted. “I just know,”
she’d say if I asked her how she did this
then she’d wrap them in foil and sing
along with Perry Como on our radio.
They were as special as she was, a quiet
woman who took small joys in life
around the house. I know she knew
how much those cookies meant to me
for years later she apologized, as if
it were her fault, when a stroke at 80
erased the recipe from her mind.

Read the rest of the poem here. Have a tissue ready.

Golden Shovel: Cookie Acrostic

By Laura Shovan

Come to me, my
Oven-baked delight, mother
Of all comfort treats, home-made
Kick of sugar. My teeth — feel them
Inch along your edges, savoring bites from
Every crumble, until you’re a delicious memory.

These cookies, from All Recipes, resemble PB and Bays.

Pet’s-Eye View: Writing with GRA’s Fenway and Hattie + Pet Crazy

Happy Poetry Friday! I took the summer off from blogging and I’m glad to be back with you. This week’s host for the Poetry Friday link-up is Michelle Heidenrich Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty.  Michelle’s blogging about the International Day of Peace (September 21) and invites us all to share a poem on the them of peace.

Sam and Rudy agree! Fenway and Hattie is a great read aloud.

It’s been a few years since I blogged about Victoria J. Coe’s first middle grade novel, the hilarious Fenway and Hattie. (Read that post here.)

The charm and humor of the Fenway books (the third title in the series publishes in January) is their point of view. Narrator Fenway is a rambunctious Jack Russell Terrier who doesn’t understand that his back yard isn’t a dog park and that slippery floors are not inherently evil. What a great read-aloud for kids.

Now Fenway is going global. Fenway and Hattie is this year’s Global Read Aloud for early readers. Congratulations to Victoria! (What is Global Read Aloud? Learn more here.)

And how serendipitous for us that the latest Poetry Friday book from Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell is the newly published Pet Crazy!

Victoria and I decided to go to the dogs — and cats. We put together a poetry writing extension for Fenway and Hattie using my poem from Pet Crazy as a model. Global Read Aloud participants can find more Fenway and Hattie resources at Victoria’s Padlet.

Welcome, Victoria!

Fenway and Hattie + Pet Crazy Mini Point of View Lesson

A creative writing extension for readers of Fenway and Hattie

Victoria and Kipper.

An invitation from Victoria J. Coe

Reading Fenway and Hattie gives students the chance to experience a dog’s point of view.  

Seeing the world from a new point of view is not only fun, but it also shows that our own perspective isn’t the only one out there.

Two people – or two species – can experience the exact same thing and interpret it very differently. That doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong. It just means your reality depends on your point of view.

Writing from a point of view different from our own is an even more powerful way of realizing there are at least two sides to every story.

Victoria and poet Laura Shovan (The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary) have collaborated on a creative writing extension for Fenway and Hattie!

In this mini-workshop, students will have their chance to think like a dog, or cat, or parrot as they write a short poem from an animal’s point of view. The mentor texts for this extension are Fenway and Hattie, by Victoria J. Coe, and the poem “Lost and Found,” by Laura Shovan, from Pet Crazy: A Poetry Friday Power Book.

After reading Fenway and Hattie, invite the whole class or small groups to do an analysis. Create a T-chart comparing how animals and humans view one of the following experiences:

Going to the vet

Moving to a new home

Learning to obey

Dinnertime!

Ready to write a poem describing an experience from a pet’s point of view? Our model poem is “Lost and Found,” by Laura Shovan (from Pet Crazy: A Poetry Friday Power Book). In this poem, a young cat goes exploring and can’t find its way back home.

Lost and Found
By Laura Shovan

I’m a curious cat.
My gray tail twitches.
I chase bird shadows
from lawn to lawn.
But when I sniff
and know I’ve lost
the scent of home,
I cry a sad song.
Meow! Meow!
Someone find me.
See my collar?
Call that number.
Take me home.

Some suggested “experiences” for young poets to write about include events from Fenway and Hattie:

  • Moving to a new home.
  • Meeting a new animal friend.
  • Being left out.
  • Describing a favorite human.
  • Something scary!
  • Learning to obey.
  • Asking for food.

After students share their writing, Victoria recommends these follow up questions:

    • What was surprising about thinking like an animal?
    • What did you learn about the pet’s point of view?
    • How would you describe the same event as a human kid?

Hints and helps from Victoria and Laura:

  • Kids can brainstorm their poems using a t-chart.
  • Prompt students to think about their five sense as their chosen animal. What would they hear, smell, and see from the pet’s-eye-view?
  • The goal is to write a poem, but it’s fine to draft in prose sentences.

Ordering information:

FENWAY AND HATTIE by Victoria J. Coe is available wherever books are sold, including: Your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Victoria J. Coe is the author of Fenway and Hattie, the 2017 Global Read Aloud book for Early Readers, as well as two additional Fenway and Hattie novels. She teaches creative writing to adults in Cambridge, MA. Find her online @victoriajcoe (twitter/IG) and at: www.victoriajcoe.com.

 

PET CRAZY: A POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK, by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, is available at Amazon and Pomelo Books.

Laura Shovan’s middle grade novel-in-verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, is a NCTE 2017 Notable Verse Novel and won CYBILS and Nerdy Book Club awards for poetry. She is a longtime poet-in-the-schools and the author and editor of three books of poetry for adults. Laura is a contributor to Pet Crazy: A Poetry Friday Power Book, by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Visit her at: www.laurashovan.com.