Friday, June 24, 2011


You know it's a good retreat when two weeks later you're still buzzing with words and ideas. And since I promised to pass along tips picked up at the retreat... and since it's Poetry Friday... well, here it is!

1. Keep a writing notebook. Jot down words you run across in poems, books, life in general.

I have long done this -- in fact the project that's consumed me the past two weeks is one I unearthed in a writing notebook from about a year ago. I had mapped out a whole collection using visual notetaking, which, if you haven't tried it, is a great exercise for writers who spend so much time in the Land of Words. Try pictures. It'll open your mind!

2. For teaching poetry (which I often do), use A CELEBRATION OF BEES by Barbara Jester Esbensen.

3. When considering a subject for the children's market, go back to your own childhood. Ask your 5 or 8 or 10 year old self things like this:

What did I wish for?
What did I dream of?
What was I afraid of?

Use the answers for subjects or content of poems. You basically want to mine the small moments of daily life and pack them with those emotions you remember from your own childhood.

4. If submitting a collection of poems for a picture book, send in 24 poems.

5.If trying to shape your own career as a children's poet, read bios of other children's poets to see how their careers were shaped.

6. Write as if your audience is blind or has never seen what is in your poem.

7. Collect paint chips from paint stores for great color words.

8. Look for the unusual slant, the unique perspective. You want to surprise your reader!

9. For an inexpensive look at what children's poets are currently writing, check out, an e-anthology available for download for just 99 cents!

10. When submitting, adopt an "I'll show you" attitude regarding rejections. Allow rejections to inspire you to improve and grow as a writer. Never give up!

And, this one from me: if you ever have the opportunity to learn from Rebecca, DON'T MISS IT! I got exactly what I needed from the retreat, and I am so very grateful. I would have packed Rebecca in my suitcase and carried her home, but... she had new grandsons to meet. I love thinking about Rebecca reading the little fellas lots of poems.

Don't forget to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup!


  1. Thanks for sharing, Irene. Rebecca is such a beautiful spirit and inspiration. Like the paint chip idea :).

  2. Wow - you took great notes, Irene! Thanks for sharing so many highlights from our weekend - and your own wonderful wisdom. :0)

  3. can I write a poem called why I don't write poetry, let me count the ways???


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