Thursday, March 31, 2016

Five Ways to Be Bold

Hello! It's Spiritual Journey Thursday, and I'm out adventuring, but I couldn't NOT leave a post in celebration of Donna's One Little Word BOLD.

When I look back over my life, I realize that even though I am a self-professed shy, introverted person, I have also had some really bold moments -- one such moment came to me this morning: when I was 11, I was the first girl acolyte at Christ Episcopal Church in Covington, Louisiana.

 I've also had plenty of wish-I'd-been bold moments. That's sort of what I want to talk about today. Because I'm learning being bold isn't always about being loud or brash or outlandish or first. For me, lately, it's about these five things instead.

How To Be BOLD

1. Be honest. About who you are, what you like, what you want, what you think.

2. Speak up.  Even when no one asks. Maybe especially when no one asks. Who you are and what you like/want/think is important, and no one will know unless you tell them.

3. Try something new. Read a book in a genre you don't usually choose. Sign up for sushi lessons -- even if you don't like sushi. (It will grow on you, I promise.) Go to a thrift store and buy something you'd never wear -- and wear it!

4. Say Yes. And NO. Yes to adventure, to an invitation for coffee, to getting up in the middle of the night to watch a meteor shower. Say NO when it interferes with what you really want to be doing or when it hurts you (or others) or when what you need more than anything is a nap.

Bold Oliver!
5. Wear rainbow shoelaces. Walk around in the world like it's a beautiful place to be, and you are so delighted to be in it. Smile at strangers. When someone says, I like your shoelaces, do a little dance step and invite them to join in. Sure, they might say no, they might think you're crazy. But this is a way to reach out and connect with the world. And I can't think of anything BOLDer than that.

Please come back tomorrow for the kickoff of my 2016 National Poetry Month project ARTSPEAK! Plant. Grow. Eat. Yay!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Can I Get an ECHO ECHO?

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe (still one of my favorite book and blog titles EVER!) for Roundup.

Hard to believe it's the last Friday of March... next week we'll all be full steam ahead into National Poetry Month!

It's been ever so rollercoasterish in my life lately... I'm excited that today starts my kids' spring break. And I'm excited to share my favorite poem with you from ECHO ECHO: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illus. by Josee Masse (Dial/Penguin, 2016). But first....

The winner of POET: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate is BRENDA HARSHAM. Yay!

And here's sneak peek at the line-up for this year's Progressive Poem!

2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Diane at Random Noodling
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
12 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
13 Linda at TeacherDance
14 Jone at Deo Writer
16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly
17 Kim at Flukeprints
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Charles at Poetry Time
21 Jan at Bookseedstudio
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Mark at Jackett Writes
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30 Donna at Mainely Write

Another sneak peek: Here at Live Your Poem I will celebrating National Poetry Month by continuing ArtSpeak!, the project I started last year in which I respond to images found in the digital collections at the National Gallery of Art. This year's theme "Plant. Grow. Eat" was inspired my latest book release, FRESH DELICIOUS. I'm excited! The trick will be getting these poems written and posted during a month when I have 4 out-of-state trips and a slew of school visits. Whew! I'm tired already! But you know what? Poetry keeps me sane. It is a spiritual practice for me -- a way for me to feel connected with myself and the world. So, yes, it will be hectic, but it will also be beautiful and important. I do hope you will stop by and share the journey with me!

And, now, a poem from ECHO ECHO by Marilyn Singer:

King Midas and His Daughter

alas, my
good father
still dares to call me,
would never offer a gentle hand.
What kind of man would for years not give a caress?
I must confess
I suffer much.
Today --
so needy
so greedy -
for one magic touch.


For one magic touch --
so greedy,
so needy --
I suffer much,
I must confess.
What kind of man would for years not give a caress,
would never offer a gentle hand?
still dares to call me
"good father?"
Alas, my girl!

- Marilyn Singer

Isn't that wonderful? I so admire the skill the reverso form requires... it partly seems a matter of punctuation, doesn't it? Very much like a puzzle. Each spread also includes a short summary of the related myth, which should help those of us who aren't all that well-read in mythology!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

This Little Light of Mine

Hello, and welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday! Please join us as we discuss Doraine's One Little Word SHINE.

I love this word. I love how warm it is, how it brings to mind the sun and all its magic, and light of all kinds. I want my life to shine, my words to shine, my heart to shine, every single day. And I don't mean this in a "look at me" way... more of an inner shine, a me-at-my-best way, a me-experiencing-life-fully way.

I want to stumble in and sit down at a piano and tease out "Flight of the Bumblebee" the way Geoffrey Rush does as pianist David Helfgott in the movie SHINE.

Mostly I want to shine like the woman in this article -- a story I have revisited and revisited, and it still chokes me up. A shining not just for myself, but for others. Shining as a way to love this world and all the people in it -- even on days like today when I'm not feeling particularly shine-y.

Looking forward to everyone else's thoughts!

Monday, March 21, 2016

One Not-So-Little Word for Last Week


Actually, according to ye ol' internet, that's TWO words: Roller Coaster.

Anyway, one or two, that's what last week was.

I traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota, where I got to see my father. UP!

I saw for myself how sick my father is. DOWN.

Stones painted by members of
the Cancer Support Group
I presented three talks on One Little Word. UP!

I realized how little I can do to help my father. DOWN.

I got to experience snow in Bismarck! UP!

I had a come-apart with very kind people in Bismarck. DOWN.

I found out my book DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST: AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE WATER HOLE was named an SCBWI Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. UP!

I found out my first novel for children LEAVING GEE'S BEND is going out of print. DOWN.

The announcement was published about my first historical fiction narrative picture book. UP!

 Stacey Barney at Putnam has acquired world rights to Frank and Miss Fancy by Irene Latham, to be illustrated by John Holyfield. Inspired by true events and set in 1913 Alabama, a retired circus elephant is purchased by the city of Birmingham, where an African-American boy is determined to meet her up close in spite of segregation laws. It is scheduled for spring 2018; Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio represented the author, and the illustrator was unagented.
I had to leave Bismarck, North Dakota, without my very sick father. DOWN!

I came home to my loving family. UP!

And now, here we are... it's another week, it's spring, and yet -- I'm still reeling from last week. It's okay. Some things in life take a while. I'm being patient with myself. And right now, I am off to play my cello. Thank you for reading!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Because George Loved Words... and So Do I

Just popping my head in to wish everyone a poetry-filled day! Be sure to visit radiant Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for Roundup!

I'm in Bismarck, enjoying time with my father and also talking about my experiences with One Little Word. And while we're on the topic of words...

if you haven't checked out POET: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate (Peachtree, 2015), you're missing out!

It's a beautiful book -- for word-lovers and poets and anyone who has ever dreamed an impossible dream. Like the little plaque on my wall says... "the impossible dream...isn't."

George Moses Horton was a slave who taught himself to read. At age seventeen, he was separate from his family. He read books and shared information. He created and recited verse for others -- selling love poems for 25 cents each. He was published in newspapers. He published books. But he was not free.

My favorite line in the book: "George's love of words had taken him on a great journey."

Words have taken me on a great journey, too. I'm so grateful!

Thanks to Peachtree Publishers, I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Simply leave a comment by Tuesday, March 22 about YOUR word-journey, and our cat Maggie will choose a winner. :)

There are still a few slots left in our 2016 Progressive Poem... sign up now!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to Simplify Your Life

Hello! It's Spiritual Journey Thursday, and I am traveling (Hello, Bismarck!), but I did want to post a little something in honor of Linda and her One Little Word SIMPLIFY.

Life is complicated. Love is complicated. The world is complicated. That's part of what makes it beautiful.

But when there is so much chaos that we can't be present, can't identify our feelings, much less FEEL them, we often feel split, spread thin, like we aren't really participating in life, just existing.

We want to simplify.

For me, what that really means, is I want peace, serenity, quiet -- in my heart and in my mind.

I ran across this quote: "People say "I want peace."  If you remove I (ego), and your want (desire), you are left with peace." -  Satya Sai Baba 

It's hard for me to admit and accept that in order to get what I really want -- peace -- that I need to let go of ego and desire. Don't ego and desire define a person? Well, no, they don't have to. What if I allow this very moment to define me instead?

Whenever I'm feeling particularly attached to ego and desire, it helps me to look at the wall above my writing desk and read another quote:

"I you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down." - Toni Morrison

In other words: SIMPLIFY. Which brings us full circle, doesn't it?

Wishing everyone PEACE today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Power of One Little Word

This week I am traveling to Bismarck, North Dakota to be with my father. He's had a tough 2016 so far, and I will be so glad to be with him in person!

Yes, I will be bringing a coat. Bismarck has enjoyed a warm couple of weeks, but wouldn't you know a cool wind will be blowing while I am there? I've got my boots and scarves ready!

While I am there, I will be working with Bismarck Cancer Center and sharing my experiences with One Little Word. My talks will include all kinds of snippets from blog posts over the past 9 years... I'm thrilled and honored to share this part of my life with others. Thank you, BCC for having me... see you soon!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Celebrate Polar Week!

Until I wrote a book about Antarctica, I didn't know such a thing as APECS Polar Week existed! But it does, and folks across the globe are celebrating.

Here at Live Your Poem, I am celebrating new members of The Antarctica Explorers Club! Welcome Catherine, Candace, and Hunter! Here's what I got in the mail:

I love learning what poems students most respond to! Candace is the first person to mention "Flora in a Frozen Land." Yay!

I love the "nuzzle" in this poem. :)

... when I go to Antarctica, I want to look for a cute penguin, too! (Apparently they are not hard to find and are very curious about we humans.)

I love how Hunter mentions the amazing Emperor Penguin fathers. What a winter they endure.. and all the while keeping the egg warm. Love that drawing, too.

Isn't that fabulous?! Thank you, Mrs. Flynn. :) In return, I am sending each a membership button and a signed bookmark. I invite you to join, too! Simply visit my website and download the form. Happy Polar Week!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Poetry Friday Roundup: On Finding Poems with Daniel & Micha Archer!

Hello and Welcome to Poetry Friday Roundup! I'm so glad you're here!!

It's been a busy week with the release of my latest book: FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market. See my interview with illustrator Mique Moriuchi here. Thanks, everyone, for your sweet enthusiasm!

AND if you haven't signed up already, be sure to add your name to the schedule for this year's Progressive Poem! It's lots of fun and a great way to celebrate National Poetry Month, and I do hope you will join us.

Also, please sign up to be included in my annual National Poetry Month tradition of sending by snailmail artsy-poetry postcards! Simply click the link below to add your address.

And now, the reason you're here: you'll find the usual link-up below -- I can't wait to see what poetic goodness everyone will be sharing today!

Me? I've got my latest book-love: DANIEL FINDS A POEM by Micha Archer, from Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin.

Yes, I love this book! Love the art, the words, the message. And you will love it, too... especially when you see all the ways a city park's creatures (spider! squirrel! turtle! cricket!) help Daniel find his poem...

and the spread where Daniel shares his poem with the world? Breathtaking! Silhouette and vibrant city in the distance and all Daniel's friends in attendance. (More on this below!)

It's a perfect book for introducing a poetry unit. I will be using it in school visits for sure! And today, it is my pleasure to welcome author-illustrator Micha Archer to share a little of the backstory about this book.

Welcome Micha!! Here we go...

About DANIEL's beginnings:

Daniel Finds a Poem started backwards from a small drawing I did of a boy on a stage. Rubin Pfeffer, my agent now but who I was wooing at the time, asked if there was a story behind this boy. I decided that I must find a story about what led the boy to the stage.

A quote by Kurt Vonnegut inspired me, “Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water.” Daniel wants to know what poetry is from the very start of the book.

About choosing the book's structure theme:

In a 32 page book I knew I had about 14 spreads to fill, divided by 2 is 7. Seven days of the week and seven different animal friends help Daniel achieve his goal.

I studied my favorite children’s books to find what it was that made them work and was especially inspired by Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrations by Maurice Sendak about a rabbit and a girl in search of a present for her mother. Throughout the story while learning about color and fruit, they search. The ‘searching’ theme and a final goal struck me as important aspects to a good story. I also loved how the girl and the rabbit had a friendship. For Daniel and his friends, all week Daniel is learning about the animals needs, habitats and poetry and at the end has a poem for the Poetry Reading on Sunday.

About the art:

The illustrations for Daniel are in collage and oil. When working in collage I first create patterned collage papers which then become a palette for the illustrations. When everything is ready and in position, I glue down the layers.

I love the serendipity that comes with collage.

About the transition from "illustrator" to "author-illustrator:"

I have been illustrating for years and have always done my own artwork for fun. I don’t really know if I am a poet but I do love to write. When writing this book I loved the process of divining for the perfect words and found it so like solving a puzzle. It's great fun to be doing both the pictures and the words. I have begun a second Daniel book and have other ideas brewing.
Thank you, Micha! I can't wait to see what other adventures Daniel will have!

And now, for Roundup:

A Box Full of Delight

Today is Spiritual Journey Thursday, and according the schedule we are discussing Holly's One Little Word "WAIT." I invite you to read the post I wrote "On Waiting" back in January. I will be back later this evening to post Poetry Friday Roundup (yes, Roundup is here this week!), but first I want to take this opportunity to share more on my One Little Word: DELIGHT.

For my birthday, my friend Pat send me a box full of delight: it included a stack of fabric for quilting, some collector plates featuring child-musicians (something I delight in, as I am a new-ish cellist and my son is an avid musician), some other treasures, and this necklace:

Yes, she special-ordered that word for the charm. :) To say I am delighted is an understatement! SO THOUGHTFUL. And beautiful. What a great way to delight in my One Little Word. Thank you, Pat!

And now, I want to extend a special invitation to Spiritual Journey friends to participate in the 2016 Progressive Poem! Would love for all of you to join the fun during National Poetry Month. Please?

Finally, I shall leave you with a wonderful quote from Rumi:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Meet Mique Moriuchi, Illustrator for FRESH DELICIOUS

Today is the official release day for FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market. Yay!

Special thanks to my blogger-poet-friends who have already shared about this book:

Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup, where you can find the most adorable pictures of bookpages and blueberries ever!

Linda at Write Time, where you can find some of my specific word choices and get a feel for the playfulness of this collection.

Michelle at Today's Little Ditty, where there's a picture of my Granddaddy's amazing garden and also the two corn poems "Corn" and "About Corn" that appear in the book.

Linda at TeacherDance, where you can find ways to use this book to help kids create their own poems, and also ideas about how to connect this book with other ares of the curriculum, like science and art and health and more!


I feel so very fortunate to share this book with illustrator Mique Moriuchi, whose collage art is so whimsical and creative... and I'm grateful to WordSong/Boyds Mills Press -- particularly Rebecca Davis -- for seeing something in these poems, helping me further shape them, and for late thinking of Mique, and now for being our partner in delivering this book to the world!

To celebrate, I'm delighted to share with you an interview with Mique Moriuchi! Mique is a busy mom to two young boys, so I'm sure you can appreciate the gift these words are. :)

Welcome, Mique!

1. What makes you say YES to a manuscript?

I love a text which is open to interpretation and possibilities, which isn't too restrictive, where characters are allowed to develop and grow. I love it when I can picture it in my mind straight away and feel excited about it. I love humour and a good message too :)

2. FRESH DELICIOUS features animals instead of people. How did you decide which animals to feature?

I love illustrating animals! There's so much variety in size, colour and pattern, and somehow putting them in a human situation really tickles me. I like to imagine and question everything, which helps me make decisions about a picture. My partner is quite used to me asking questions like: If a mouse was wearing trousers or a skirt, where would its tail be? What musical instrument would a giraffe play? I do have my favourite go-to animals, but I guess the decisions I make are ultimately down to composition and colour.

3. Which spread presented the biggest challenge for you?

I do everything by hand. I cut, stick and paint very tiny things sometimes! The piles of fruits and vegetables in "Farmers' Market" were challenging, and I remember working and reworking the background for "Blueberries" for aaaaages! 
I tend to make things up as I go so I make a lot of mistakes, and I am indecisive - but these things help build up the layers and textures so it's all good...I think!

It's hard to see what's what when I'm in the midst of a project, and it's often the case when I look at the artwork months later I see all the mistakes and think, arrrgh I should have done this or that. It's rare that I am 100% happy with a picture.

4. Which spread is your favorite, and why?

I like the simplicity of "Lettuce" and the busyness of "Closing time". 

5. Do you visit a farmers' market? What fruit or vegetable is your favorite to buy? Which is your favorite it eat?

We moved home a year ago and in our new town where we live there is a fruit  and vegetable market twice a week. It's not a farmers' market, but we get most of our fresh produce there. I love the bunches of carrots, kale and beetroot we find there - seeing them in their natural glory rather than all trimmed and packaged like you see in a supermarket. I love taking our boys there, for the colours, the lively atmosphere and the shouting sellers. It's good fun! 

6. You are the mother of two small children. How do you make time for your creative life in the midst of intense childrearing?

By sacrificing sleep. It's the only way. And neglecting house work.

I'm not able to do very much at the moment, as I rely on our younger boy's naps to do anything, and that is as unpredictable as the British weather! But even if I am unable to create, I am always taking notes and thinking, keeping my mind ticking over.

I find inspiration daily in my children; their words, questions, thoughts and observations; seeing the world through their eyes. I am constantly jotting things down, and I hope to turn these observations into pictures once I find some time to myself again.

7. What's next?

I'll be illustrating the cover for the July issue of a great local cultural free newspaper. 
There's a whole back log of personal illustrations I want to make too, based on our 2 boys and my experiences of motherhood, as well as some family portraits. Just the small matter of finding the time...

Thank you, Mique! Who needs sleep? Or a clean house? :) I know this: the world NEEDS your art. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of your life with us.

And thank YOU, readers! None of this would mean anything without YOU. xo

Monday, March 7, 2016

FRESH DELICIOUS Fun in Florida & Georgia!

Last week I traveled to north Florida, where I stayed with my mother and her family (which includes my 3 adopted siblings), to celebrate the impending release of FRESH DELICIOUS: Poems from the Farmers' Market! Official release is tomorrow, but I was able to share the book a bit early with readers of all ages at Aucilla Christian Academy. Thank you staff and students, and especially Debbie Love for making me feel so very welcome!
The whole group performing "Fishing for a Reader" with me!

I signed bookmarks during recess.

Me with little brother James' Kindergarten class.

Me with my beautiful mama.

my 3 young siblings ready to play with their big sis!
On Saturday we traveled to nearby Thomasville, GA, to the best little book store ever The Bookshelf for a special Storytime and Craft featuring FRESH DELICIOUS. Annie at The Bookshelf couldn't have made us feel more welcome, and I loved reading to the kids and sharing with them the cute watermelon and strawberry craft I adapted from a Paper Source Valentine's kit. :) AND as if all that wasn't enough special-ness, Poetry Friday friend Jan Godown Annino came, with friend Christine Poreba (who is also a poet!), and we visited and had lunch and enjoyed our time together so very much. Big thanks to all who came out and bought books and helped celebrate this new book.

Booksellers are the BEST!


Aren't they pretty?!

Everything feels more festive when it's written in chalk!

Me+Jan =Poet-Friends Forever!

Making a watermelon craft!

Now that's a happy strawberry....just like me :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sign Up Here for 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem!

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance for Roundup.

I am traveling today, feeling so grateful to be sharing my books with students and readers of all ages in north Florida. But I do have something important to share with you:

It's that time again! National Poetry Month (April) will soon be upon us, which means it is time again to sign up for our annual KIDLITOSPHERE PROGRESSIVE POEM. This year we are shooting for short lines, and Laura Purdie Salas will be launching our first line! The rest is up to all of YOU! I invite you to choose your day and add your information to this Google Spreadsheet.

Here's how it works:

Poetry Friday Friends and other poetry lovers are invited to join in a community writing experience during National Poetry Month (April).

What is it? a poem that travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a line, beginning April 1. Anyone who wants to join in the fun can sign up on the Google Spreadsheet! First come, first served.

Once we have a schedule, I will be send via email the HTML code to include in your post and/or sidebar so that readers might follow along/look back/look forward. And feel free to snag the above graphic!

Can't wait to see where our poem will take us this year! (To view poems from previous years, click on the Progressive Poem tab above.)

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

13 Women I Admire

Hello and Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday! Today we are talking about Julianne's One Little Word "ADMIRE." Please join us!

I am traveling today, but I did want to share a few thoughts about "admire." For me it is linked with love, being present, experiencing wonder.

Here's a quote I love:

"What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." - Muriel Rukeyser

The following woman are some I deeply admire, though I know them only through their books. Each has told the truth about her lives, and it has split ME open, and it inspires me to approach the world with the same kind of courage and honesty: