Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Favorite Poetry Writing Resources [Poetry Friday]

Welcome to Poetry Friday. Please check out this week's entire round up at Michelle Kogan's blog

I recently turned in the final book in a contracted 4-book wfh series. I enjoyed the subject matter, the research, and the writing, but I only had 5 weeks to complete the project. I was in full-on nonfiction writing mode with little time for anything else. My two writing loves are nonfiction and poetry, but it's very difficult for me to do both at the same time and then to dive back into one or the other after a break. With this project behind me, I was really looking forward to writing some new poetry, but alas, when I sat down to write, it all just seemed like garbage. But that's okay. I let myself write the garbage. With time and work, some of that garbage might turn into something special.

The other thing I did to get back into the poetry swing of things was to revisit some of my favorite poetry writing resources. 

1. This first one is a newer resource for me. Several weeks ago I won a copy of JoAnn Early Macken's Write A Poem Step by Step. From the basics of rhythm, meter, and rhyme to poetry forms to coming up with ideas and using exciting language and imagery, this book covers it all. She also provides chapters with writing exercises, revision techniques, and guidance on  getting your work published.

2. An older favorite is Poem Crazy by Susan G. Wooldridge. If you've ever read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, in my opinion, this would be the poetry equivalent. It provides equal parts inspiration and technique.

3. Some of my favorite "tool" books to use when writing are Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph.D. (the best book to help you find the best word) and Merriam Webster's Rhyming Dictionary

4. Last but not least, I read lots of great poetry. Thank goodness for libraries and Poetry Friday :) This practice is more inspiring and more of an education than anything else. 

How do you get yourself out of a writing rut? 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Poetry Friday: It's Hot Outside!

A little over a month ago we had 3 inches of snow on the ground. This last week, we've had temps in the 90s and feels-like temps with humidity above 100. 

The weather inspired this week's poem. 

Lazy Hazy Days of May

Buggy air
Muggy air
Heavy hard to breathe air

Puffy hair
Sweaty hair
Firmly on my face hair

Brightest glare
Hottest glare
Angry sun is growing glare

Little prayer
Bigger prayer
Send some cooler air prayer

Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher 

How's the weather where you live? Has it inspired your writing this week? 

This week's round up is hosted by Buffy's blog. Be sure to stop by and enjoy all of the posts.

As always, thanks for visiting. Happy Poem-Making!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Poetry Friday: Free Verse and a Dinosaur Thank you!

Welcome to this week's Poetry Friday post. To enjoy the entire round up, head on over to Sloth Reads blog and check it out.

This week, I've been studying free verse poems. Free verse is poetry that is not written in a fixed rhyme, and it doesn't have a regular meter. 

What I enjoy in a free verse poem:
- Active verbs
- Sensory detail (I want to be able to see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it)
- Sound tools (alliteration, assonance, consonance, onomatopoeia)
- Symbolism
- Metaphor, Simile, Irony
- Concrete images

A poem obviously doesn't have to (and in most cases probably shouldn't) have all of these things at once, but careful use of some can make a powerful poem.

One of my favorite children's poetry collections is Kristine O'Connell George's Toasting Marshmallows. This time of year brings more days enjoyed outside with cookouts, camping, fishing, and hiking, and it always makes me want to pull this collection off the shelf and savor it once again. She is a master of free verse. 

A Doe

Stepping timidly
out of the thicket,
she trembles, then stills,
poised mid-quiver.

We don't move.
We don't even whisper.
She's almost
         close enough to touch.

Velvet ears swivel.
Slim spindled legs turn,
a silent shiver
         fading into dusk.

by Kristine O'Connell George, Toasting Marshmallows, Clarion Books, 2001

Strong verbs: stepping, trembles, stills, swivel, shiver, etc.

Sensory detail: I can feel the tremble, the quiver. I can hear the whisper and feel the velvet ears. 

Concrete images: Her words have painted a very clear picture of what she is seeing. I feel like I'm right there, enjoying the scene with her.

I'm challenging myself to read 10 more free verse poems from various writers this week. As I study each, I'll ask myself what tools I see in each poem. I'll also compare the poet's styles and voices. And, I may even take a crack at a few free verse poems of my own.

I don't want to end this post before thanking Matt Forrest Esenswine. I helped spread the word about his new picture book with Deborah Bruss and Louie Chin, Don't Ask A Dinosaur, and in doing so, I was entered to win a copy. Of all the entries, I was lucky enough to be chosen the winner! The book is a giant rhyming wild rumpus of a party, and it could not be more fun! My granddaughter had her first birthday last week, and I gave her this autographed copy. Besides my books, it's her first author-autographed book. She loved the rhythm of the words and the bold, fun illustrations. Both Aria and I thank Matt and Deborah for this very special gift.

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by and Happy Poem Making! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

What's New?

Welcome to my end-of-the-month post where I share what progress I've made toward my writing and publication goals. This month, I sent 5 work-for-hire packets to education publishers. I submitted both a picture book manuscript and a board book manuscript. I received two poetry rejections, and submitted 2 more poems. I worked on a small project for an education publisher, and I ended the month with an offer to write a new series for a nonfiction publisher. More on that later :)

My goals for May will be limited because I will need to give the majority of my time and attention to the nonfiction project, but I hope to revise a picture book manuscript that I've been working on. I want to write/submit two new poems, and I want to submit a couple of picture book manuscripts that I feel are ready to go. 

How was your April? How did you work toward your goals?

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back in a few days with my Poetry Friday post. Until then, Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Poetry Friday: Metaphor

This week's Poetry Friday is hosted by Irene Latham's Live Your Poem blog. Be sure to stop by and check out all of the wonderful posts.

This week, I'm exploring the use of metaphor in poetry. Metaphor is defined as a figure of speech that makes a comparison by calling one thing something else.

Perfect for a Picnic
by Kimberly M. Hutmacher 

A baby blue sky
A bright golden sun
The perfect blanket
For afternoon fun! 
Copyright 2003 Poetry Play for Preschoolers

The above poem uses metaphor when it refers to the sun and sky as a blanket.

Nature's Jewelry
by Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Brilliant moon, sparkling stars
Radiant, pure, bright
Nature's precious diamonds
Lighting up the night.
Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher

In this example, the moon and stars are metaphorically referred to as diamonds.

Challenge: Since both of my examples were nature inspired, take a walk outside. Study your surroundings. Find something in nature that inspires you. Ask yourself what else it could be? Attempt to write a poem about it using metaphor.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Poetry Friday: Lune Poems

Welcome to Poetry Friday! This week’s round up is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts:The Opposite of Indifference blog. Be sure to check out all the great posts.

This week, I’m tackling the Lune form of poetry. The Lune also goes by the name American Haiku. It was originally created by Robert Kelly. Kelly didn’t feel the rules of the traditional Haiku worked well with the English language. His Lune consists of a 13-syllable, self-contained poem that has 5 syllables in the first line, 3 syllables in the second line and 5 syllables in the last line. Here is an example of a Kelly-Lune I came up with this afternoon:

Naked limbs shiver
Missing leaves
No cold winter coat

Copyright 2018 Kimberly M. Hutmacher

Lune rhymes with moon. Notice that in a Kelly-Lune, the poem takes the shape of a crescent moon. This is no accident. Also, the 13 syllables correspond to the 13 lunar months.

A variant of the Lune was created by Jack Collom. His form is also three lines, but his is word-based, not syllable based. His structure has 3 words in the first line, 5 words in the second line and 3 words in the last line.

The following are examples of Collom-Lunes created by my daughter, Madison.

Chocolate brown pond
Puffy marshmallow clouds on top
Comfy, cozy, toasty

Sweet frosty mountains
Running with chocolate syrup rivers
Cherry on peak

Take a journey
Into a beautiful, magical land
Imaginations run wild.

Copyright 2018 Madison Hutmacher

Challenge: Attempt to write both a Kelly-Lune and a Collom-Lune on the same topic.
Happy Poem-Making!

P.S. Earlier this week I posted a review of Laura Pudie Salas' new book, MEET MY FAMILY. If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to click over. This book is a treasure.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Book Review: Meet My Family by Laura Purdie Salas

I just finished reading Meet My Family: Animal Babies and Their Families, a new picture book written by Laura Purdie Salas. Where does one begin? I think each of us at one time or another believes that our family is strange / weird / different. We believe that somehow we’re the only ones and that no one else can understand. Laura’s book blows that entire hypothesis out of the water. Every family is special in its own way, and this book celebrates all kinds of human families by relating them to animal families. We see animal babies being cared for by two parents, single parents, and same sex parents. Some animal families live in one place their entire lives and others move often. Some of their families stay together and some split apart. Some animal babies look just like their parents, and some look completely different. We see working animal parents and an animal baby who gets raised by a completely different species of animal. The final spread features several different kinds of human families. So instead of feeling shame / embarrassment / uneasiness, a reader walks away from this book wanting to celebrate their very own (maybe a little strange, but aren't they all :) ) special family. Laura’s beautiful words and Stephanie Fizer Coleman’s gorgeous illustrations combine for a wonderful, whimsical celebration of family diversity.