Friday, July 15, 2016

My poetry decade

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I set up this blog and started posting! My goodness, that has flown by fast. I've been trying to decide what to do to celebrate, but have been so busy with fun summer stuff, I haven't had a moment. Isn't that how life (and blogging) goes? How do we maintain our social media life while actually LIVING our lives? So, I thought I might pause to ponder what I've learned in my last 10 years-- a glimpse at how poetry for young people has evolved in the last decade, filtered through my own tiny lens, of course. As it turns out, this is my 811th post-- which is the Dewey decimal number (811) for the poetry section at the library! (Only someone who works in the library field would love that serendipity as much as me!) Here we go.


1. Since posting on July 14, 2006, I have added blogging to my writing life and learned (some) discipline in posting--usually every Friday and daily for the month of April, National Poetry Month. This is the same year that Kelly Herold started "Poetry Friday" on her blog-- and it has definitely caught hold and gained popularity. I LOVE THAT! And in case you missed it, poet Janet Wong and I grabbed hold of that concept and have published several teaching anthologies with "Poetry Friday" at the center-- hoping people who don't already love poetry will give it a try on Friday.

2. I have learned about the work of so many poets in the last ten years-- met them, presented together, promoted their work, and continue expanding my own awareness of how many new writers are creating wonderful poetry for young readers. Just look at the list and links to 99 poets here in the sidebar on my blog-- and if I have missed some poets (who write for young people), please let me know. So many teachers, librarians, and parents only know the names of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky (both very popular and appealing, of course), and they have no idea that there are so many other great poets out there. I love surprising them with all the other great writers I know!

3. I hope I have helped connect poets with each other too! Poetry (and writing in general) can be a solitary business, so I really enjoy helping poets "meet" other poets-- a fantastic mutual admiration society.  I created a "Poet to Poet" series with regular installments (and more to come) in which one poet asks another poet questions about her/his new work. I find it so fascinating to see what authors ask each other about writing, poetry, form, process, etc. 


4. In ten years, I have read a LOT of poetry-- close to 1000 books of poetry published for young readers in the last decade. I try to keep a "sneak peek" list of poetry that will be published for children and teens and post that every January and then keep it updated all year long. You can find links to each of those lists in the sidebar of this blog and I hope it's a resource for finding poetry books on an ongoing basis.
5. Keeping this blog has helped me (mostly) keep current with technology too. I've learned how to use Blogger (and all its iterations) and add more visuals, links, video, etc. (I wish they offered a way to post audio only, but that has to be a third party post at this time-- at least I think so!) How has technology changed in 10 years? Ha! You can post from your cell phone now, link with Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, and so many more outlets. People can comment and interact more (and I need to get better about that). It's amazing to me how this continues to become an essential part of our personal and professional lives. 
6. I love how blogging has helped me share my professional opportunities with a wider audience. As a university professor, I am expected to submit proposals, plan panels, and attend and present at professional conferences and conduct workshops and I really enjoy that. But I'm always a little sad that all that great work and energy of so many smart and interesting people is only shared with a small audience. So, I've been able to share a few nuggets, slides, and videoclips from those presentations here. Yay! Win-win!

7. Another expectation for me as an academic is to write for publication. (Interestingly enough, blogging is still not really valued in my academic community.) But keeping this blog has inspired so many other articles, columns, presentations, and books-- and I've been able to share nuggets from this publications HERE, so that a wider audience can benefit from those works. When you corral a group of people to write something, it's really nice if you can get their work out to the widest possible readership, right? Keeping this blog has led to writing the poetry column for Book Links magazine for the American Library Association which has been really gratifying, as well as my book, Poetry Aloud Here (my very first post was promoting that new book!) and my Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists, too. And of course, all four of The Poetry Friday Anthologies published in collaboration with Janet Wong and 100+ poets grew out of all this blogging too. And I'm so proud of those and have loved all that collaboration! 


8. Celebrating National Poetry Month every April has been so fun every year and I love how all the poetry bloggers come up with some new twist each year. It's wonderful to see the interwebs flooded with poetry every April-- I just wish I could read, process, and comment on ALL of it. I think it is certainly helping more people find poetry and share it with children and teens. It's only been since 1996 that we even recognized National Poetry Month, so we've come a long way already. And there's certainly more room for more...


9. There's so much more poetry "stuff" available now too-- and I have enjoyed learning about how to create more varied ways to promote and share poetry. I've made reader guides for poetry books so that more teachers feel confident about sharing poetry books with young people. I've created tons of postcards and visuals to catch the eye-- and get more people reading more poetry. I love making all the lists of poetry books (duh!), so that people see how many choices they have when they want a poetry book about dogs or school or family. And I love discovering new ideas and resources from all of YOU.


10. And that's the best of all-- connecting with YOU all readers-- with people who care about poetry and children and teens and making sure they get exposed to all the beautiful language, big heart, quiet moments, and spiritual/emotional lift that poetry can offer. We need that all now more than ever, don't you think? I so appreciate the comments, links, "shares," and connections that blogging has offered with you readers, poets, teachers, and fellow poetry lovers. When our lives are busy and our world is crazy, pausing for a poem has such power. I love that the Internet in the last decade has given us the ability to break down barriers and connect a bit more. It's not perfect, but it can be reassuring and empowering. Let's use that power for good!

Here's to the next ten years. More poetry! More connections! 


18 comments:

Mary Lee said...

Happy Blog Birthday to a Queen of Poetry! And that this post is number 811...all kinds of perfect! Thank you for all you have done, do, will do for poetry!!

LEE BENNETT HOPKINS said...

THANK YOU is not enough for all you do.

PS: You can add IRENE LATHAM to the list of poets!

Hugs...

Jane Heitman Healy said...

Sylvia, congratulations on 10 years of blogging, connecting poets and readers and teachers. You are a champion!

Mitchell Linda said...

Just fabulous. Isn't life grand? My grandparents used to say things like this. In the midst of all the frustrating and difficult moments we live through there is much to celebrate. And, as a librarian.....I think it's absolutley KARMA that this is your 811 post.

Cheers to you and cheers to the work and the balm that poetry is. I'm looking forward to many more wonderful postings and publications from you and your poet partners.

Linda B said...

Ten years and post 8ll for someone who has brought much to poetry & education during these years seems quite magical to me. When they came, I used the PF books often with all ages of students, and was so grateful for them. Congratulations Sylvia, I liked hearing all about the learning!

Sally Murphy said...

Happy birthday to you! Thanks for all you do to spread the joy of poetry on this blog, in books and in the academic and educational world, too.

Jeannine Atkins said...

Those are a lot of amazing accomplishments. Congratulations!

karmstrong said...

Congratulations, Sylvia, on your blog, and I love the 811 coincidence. You have enriched my life and the lives of my students with all that you do to promote poetry. Thanks so much. I love the Poetry Friday series and use it all the time. I'm always thinking of new ways to include poetry in the daily life of my students. Thanks for all you do!

Buffy Silverman said...

Congratulations on your blog birthday! And how fitting that the number of your posts means poetry--thanks for all you do to bring children's poetry to the world.

Robyn Campbell said...

Congrats to you. It's a celebration. Thank you for all you've done for poets and the children we write for. You are a diamond.

Catherine said...

Congratulations, Sylvia! Ten years is quite an accomplishment. Thank you for all you do to support and nourish this amazing community.

Irene Latham said...

More poetry! More connections! Congratulations, Sylvia -so happy to know you. And grateful, too, for all the ways you share poetry with the world. xo

Liz Steinglass said...

Congratulations! Thank you for this post and thank you for 10 years of incredible leadership and support and generosity.

KateCoombs said...

Wonderful! Thanks for all your great work in poetry. :)

Bridget Magee said...

Happy Blog Birthday, Sylvia! Your contribution to the poetry world via this blog is much appreciated far and wide. =)

Elaine Magliaro said...

Sylvia,

Congratulations! Thank you for all you do to help inform folks/get the word out about children's poetry books and poetry activities. I so enjoyed meeting you at NCTE in Philadelphia when you and Janet Wong hosted a party in celebration of Lee Bennett Hopkins receiving the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award.

Sylvia Vardell said...

My goodness, thank you all for these lovely comments and compliments! I'm so touched!
I know I'm celebrating my own ten year stint, but I was also struck with how things are changing, in general. For the better, I hope. More poets, more poetry, more poetry awareness. Now, let's keep spreading the word!
Sylvia

Charles Waters said...

811 is serendipity indeed. Many congrats on the anniversary, Sylvia. Thank you for all that you do!!!!