Friday, March 18, 2011

Poetry Tag: From Blog Game to Book Links to eBook

You may remember that last year, I hosted a game of “Poetry Tag” here at my blog, to celebrate National Poetry Month last April. I invited poets to "play" along with me by offering a poem for my readers to enjoy, then "tag" a fellow poet who then shared her/his own poem THAT WAS CONNECTED to the previous poem in SOME way-- a theme, word, idea, tone-- and offered a sentence or two explaining that connection.

 Poets responded enthusiastically and we shared a chain of poems by luminaries such as J. Patrick Lewis, X. J. Kennedy, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, Alice Schertle, Pat Mora, Naomi Shihab Nye, Helen Frost, and Nikki Grimes, among others. That was a terrific event— the response was positive from poets and readers alike! 

This led to my using the Poetry Tag theme for my regular "Everyday Poetry" column for this month's March 2011 issue of Book Links available online here. I offer 30 different poems from a variety of poetry books all connected from one to another. I begin with “April Gale” by Heidi Mordhorst (from Pumpkin Butterfly: Poems from the Other Side of Nature, 2009). Then we look for “Spring” by Lee Bennett Hopkins (from Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems, 2010). [Connection to previous poem: The image of spring blossoms] 3. Next, find “Grass” by Joyce Sidman (from Ubiquitous:, Celebrating Nature’s Survivors, 2010). And keep it going with 30 different poems all listed for you with the connections noted. In the print issue of Book Links, you'll also get an unpublished poem by Heidi Mordhorst that is a gem!

The success of our first round of Poetry Tag has inspired me to take this idea one step further. I am working on a new Poetry Tag project with Janet Wong, my collaborator on the lovely tribute book for Lee Bennett Hopkins in 2009. We have compiled what we believe is the first electronic-only poetry anthology for children (ages 0-8), designed for Kindle (and other e-readers) as an irresistible 99 cent book for kids and for grownups to share with the kids in their lives. The idea is to make poetry an affordable "impulse buy"--to bring poetry to people who never have bought a poetry book before. It's called PoetryTagTime and will be available at Amazon beginning April 1.

Our initial format, a black-and-white Kindle format, fits well with our goal of encouraging aural appreciation. Rather than having adults simply "pass the iPad," we'd like to have adults reading poetry to children. A teacher might read a poem aloud to start each morning. A family on a road trip might read poems aloud to pass the time. Some estimates say that 10 million Kindles have been sold. There were over 10 million Kindle ebook sales in December. We bet that at least a tenth of those Kindles belong to adults who spend a significant amount of time each day with children. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could bring a million Kindle readers to children's poetry?

The first volume is framed around the Poetry Tag concept with 30 poets offering previously unpublished poems for children (ages 0-8) in a connection of poems that will debut April 1 at Amazon in honor of National Poetry Month.

Please visit our website, to read more about our project and our 30 participating poets including: Children’s Poet Laureates Jack Prelutsky and Mary Ann Hoberman; Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman; NCTE Poetry Award winners X.J. Kennedy, J. Patrick Lewis, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Nikki Grimes; mega-popular poets Douglas Florian, Betsy Franco, and Jane Yolen; and 20 more exciting names.

Also, be sure to check out our companion blog, for strategies for sharing each of the 30 poems in the book, rolling out one per day throughout the month.

And be sure to join the rest of the Poetry Friday gathering hosted by Andromeda at A Wrung Sponge.

Image credit: PoetryTagTime, Book Links

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2011. All rights reserved.

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