Friday, April 13, 2012

5Q Poet Interview Series: Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer

Our 5Q Poet Interview series for National Poetry Month continues with this interview with Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer about their new book, And the Crowd Goes Wild!: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. Graduate student Abby Hancock offers this interview (plus).

About the Editors
Carol-Ann Hoyte is a “Canadian of Barbadian parentage and Guyanese heritage (Anansesem). She served as the Quebec regional coordinator for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week from 2002 to 2011 and first emerged as a children’s poet in 2008. She is an assistant librarian at an all boys’ private school in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Anansesem). She has studied poetry under Laura Purdie Salas and Heidi Bee Roemer, her co-editor for And the Crowd Goes Wild. She has been featured in several publications including Stories for Children Magazine and Highlights for Children (SCBWI Canada East).

Heidi Bee Roemer considers her job, a children’s author, the best in the world. In her own words, she says she considers herself lucky because her “’job is to read books, play with words, write poems, and tell stories” (Heidi Bee Roemer). Heidi found a love for books at an early age when she would do various jobs around the house in order to earn money to buy books. She later rediscovered this love for children’s literature when she had her own children and decided to make writing for children her focus. She has authored four books to date, has been included in several anthologies, even some compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins, and sold many stories, poems, and articles to different children’s magazines (Heidi Bee Roemer). In addition to these accomplishments, Heidi also offers workshops to writers and is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Heidi Bee Roemer’s Website

And the Crowd Goes Wild!: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems Summary
And the Crowd Goes Wild is a compilation of fifty sports-themed poems from various authors around the world, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer. Sports covered in the poems include bowling, baseball, polo, ping-pong, and many more. Many different poetic forms are featured, including acrostic, haiku, riddles, and palindrome. The poems vary in subject and theme, from those that “pay tribute to an athlete’s determination, agony, and exhilaration, those that focus on the emotions of sports enthusiasts, [and] others that celebrate the spirit of spunk and fair play” (Hoyte and Roemer flyer). The work of award-winning Canadian children’s author/illustrator Kevin Sylvester, in the form of pen-and-ink drawings, is featured in this book.

The editors made it a point to include sports poems from various countries around the world, paying special attention to find contributors from Canada and Australia, and they also made sure to bring attention to the Special Olympics. This book will be released in both paperback and e-book (PDF file) in August 2012.

Five Question Interview
1. What gave you the idea to compile sports poems from around the world? Did you enjoy sports yourself or did you see a need in the market?

Hoyte: The London 2012 Summer Olympics served as the inspiration for this anthology. Since this sporting event is international, it only seemed logical to me to feature poems penned by writers worldwide. This year's Olympics also inspired two terrific children's sports poetry collections which came out in England earlier this year. They are Olympic Poems (written by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens) and When Granny Won Olympic Gold: An Other Medal-Winning Poems (compiled by Graham Denton). Themed children's poetry anthologies tend to primarily feature the work of renowned and prolific poets based in one country. There is a definite need in the market for a book such as ours. Our collection is unique in that it features many emerging poets (plus some established ones) and is international in scope.

Roemer: Creating a global sports-themed poetry anthology for children is a great idea, but it wasn’t mine. You have to thank Carol-Ann for that spark of genius!

I enjoy working out, skating, kickboxing, rock climbing, and other forms of exercise and so I eagerly jumped into Carol-Ann’s project. My greatest delight is to present nonfiction to children in creative ways; poetry is the medium I love best. Is there a need in the market for that? Yes, I believe so!

2. Do you think poetry as a genre will have more impact with this subject than a different genre? Why?

Hoyte: Both children’s non-fiction titles on sports and middle-grade novels revolving around sports exist in abundance. Sports poetry collections written for children exist in dramatically smaller numbers than the aforementioned genres of children’s literature.

Our anthology possesses the ability to show sports-loving kids that poetry can be relevant and of interest to them and to make sports appealing to poetry-loving kids who might not read about sports and/or perhaps don't think sports are of interest to them. I hope our collection will prompt children to seek out other sports poetry collections for them including recent ones such as Douglas Florian's Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings (Harcourt, 2012).

Most people view sports and poetry as an odd and illogical pair but their link dates back centuries. The Ancient Greek lyric poet Pindar (ca. 552-443 BC) wrote victory odes of which nearly all were celebrations of triumphs gained by competitors in Panhellenic festivals such as the Olympian Games. Poetry and sports continue to team up today. Canadian poet Priscila Uppal served as the poet-in-residence for Canadian Athletes Now at Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics/Paralympics. Winter Sport: Poems, her collection for teens and adults, resulted from her time spent at these events. Priscila also worked as poet-in-residence at Toronto's 2011 Rogers (Tennis) Cup. She wrote the foreword for our collection and also has a poem featured in it.

Roemer: Absolutely! Who can resist the “Sports + Poetry = Fun” formula? Children with short attention spans or those who have difficulty reading long passages of text are less likely to be intimidated by poetry. Why? Open a poetry book and you’ll usually see a good amount of white space which is comforting to the child who (like me) hates to sit still. Rhymed poems also help emergent readers puzzle out words that may be unfamiliar to them. But best of all, poetry speaks to the reader’s heart. A great poem will elicit a response from the reader—a thoughtful pause, an epiphany, or a giggle.

3. What do you hope children will learn or think about as they read this book?

Hoyte: I hope children will think about athletes with intellectual disabilities and those with physical disabilities. Perhaps our poems focused on these two types of athletes will inspire children to learn more about the Paralympics and Special Olympics. Through poems penned by writers living in 10 countries, children will gain an eye-opening exposure to multiple variations of the English language and will expand and enrich their own vocabularies as a result. I hope our ethnically diverse roster of contributors will also show children that poets are real folks living in current times and who come in all different packages.

Roemer: I hope children will experience a surge of energy, joy, enthusiasm; a feel-good response upon reading our sports poems, while at the same time, gain insight and knowledge about various world sports. I hope a reluctant reader will search out other poetry collections. I hope a non-athletic child will be enticed to try a new physical activity—and find it appealing. And may ALL our readers fall under poetry’s magical spell!

4. How did you compile the poems? Was there a certain poem that perked your interest?

Hoyte: I sent the call for submissions to poetry groups/organizations based in several countries asking them to post it on their websites and to circulate it among their members. I am pleased and proud to say that we received poems from every (livable) continent. With the selected poems, our goal was to cover as many sports, poetic forms, and countries as possible. Here are four poems which stood out for me. Heather Delabre’s “The Master Dance” is a gorgeous two-voice poem spoken by a football player and ballet dancer. Charles Waters’ short and powerful “Muhammad Ali - Rumble in the Jungle” recounts a historic boxing match which took place in Zaire. Patricia Toht’s “Curling Stone” is a delightful mask poem and the only poem, if I recall correctly, that we received on curling. Patricia Cooley’s “King’s Gambit” is a clever poem about chess which is truly an international sport!

Roemer: Our mission was to collect a wide variety of poetry forms from talented writers around world. Ideally, we wanted to have at least one poem per sport including poems representing paraplegic and special needs sports. Once poems were selected, we organized them seasonally. A large number of poems really wow’d me, but I’ll only note a few: Madeleine Kuderick’s heartwarming “Last Chance Bat;” Jocelyn Shipley’s “Pianoball” about a young pianist distracted by teammates practicing outside her window; Emmanuel Dickson Osei-Yaw’s poem, “Plenty People Chasing One Ball” with its authentic African voice; and Gayle Krause’s “The Hail Mary Pass,” a clever cleave poem, designed to be read both vertically and horizontally.

5. From what I’ve read about you, it seems like you incorporated a little bit of both of you with this endeavor. Would you say that’s true?

Hoyte: Being Canadian, it was personally important that 25% of the collection or as close to that as possible was dedicated to poems written by Canadians. Since the highly-regarded School Magazine Australia (est. 1916) launched my career as a published children’s poet, I wanted to ensure there were Australian-written poems included in the collection. I also wanted to ensure there were British poets represented in the collection since England has offered me and continues to offer me great opportunities for professional development in children’s poetry. My first instructor in writing children’s poetry was Laura Purdie Salas and I chose her to create our website for the book. Heidi (Bee Roemer) who was my second instructor in writing children’s poetry is my co-editor. I befriended award-winning Canadian children’s author-illustrator Kevin Sylvester last year when I organized his 2011 TD Canadian Children’s Book Week tour in the province of Quebec. His books, Sports Hall of Weird and Gold Medal for Weird, which he both wrote and illustrated, convinced me that he would be a great fit for our project so I chose him to create the artwork for the book.

Roemer: Yes, we each took on different responsibilities. My major contributions were writing and designing the book's pre-publication promotional flyer, logging submissions, selecting poems and guiding poets through their revisions. It was a pleasure and an honor to work with Carol-Ann and with our amazingly talented poets!

Poem Preview

Jocelyn Shipley (Canada)

I’m practicing piano while
My fingers stick, my fingers slip,
my fingers trip and fall.
Sloppy scales and clumsy chords and—
I miss the second sharp again—
I fumble my arpeggios.
Off-key, I lose the beat. But—
I turn the page to “Serenade,”
my new piece for the week.
The notes are tricky, still I try,
until I hear Coach shout,
I strike out on “Serenade”.

How to Share the Poem
Before reading this poem with kids, ask them to share their favorite sports and what they like about them. Then have them brainstorm a list of activities that they have to do but not necessarily enjoy as much as their favorite sport.

Read the poem out loud, making sure to emphasize the difference in the piano parts and the baseball parts, made obvious in the print version of the poem by different fonts.

After this discussion, have students create new activities by combining their favorite sport with another activity. Have them draw a picture of what the new “hybrid” activity would look like. After everyone has drawn their picture, have students share their new “sports” with the rest of the group.

Anansesem:The Online Caribbean Children's Literature Magazine (n.d.). Flying fish by carol-ann hoyte. Retrieved from
Heidi bee roemer. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Hoyte, C. A., & Roemer, H. B. (2012). Forthcoming release!. Flyer.
Hoyte, Carol-Ann and Roemer, Heidi Bee. Eds. 2012. And the Crowd Goes Wild!: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. Ill. by Kevin Sylvester. Friesens Press.
SCBWI Canada East. (n.d.). Carol-ann hoyte. Retrieved from

Since it's also Poetry Friday today, please allow me to plug my latest class project with my graduate students this spring. We have collaborated to create two new resource blogs for two more poetry awards:

The Claudia Lewis Poetry Award Teaching Toolbox

and the Lion and Unicorn Poetry Award Teaching Toolbox

You'll find readers' guides and/or digital trailers created by my students for many of the award and honor books for both of these awards. Previously, we created the Lee B. Hopkins Poetry Award Teaching Toolbox which also offers guides and trailers. Hope this helps you all find the poetry award books more easily and share them with kids in fun, fresh ways. 

Now scoot on over to Anastasia Suen's blog, Booktalking, to join the Poetry Friday fray!

Image credit:;

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2012. All rights reserved.


Carmela Martino said...

How wonderful to read the "behind the scenes" story of how the anthology came to be. I'm extremely honored to have one of my poems selected for inclusion and I'm looking forward to reading all the poems. Thanks for the terrific sneak preview--love the concept and emotion of "Pianoball."

Jocelyn Shipley said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview with Carol-Ann and Heidi, and especially for including my poem "Pianoball". I am very honoured to have my work in this collection.

4 happy children said...


Thank you.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Great post! I look forward to seeing Carol-Ann and Heidi's inclusive, wide-ranging anthology. Kids are going to love it.

GatheringBooks said...

I sooo love the energy in the poem that you shared, Sylvia. What a rich post, and a thought-provoking interview. Thank you for sharing this. said...

It's lovely to hear all this behind the scenes information, and that Pianoball poem is indeed brilliant. I am also honoured to be included and I can't wait to read all the poems!

Charles Waters said...

One of the more informative in-depth interviews yet. I'm not just saying that because I'm in the anthology either. Thanks for the shout out Carol-Ann. May this be the beginning of you and Heidi's work as anthologists.

Charles Waters said...

Oh by the way PIANOBALL was a magnificent poem. Shipley Power!!!!!

Cathy Cronin said...

Wonderful interview! Fantastic peek at how this book came to be. I'm honored to be included in such a special project. Many thanks to our two amazing editors -
Carol-Ann & Heidi!