Thursday, October 13, 2022

Guest Post: IMPERFECT II by Tabatha Yeatts-Lonske

Welcome, Tabatha, and congratulations on the publication of your second edited volume of poems in IMPERFECT II. Here, Tabatha shares a glimpse into IMPERFECT II and how changing perspectives can inform our poetry writing. 

Tabatha writes: Have you ever been sure that something was true and later found out that it wasn't? You think someone is mad at you, but really they were just having a bad day. You think someone’s life is perfect, but actually they are struggling. We can like someone and be certain that we'll never get over them, and then later look back and be surprised we liked them at all. Making thought-mistakes happens to everybody.

What can we do about thinking things that aren't true? Keep our thoughts in perspective.

Hmmm. One of the things that helps is…

What does poetry have to offer? Tasty bite-sized views of other people’s perspectives. 


We made a second IMPERFECT book so we could dive into thought-mistakes and find ways to help ourselves out: 

On the IMPERFECT II blog, IMPERFECT II poets shared some of their favorite ways to regain perspective, and those include:

Noticing some of your favorite ways can help you think of them when you need them. 


Here’s a poem from IMPERFECT II where our narrator shifts their perspective on drawing: 

Thanks for thinking about thinking with me! 

Thank you, Tabatha, for sharing with us today! Now head on over to Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme where Matt is hosting Poetry Friday. 

Friday, October 07, 2022

What Is a Friend?

Well, dear blog friends, 

Here I am again, rather embarrassed and apologetic for abandoning my blog for SO long! Since my last post months ago, I retired from my university teaching (yippee) and am making the transition to more travel and family time, but still working on tons of poetry projects! I may not be blogging as much, but I am reluctant to "retire" the blog entirely-- especially my "sneak peek" list. So, please be patient with me and I'll try to keep rolling!

I continue to collaborate with the amazing Janet Wong in our venture in creating poetry projects. This year, we've focused on building the poetry community and nurturing new and emerging poets into the world of publishing poetry anthologies and collections. Our first three ventures were alphabet poetry collections organized along a theme: Things We Do, Things We Eat, and Things We Feel. (We're working on Things We Wear right now!) Those are full-color collections for our youngest poetry fans, ages 1-8. 

That led us to expand our focus to create poetry collections for older kids, ages 8-12 (and up). Our first venture for that tween reader is out today: What Is a Friend? This is an anthology of ekphrastic poems written to a black-and-white photo prompt-- all related to the theme of friendship. Backwater includes Ways to Share Poems with a Friend, Poetry Books About Friendship, Ekphrastic Poetry Books, Poets Write about Writing, Kinds of Poems, and Web Resources. 

We are so pleased to have a wonderful variety of very talented new and established poets featured in this book:

All profits from the sale of this book benefit the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund. The IBBY Children in Crisis Fund provides support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder, or natural disaster. The program gives immediate support and help — and also aims for long-term community impact, aligning with IBBY's goal of giving every child the right to become a reader. For more info: To donate:

We're also excited that What Is a Friend? has been selected as a "Hot Off the Press" book for October by Children's Book Press. Check it out here!

Janet and I use Zoom to meet with our poets, share information, answer questions, and celebrate together. Here's one pic of our group celebrating each of their poems in What Is a Friend? Enjoy! 

It's Poetry Friday too, so head on over to Sarah Grace's place where she is gathering us all together! 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

NPM: Día + Plan for May 14: Young People's Poetry Day with Pat Mora

Photo courtesy of Shannon Steinacker
As we bring National Poetry Month to a close, I hope this immersion in poems (and videos) has been a bit of respite during this busy time. But this is not the end of enjoying poetry, of course!

The Poetry Foundation is holding a special in-person event for Young People's Poetry Day on May 14 in Chicago. Here's the scoop:

"Young poetry lovers are front and center at Young People’s Poetry Day with Pat Mora, winner of the Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement and author of numerous books for young readers. This annual free event for youth and their caregivers features a reading with Mora, a cartonera-making workshop with Suzi Garcia and Mayela Rodriguez, poetry writing activities, crafts, a poetry scavenger hunt, and more!"


Pat Mora is also the founder of Día de los Ninos; Día de los Libros which is often recognized on April 30, although celebrated all year long! Here's the link and the scoop for a downloadable booklet and tons of helpful resources. 

Children’s Day, Book Day
El día de los niños, El día de los libros (Día)
Planning Your April Celebration and Ideas for a Bookjoy Year

Pat writes: "In 2022, Children’s Day, Book Day, El día de los niños, el día de los libros (often known as Día), celebrates its 26th anniversary, twenty-three years in which literacy advocates have motivated families in their communities to honor all children and to share bookjoy throughout the year. Annually, during April, book fiestas are held at schools, libraries, childcare centers, parks, universities/colleges, community centers, parks, etc. This planning booklet is a compilation of what my partners and I have learned about ways to celebrate all our children and excite them about bookjoy. You’ll find helpful tips to share with your planning committee or colleagues."

So... let's keep the poetry celebration going with special events, new plans, and poem sharing all year long!

Friday, April 29, 2022

NPM: "Stuck"

 Here is the poem movie for "Stuck" by Eileen Spinelli.

[Created by Lauren H.]

Thursday, April 28, 2022

NPM: "Staycation"

Here is the poem movie for “Staycation" by Michelle Schaub. 

[Created by Lauren W.]

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

NPM: “Rise Up Tall”

Here is the poem movie for “Rise Up Tall" by JoAnn Early Macken.

[Created by Roxanne M.]

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

NPM: "All Tied, Bases Loaded"

Here is the poem movie for "All Tied, Bases Loaded" by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. 

[Created by Crystal M.]

Monday, April 25, 2022

NPM: "The Artist"

 Here is the poem movie for “The Artist" by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.

[Created by Irene M.]

Friday, April 22, 2022

NPM: "Soul Magic"

 Here is the poem movie for "Soul Magic" by Alice Faye Duncan. 

[Created by Beatrice H.]

Thursday, April 21, 2022

NPM: “Stand Up”

Here is the poem movie for “Stand Up" by Christy Mihaly

[Created by Lisa V.]

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

NPM: "Me and the Beach Creatures"

 Here is the poem movie for “Me and the Beach Creatures" 
by Susan Blackaby.

[Created by Hope R.]

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

NPM: "You Can Do It Right Now"


Here is the poem movie for "You Can Do It Right Now" by Janet Wong. 

[Created by Aleah H.]

Monday, April 18, 2022

NPM: "Rabbit Dance"

Here is the poem movie for “Rabbit Dance" by Joseph Bruchac.

[Created by Alyscia E.]

Saturday, April 16, 2022


Here is a digital trailer for the poetry anthology OUT OF WONDER 
by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth.

[Created by Linda S.]


Friday, April 15, 2022

NPM: “Pep Talk for a Couch Potato"

 Here is the poem movie for "Pep Talk for a Couch Potato" 
by Eileen Spinelli. 

[Created by Ashley L.]

Thursday, April 14, 2022

NPM: "Be the Beat"

Here is the poem movie for "Be the Beat" by Buffy Silverman. 

[Created by Keri B.]

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

NPM:"Follow Your Nose"

Here is the poem movie for "Follow Your Nose" by Margarita Engle.

[Created by Chrissie B.]

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

NPM: “Chair Dancing”


Here is the poem movie for “Chair Dancing” by Xelena González. 

[Created by Elizabeth B.]

Monday, April 11, 2022

NPM: “Footwork for Soccer Players Stuck Inside”

Here is the poem movie for “Footwork for Soccer Players Stuck Inside” by Elizabeth Steinglass.

[Created by Ariel B.]

Saturday, April 09, 2022

NPM: "I Stood on the Ceiling"

 Here is the poem movie for "I Stood on the Ceiling" by Darren Sardelli.

[Created by Rachel R.]

Friday, April 08, 2022

NPM: "Any Weather"

Here is the poem movie for "Any Weather" by Rebecca Balcárcel.

[Created by Sabrina L.]

Thursday, April 07, 2022

NPM: “A Self-Trained Ninja”

Here is the poem movie for "A Self-Trained Ninja" by Yangsook Choi.

[Created by Brittney R.]

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

NPM: "Mental Floss"

Here is the poem movie for "Mental Floss" by Catherine Flynn.

[Created by Alyssa R.]

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

NPM: "Bones & Math"

Here is the poem movie for "Bones & Math" by Joan Bransfield Graham. 

[Created by Terry S.]

Monday, April 04, 2022

NPM: "When I Feel Scared"

Here is the poem movie for "When I Feel Scared" by Janet Wong.

[Created by Kaitlin S.]


Sunday, April 03, 2022

NPM: "On a Beach"

Here is the poem movie for "On a Beach" by Suzy Levinson.

[Created by Angela W.]

Saturday, April 02, 2022

NPM: "Music in My Town"

 Here is the poem movie for "Music in My Town" by David Bowles.

[Created by Amanda R.]

Friday, April 01, 2022

NPM: "Trail Ready"

Happy National Poetry Month! Once again, all month long, I'll be sharing videos made by my graduate students enrolled in a "Poetry for Children" course at Texas Woman's University. They each chose a poem from Hop to It: Poems to Get You Moving (because we have permission from those poets) and created an original "movie" to feature that poem. This is a fun way to feature a poem and also a model of what young people can do in using technology to play with poetry. See what you think! Here is "Trail Ready" by Robyn Hood Black.

[Poem video created by Savannah W.]

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Poetry Friday: Things We Eat

Welcome to our Poetry Friday celebration! Janet (Wong) is hosting with me today and we'll be visiting all the blogs who link with us today. Can't wait!

Meanwhile, Janet and I are also celebrating the release of a new book, but first... FOOD!

When Janet and I get together, we always enjoy eating together. Janet is a "foodie," so she'll introduce me to amazing new restaurants (pre-COVID!) and we'll share dishes and try new things. But she'll also join me in eating yummy Tex Mex dishes and we couldn't resist In-n-Out burgers (since she grew up in California, the home of In-n-Out)! Here are just a few photos of us EATING! 

So, it made perfect sense for us to focus on FOOD with our latest project: THINGS WE EAT, a poetry anthology featuring food poems from A to Z, avocados to zucchini!

This is a collaborative project that is part of our new workshop initiative. In our Anthologies 201 course, we work with poets on the process of creating anthologies-- from the writing process (with mentoring from Janet) to navigating the technology required to create a poetry anthology and publish it. We were also honored to have several guest poets join us on this venture, including Rebecca Balcárcel, David Bowles, Nicola Davies, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia Heard, George Ella Lyon, Jama Kim Rattigan, and Jacqueline Woodson. Here's a list of ALL the poets featured in Things We Eat. 

This is an ekphrastic collection of poems written to photo prompts of diverse children eating, cooking, picking, growing, or (in one case) warning about foods! It's a picture book designed to be shared with our youngest readers (but also a fun model for older children to try in creating their own poetry books). PLUS, one of our favorite aspects of this book is that all profits go to the IBBY Children in Crisis fund, needed now more than ever. 

Here's just a TASTE of the fun poems in this collection: 

Congratulations and thank you, poets, for working with us to put more poetry out into the world! 

Meanwhile, let's see what y'all have been up to-- as we prepare for National Poetry Month next month! Add your blog to the Inlinkz party below. Don't worry about the "Ohh, no!"-- just click on the blue link to add your blog link. Thanks! 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, February 25, 2022

Learning About Poetry Anthologies

You may have seen posts about workshops that Janet (Wong) and I launched last year. After 10 years of collaborating on poetry anthologies, we decided it was an ideal time to share some of what we've learned about creating anthologies with the poetry community and with aspiring poets and anthologists, in particular. So, here's a little "back and forth" from us on what we're doing

Why We’re Teaching the Anthologies Workshops

by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a graduate course in poetry for children at Texas Woman’s University for over 20 years now. Our focus is reading, reading, and reading the contemporary poetry that has been published for young people in the last 20 years. We consider some evaluation and analysis criteria and discuss ways to share poetry with young people, along with our own responses to a genre that has often been neglected in their many years of teaching and reading. It’s so fun to see these librarians and teachers find the JOY in poetry for young people today—the topical poetry collections, the innovative poem picture books, the amazing novels in verse, and more. Along with teaching, I’ve been able to make poetry presentations at countless conferences including 18 years of the “Poetry Round Up” of poets reading their work aloud at the Texas Library Association annual conference. I’ve created educator guides for many wonderful works of poetry to help provide curriculum connections for teachers and learners. All of it has shown me that people are hungry to learn more about today’s poetry for young readers.

Janet shares: My UCLA Extension poetry teacher Myra Cohn Livingston sold my first book, Good Luck Gold, for me. Her longtime editor Margaret K. McElderry was in Los Angeles to give the Arbuthnot lecture; after dinner, Myra showed her my manuscript, and Margaret told her that she wanted to buy it. That was 30 years ago. Ever since then, I have tried to honor Myra’s generosity by helping to shine a light on my fellow poets.
The Anthologies 101, 201, 301—and soon 401—workshops came about because of all that.

We’ve spent so much time talking about poetry with each other, we thought it was time to share some of those experiences with aspiring poets and poetry lovers. With the ease of Zoom, it seemed like the perfect time to gather people in online workshops to explore the potential of poetry for young people.

Janet: There are so many immensely talented poets writing for children and teens who aren’t being given a chance to share their work.
The thinking behind the Anthologies 101 workshop is this: let’s share our experiences and give poets the info they need to get published, either with traditional publishers or by becoming “indie publishers” who showcase the work of other poets and themselves. 

In our first workshop, Anthologies 101, we provide an overview of the types of poetry that are being published for young readers with examples of each form or type, we talk about hot topics that deserve consideration for future poetry collections, suggest ways to build knowledge and outreach, consider factors in creating quality anthologies and collections along with the nuts and bolts of indie publishing. It’s a lot to cover in one two-hour session, but it’s a good start for anyone new to the field. 

Janet: Right. And for poets who want to explore the indie publishing option more deeply—and also poets who want to have a community of support while they continue working on craft—we have Anthologies 201.

In Anthologies 201 we take it even further and work to create a small poetry anthology collaboratively. We actually produce and market a book for sale with 100% of the profits donated to IBBY for the Children in Crisis Fund. This fund supports literacy programs in some of the most challenging circumstances in El Salvador, Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond. In Anthologies 201, participants watch instructional videos that we create for them on curation decisions, the selection process, and layout and submission for publication. They submit poems for this poetry collection and get mentor feedback from Janet that is so kind and constructive! Then, we meet virtually to review that whole book-making process, consider our final manuscript, prepare for marketing and distribution, answer questions, and celebrate our collective accomplishment in creating a book from beginning to end!

Janet: A book for a charity is one of the best projects to start with, especially if you want to involve students. If you have experience with children (as a visiting author, an educator, or a parent), you might even want to approach a local school and see if they have a budget for a “Publishing Club” project. If so, you could gain experience with putting together an anthology and publishing it, while also having your expenses covered. An extra bonus: the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping kids experience a real-world writing project that benefits a good cause and has a built-in audience (families at the school and people who support that same cause). Some of the Publishing Club kids can work on marketing the book, designing promotional flyers, writing press releases for the local news, and so on.

Yes: after you publish a book, you need to promote it, to help people discover it. That’s why we created the Anthologies 301 courses.

Janet: Anthologies 301 is made up of three one-hour sessions on Graphics, Videos, and Swag. Poets can take one, two, or all three parts. Having graphics skills is so helpful when it comes to spreading the word about a book—or about yourself as a poet! And you, Sylvia, are a master of creating graphics, videos, and swag.

Thanks, Janet, you know how I love making things that celebrate poetry! Hey, you dropped a hint in the opening of this post about Anthologies 401. Do you want to tell us about it?

Janet: We’ve been loving these workshops. It’s so satisfying to feel that we’re helping many poets get established—so we thought we’d come up with an additional new course for alumni of Anthologies 101, 201, and 301. It will be very similar to Anthologies 201, but we’ll share even more publishing and writing tips. We’ll produce a book in this course like we did for Anthologies 201, but this time it will be a book for older children. Our Anthologies 401 course will start as self-study videos with a writing period this July, and will culminate in August with a two-hour Zoom and publication of our collaborative book.

Here’s the schedule; learn more about it and find updates at Please join us!

Antho 101 * All About Anthologies

A single-session Zoom from noon to 2pm Eastern

Offered on three separate dates (register for one):

Saturday, May 7

Saturday, August 6  

Saturday, November 5

* If you want to register for Antho 201, 301, or 401, you must have taken Antho 101 first

Antho 201: Collaborate to Create an Anthology (for ages 0-8)

A four-part course on publishing an anthology (book title: THINGS WE FEEL)

part 1: self-study videos (at your own pace, starting on May 7)

part 2: self-paced writing and feedback: May 7 - June 7

part 3: experience in evaluating and choosing poems: June 15 - July 11

part 4: Zoom from noon to 2pm Eastern: Saturday, July 16

Antho 301 Creating Poetry Graphics, Videos & Swag

Single-session Zoom sessions from noon to 1pm Eastern

Offered on three separate dates (register for one, two, or all three):

Graphics: Saturday, July 23

Videos: Saturday, Aug 20

Swag: Saturday, Sept 24

Antho 401: Collaborate to Create an Anthology (for ages 8 and up)

A four-part course on publishing an anthology (Antho 401 book will be targeted to ages 8 and up, with title TBD)

Part 1: self-study videos (at your own pace, starting July 15)

Part 2: self-paced writing and feedback: July 15 – August 15

Part 3: Experience in evaluating and choosing poems: Aug. 19 – Sept. 15

Part 3: Zoom from noon to 2pm Eastern: Sat., Sept. 17

* If you want to register for  401, you must have taken Antho 101 and Antho 201 first

What else is happening this Poetry Friday? Check out all the poetry goodness over at The Miss Rumphius Effect where Tricia is gathering all our blog posts. See you there!