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Entries in National Poetry Month (7)


2015 Progressive Poem - Day 23 is here!

Greetings! I've been followng along this month as the poets have been sharing this writing project and what an interesting, twisting journey this year's poem is on. Yesterday was Pat's turn at Writer on a Horse and today it's my turn to contribute a line to Irene Latham's 2015 Progressive poem. 

How I arrived at my line:

After Pat’s riveting, “hidden sentries,” and “bitter taste of impulse” rushing into the fisherman’s lungs, my first thought was that this guy is in grave danger - he has to fight, breathe. But then I watched (of all things) the new Pandora jewelry Mother’s Day ad – the one where blindfolded children seek their own mothers from a line-up. Whether or not you appreciate the ad is a question for another venue – what struck me was that the children were using senses other than sight to connect with a close family member. And it started me thinking…What if? What if, in this danger, the fisherman’s senses become heightened? Since he’s been restrained, what if the girl comes back to help him? What if she can communicate with him through nothing more than the swish of her tail? What if the sentries weren’t out to harm him, but willing to help if only he would be calm? And my lines came into focus. Here they are:

Her flipper flutters his weathered toes

–      Pearl’s signal –

Stop struggling.

The Sentinels will escort you

I decided to leave my line open-ended for Tricia to guide where she believes the poem needs to go. 

Since this is a free verse narrative poem, I also decided to format it so that the organization of the words on the page compliment the meaning. Seeing it this way helped me focus on specific details and lively actions and phrases that help tell the story, and helped me choose my lines. Maybe the format will be different tomorrow when Tricia takes over, but for today I am enjoying the look of our poem along with the words and their meaning.

Here is the poem to date with my line at the bottom:


She lives without a net,

walking along the alluvium of the delta.

Shoes swing over her shoulder,

on her bare feet stick

jeweled flecks of dark mica.

Hands faster than fish swing

at the ends of bare brown arms.

Her hair flows,


in wild wind

as she digs

in the indigo varnished handbag,

pulls out her grandmother’s oval

cuffed bracelet,
 strokes the turquoise stones, and steps

through the curved doorway.







hair first





She                  glides               past                 glossy              water

hyacinth to shimmer with a school of shad,

listens to the ibises

roosting in the trees

of the cypress swamp

an echo

of Grandmother’s words, still fresh

in her windswept memory;

“Born from the oyster,

expect the pearl.

Reach for the rainbow

reflection on the smallest dewdrop.


The surface glistens, a shadow


above her head, a paddle


she reaches, seizes. She’s electric energy

and turquoise eyes.

Lifted high, she gulps strange air – stares

clearly into
 Green pirogue, crawfish trap, startled

fisherman with turquoise eyes, twins

of her own, riveted on her wrist–

She’s swifter than a dolphin,

slipping away,

leaving him only

a handful

of memories

of his own

grandmother’s counsel:

“Watch for her.

You’ll have but one chance


to decide. Garner wisdom from the water

and from the pearl

of the past.”


In a quicksilver flash,

an arc of resolution, he


into the shimmering water

where hidden sentries restrain  

any pursuit and the bitter taste

of impulse rushes

into his lungs.

Her flipper flutters his weathered toes

–      Pearl’s signal –

Stop struggling.

The Sentinels will escort you


I'll look forward to tomorrow, when Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect adds her line. 

Thank you, Irene, for such a fun project to contribute to during National Poetry Month, and to the poets who go where the words take them! 

This week's Poetry Friday is being celebrated tomorrow with Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Thanks for stopping by!


National Poetry Month 2015 Is Near!

The 2015 National Poetry Month celebration begins just days from now. I'm making plans and enjoying this year's poster designed by Roz Chast, a 2014 National Book Award finalist and New Yorker cartoonist. Roz's clever art features a line of poetry from Mark Strand’s wonderfully devilish, "Eating Poetry" which begins:

"Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.

There is no happiness like mine.

I have been eating poetry..."

Click here for the rest of Mark Strand's "Eating Poetry.”

Click on the poster to learn more about the Academy of American Poets and National Poetry Month.

To celebrate National Poetry Month this year, each week during April I'll feature a new poetry-related book right here including a giveaway of each of the books. Here is the line up of featured books:


March 30 - April 3 week:



April 6-10 week:

BLUE BIRDS by Caroline Starr Rose


April 13-17 week:

AUDACITY by Melanie Crowder


April 20-24 week:

GONE FISHING: A Novel in Verse paperback by me: Tamera Will Wissinger


Here are other poetry-related happenings:


I'm also looking forward to participating in Irene Latham's 2015 Progressive Poem. Last year was my first time participating and it was such fun I decided to jump in again. I'll be adding the participating poets in my sidebar so that we can follow along as the poem is written.


To celebrate the release of the Gone Fishing paperback, through 3/31 I’m hosting a Gone Fishing giveaway on twitter using the hashtag #GoneFishingPaperback.  


Today's Poetry Friday is with Jone at Check It Out!


That's all for now. Have a great weekend, enjoy National Poetry Month and I hope to see you back here in April to celebrate!


2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem: Day 15


Welcome! I'm honored to be a participant in Irene Latham's 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. Irene has gathered thirty children's poets and we are writing a poem together as part of the National Poetry Month celebration. Each day our poem grows by one line. I've been enthusiastically reading along since the beginning and today it's my turn!

Before I committed to my line, I considered several possibilities based on the first stanza which sets up a journey, and the second stanza which begins with a call to action for what is needed for this journey. So much rich detail to consider! I am also intrigued by the many animals that are appearing here. At first, I took tactical and practical literally and planned to send our traveler some useful basics...but this poem has an other-worldly quality, I think, (wings, dreams, inner sage, honeyed whisper, tattered maps!) and so I decided to add something that I hope might be useful when traveling, as Matt suggests, "in realms far far away."  

Here you go - the first fourteen lines of the 2014 PROGRESSIVE POEM, plus mine for the 15th:  



Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe

Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;

Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,

Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?

Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone. 

The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?

Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey

Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.


But, hold it! Let's get practical! What's needed before I go?

Time to be tactical— I'll ask my friends what I should stow.

And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low— dreams — 

Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene's

“Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.

Determine these dreams—then breathe them!  Engage your inner sage."

The merry hen said, “Take my sapphire eggs to charm your host.”



Thank you, Irene, and Progressive Poetry Poets; what fun! Okay, take it away tomorrow Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge!

If you would like to continue following along, the full roster of poets and their websites are listed on this page to the right. Have fun, and Happy National Poetry Month!





This is part three of my four-part National Poetry Month/Poetry Friday essay on poetic forms

A poem of address is a poetic form that allows the poet to “speak” to a subject. Most of the time the subject doesn't talk back because it’s a person who isn’t with the poet, or because the person is no longer living, or because the subject can’t talk back because it is an animal, a place, or a thing so this type of poem is usually in the form of a monologue. When the poet addresses a subject that can’t respond it’s called apostrophe.

On April Fools’ Day I posted an epigram by Samuel Taylor Coleridge along with a response that is a poem of address and uses apostrophe since Samuel is no longer living. Click here if you’d like to see those poems. April Fools' Poetry 

This week I have once again been inspired by Samuel to write a poem that defines the poetic form. Here is my letter to the Poem of Address:


Dear Poem of Address,

I wish we could be good friends.

I wish you could tell me if

You like to sky dive, bake muffins, dig ditches, tell jokes.

But you’re as loud as a stone

Hiding deep underground

Leaving me

On my own




Thank you for nothing.


The Poet Who Has to Go It Alone

© 2013 Tamera Will Wissinger



This is a fun poetry form to try because the main rule is that the poet speaks to someone or something. It doesn’t have to rhyme, so it can take many different shapes. It can be funny and in a way, it legitimizes talking to yourself!

Here are a few tips for writing a poem of address that uses apostrophe:

  • Choose a subject that is interesting to you. It could be as simple as your favorite pair of shoes or the stop light that always turns red just as you drive up, or as complex as your relationship with a friend or a conversation with someone in history that you wish you could meet. If you select an inanimate object or a plant or animal, you’ll automatically be using apostrophe in your poem of address, since those things can’t talk back.
  • Jot down several appealing (or revolting) ideas that have to do with your subject.
  • Form your plan. One way to start is by asking a question of this subject and imagining answers. As in: “Old dishwasher…why quit on me today? Did you run out of steam?” or “Hello little yellow plant. Did I forget to water you again?”
  • Work in first and second person – use “I” and “you” just as you would when you are having a conversation, only keep the conversation one-sided. It can also be like writing a letter to someone.
  • This poem does not need to rhyme or have stanzas. Choose the most descriptive and interesting words to show your feelings! 

For other examples of poems of address, check out A Fishy Spell and Lucy’s Song from my book GONE FISHING: A Novel In Verse.

Have a fun time writing poems of address and using apostrophe!

I hope to see you next Friday – the final week in my series – when I talk about limericks! 


Here are a few announcements:

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday at LIVE YOUR POEM

Naomi Kinsman is featuring me this month at INK SPLAT

For Verse Day #16 at versenovels.com, I tried to answer the question: Why Write A Story In Verse


Parody: Mockingbird of Poetry!

This is part two of my four-part National Poetry Month/Poetry Friday essay on poetic forms.


A parody poem, also know as a “take off” poem or an “homage poem,” is a poetic form that can take many shapes. The one thing that parody poems have in common is that they are written in the style of a well-known poem that someone else wrote. The trick with a parody poem is to start out with enough of the poem’s original words and/or rhythm and rhyme patterns so that it’s recognizable. The poet’s job is to then change most of the words to create an original poem that parodies, or pays honor, to the original poem.

Last week I wrote an epigram that ended up also being a parody poem based on one that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote long ago. Click here if you would like to take a look: Epigrams with Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This week I decided to follow in the esteemed footsteps of Samuel Taylor Coleridge once again by writing a poem that defines the form. Here is my parody poem that I based on a well-known nursery rhyme and song:




Parrot! Parrot! Parody:

Mockingbird of poetry.


Paying honor, filled with wit.

Imitation: just a bit.


Parrot! Parrot! Parody:

Mockingbird of poetry.


© 2013 Tamera Will Wissinger


Based on what you just read, can you guess which famous nursery rhyme I’m parodying? If you guessed Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – you’re right!

Let’s see if this fits the definitions in the poem:

Parrot! Parrot!: 

I’m familiar with the rhyme and rhythm in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and I kept that in mind as I wrote. I think that the rhyme in this matches up and the rhythm stresses all fall in the right places. Because this is a nursery rhyme, I also sang it to make sure that it sounded okay – give it a try. It works, right?

Paying honor: 

I started the poem with two words in the same way as the original so that when someone familiar with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star reads my parody poem, they will (I hope) instantly know the rhyme and rhythm patterns of the new poem, even though they may be seeing it for the first time. That’s part of the fun of a parody poem – to surprise people with a new take on something that’s been around for a while.

Filled with wit:

Well, this is the most subjective aspect, but I’d like to think that the phrase “mockingbird of poetry” is kind of witty! And I hope the poem works well as a whole to define parody poetry.

Imitation: just a bit:

I tried to follow the form of the poem and repeated the first two words: Parrot! Parrot! in place of Twinkle, twinkle. And I also repeated the first couplet as the third couplet, just the way the original was written. Other than that, the words are my own. Someone might argue that I didn’t imitate enough…what do you think?


Here are ideas to get started writing a parody poem: 

  • Pay honor: This is the first step: Think of famous or well-known poems in history, or nursery rhymes or even lullabies. Choose one and think of an alternate subject.
  • Parrot! Parrot!: Based on your subject, find words that might fit the rhythm of the poem. If you’re parodying a poem that is set to music, sing some of it to see if the words match up.
  • Use wit: This is where you can use your imagination to add in wacky phrases or amusing descriptions. Going “over the top” is part of the fun of parody poems.
  • Imitate just a bit: Carefully choose which few words you want to use to show that you’re writing a parody poem. For the rest of the poem, make sure that your rhythm matches the rhythm of the original poem, and that the rhymes fall in the same places, even if they are different rhymes.

For another example of a parody poem based on a famous poem, check out The Night Before Fishing in my book GONE FISHING: A Novel In Verse. (Oh, and it's also a concrete poem - a whole other essay for some other day.) Have a spooftacular time writing parody poems!

I hope to see you next week when I talk about poems of address and apostrophe! 


Here are a few announcements:

Did you know that Rumpelstiltskin was a poet? It’s true; RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN by Liesl Shurtliff which released last Tuesday, portrays Rumpelstiltskin as a poet. Today I’m featuring Liesl in an interview where she shares one of the poems from RUMP. And through April 21 there’s a giveaway. The Lucky 13s 

I discovered another poet among recently debuted MG characters. Her name is Ratchet and she writes poetry in THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET by Nancy J. Cavanaugh. To see a poem from Ratchet’s journal, check out my interview with Nancy at Smack Dab Blog.

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.

For Verse Day #15, Stephanie Parent is featuring several new and old historical fiction verse novels on her blog: Stephanie Parent Blog