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Entries in Poetry (9)


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!




My ALA Poetry Blast! Recap

At the American Library Association conference in Chicago recently, I had the truly joyful experience of reading with a number of other poets for Marilyn Singer’s and Barbara Genco’s Poetry Blast on the Pop Top Stage.


Here’s a photo of the Pop Top Stage before The Poets took over:


Here is the Poetry Blast program:


So many talented poets, excellent poetry, wonderful books! Many of those listed are poets who I’ve looked up to and learned from through reading their poetry. Several years ago I met Nikki Grimes briefly when she came to lecture at Hamline University while I was studying there and I was thrilled to meet her again. (She's had a tremendous influence on my poetry writing!) I've worked with Laura Purdie Salas through one of her online workshops and it was wonderful to meet her in person. Most, though, I met through this event for the very first time. 

Sylvia Vardell (another poetry luminary who I met for the first time) posted an excellent Poetry Blast recap last week that included snippets from each of our readings. You can catch Sylvia's posting by clicking: Poetry For Children Poetry Blast!

After we read and took the group photo, we signed our books. Here’s a photo that Sylvia took of me playing it cool between Marilyn Singer (who is signing a book for a fan) and Nikki Grimes:

Nikki Grimes and Marilyn Singer - two of my poetry heroes and happy me.

July 1, 2013 will go down in history as one of my favorite author days ever. I said it then and I’ll say it again: "I feel as though I'm getting away with something here!"

Thank you, once again, Marilyn, Barbara, Nikki, Rebecca, Bob, Alma Flor, Isabelle, Laura, and Sid, for letting me participate with you in the 2013 ALA Poetry Blast! It was a true honor. Thank you ALA organizers for letting the poets have the Pop Top stage on Monday morning! And a special thanks to the good people at Houghton Mifflin Books for Children for sponsoring me! I had a BLAST!


Joy Acey suggested that I include the poem that I'm reading in Sylvia's video; thanks for the idea, Joy - here it is:




Free Verse Poem


For fishing tomorrow  

it's just us two.

Not Mom, not Grandpa,

not Lucy.

It'll be like playing catch or

painting the garage.

Just Dad and me.




Poetry Friday on 7.12.2013 will be at Michelle H. Barnes's Today's Little Ditty




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 






It’s April Fools' Day and the kick-off to National Poetry Month, so I couldn’t resist a fool’s poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:



by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sir, I admit your general rule

That every poet is a fool,

But you yourself may serve to show it,

That every fool is not a poet.

(This poem is in the public domain.)


And I also couldn’t resist an April fool’s response:


Response to Samuel Taylor Coleridge Epigram on Fools

by Tamera Will Wissinger 

Say I concede your general rule,

That every poet is a fool,

But this spring month may serve to show it,

An April fool could turn a poet.

© 2013 Tamera Will Wissinger


Tune in again this Friday, April 5, 2013 for Poetry Friday – I’ll talk more about epigrams and parodies.   

Happy 2013 National Poetry Month!!

To learn all about National Poetry Month and how you can participate in this month’s events, visit: The Academy of American Poets

On a related note, Holly Mueller posted a very nice review featuring GONE FISHING, along with many links to places that are celebrating National Poetry Month. There is also a wonderful video featuring Marilyn Singer. Here’s the link to the page on Holly’s site: Reading, Teaching, Learning