Poetry Friday: The Mortimer Minute Children’s Poetry Blog Hop

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[Silent nibbling]!


Mortimer says he’s happy to be here at No Water River, where the greens are lush and no one chases him away with a rake. Granted, he’s a little miffed that I don’t have quite the carrot stash that Janet Wong offered him last week, but he’s making do with some spinach tortelli and a veggie pizza.

So this is the Children’s Poetry Blog Hop. A sincere tail quiver to Janet for tagging me last week! This week, I’m tagging the three lovely bunnies you see at the bottom of the page, whose posts will go up next week.

Here’s how to hop “Mortimer Minute” style!

  • Answer 3 questions. Pick one question from the previous Hopper. Add two of your own. Keep it short, please! This is a Blog Hop, not a Blog Long Jump. This is The Mortimer Minute—not The Mortimer Millennium!
  • Invite friends. Invite 1-3 bloggers who love children’s poetry to follow you. They can be writers, teachers, librarians, or just plain old poetry lovers.
  • Say thank you. In your own post, link to The Previous Hopper. Then keep The Mortimer Minute going — let us know who your Hoppers are and when they plan to post their own Mortimer Minute.


Mortimer: Is there a children’s poem that you wish you had written?
RML: I suppose “all of them” would be too broad…? So I’ll pull something from my bedside table, which is currently Karla Kuskin’s Moon, Have You Met My Mother? There are no titles, so let’s call it “There’s a Tree by the Meadow.”


There’s a tree by the meadow
by the sand by the sea
on a hillock near a valley
that belongs to me
with small spring leaves
like small green dimes
that cast their shadows on the grass
a thousand separate times
with round brown branches
like outstretched sleeves
and the twigs come out as fingers
and the fingers hold the leaves
with blossoms here and there
and always pink and soft and stout
and when the blossoms disappear
the apples hurry out
in the middle of the blossoms
in the center of the tree
with a hat and coat of leaves on
sits smiling me.

Karla Kuskin signature

Mortimer: What are your biggest struggles or obstacles as a writer?
RML: Writing. Time. Not being prolific. Knowing that sitting down to write a poem means subjecting myself to prolonged mental torture, except when it doesn’t. Procrastination. Confidence. Fear. Feeling already too far behind to ever catch up. Time.

Mortimer: Who encouraged you to write poetry?
RML: That would be Mrs. Patricia Musser, my 11th grade English teacher. I wrote my first poem when I was seven and never stopped, so Mrs. Musser didn’t have to twist my arm to also take her creative writing class. She was the advisor for the school’s literary magazine, The Bubblegum Overture, and made me editor for my junior and senior years. I spent endless hours typing poems for the anonymous voting sessions, and writing more free verse than any one person should write…plus that one sonnet that was so inscrutable that everyone agreed it must be brilliant. I still have the literary magazines, and the poems I wrote make me cringe. They are truly awful. I don’t know why she encouraged me to write! When I graduated, Mrs. Musser gave me the complete works of Sylvia Plath. The woman really knew me.

That’s it for my Mortimer Minute! (You didn’t really think I could keep it to a minute, did you?) Now let me introduce you to the Hoppers who will follow me with The Mortimer Minute at their blogs next week!

Julie Larios

…teaches on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA Writing for Children program. She has published four books of poetry for children: On the Stairs, Have You Ever Done That?, Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary (Boston Globe-Horn Book Honors (Awards), and Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures. She is the winner of a Pushcart Prize and has been included twice in the annual Best American Poetry series for her poetry for adults, and was granted a fellowship by the Washington State Arts Commission/Artist Trust. Recent poems for children have appeared in several anthologies. Visit Julie at her blog The Drift Record.


…has 50 poems published in anthologies and magazines. Three of her poems were nominated for the Rhysling Award and appear in The Rhysling Anthology 2011, 2012, and 2013. Additional anthology credits include In the Garden of the Crow and And the Crowd Goes Wild!: A Global Gathering of Sports Poems. Her magazine credits include Highlights for Children, The SCBWI Bulletin, Spellbound, and many others. BJ received a Certificate of Merit from SCBWI for her poem “The Legend of the Flying Dutchman.” She has numerous polished picture book manuscripts as well as a polished YA novel in her portfolio. B.J. earned a M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston and a B.A. in English. Learn more at www.childrensauthorbjlee.com.


…is the author of more than 100 books for kids, including BookSpeak!: Poems About Books (Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable, Bank Street Best Books, Cybils Winner, and more), A Leaf Can Be . . . (NCTE Notable, IRA Teachers’ Choice, Banks Street Best Books, SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book, Riverby Nature Award, and more), and the forthcoming Water Can Be…. She likes to write all kinds of stuff, but poetry is her favorite. She loves to introduce kids to poetry and help them find poems they can relate to, no matter what their age, mood, and personality. See more about Laura and her work at www.laurasalas.com.


Four paws up!

Poetry Bunny Amy Ludwig VanDerwater has the roundup today at The Poem Farm. Don’t forget your head of lettuce!