Poetry Is…a Journey, with B.J. Lee

At long last, I’m so pleased to present the fourth installment of the “Poetry Is…” series! This series is an occasional feature written by a guest poster who may or may not have anything to do with the world of kidlit on a professional basis, but who has some sort of special relationship with and story about what poetry has brought to her life. The guest poster has free reign to fill in the blank with whatever word she wants that has something to do with her personal reflection.

Today I welcome children’s writer and poetry pal B.J. Lee, an active member of the Poetry Friday community and of my poetry critique group, Poets’ Garage. B.J. shared her praying mantis poem with me a couple of years ago and it stuck to me like a stinkbug (in a good way). In fact, it’s one of those poems I wish I’d written — so smooth, so moody, so delectably twisty at the end. When I went looking for another victim for the Poetry Is… series, B.J. was first in line on the twig.

Take it away, B.J.!


by B.J. Lee


Poetry is a journey in many ways. For me, it is a journey inside your imagination, inside point of view, and inside form.

Poetry is a journey inside your imagination.

Writing poetry is a fascinating business! I like to dig deep to try to come up with the most imaginative approach to a poem subject. When studying the praying mantis, I found myself asking what its prayer might actually sound like, and this poem was born.

 (Click any poem image to enlarge and read.)


Poetry is a journey inside point of view.

I always ask myself if straightforward third person is always best for the poem I have in mind. When writing a poem about a sailboat, I first considered writing an apostrophe poem — addressing the sailboat directly — but then I hit upon writing from the point of view of the sailboat itself in this mask poem. Inanimate objects can have a lot to say!


Poetry is a journey inside form.

Discovering the right form is, possibly, my favorite aspect of writing poetry. Forms I love to work with include the silly limerick, the story-rich ballad, the musical roundel, and the lyrical pantoum.


(A big thank you to Renée for having me on No Water River and for getting me in front of the video camera to record a poem!)


About B.J.

An award-winning poet, B.J. Lee has published over 80 poems in anthologies, magazines, and online. Anthologies include The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (October 2015), The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrationsand One Minute Till Bedtime (Spring 2016)Magazines include Highlights for Children, The Journal of Children’s Literature, and The School Magazine (Australia), and online work includes several March Madness poems. A former music librarian at The Boston Conservatory, B.J. has a M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and a B.A. in English. She lives and plays in Florida with her poet husband, Malcolm Deeley, and toy poodle, Bijoux. Visit her website at www.childrensauthorbjlee.com and her blog at www.bluewindow.weebly.com.

Take a voyage over to The Opposite of Indifference where Tabatha Yeatts is hosting Poetry Friday.

AW, SHUCKS! You’d like to receive my weekly posts in your inbox, you say? Well, just sign up in the sidebar then!

See more poems in my poetry video library. All poems © B.J. Lee. All rights reserved. All images are in the public domain. Post content © Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.

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  1. I love the idea! I love how poetry is a journey and I love the poems. There’s a first for everything and it was interesting to see how a poet views poetry.
    Thanks for this. 🙂

  2. She had me hooked at the Garden Prayer poem! OH, MY! Thanks so much for sharing your poems with us, B.J.! Thanks to you, too, Renee for featuring her!

  3. B.J. Your poetry has been solid inspiration for me. Love these shared in this post. Thanks for being willing to share your writing journey so often with your writer friends.

  4. THANK YOU, Renee, for inviting me to do this guest post. It was a lot of fun! I’m also glad you got me in front of a video camera to record my praying mantis poem – it was an interesting “journey” – trying to d get comfortable with the camera, and opened my eyes to the value of recording our work! Many thanks, my friend!

    1. I love tour poem just today I was blessed to see a loner mouth and was able to take it’s pic I cant what to wright about it

      1. Thank you, Renee! I actually am planning to do more! It’s a whole different ball game – putting a *voice* to my poems, as opposed to simply writing them (which is good, too, obviously)! 🙂

  5. I love the reading of the poem


    tails of blue-sky wails
    brushed waves of star-lit clouds
    land-ships settle below in
    green and browning earth
    swishes of majestic tails disappear
    into saffron crowns of moonlight
    what new blessings await

    poem By Jessica Bigi

  6. I absolutely love these poems! They are so rich and wonderful. I aspire to right poems of this caliber someday! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. What a great post — and stunning poetry! Wow, B.J., your poems blew me away. Loved the sneakiness of Garden Prayer, and the beauty of the others brought a quick intake of breath. Lovely.

  8. Renee, thank you for introducing me to an amazing poet. While I loved the wit of the Garden poem, I LOVED “Moored.” I can’t wait to go find more of her poetry.

  9. I love B.J.’s poems, here and all along the way, noticed how quickly she could craft a wonderful poem on March Madness, and now it’s great to hear about the choosing of the approach for each topic. B.J., I love that little mouse in a sodden field. Thanks to you both!

    1. Hi Linda! Thank you for your comments! It was interesting to reflect on my process, and I’m glad you like the mouse.

  10. This is my first exposure to B.J.’s poetry and it is so lovely. I loved the Praying poem, but also loved the sail song — it drew me to memories of sailing. You have a lovely gift!

  11. BJ! What a treat to read your work here on No Water River… and even more so to listen to you read your own work. Not only are you an extremely talented poet, but you did such a gorgeous job with the presentation of these poems too. I so enjoy watching your journey unfold and look forward to future celebrations!

  12. Although I’ve known you and your poetry for a while, and have always valued your critiques at the garage, I had no idea how your poetry would sound in your own voice. Glad I do now! Thanks for sharing your preying mantis masterpiece, and your poetry journey.

  13. Beautiful poems, BJ! I love all three of them! I remember when you posted Garden Prayer at the Garage. Such a clever approach. And so cool to see you read it out loud!

    1. Thank you, Diana! Yes, it’s getting to be awhile now since I posted that one for crits in the garage! It was fun to do the video! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  14. What a lovely selection of your poems, BJ. You are building quite a lovely collection of work. And I, too, loved hearing your own voice after many years of working together in the Garage.

    1. Thanks so much, Carrie! I remember thinking it was so nice to hear your voice too when I listen to your video on NWR! I feel like we all do talk but not in person. It would be so nice to me all of the garagers someday!

  15. Thank you, Renee, for highlighting the work of this underrated children’s poet from the Sunshine State. Garden Prayer and Behind the Dancing Rain shows you how multi-faceted with forms she is at composing. Also loved her Diving poem in AND THE CROWD GOES WILD anthology from Hoyte/Roemer.

  16. A group of 4 seven year old kids gathering in my study room for reading and making a play after A garden prayer. English is a foreign language to us all, but we all enjoy the funny and witty poem. Kids learnt the poem by heart, and we did search for Vietnamese name for all insects and bugs mentioned in the poem.
    Thank you very much B.J. Lee

    1. Wow! Thank YOU very much, Chi Phan. I’m very touched that you made a play from my poem and memorized it! If you have a video-tape of your performance, I should very much like to see it. You can get in touch with me directly at bjlee@childrensauthorbjlee.com. Once again, thank you! You have made my day.

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