Poetry Month 2012: Progressive Poem + Poem in My Pocket

National Poetry Month 2012

It’s a big day, people! At least for me, and I’ve got lots of goodies to share with you…but first, look at the goodies I woke up to this morning…

Birthday Books!
Birthday Books!

Yup, it looks like my very attentive and alert husband saw my recent FB plea for reading suggestions — and then got me all of them, including one by our own Irene Latham! Is there anything better than a stack of new books? I can hardly wait until bedtime! I’m starting with Leaving Gee’s Bend, then who knows what tale will take me away after that? Now onto today’s poetry business…

An Honor for My Birthday

Lizard Lou by Renee LaTulippe and Marie RippelThat’s right, it’s my birthday, and I am honored that my bloggie friend Eric VanRaepenbusch is celebrating my day on his genius blog Happy Birthday, Author! If you don’t know about this site, check out my interview with Eric (he’s right under Green Eggs and Ham) and then get on over there to see all the amazing book extension activities he cooks up with his kids.

Today Eric is working with a poem or two that I wrote for Lizard Lou, a book of new and classic rhymes I put together with Marie Rippel as part of her All About Reading curriculum.  I have no idea which of my poems Eric chose or what he’s doing with them, so it will be a fun birthday surprise! Oh, and I also share a special birthday memory in the post…

An Interview and a Poem

Yesterday, Rena Traxel interviewed me on her writing blog On the Way to Somewhere. I ramble on about my favorite poets and why I stand in the woods reciting poetry, and even offer a couple of tips on reading poetry aloud. And I share the poem “Ugly Pants” from Lizard Lou, which hasn’t yet appeared on NWR. I hope you’ll pop over (mmm…popovers)!


A Poem in My Pocket

How lucky am I that A Poem in Your Pocket Day falls on my birthday? The idea is to choose a poem you love, carry it in your pocket, and take it out whenever the opportunity arises to share it with friends, family, and co-workers. You can also share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

The first thing I learned on this day is that there is a dearth of pockets in my wardrobe. While at least I’m in no danger of being invaded by Wockets, it was still a conundrum. But don’t worry — I dug out an old rumpled sweater with BIG pockets, and this is what I put in them:


Always Marry an April Girl

Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true —
I love April, I love you.

–Ogden Nash




A Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

–Emily Dickinson


The 2012 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

It’s finally landed at No Water River! Started by the lovely poetess Irene Latham, the Progressive Poem is a group poem that’s been traveling around the blogospere all month, with each writer adding one line. I’ve been watching the poem unfold for 25 days now, seeing it creep inexorably toward me, filling me with a mix of terror and…oh, wait, no, it’s just terror.

Yesterday, Greg Pincus of GottaBook added his line and passed the baton to me. Since there are only four people left after me, we obviously have to wind this down, which the last few folks have begun to do with their concrete actions of bewaring, leaping, and landing. It also seemed time to steer the emotion toward a conclusion, and since I love a good Hollywood ending, I went the way of joy, and of knowing (since our heroine also needs some action!). I fiddled a bit with the form of the poem as well, arranging it in a way that made sense to me.

If you are reading this
you must be hungry
Kick off your silver slippers
Come sit with us a spell

A hanky, here, now dry your tears
And fill your glass with wine
Now, pour. The parchment has secrets
Smells of a Moroccan market spill out.

You have come to the right place, just breathe in.
Honey, mint, cinnamon, sorrow. Now, breathe out
last week’s dreams. Take a wish from the jar.
Inside, deep inside, is the answer…

Unfold it, and let us riddle it together,

…Strains of a waltz. How do frozen fingers play?
How do fennel, ginger, saffron blend in the tagine?

Like broken strangers bound by time, they sisterdance…
their veils of sorrow encircle, embrace.
Feed your heart with waltzes and spices.
Feed your soul with wine and dreams.

Humble dust of coriander scents your feet, coaxing
seascapes, crystal sighs and moonshine from your melody
Beware of dangers along the path of truth
And beware, my friend, of too much bewaring–

strong hands cushion you, sweet scents surround you—now leap
without looking, guided by trust. And when you land
on silver-tipped toes, buoyed by joy– you’ll know

Our heroine has been through a lot this month, what with all the intrigue and travel and exotic experiences. I wonder if she might find some rest and resolution in the next four days, or if this is only the beginning of her adventure. Only the final four can answer that, and so I pass our girl (woman? fairy?) off to the capable hands of Linda at Write Time…and wonder if Irene will eventually give our poem a name?

Here are all the places this poem has been and where it’s going still:

1  Irene at Live Your Poem
2  Doraine at Dori Reads
3  Jeannine at View from a Window Seat
4  Robyn at Read, Write, Howl
5  Susan at Susan Taylor Brown
6  Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
7  Penny at A Penny and her Jots
8  Jone at Deo Writer
9  Gina at Swagger Writer’s
10  Julie at The Drift Record
11  Kate at Book Aunt
12  Anastasia Suen at Booktalking
14  Diane at Random Noodling
16  Natalie at Wading Through Words
17  Tara at A Teaching Life
18  Amy  at The Poem Farm
19  Lori at Habitual Rhymer
21  Myra at Gathering Books
22  Pat at Writer on a Horse
23  Miranda at Miranda Paul Books
24  Linda at TeacherDance
25  Greg at Gotta Book
26  Renee at No Water River
27  Linda at Write Time
28  Caroline at Caroline by Line
29  Sheri at Sheri Doyle
30  Irene at Live Your Poem

Arrivederci! Goodbye! Auf Wiedersehen!
May you be well and rhyme-y til we meet again.

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  1. Happy Birthday! Wow, you are having a big day already, aren’t you!? It’s your day, but you’re sharing lots of presents. Thanks 🙂

  2. Tanti, tanti auguri, Renée….. I hope you are spoilt from sunrise to sunset! So happy to have encountered you on the blogosphere!

    Will be heading over to Eric’s blog as soon as I am finished here, what fun has he in store? 🙂

    The Cow, by Robert Louis Stevenson, is the poem in my pocket today:

    The friendly cow, all red and white,
    I love with all my heart:
    She gives me cream with all her might,
    To eat with apple tart.

    She wanders lowing here and there,
    And yet she cannot stray,
    All in the pleasant open air,
    The pleasant light of day;

    And blown by all the winds that pass
    And wet with all the showers,
    She walks among the meadow grass
    And eats the meadow flowers.

    and I have so enjoyed following the Progressive Poem…. 4 to go to wrap her up beautifully, I am sure!

  3. I love your last line! The poem came together really nicely. Now I am off to Eric’s blog. And here, from the good Dr. Seuss, is a poem for you. I’ll put it in my pocket:

    I wish we could do what they do in Katroo
    They sure know how to say “Happy Birthday to You!”
    In Katroo, every year, on the day you were born
    They start the day right in the bright early morn
    When the Birthday Honk-Honker hikes high up Mr. Zorn
    And let’s loose a big blast on the big Birthday Horn.
    And the voice of the horn calls out loud as it plays:
    “Wake Up! For today is your Day of all Days!”

    Happy Birthday, Renee!!!

  4. Thoughtful husband for your birthday-a marvelous pile of books is the best! Happy birthday, can’t wait to read those other posts about you, & your line points to a happy ending beautifully, I think! Love those silver-tipped toes!

  5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Renee! I’m glad you’re celebrating in such poetic style. Lovely new line, and I can’t wait to read the final stanza! May your day and your pockets be especially full of joy today.

  6. You are so smart to bring the silver slippers back into the picture. Just perfect to lead to a satisfying ending.
    I hope you have most special birthday. I am going over to read your interview over at Eric’s blog!
    Happy Birthday!

  7. Happy Birthday, Renee! I love the line you’ve added. This poem has a very magical feel. I enjoyed the interview with Eric, my first introduction to him and his very nice site! I also love your Sunshine poem. Is it published somewhere? I would love to see it in print. Do you let teacher’s use your poems with students? So nice to be connecting with so many poets here. I never knew!! I agree about poetry needing to be read aloud, savored, and heard.

    1. Hi Janet, thanks for coming by! “Sunshine Face” is only published on this site, while some of my other poems are published in the book Lizard Lou.

      And yes!! I built this site as a resource for parents, teachers, and kids to have fun with poetry and hear poems read by the people who wrote them. Most of the poems on this site already have links to extension activities, too. Spread the word!

  8. Wow, Renee! Your birthday started beautifully didn’t it?! Happy, Happy Birthday to you! I’ve never heard about Poem in Your Pocket Day. Love the idea. Here’s mine:

    This Bridge

    This bride will only take you halfway there
    To those mysterious lands you long to see.
    Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs
    And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
    So come and walk awhile with me and share
    The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I’ve known.
    But this bridge will only take you halfway there__
    The last steps you’ll have to take alone.
    Shel Silverstein

  9. Dear Renee – a happy happy birthday to you, and may the year bring you many more bits of wonderfulness such as what is contained in this post — and more! Great stack of books, and I am honored LGB is among them. The only one in your shipment I HAVEN’T read is SHANTARAM. Must check it out! I do love your pocket poems and am off to visit Eric next. Thank you thank you for the lovely line addition. I especially love the return of silver and yes to JOY!

  10. Happy Birthday, Renee!!! Oh, wow! So much good stuff in this post I don’t even know where to start! I LOVE your pocket poems – what perfect choices! – and I am so amazed by the progressive poem! I love the line you added, and the whole poem is so beautiful! And I agree – is there anything better than a stack of new books? Hope you have a happy, happy day, and a wonderful year ahead full of all good things! 🙂

  11. I think I’ve wished you a happy birthday already at least once, maybe twice but you’re on the loose in cyberland, Renée; you’re everywhere I click. Hope you’re having a great one. So much fun stuff in this post! 🙂
    Love the idea of Pocket Poems. Thanks for sharing yours.

    1. HA! On the loose in cyberland indeed! Next month I shall be retreating to my quiet corner of the blogosphere and promise not to get in your hair anymore. 🙂 But thank you for all the good wishes you’ve sprinkled around the Internet today!

  12. Happy Birthday! I love your pocket poem and your addition to the progressive poem.

    For Poem in Your Pocket Day I am stashing some poems for people to find in public places.

  13. Renee, I can’t believe I did not mention your AMAZING LINE! in the progressive poem. Yes, that line in certainly leading us to what I know will be a stunning conclusion. I love how you reintroduced the beginning of the poem to us. Now, because of you, she has slipped her silver slippers are on again. Where will they lead us? Beautiful job Renee.

  14. Renee! Great rhythm in that line. I love how it’s winding down and beginning to come full circle to that great opening stanza.

    Here’s the poem in my pocket today:

    why people be mad at me sometimes
    by Lucille Clifton

    they keep asking me to remember
    but they want me to remember
    their memories
    and i keep remembering mine.

  15. OK, I admit it, when I came by this morning I just scrolled down to read your line in the Progressive Poem. But I just came back and read the whole thing. Happy birthday! I hope you’re having a wonderful day. Your gifts are wonderful – I agree that there’s nothing better than a stack of new books.

  16. What a joy to read your blog today — I love your spirit. I should hang around here more often, but feel so inept when it comes to poetry. I have read Rumi, but not much more. What wonderful books from you husband — I’ve read three I know you’ll love. And, I loved your Pocket Poem idea — I carry spiritual messages that touch me. And, the ending you put on the traveling poem was perfect. Happy Birthday to such a joyful spirit!

  17. I’m with Susanna and Patricia,
    Happy! Happy! Birthday!
    Sounds like it’s started off great. Love all those poems. I’m one to need an introduction so thanks for that. Keeping a poem or spiritual msg in your pocket is a grand idea and I love the poems you found.
    Your poem of the month is good, too. What an adventure.
    I’ll have to stop here more often.

  18. Happy happy late birthday! I was sure I wrote to you already…but here I am now. I hope that your whole day was and that your whole year will be “buoyed by joy”! The sound and meaning in that phrase and line is beautiful and spot on to bring us toward a joyful closure of such a warm and beautiful month. Thank you, Renee, my new friend. Happy reading! xo, a.

  19. The progressive poem is such a cool idea. Great way to celebrate National Poetry Month.

    Thanks for mentioning Happy Birthday Author (I got a few click throughs)! I am so glad we have become friends Renee! So I am so behind on your posts!

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