Thursday, October 08, 2009


National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day in Britain. It is an annual celebration where the nation has poetry events, and poems are read on the radio and TV. The National Poetry Day website has lesson plans and links to blogs written by poets. There's also an interesting photo gallery on Flickr (which you can find by going to the National Poetry Day website and clicking on the Flickr link). This photo gallery displays poems in public places--even a guy's t-shirt in a pub--and you can add your own.

I just love this entire idea of National Poetry Day and especially of finding poetry in public places. I'm sure it is not a new idea, and I'm sure I've seen plenty of poetry in public places, but I just never paid attention to it before. Well, I am going to change that today!

While looking for photos for this post on , I found this cool photo by Sister72. Here's what she has to say about this photo:

"BELMAR: In celebration of the Autumnal Equinox, Belmar Arts Council will sponsor Poem Henge today and Sunday on the beach. Three dozen discarded refrigerator doors will be erected in the shape of Stonehenge, the ancient ruins in England. Local artists and art students will paint words onto magnets from poems created by members of the Blue Collective. "

This is the coolest idea ever! And I am not a poet. I've written some poems and even had some published, but I don't consider myself anywhere near "poet" status. But I definitely realize that there are some subjects that writers want to write about, and the only way we can do it is with a poem. This has actually happened to me--I wanted to write about the Trail of Tears--it came out in a poem. Same thing for September 11th and human trafficking. The strong emotions connected with these events and issues just lend themselves to poetry for me. I'm sure all writers have felt this way, and those poets just have it down better than the rest of us.

So, no matter where you live in the world, take a moment today to celebrate poetry. Read a favorite poem, write a poem, find poetry in public places. If you know a poet, thank them for their contribution to the beauty of language. And then get excited because the United States has an entire National Poetry month in April!

Happy poem writing!
Margo Dill

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Monday, March 30, 2009


Calling All Poets for the April PAD Challenge

By Jill Earl

"Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks." - Plutarch

April is National Poetry Month and if you’re looking for a way to develop or sharpen your skills, take a look at the Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge. Writer’ editor Robert Lee Brewer issued this challenge for the first time last November on his Poetic Asides blog and selected participants saw their work featured in a chapbook.

For 2009, besides receiving a certificate of completion and online badge to display on their blog or website, writers of the top 50 poems of the month will see their work published as a free ebook. Even better, some well-known poets including Mark Doty, Patricia Smith, S.A. Griffin, and Dorianne Laux will serve as judges. And like last year, participation is free.

More details can be found at

The Poem-A-Day Challenge. April 1st through 30th at Poetic Asides.

Check it out, sign up--and get to writing!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008


On Gremlins, Making Mistakes, and Compassion

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Oh, how easy it is to make a mistake. Oh how easy it is not to see it in your own material—even if you are a great editor of others' material.

Often times the mistake involves a word that is spelled differently but pronounced the same. And often the author does know the difference between the spelling of the two. It's just those gremlins that The Frugal Editor is making famous get to us. Maybe we're typing too fast or maybe our brains are in another zone or... but the gremlins will get us—both you and me. Here's an example of how one got me.

I try to take a poetry class once a year. Because I'm an instructor, UCLA Extension Writers' Program gives me one class a year at no charge. It's one of the perks they offer and a great way for them to be sure that their instructors continue to get educated—and at least one of us (me) needs it. So I finished the first draft of my poem. Checked it (well, OK, checked it perfunctorily). I printed out copies so everyone in class would have a critique copy. Stuck the copies into my tote marked "Poetry," and took off for class. Couldn't be late!

When it was my turn to share my poem for critique, I passed out the copies and began to read. There (in the title!) was the word "peer." I meant "pier."

"Oh, gawd," I said. "Make that "pier, p-i-e-r." It was especially awful for me because I am an editor and because I wrote The Frugal Editor. Fine example I had set. What would my classmates think of my abilities? Could I possibly do anything worse to undermine my own credibility?

But here is the most important part. Everyone just nodded and chortled. It can happen to anyone. It can happen to editors, to teachers, to university instructors, to plain-old-everyday writers. The gremlins can hit at any time for any reason.

I thought maybe you'd like to see the poem. Here it is (with the spelling right!):

Death by Ferris Wheel at Santa Monica Pier

From her seat in the gondola. A woman
who might be me, watches roller

bladers with supple bones and toddlers with careless
balloons Far, far down on the pier. She opens

the doors—mini saloon doors of purple—or
she crawls over acrylic barriers. Either way

she hesitates a moment. The lurch
of the wheel as it stops at the top finishes

the job. No scream. Even the plane floating
a campaign trail of plastic behind it, silent. Soundless

waves, too, that far up. She floats as if posing
for her close-up, delicate fingers, poised toes,

her red sunhat a Frisbee against
sky of pulled taffy clouds on blue.

Sea like scallops of Alençon lace below,
sand stretched away toward the Palisades,

the smell of sugary churros her last sensation.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson ©

By the way. I didn't flunk my class, either.

The lesson here, Aesop fashion, is that because the gremlins are always at work, people will make mistakes. It will happen to you and it will happen to me. Best not get critical and point fingers. Your day is nigh!


Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits fiction and poetry, is an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers' Program and the author of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. She is edits a newsletter the includes tips galore on everything from editing to branding. Subscribe by sending an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to Learn more at Click on the Newsletter and Blog tab at the top of the home page.

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