Poetry Friday – Poetry Camp edition

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Welcome to Poetry Friday, hosted right here today.

When I found out, way back, that Poetry Camp was going to be happening in Bellingham (a mere 40 miles from where I live), I knew I had to be there. Last weekend it all came to pass!

Sign boards like this one welcomed us to the beautiful Wilson Library on the grounds of Western Washington University Saturday morning.

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A helpful library staff helped us find our way in this warren of a building to a grand marble staircase that took us to the fourth floor foyer. There table upon table of books were on display—all children’s poetry books!

Table upon table of children’s poetry books.

Just beyond the foyer, the vast, high-ceilinged Reading Room was our Poetry Camp mess hall, you might say, and between 8:30 and 9:30 it filled up quite healthily with poet enthusiasts, poets, teachers, librarians etc.

Inside, in addition to many strangers, were friends. It was such fun picking out the people I knew, sort of, having Poetry Friday’d with them for months but peered at their faces only as tiny thumbnails. Here are some you might recognize.

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Poetry Friday poets: Doraine Bennett, April Halprin Wayland, Jeannine Atkins, Robyn Hood Black, and Irene Latham.

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Irene Latham with the irrepressible Joy Acey

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Me with Bridget Magee

The program was well organized and flowed quite flawlessly. After a welcome from our WWU hosts Nancy Johnson and Sylvia Tag, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong presented keynotes.


The morning one introduced the Poetry Friday books, how to use them, and then had contributors read poems from the books.

Both the morning keynote (theme: Poetry is for any time) and afternoon one (theme: Poetry is for every subject) made wonderful use of the 38 visiting poet contributors. As you’ll see from the little slide show of some of the readers, it was a treat! I felt like a kid again, held spellbound by teachers who could make poetry come alive.

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We also enjoyed breakout sessions.

As a fan of verse novels, it was wonderful to sit at the feet of four pros: Holly Thompson, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill, and Jeannine Atkins.

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Verse Novel presenters Holly Thompson, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill (Jeannine Atkins not in the picture).

Here are some bits from my notes:
Jeannine Atkins: She loves reading history and looking for “details that wake up the story.” She also looks for what she / we have in common with the historical characters she writes about.

Nikki Grimes: “I want to find the crack that will slip into the reader’s heart.”

Stephanie Hemphill: Her process (of research, and finding a connection with the character) is different for each book she’s written.

Holly Thompson: She uses page turns as a sort of stanza break for some of her chapter-length poems. She finds that the white space of poetry is also useful in easing tension and convincing reluctant readers to read.


My second workshop was “Writing for journals,  magazines and anthologies,” ably led by Bridget Magee and Janet Wong.  We were all encouraged to read (Janet: “Read 50 books a week – take your rolling luggage to the library”), write, send out our poems and reward ourselves—for rejections as well as acceptances. Janet reminded us:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

If / when we decide to self-publish, Janet assured us we were then artisanally published by a “small press” or “consortium” (if we collaborate in the publishing process).

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Poetry & Science workshop presenters Jeannine Atkins, Heidi Bee Roemer and Linda Dryfhout.

My afternoon breakout was “Poetry + Science.” Jeannine Atkins, Heidi Bee Roemer and Linda Dryfhout shared their rich experience of writing and teaching science using poetry. (It almost made me wish I could go back into the classroom again—almost.)

The public was also invited to the last event of the day. Jack Prelutsky (first US Children’s Poet Laureate ever) signed books, recited poems and serenaded us. Then he was honored by some delightful poetry reciters from a local elementary school and by fellow poet, Tod Marshall, Washington State’s current Poet Laureate.

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Jack Prelutsky signing.

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Jack Prelutsky singing.

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Jack Prelutsky reciting

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Tod Marshall delivered a wonderful tribute to his fellow poet!

Finally, there was cake. What a perfect way to end a sweet day!

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And now it’s time for today’s dessert—your poems. Please add them to the widget. Happy reading!

62 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Poetry Camp edition

  1. Pingback: Happy National Poetry Day | Friendly Fairy Tales

  2. Looks like a wonderful time, Violet. I wish I could have gone. Maybe someday, when the kids are older, when every day is less insanely busy… Sigh. Thanks for hosting this week. I published a few days ago for yesterday’s UK National Poetry Day. I’m offering the poem I wrote for that, This is just to say… Thank you, Earth. I’m looking forward to reading all the poetry, but I am repainting a bathroom this weekend, so I’ll have to eke out those moments where I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Violet,
    I love being called irrepressible! Thank you. Janet Wong explained me to someone as “Joy believes in living big.” Nicer compliments I can’t think of. In my presentation on Poetry Presentation Tips for Elementary Students, I was teamed with Brod Bagert and Michele Krueger. What a team we made!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So nice to see all those familiar faces! Thanks for the lovely Poetry Camp post. From all reports it was a fabulous, fun event :).

    At Alphabet Soup I’m featuring Marilyn Singer’s Miss Muffet, or What Came After with a review, pie recipe and giveaway.

    Thanks so much for hosting this week!

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. You captured it all, Violet! Great snapshot of the weekend – both in pictures and your annotations. It was lovely to meet you in person. Thank you for hosting! PS – my comments on blogs will be sporadic as I am boarding a plane to Germany tomorrow. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Poetry Friday:Every Day by Naomi Shihab Nye | A Teaching Life

  9. It was lovely to meet you in person, Violet! Your post is such a great way to revisit Poetry Camp too. I love your slideshow of poets especially! My post this week is ALSO about Poetry Camp. Just can’t get enough! I hope we’ll get the chance to do this again sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Violet, I love your post! I’m so glad to see your lovely pictures. I’m usually much better about taking pictures, but I totally bombed in that department on Saturday. Thanks for your delightful wrap-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Violet, I thought this post was so enticing that I wish I could have been the fly on the wall. I am hoping that Poetry Camp will come East one year so I can join in. For now, I am happy to meet some Poetry Friends at ILA and NCTE Conventions. It is always an aha moment when I meet virtual friends face-to-face. Thank you for hosting and being a great supporter of my galleries. I am revisiting Summerscapes Gallery to give a backstory narrative of the why’s behind the galleries.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a revelation this poetic gathering turned out to be. A brilliant idea enacted. I have little doubt all those who attended felt a quiver in their poet’s heart.Thanks for sharing this magnificent occasion in such a transparent way.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you, Violet, for this glorious peek into the weekend! I feel like I was there. What a blast! Thank you, too, for hosting! Happy Poetry Friday! xo

    Liked by 1 person

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  15. Pingback: [review, recipe, giveaway!] Miss Muffet, or What Came After by Marilyn Singer and David Litchfield | Jama's Alphabet Soup

  16. An absolutely stunning post…..rich in details this east coaster has been craving about Poetry Camp and nuggets of wisdom and truth. Thank you for such a generous sharing of the weekend! Your notes are a perfect glimpse into the writers that I adore. Thank you again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. Thank you, Violet, for coming to Poetry Camp–and for this terrific post. I enjoyed meeting you and am looking forward to keeping up with you here and on FB!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m so sad I missed this conference. If I wasn’t already scheduled for one, I would have made the trip to join all you amazing folks.

    Thanks for sharing these memories and for hosting today.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Violet,

    How I wish I could have gone to Poetry Camp with you! Washington state is all the way across the country from my state of Massachusetts–a little too far to travel. Besides…I am a busy nanny granny caring for my two “grand girls.”

    At Wild Rose Reader, I have two poems about autumn leaves and reviews of three pictures on the same subject. I LOVE this time of year!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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  23. I appreciate your detailed and illustrated descriptions, Violet, and like so many, I wish I could have been there. I’m frankly surprised at how many made their way to that corner of the country for one day–I guess it shows the power of poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: SOL16: Poetry Camp | Jone Rush MacCulloch

  25. It was SO lovely to meet you in person in your beautiful corner of the world, Violet! Thanks for the fun recap. (I’ve hated to be “out of the loop” here lately, but no sooner had we returned home from WA than we had to start making hurricane evacuation plans. We are heading back home tomorrow – Wed., but not sure we’ll have power!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn, so glad you’re okay! As soon as I heard about the path of Matthew, I thought of you, and certainly noticed your absence last Poetry Friday (as you seldom miss). The pleasure of meeting was absolutely mutual. Hope your power is on when you get home and all is safe and sound!

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