Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NPM Day 26: The Letter W, Day 1

My book spine poem for NPM 2017:

She walks in beauty
A jar of tiny stars
Awakening the heart
Opening a door
House of light 
Pass the poetry, please!

Continuing my alphabetic stroll
through National Poetry Month 
with the first of two posts on 
the letter W . . . 

Who knew that the end of the alphabet would be so filled with poetic goodness?  If you've been following along, then you know that our letter W has to be the wonderful Janet Wong, co-editor with Sylvia Vardell of the Poetry Friday anthologies and their latest books in the Poetry Friday Power series - You Just Wait and Here You Go.  I won a set of five copies of You Just Wait on a blog giveaway.  When I gave them to students in my after school book club, they were amazed because it was okay to WRITE in them.  If you haven't explored these interactive books written for the tween and teen audience, be sure to check them out.  Pomelo Books has generously provided some free excerpts here.   

Janet is the author of more than thirty books and of course, my favorites are her poetry books.  I wrote about one of my favorites, Night Garden, on Day 16 of this month and shared three favorite poems from the book.  While I was rambling around Janet's web site, I discovered an audio of Janet reading the poem "There Is a Place,"  also from Night Garden.  Two additional favorite poetry titles are A Rainbow Hand:  Poems about Mothers and Children (perfect for Mother's Day) and A Suitcase of Seaweed and other poems.

I met Janet through a chance comment she left on my blog.  She mentioned how much she liked our local King County Library System.  I fired back a comment asking how she knew about it (since I knew she lived on the east coast).  It turns out that she used to live here and her mother still lives in the area.  I was hosting the Poetry Box that fall, and so I asked Janet to speak to the sixth grade students  at the middle school where I taught before retiring.  You can read about her visit and the writing she inspired at this blog post.  

Shortly after that presentation, I attended my first NCTE conference (2014) and participated in a poetry session with Janet Wong and Laura Purdie Salas.  There was tremendous enthusiasm and poetry love in the room.  And then last spring I noticed that Janet was presenting at a local library.  So off I went with my trusty google maps app to find the library and spend a splendid evening with Janet exploring the topic: Finding Ourselves in Our Family Stories.   And in the fall of 2016, I participated in Poetry Camp at Western Washington University hosted by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.   And now I'll ask the same question I asked yesterday on my post featuring Sylvia Vardell, "When IS the next Poetry Camp?" 

Just yesterday while exploring Janet's web site, I discovered that she is headed for my alma mater, Oklahoma State University where she'll be participating in the event, "Celebrate Community - With Poetry!"  Two of the scheduled events will be in Willard Hall (now the College of Education), but when I was at OSU (in the 70s) it was my dormitory for all four years of my college education.  Willard Hall is close to the student union, Theta Pond, and the library.  I can't wait for Janet to experience the beauty of my campus and the hospitality of my Oklahoma heritage.  

Finally, I can't end this post without encouraging you to attend a workshop with Janet if you ever have the opportunity.  It's clear that she left her career in law because she wanted to find a passion for what she did in life (and be a nicer person).  She has found it as a writer.  And she shares that passion and inspires writers wherever she goes!  


  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post, Ramona! And I will be EVEN more excited to visit OSU next week now that I have an additional connection to it (YOU!)!

  2. What a beautiful post, Ramona. I've seen Janet once at NCTE and it was poetic goodness. Thanks again for sharing these wonderful resources. I have them, hope others will discover them, too.

    1. Thank you, Linda! This November I'll return to NCTE to speak--once with Sylvia Vardell leading a panel of poets (including another "W poet," Allan Wolf) and a second time in an unusual program that I'm doing with Jenn Manak of Bridgewater State University where we'll bring in sample texts and sample GOODIES--including coffee and chocolate (and their labels)! If you'll be at NCTE, I hope you can come!!