Done Gone Crazy

I just decided to do (Inter)NaWriPiBoWee. (The Inter part being that I live in Brazil. International.) Seven picture books in seven days. You can find the info here. (Big shout out to Paula Yoo for getting this thing started.) I am a lunatic. In order to do this, I MUST get caught up on my crits today. Seriously, my critique partners are the most forgiving people I know.

Also, I have one more Poetry Conversation to get posted. Going out of National Poetry Month with a bang. Missed a few days, but the days that I was able to have a poetry conversation with people and get it posted here were well worth it, I’d say.

Also, did you see the post about my CONTEST? Wanna help me see my book in stores and possibly win a copy? Check out the details in the link.

Okay, I’m going to do my crits. Write my notes for (Inter)NaWriPiBoWee. Exercise. Take a shower. And at some point, post my last Poetry Conversation.

But first, maybe I need another cup of coffee.

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I think ME WITH YOU is just about to hit stores. It’s no longer listed as a pre-order at Barnes and Noble. AND my author copies came today. So here’s a little contest fun for you.

I am in Brazil.

My book is in America.

I long to see my book in bookstores. And I cannot until I arrive in July. But YOU can help me!

First person to send me a picture of ME WITH YOU in an actual bookstore wins a copy! Photo must clearly show you holding my book with bookstore image in background (inside or outside, I’m not picky).

Attach the photo to an email (and let me know the name of the bookstore and city you found it in) and send to kristy (at) kristydempsey (dot) org.

BUT WAIT! Not only that…

If you miss being the first to get me a photo, send anyway! Because between the first photo and June 15, I’ll enter everyone who sends me a photo of my book in a bookstore, or in your hands at your house, into a drawing for a giveaway of another copy. (Edited to add: if you also post it to your own blog –or Facebook– I’ll enter you twice! Just send me the link when you email me the picture.) Okay, so June 15 is a long time, I know. But it gives all the stores time to get the book in, and gives you time to run by and give it a gander and send me a picture!

Tell everyone you know!

Fine print: Booksellers are excluded from winning the contest, because you know, of the obvious fact that their hands are the ones that open the boxes. 🙂

ETA: First copy has been sighted but you can still be in the running for a copy by sending me a pic and/or posting it to your blog or Facebook. See the details above.

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National Poetry Month — Ode to my Socks by Pablo Neruda

Today was a treat. A couple of weeks ago I sent my husband Neruda’s "Ode to my Socks". He had agreed to have a Poetry Conversation with me and I debated several days as to which poem I would send him. I finally chose and told him to take as long as he needed.

Every couple of days he would bring it up (or I would, in a "when are you going to get the poem back to me" kind of way). He’d mention something that he loved as much as Neruda’s socks. His pen. His pajama pants. "I like comfortable things," he’d say. And I’d giggle. Because, you see, that is EXACTLY why I sent him this poem. Since we married, I’ve learned that there are certain things — it might be because of the perfect size of a thing that fits right in the crook of his hand, or the feel of a fabric against his skin, or even the visual appeal of a certain item — that get into his brain and make him feel like everything is right in his world. He’s difficult to buy for, because you just never know what that "thing" will be. For Neruda, it was socks made by the shepherd’s hands.

Ode to my Socks

By Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
knitted with her own
shepherd’s hands,
two socks soft
as rabbits.
I slipped
my feet into them
as if
jewel cases
with threads of
and sheep’s wool

Read the rest here in English or in Spanish.

And for my husband, ONE of his "things" is his beloved office chair. Here is his version of Neruda’s poem, bordering on satire in places, but it most definitely made me laugh and brings me to admit that I am one lucky girl indeed to have such a good sport for a husband, as well as one who values words as much as myself. (You might enjoy comparing it to the original, in which case you will marvel as I did at his manner of thought.) And I promise if you read it all the way through, you will laugh. In more than one place. 🙂

Ode to my Office Chair

by Demps Dempsey

Sam Walton brought me
a leather office chair
crafted by the sandpaper hands
of nickel and dime Banana republic laborers,
one chair
like a big friendly bear.
I slipped
my butt into it
as if
a billowy cloud
with the fabric of
and supple Italian leather.
Triumphant chair,
my butt became
one leathery
one huge confectionary delight
of mahogany brown
with a khaki thread,
one ginormous haystack
one monarch’s robe
thus honored
my butt
It was
so comfortable
that for the first time
my butt seemed
a stranger to me,
a dream
of a promised love,
but not recognized.
A haunting
by the espresso
of that stately
I quelled
the overhwelming urge
to shake away
the cobwebs of the dream
at rising,
the way a dog sends
water flying from its fur,
the way
a pencil erases its trace.
I resisted
the call
to set the chair
across the room
and silently stare
as at a beautiful girl
with olive hue
and hazel eyes
pondering what she must
be like.
Like Indiana Jones
spanning the chasm
with his whip
with delight,
I stuck out my butt
and eased it
the fluffy
So this is
the moral of my odes:
Most honored
is hope enountered
and what is comfortable
is truly comfortable
when it is the case of one
supreme office chair
at work time.

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Conference-ially Lacking

Many of my friends are meeting up today for the NESCBWI conference in Nashua. (I feel jealous.) I’ve gotten tidbits here and there of talks that will be given, and workshops that will be presented, and fish and chips that will be eaten, and let me tell you, it all sounds sooooooooo wonderful. To everyone attending, here’s wishing you inspiration and knowledge and community and renewal. And that all of that would translate into good books for kids. (I still feel jealous, but not as much when I remember the ultimate goal.)

In my own upcoming conference news, a few weeks ago I bit the bullet and sent my deposit for this . I’ve wanted to go to one of Rebecca’s poetry workshops for a while, and have been wanting to push myself more in the area of poetry, and given that I’ll be in the States during that time, it only makes sense to go. (Not to mention the fact that I was looking for another chance to go back to Boyds Mills. Oh my. Even the dirt at that place is inspired. And inspiring.) Anyone else going to be there?

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National Poetry Month — “Mayfly” by Mary Ann Hoberman

I told yesterday that these Poetry Conversations could just as easily be titled Poetry Connections, because it has allowed me to connect personally with people over poetry. The chance to see how differently (or similarly) someone else’s takeaway is from a certain poem is a gift. It’s the "oh, we see that the same way" or "oh, I never thought about it that way" that hits you right at heart level. It’s like being in elementary school all over again and making a new friend because you both like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Or because you like ham and cheese and she likes pb&j and so you always switch when your mom sends the wrong one.)

And so today I’ve had the chance to deepen a friendship with a smart, expressive 9 year old, Laura. Laura is the daughter of one of my best friends (who is also a writer, so it’s not hard for me to imagine why Laura is so expressive). Our conversation over Hoberman’s "Mayfly" made me wish I could chat with Laura more often.


by Mary Ann Hoberman

Think how fast a year flies by
A month flies by
A week flies by
Think how fast a day flies by
A Mayfly’s life lasts but a day

Read the rest here.

Laura said she likes to read romantic and pretty poems but that she thought it was really cool that the poem was about a bug. She said people don’t normally write about bugs because they might be scared of them.

Laura loved this part below because it was "pretty and quiet":

A Mayfly flies a single day
The daylight dies and darkness grows
A single day
How fast it flies
A Mayfly’s life
How fast it goes

Laura said the poem made her feel "silent, watching the scenery go by, like [she] was in a car, feeling hopeful for a new day, when a new Mayfly is born…"

Be still my beating heart! "Silent, watching the scenery go by…" Isn’t that a lovely way to express how poetry can make you feel? Like you’re watching the scenery and yet part of it at the same time?

Laura was kind enough to share an original poem of her own with me and gave me permission to share it with you.


by Laura (Lastnamehere)

Up or down,
side to side,
back and forth,
It’s all

Laura, you’ve moved your way right into our hearts! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about "Mayfly" and your own beautiful poem about movement.

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National Poetry Month — “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Today’s Poetry Conversation took place with Margaret. I’ve known Margaret since she was a baby, and she said she’d be happy to discuss Naomi Shihab Nye’s "Famous" with me.


by Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to the silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

Read the rest here.

Margaret read the poem silently twice and then out loud once. She giggled at the parts she thought were funny (which just shows how much more natural insight she had into the poem than I did. I didn’t laugh at all!) And then we discussed.

Margaret said the poem made her think of all the things she takes for granted. The things that function as they’re supposed to but that we don’t pay attention to.

She laughed in two spots. She thought the part that says the loud voice is famous to the silence was funny because of the implication that the silence is all-knowing and didn’t need the loud voice to tell it anything in the first place. And she thought the part about the boots being more famous than the dress shoes was funny because it turns upside down what we normally think about fame.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

I have to admit when I reread the poem, I laughed with that part too. How funny. And clever. AND TRUE!

Margaret said she feels like the poem is saying that the speaker wants to be famous for the simple things, not for accomplishing big things but for fulfilling her purpose. And Margaret said that the writer was made for poetry, so she wants her poetry to connect with people, just like the boot connects with the earth.

WOW. Isn’t that some great insight for a 14 year-old? And guess what? I convinced Margaret to write her own ending for this poem using Nye’s words as a guide. Look at what wonderfulness she came up with (and see if you catch a bit of Margaret’s own humor that made me laugh out loud):

I want to be famous to my parents

Who rejoice at my smiling face,

fighting brothers and sisters at babysitting jobs,

Famous as the one brings peace, and chocolate.

I want to be famous in the way the sun is famous,

Or a kiss, not because it did anything extravagant,

But because its love is constant.

And that, my friends, was a lovely Poetry Conversation to be a part of.

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National Poetry Month — Losers by Carl Sandburg

Because I’m caught up in life and this is the poetry conversation I’m having in my head. I’m feeling like a loser on some things, the things I’m letting slide…but perhaps not *all* of the important things. So today’s poetry conversation is with myself!


by Carl Sandburg

IF I should pass the tomb of Jonah
I would stop there and sit for awhile;
Because I was swallowed one time deep in the dark
And came out alive after all.

If I pass the burial spot of Nero
I shall say to the wind, “Well, well!”—
I who have fiddled in a world on fire,
I who have done so many stunts not worth doing.

I am looking for the grave of Sinbad too.
I want to shake his ghost-hand and say,
“Neither of us died very early, did we?”

And the last sleeping-place of Nebuchadnezzar—
When I arrive there I shall tell the wind:
“You ate grass; I have eaten crow—
Who is better off now or next year?”

Jack Cade, John Brown, Jesse James,
There too I could sit down and stop for awhile.
I think I could tell their headstones:
“God, let me remember all good losers.”

I could ask people to throw ashes on their heads
In the name of that sergeant at Belleau Woods,
Walking into the drumfires, calling his men,
“Come on, you … Do you want to live forever?

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National Poetry Month–An Original Poem “Ode to the Earthworm”

Inspired to post this by susanwrites earthworm haiku (though I wrote it a year ago, maybe?):

Ode to the Earthworm

O eater of earth
Compacter of food
You fashion a poem from soil
swallowing the best bits whole.
You combine and arrange them,
a digestion of words,
oozing richness from inside
and leaving your world better
than you found it

–Kristy Dempsey (all rights reserved)

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