Poetry Friday — Simple as Soup

One of the most enjoyable pieces of being in the US for this year and having a book out at the same time has been the opportunity to do school visits and to share books and writing and poetry with students. Watching a child’s eyes light up when they come up with an answer for our impromptu poetry rhyme jams, or feeling like I can hear the click that occurs in their brains as they figure out how to use metaphor effectively, or seeing the joy on a sea of faces when they connect with a poem I’m reading aloud — I tell ya, those are some swoon-worthy moments. 
I’ve been reflecting lately on how to nurture calm and focus — in my own life, in my children’s lives, in everyone. We all need a little, right? Someone told me recently that you can measure your level of calmness by the temperature of your fingertips. When you are calm and less stressed, your fingertips will be warmer. They actually make fingertip thermometers that measure this sort of thing. So the thermometer is the device to tell you where you stand, but if you’re not actually calm and focused, how do you bring warmth to your fingertips? How do you de-stress enough so that your body will quit sending all its heat to your core and warm you from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes?
My answer is poetry — the writing of it, the reading of it, the sharing of it. It’s a bowl full of soup on a biting cold day, and oh so much more.
My poem for Poetry Friday this week is a poem I shared with the fourth-grade students of Heritage Elementary at my most recent poetry workshop. I’m not completely pleased with it yet. I haven’t yet been able to make that second line fit the rest of the rhyme scheme. But it says what I wanted those fourth graders to hear about poetry, and calm, and focus, and the truth that rests deep in us all. 

SImple as Soup


A poem is as simple as a bowl full of soup,
as warm as a blanket in winter.
It’s a belly of laughter, some jelly on toast,
a walk on the beach with the one you love most.
A poem is a ride on a carnival wheel
that swings you up high on a circle of steel.
It gives you a view of the widest of wide
then sails you to Earth in an effortless glide.
A tall glass of cool on a piping hot day,
a friendship that drives all your lonesome away,
It’s rhythm, it’s music, it’s dancing, it’s LOUD,
It tiptoes. It whispers. It’s quiet and proud.
It’s thunder and raindrops, it’s sunshine and heat,
the roar of a lion, a baby’s heartbeat.
A poem is inside you, it’s waiting down deep
and YOU are the poet to wake it from sleep.

–Kristy Dempsey (2010; all rights reserved)

A Dream is a Wish your Heart Makes?

For those of you who don’t know,   is having a month-long series of posts on her blog about Dreaming.

Dreaming big, dreaming small, dreaming yourself to where you want to be.

She’s had some pretty inspirational authors sharing their thoughts and today I have the privilege of being featured. You’ll read an excerpt from my forthcoming book with Floyd Cooper (out in 2012) and learn why I think Disney has it all wrong when it comes to wishing on a star. While you’re there, be sure to read the rest of the entries so far. You’ll be inspired to dream big!

Here’s the link to Lisa’s blog!

Thank you, Jon Scieszka!

 Today ends the reign of this year’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jon Scieszka. What a great advocate for reading and the honest enjoyment of story! I’m looking forward to the announcement of the next Ambassador. I wonder who it will be?

Also, I must thank Jon for attending my very first book signing for ME WITH YOU this past summer at the Magic Tree Bookstore in Oak Park, IL. He was, of course, there to read his own work but he, along with authors Richard Peck, Jerry Pinkney, Ingrid Law and Gennifer Choldenko, drew a crowd, which allowed me to feel like my first book signing was a rip-roaring success. And they all put me at ease. Here’s a pic of me reading, just a short time before Jon Scieszka, National Ambassador, took the stage. 🙂


Cybils Finalists are announced!

I’ve spent much time this fall reading luxuriating in the poetry books that were nominated for the Cybils Awards this year, and will soon have many reviews to share with you. But I’m also excited about all the books that were nominated in other categories and can’t wait to get started on some of those. 

Here’s a link so you can check each category out for yourselves: