Monday Coffee: Summer Challenge Results

Gmatta ancient arabic coffee kettle570x720mmI loved every entry in our Brighter Light Summer Challenge. Each one made me feel so summery, warm and glow-y. I was originally planning on picking one “kid-participation” winner and one “grown-up alone” winner, but I had a terrible time deciding. But at last, after a nice pot for warm, sweet coffee, I’ve managed to pick three poems as our challenge winners. Our “kid” team prize is divided between:

Dr. Pearl and her grandgirls for “My Summer” AND Michele and her girls Skyler Ide and Elizabeth for their beautiful “In the Midst of Summer.”

And our Adult Alone winner is Barbara Ehrentreu for “Summer on the Beach,” which won me with the clincher, “It’s
a young person’s sport and I remember the summers when
the day was over and I packed up things herding children
smelling like sun tan lotion toward their dinner.”

I also have to give a special shout-out to SEIngraham, whose “Summertime in Edmonton” inspired me to ask her to talk with me about parenting and poetry (see an upcoming post) and Linda H., because I am totally allergic to mosquitoes and her poem really got how ANNOYING they are 🙂

We’ll be following with interviews and/or profiles of our winners – thank you everyone who participated; you’re the heart and soul of this blog ❤

Ina

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Inspirations, exhortations, and announcements.

Pounce! (383617744)My son had a preschool friend with  a huge vocabulary that didn’t fit in her little mouth. Sometimes to get past that, she used her own versions of words. Instead of “announcements,”  she said “a-pounce-ments.”

“I haf a apouncement about my bithday party!”

It’s been a few years now, but I secretly hope she still uses “apouncements” sometimes.

Opportunity is supposed to knock. Sometimes, though, it feels more like a little chance that hangs out on the lawn, waves to passersby, maybe sends a few texts…So instead of waiting for it to knock, we have to pounce on it before it wanders off to get a Slurpee or something.

Having material ready for those opportunities is half the battle. I got a  jolt of energy from Margaret’s  interview with Joan Hamilton. Joan’s someone who can make moments into opportunities; it’s worth reading the interview if you’re in need of inspiration.

In our poll a few weeks ago, the most frequently mentioned creative goal  for the summer was to write/paint/act/film/ more. Summer prompts and practices abound. I’ve been using some of Poetic Bloomings’ Life’s a Beach prompts – it’s only day 12, and there are already so many great things to write about. I also think I mentioned one of my  fave annual writing events is coming up, the August Postcard Poem Festival; it’s a freeing, connecting experience that helps me create a lot of new writing. And Poets and Writers’ Weekly fiction and poetry prompts – really thoughtful and you can go through archives to find extras.

Gillie pouncing (2292639076)Lastly, a couple of a-pounce-ments from inourbooks. If you were one of the young authors in the Brighter Light contest, keep an eye on your mail the next few weeks 🙂 And if you contributed to the Brighter Light Summer Prompt challenge, I haven’t made a final decision because I pretty much like every poem that came in, but I’ll be contacting you-all before next Wednesday. And next Wednesday, we’ll have an interview with author Barbara Vaughan, whose first novel was just released this week by Black Opal Press, on how she made it happen.

And now, I’m going to listen to my own advice and write ~ Ina

Friday Surprise: Summer submissions #2

Ice cream coneAh, the dog days of summer…the perfect time for ice cream, and to sit in the (air conditioned) local library and send out submissions. This batch contains two directed to what I think of as special writers – young people and sonnet writers. So if you know someone who fits either or both bills please pass this list along!

  • Writers Rising Up (protecting the environment and habitat) has a really fun contest coming up: the interactive slithery, slimey, buggy poem!  This one is open to ALL ages, and I suspect that it would be a lot of fun for some of the younger readers here.
  • Missouri Review just sent out a sweet note on Twitter saying that they’re a little light on poetry submissions. I was happy to help them out – are you?
  • There aren’t, in my opinion, nearly enough nature magazines publishing poetry. One of the few poetry mags that is entirely devoted to nature, Avocet, is open for submissions again. The currently deadline is August 31st. Even if you’re not a “nature poet,” this is a great time of year for sun-lovers to write about the beauty of the outdoors.
  • Sprout is one of those lit magazines that a real visual pleasure – they celebrate the positive, the beautiful, the colorful, the meaning in the small things in life. Full disclosure: a number of friends have been published in Sprout, so I’m inclined to like the magazine 🙂 They have two upcoming deadlines for themed issues: “Whimsy” on 7/15 and “Sanctuary” on 8/15.
  • If you’re a sonnet writer or a writer of formal poetry,1) I’m totally impressed and 2) the Helen Schaible International Shakespearean/Petrarchan Sonnet Contest is open and taking entries until Sept. 1st. I should mention that this is one of those rare contests that *does not charge a fee for entrance.* 

Let’s get that work out there ! (I’m exhorting myself, mostly – nothing like a writer community to spur activity!)

New contest deadline

Pouring cream into drip coffee

Sometimes, you just need a little something extra…

In this case, I realized that I’d put our Summer Poem/Flash Fiction Contest deadline right when a lot of people in the U.S. are traveling, so I figured, why not give people some extra time? We’re looking for poems or flash fiction (let’s call it <300 words, microfiction sized) on your very own summer day, whatever that might be. You can post them in the comments here, or on your blog and leave a link here, or through our Contact Us form here, by (the extended deadline) the end of the day on Monday, July 8th. Feel free to comment on other works too – we’ve got some terrific poems from writers younger and older coming in already (and do they deserve kudos for getting their work out there!). I’ll be choosing three works to highlight, along with an author feature or interview for each!

Looking forward to sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading all the lovely writing

~ Ina

Friday surprise: Brighter Light and Summer Prompt

As many of our readers know, in the winter Andrea blogged a month-long poetry challenge for adult-and-kid teams called Brighter Light. Now, with the advent of the light we were longing for in the depths of winter, I thought we ought to have a follow up.

BrighterLightBadge2First: for our original challenge participants. Thank you so much to all the participants in the challenge.We still don’t have the “results” of the challenge judging, since for both health and technical reasons Andrea has had almost no internet access for months, but the TRUE results are an amazing collection of collaborative poems. I was just reading through the poems on the Notice Board and am so amazed by the breadth of approaches to the prompt and the quality of the poems. It’s a real privilege to know so many amazing writers (big and small!). In honor of your participation, I have posted, in the side bar, a code that you can put into your own blog or website which will display the Brighter Light Poet badge for this year! If you can’t use that code directly, you can also just copy at paste a copy of the badge to the left (it’s slightly lower quality but it’ll work fine). In addition, I’m asking that all challenge participants contact me with an address to which I can send Brighter Light stickers for the “kid” participants in the challenge. You can reach me through the “Contact Us” page on this blog. I really want to make sure that kids get a chance to show their pride in having a great thing (and in the cases of the really little ones, to have stickers to play with :-0 )

Maurice Prendergast - Revere Beach No. 2 - Google Art Project

Maurice Prendergast – Revere Beach No. 2 [PD-US]

Second: for all our writer friends, one last prompt! I thought we’d close out the challenge with one final prompt. I love this Prendergast painting (to the right)  because it shows so many people enjoying a summer day in so many different ways. Summer is experienced by each of us in different ways ~ by the difference in color and light, or scents, or heat, or location.

The prompt: Your summer day is like no one else’s; what is your summer day (or night)?

 Please post your poem or flash fiction response in the comments below, on your own blog or website, or (if you, like me, don’t post pieces publicly because that excludes later publication elsewhere) through our Contact Us form before July 4th (11:59 p.m. July 3rd U.S. Pacific Time). I’d especially appreciate young writers joining in. I’ll have a special badge available for all participants AND I’ll be picking 3 authors for a mini-interview and/or highlight on InOurBooks.com.

Thank you again to all the prior participants, and I look forward to reading all the Brighter Light Summer entries!

Longer days, brighter lights

La Rebeyrolle, (Creuse, Fr), sur le chemin de St.jacquesAbout six months ago, visitors to (and bloggers on) this blog were writing away at the Brighter Light poetry challenge designed and provided by my co-blogger, Andrea. It was a lot of fun, and I met some of the most amazing poets, adult and not-yet-adult, and read some incredible, creative, interesting work.

The challenge has been on my mind because of something my spouse pointed out to me recently.

My son, K.,  (and I) dropped out of the Brighter Light contest early on. He was going through some Stuff at school and didn’t have energy to think about words. But then, about a month ago,  I was putting away dishes and realized I was hearing his little voice from the livingroom. I came out of the kitchen, and there he was, reading a short poem by Michael Dickman to himself, out of a New Yorker that my husband had left on the table. It was kind of…eerie.

The light over the lighthouse (5001033535)When K. was done, he read it aloud again, asked me about some of the phrases, and then went into a rather thoughtful silence. 

Apparently, this was the start of something.Each day, K’s taken a little time to read poems out loud to me (or my spouse) or (mostly) to himself. The floor is littered with random books of poetry, opened and upside down. He’ll recite some Jack Prelutsky or Spike Milligan (he’s memorized one about a baboon that sends him into fits of giggles). He’s grabbed me a couple of times and asked me to type “a poem I’m about to make up,” and the poems are (trying to put on my objective, non-mom, hat) interesting. This is a part of a recent one:

your colors melt and mix
until they make one red stripe
across the long screen

I didn’t have a theory about why this was happening until my husband looked up from his computer and said, appropos of nothing, that it usually takes K. about six months to really process anything he’s been thinking about (which drives his teachers absolutely bats). And then he asked me what K and I had been doing about six months ago.

Ah ha.

Maybe the challenge did illuminate the world of words for K.  I realized I got a lot out of the challenge too, as I get a lot out of all of the challenges I read and/or enter. I get to ingest a lot of amazing poetry. I see new ways of looking at a single picture. I am reminded that I like a much wider variety of poetry than I usually read. In Andrea’s challenge, I got a very visceral reminder of why artistic coaches tell you to “reach for your inner child:” there wasn’t a young person involved who didn’t bring his or her own light to the writing.

Gdansk-RobertStadlerSo, friendly readers, now I’m curious: what do you get out of challenges and contests that go beyond the obvious? If you and a young person in your life participated in the Brighter Light challenge, what came out of it for your young person ? if you are a young person who was involved in the challenge, what did you find out about yourself, about the adults in your life, about writing, and poetry, and life?

Monday coffee: A Little Jack Prelutsky this morning

Cappuchino latte art

By Blanka Novotná

My son loves Jack Prelutsky. I can’t blame him – I love Jack Prelutsky, too. One of my top five of his poems is “My Dog May Be A Genius.” If you don’t know it, you might want to go and borrow or buy the book of the same name (if you’re embarrassed to buy a kids’ poetry book for yourself please feel free to tell the clerk it’s for my kid 😀 ). So in honor of National Poetry Month and the man who, after Shel Silverstein, has done so much in recent decades to keep poetry alive for kids, I give you my off-the-cuff poem about Spot.

My Cat Is Not a Genius
After Jack Prelutsky’s My Dog May Be a Genius
SpotHelpsMom
My cat is not a genius;
of that there’s little doubt.
As soon as I have let him in,
he wants to go back out.

He has fresh food right in his bowl
but prefers all human cheeses,
even though he throws them up
and emits such nether breezes.

He sheds black fur on my white shirt
and white fur on black jeans.
He won’t attack his knit toy mouse
but bats stray coffee beans. ‘

But when he sits upon my lap
and covers me with fur
I can’t help merely loving him
just for his rumbling purr.

So, yes, he sheds insanely
and he makes an awful mess,
but we love him very dearly
though he’ll never master chess.

Happy Poetry Month, friends – Love from ina