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!

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Friday Surprise: How To Be A Young Writer

2013-01-25 00 11 48 (3)

This is my desk. I blame the elves.

This year,  I gave myself a birthday present: the time to read all I want this month. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get mad if the dishes are not “done” every evening or the tax forms languish. Admittedly, it looks like my desk was attacked by demented elves, but I refuse to worry about it until February.

I have read all the poems that have been posted in the Brighter Light contest so far. And then I started thinking about other poems by writers under the age of 20 – young writers. I read through copies of “Stone Soup” and Highlights for Children.” I found more kids’ poetry in collections from the library and our books at home.

What struck me was the originality of these poems. I found myself saying, Wow I would never have thought of that, over and over. Take this poem:

Cheetah

A cheetah has metal girder teeth
it goes hurling down through the jungle
throwing out its fear*

Panthera leo -zoo -yawning-8aNow, I have heard cat’s teeth compared to many things: lions teeth to daggers, tigers’ to sabers, kittens’ teeth to needles. But cheetahs’ teeth and metal building girders! How wonderful to think of that!

Or take this stanza from Sylviya’s poem (she’s the young writer in the Yellow Ninja team) about hair:

Black is shiny like the blouse
my mommy never wears.
Shiny, glossy, smooth
like our kitten’s fur
when I squeeze her
to get some kisses.

I have all the usual associations with black: knights, stallions, nighttime, sadness. Sylvi on the other hand thinks of an unworn blouse – this says so much, so specifically, about how she feels about her mother, and their relationship, and beauty, that feel as if I am standing with her as she sees her mother’s hair.

5984380533_2816ee14a5_bAdult writers spend a lot of time trying to peek around the edges of all the rules we’ve learned and ways we’ve been taught to think. We have heard the overused metaphors, memorized the tens of thousands of rules of plotting, and tried every poetic form…until we have forgotten what the world looks like to us.  Adults envy young writers, I think; we are so used to comparing happiness to a warm puppy that we forget that happiness can also be a new Band-Aid, or a herd of manta rays, or a battered leather jacket with a broken zipper.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean that poets shouldn’t read other poets, that essayists should never read novels, or that fiction writers should live in huts in the woods with no windows or visitors. We can learn a lot about how language works, how form works, what structures can work for stories, by reading and experiencing many things. But how do we do this and still keep our fresh perspective – our own voices?

What we can do is…write. A lot.

Ggb in soap bubble 1If you’re a younger writer, writing now means that you’ve started a thread that will connect you to the writer you will be as an adult. For an adult, writing a lot gets the “junk” out of our systems, so we can uncover the pure shimmering connections to our former selves. We can write ourselves into to the world in which it’s fun to pop glass bubbles, where spiders’s legs are as fine as spun glass and tap dance skitter-skatter, where there’s beauty in wearing our helmets and where bicycles have invisible wings, where birdhouses are farms or fairy homes or as safe as warmth, and where dragons love rocks and pebbles make our planet, where we are both ourselves and baby turtles,and where adults and children are connected by words, and birds, and love.**

So, I say, go to it.  Go, you yourself, and write ~ ina

*by Darren Coyles, aged 7, first published in Children as Writers:21st Year 1979, republished in Beauty of the Beast, ed. Jack Prelutsky, Knopf, 1997

**All of these images came from the Brighter Light challenge entries. There are many more than I could list and each one is as wonderful.

A directory of our teams

ChildAdultSunWe’re having a lovely time here with Andrea’s Brighter Light challenge. For those of you on a team or who have been following along, we’ve created a directory of all the teams (I’ve added links that teams have suggested that show something about where they’re from; if you’ve given me a link to your team’s blog, I’ve posted that as well). You can search this directory at any time to remind yourself about who is on a given team and where they hail from.

Oh, and challenge participants: if there’s a link I missed or you’d like to add, just let me know. Also, there’s a copy pinned to the Notice Board so you can remind yourself about any of the teams at any time ~ ina

Brighter Light teams

1. The Seasons
Ina and son Kash
San Francisco Area, California, US
http://baytrail.abag.ca.gov/vtour/map3/access/Btpalto/Btpalto.htm

2. Sunshine Elves
Amanda and daughter
Queensland, Australia
http://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/

3. The Yellow Ninjas
Mariya and daughter Silviya
Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria

http://bulgariatravel.org/en/official_tourism_portal/

4. The Brothers Dragonosaurus
Sharon and her two grandsons (J-JAR 1.5 and J-JAR 3.5)
Alberta, Canada
http://dragonsareus.blogspot.ca/

5. The Awesome Earworms.
Linda H and her daughter
the Rems-Murr-Kreis in Germany
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rems-Murr-Kreis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabia

6. The Erie Dearies
Marie Elena and her granddaughter Sophie
Lake Erie area, Toledo, OH

7. Icicles
Guðríður and her son Þorlákur
From Akureyri in northern Iceland
http://www.iceland.is/
http://www.livefromiceland.is/webcams/akureyri/

8. The Sparkly Snowflakes
Pearl and her grand girls (!) Halle Lynn and Rori Cate
Lido Beach, New York and Newton, Massachusetts, US

http://sparklysnowflakes.blogspot.com/

9. The Chain Letters
JLynn, her son and many other helper-elves!
Chain O’Lakes area, Illinois, US
http://www.pbase.com/gerdakettner/chain_olakes_state_park

10. Alabama Tarheels
Nancy and Alyssea
Hickory, North Carolina and Florence, Alabama; USA

11. The Vikings
Søs and Ingrid
From Denmark

http://bronshojbasket.dk/cms/ShowContentPage.aspx?ContentPageID=25

12. Pragon
Claudette and Sidse
Northern Rocky Mountains, US and Sejer Island, Denmark

http://trailinginspirations.wordpress.com/

http://www.sejeroeskole.skoleintra.dk/Infoweb/Designskabelon7/Rammeside.asp?Action=&Side=&Klasse=&Id=&Startside=&ForumID=

13. The Northstar Wolves
Michele and her daughters Mikayla and Samantha
Minnesota, US
http://www.exploreminnesota.com/index.aspx

14. Queen Flower and the Princesses Sugar
Jacqueline and her two daughters
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

http://maccandace.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/enchanted-by-encanto/

http://www.go-arizona.com/Phoenix/Photos-Videos/
http://www.phxtaco.com/

15. The Poetry Writers

Barbara and her student Raybert

Stamford, CT, US

Beautiful Stamford (Google Image Search)

Parent and child of elephas namadicus