Thursday, April 13, 2017

Poetry Friday Round Up and Giveaway

Welcome to Poetry Friday. I'm delighted to have you here for a few moments of your day. And yes, I'm giving away five copies of Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book, courtesy of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.

Janet and Sylvia have been using their talent and seemingly inexhaustible energy to make bringing poetry into the classroom more accessible for both teachers and students.

Here We Go is a book about four friends whose circumstances are bigger than they are.

Jack's dad lost his job. Life is tough at his house.
Ameera is Muslim and kids often say bad things about her.
Jenna's single-parent mom works long hard hours.
David is a border kid, born in the U.S., but often traveling to Mexico. Life is uncertain.

It's a book about families.
It's a book about poetry.
It's a book about activism.

But most of all, it's a book about finding the courage to be the person you're meant to be and acting from that center.

Let's take a look! I thought the best way would be to dive into a powerpack and participate.

This is the opening page for Powerpack 4. I personally love the creative imagery of these opening pages.  The designs and patterns by Franzi Paetzold capture the theme of each powerpack.

The next spread is a powerplay activity designed by Sylvia that gives students the chance to play with words and word choices.

Here's my wordplay. I began with rhyme, then moved to some slant rhyme.

Next is the anchor poem, a previously published poem from an outside source that reflects the theme of the powerpack. The response poem (written by Janet) is from the point of view of one of the four friends and expands on the theme. 

The mentor poem, again written by Janet in the voice of one of the four friends, gives students an example to study as they begin working on their own poem. 

And finally, there's a writing prompt, created by Sylvia, that challenge students to write using specific techniques encountered in the preceding poems of the powerpack. 

I chose to work with internal rhyme and slant rhyme. 

One day while working on the poem, I received an invitation to participate in a sort of mock poetry slam. Ten rounds of poems (which are read, not recited) matched to a theme given at the beginning of each round. I was suddenly thrown back to an unsettling memory, a loss of memory in fact, in front of a crowd.  Here's my poem. 

Invitation to a Poetry Slam

And suddenly
you’re seventeen
onstage in the school auditorium
after weeks of practice Mrs. Higgins
glasses slipping down her sharp nose
pronounces you ready
oak boards creak beneath your patent leather pumps
orange letters sprawl across royal blue
drapes shout Blue Devils
students slouch in worn wooden seats
you step to the microphone
don’t look at the crowd don’t allow
your gaze to find a face
focus on the doors
the hallway back to homeroom
open your mouth
sentences come out
somehow you relax
think you’ve found your voice
until a pause
long enough for shuffling feet to still
for stoners in the corner to rouse
to check what caused the lack of sound
long enough to vow never again
a loud whisper from stage right
Mrs. Higgins with your speech in her hand
life line for a drowning man

© 2017 Doraine Bennett

And each powerpack unit is loaded with the same kind of learning power.

I appreciate this comment from Ed Spicer, educator and literacy expert. “This book will allow all sorts of emotions and thoughts to bubble forth, including difficult and painful ones . . . and that will be a source of healing.”

Isn't that what we love most about poetry?

In a recent article in The Dragon Lode, the journal of Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group, Janet calls the method "poetry fanfiction," encouraging students to use a mix of published poems and new poems as structure for their own expression.
More than ever, tweens and teens are looking to invent new ways to express themselves, to document their lives and insert themselves meaningfully into the world. Poetry fan fiction can teach language arts skills in a brand new way that honors their desires to create. 
This is a book for teachers. Sylvia and Janet have done the pre-write planning for you.
It's a book for students with compelling characters and a good story.
It's a book about using words to help students find their own perspective.

What's not to love?

Leave your Poetry Friday below.
Leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for one of five copies of the book.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting, Doraine, and for this thoughtful peek into an amazing book.
    "Here We Go is a book about four friends whose circumstances are bigger than they are." -
    Great description. Thanks for sharing your "slam" poem, too! (& Don't inlcude me in the giveaway - ;0) )

  2. Thanks for walking us through this process, Dori. Janet's poem is so simple but carries a lot of power. And I love the narrative -- uncomfortable as it is! -- that your poem tells.

  3. Wonderful post about Here We Go, and enjoyed your poem! Thanks so much for hosting this week. Have a good weekend. :)

  4. Thanks for hosting, Dori! I've been enjoying all these sneak peeks at this book - looks really cool! I can imagine it being a hit with middle graders.

  5. What's not to love, indeed! It's a fabulous book. I'm excited to use it in a workshop this summer. I thought it was great how you walked through one of the powerpacks with us, Dori. But, oh, that moment of forgetfulness, on stage, with all those eyes on you and the deafening silence! I guess we've all had moments like that, but they're never fun. Thanks for hosting PF this week.

  6. Aargh! What a prickly memory. I hope this will become a funny story to tell, for the young reader some time down the road. I feel your "Invitation to a Poetry Slam" brings back every public speaking gaffe my student self recalls.

    I always enjoy when this vibrant collection, HERE WE GO, which I am so lucky to have one at Today's Little Ditty, is shared (so I'm exempting myself from an entry.)

    And, appreciations for hosting the P.F. party, today Dori :) for more Happy Poetry Month sharing.

  7. Fanfiction for poetry is the absolute perfect description for this book. I love it and see how much it's needed with kids AND adults.
    Doraine, your poem is kinda tough to read...because it really does bring me back to those teen days. I loved being on stage and didn't suffer from stage fright as much as the after reflection of thinking I was awful...just sure I was being laughed at. Oh, what a horrible feeling that was.
    You are a champ for hosting Poetry Friday and I'm so thankful. I enjoy visiting your blog each week. And, this week it's such a celebration! Have a great week.

  8. Thanks for taking us through how one uses the powerpacks. It's a great idea for classrooms.

    I wish everyone a "happy whatever," on this busy, busy weekend--Passover, Easter, income tax deadline, spring gardening, etc.

  9. I LOVE this book! Thank you for sharing the versatility of this poetry powerpack. Have a glorious weekend, Dori!

  10. I won this book already, and I'm planning to dig into this summer with my kids. (Yay!) So count me out for the giveaway, but thanks for hosting and sharing your slam poem. I love a good slam. :-)

  11. I love the poem that this book gave to you. Just imagine what will happen with students, wonderful poems and stories about their lives. I do have it, Dori, so skip me in the drawing. Thanks for hosting!

  12. Thanks for walking those who are new to the book through all the parts...including your vivid poem. I know you lived it, but it sounds like the stuff bad dreams are made of!

  13. PS -- Leave me out of the drawing -- I already have several copies!

  14. Thanks for hosting, Dori, and for being a welcoming voice all the time!
    (I have this book already!)

  15. Doraine, I may have lived your poem. :) Thank you! I'm kind of enamored of "poetry fan fiction." Janet & Sylvia continue to enrich our community, don't they? xo

  16. Thanks so much for walking us through this wonderful book. I have a copy but haven't had time to thoroughly explore--I really appreciate the guided tour. Thanks also for hosting today!

  17. You've touched a nerve here, Dori! My first public speaking experience was filled with shaking hands ... but years of practice helped me get over it. Mostly. 😜 Thanks for hosting & sharing our community' most recent book!

  18. I'm currently reading/writing my way through You Just Wait. Janet and Sylvia's books are a marvelous way to entice students into the world of poetry. Thanks for hosting today.

  19. Your poem connects to the line I added to the Progressive Poem, a line about stage fright. I love the idea of poetry fan fiction! Also swooning over your review of Here We Go. My students are enjoying reading and responding to the writing activities. It's a gold mine. Thanks for hosting today.

  20. Your poem is a wonderful juxtaposition of memories that land us square in your patent leather pumps. Wonderful! Janet and Sylvia's book sounds fabulous, every time I see snippets.

  21. Thanks for hosting, Dori. And thanks for sharing your poem. It's fantastic and real. Everything Janet and Sylvia do is amazing. The Poetry Friday Anthologies are such a gift for teachers and students.

  22. Thank you, Dori, for hosting today. What a great presentation of "Here We Go." I just got Sylvia and Janet's "You Just Wait," and like Ramona, am working my way through it. I love your poem -- I remember an auditorium like yours that was the venue for many childhood events laced with stage fright. Your line "oak boards creak beneath your patent leather pumps" put me there beside you.

  23. Dori, thank you for hosting and your remembrance poem that captures the moment of fear when the world expects you to perform. I love Janet and Sylvia's contributions to poetry. Poetry fan fiction is equated to #poetrylove so now is the right time to spread the power of poetry. Power Packs do just that!

  24. Oh, Dori. You really captured that "unsettling" feeling. And you took me back to one of my own, one during which I stood in front of the whole elementary school holding a stuffed koala, to which I was to sing "You Light Up My Life." Of course I'd sung this millions of times on the swingset...but where did the words go? xxx

    Thank you for highlighting this book. I love the activist slant and the caring of the children. Please no giveaway for me.

    Thank you for hosting, friend! xo

  25. Dori, thanks for doing the roundup this week! Over at Wild Rose Reader, I have ideas for creative writing, language arts, and an art activity that teachers can do with their students using my book poetry book THINGS TO DO. It includes links to articles that I have written for ALL THE WONDERS and BOOKSOURCE. There is a link to an article by Katy Howes of All the Wonders with instructions for making a poetry mobile.

  26. Dori, thanks so much for sharing this. I love that you walked us through the process as you developed your poem. I love the sound of the poem with its assonance and slant rhyme. Nicely done.

    Thanks for hosting this week.

  27. There is so much to love about Here We Go! And your poem brings us all back to a desperate frozen moment so clearly. Thanks so much for hosting this week, Dori!

  28. Thanks so much for walking us through the process! I love the vivid details in your poem. I can see Mrs. Higgins with her glasses slipping down her sharp nose, hear the oak boards creak, picture students slouching in their worn wooden seats--the perfect way to show the poetry slam participant's attention to the crowd. Thanks for hosting!

  29. Happy Friday! Here's to the poetry that both anchors us and sets us free. :)

  30. This looks fantastic!! As a middle school teacher working with newcomer EL students from a wide variety of cultures, I would love to share this book with my students. Oh, the poetry it would inspire!!

    1. Jen, I don't know how to contact you. I drew your name for one copy of HERE WE GO from Janet and Sylvia. Send me your address and I'll get it to you. My email is

  31. Dori, thank you for hosting today and for the giveaway. If I were still teaching, I would love to use this book from all that I have seen of it so far. (Since I'm not teaching now, don't put me in for the giveaway.) Reading your poem, I felt like I was back in high school with those curtains (except we were Golden Demons in stead of Blue Devils) and creaky stage.

  32. I love this post, Dori and am excited to read and write my way through this new gem by Janet and Sylvia. I will pass it along to a teacher friend. I love knowing about new poetry resources!! This is terrific. Your poem reminds me of experiences I have read about! And experienced a couple of times. You have to brave on the stage and always grateful to a good prompter.Thanks. Janet Clare F.

  33. I was around Sylvia and Janet near the birth of this Powerpack concept, and I love how the vook invites you to write IN it, which is an opening to the best kind of graffiti! Loved seeing you work through it yourself, Dori, and thanks for hosting.

    1. You were RIGHT THERE, Heidi--one of the Millersville University midwives!!!

  34. I love this book. I think I would be terrified of a poetry slam

  35. I've seen so much about this book, but don't have a copy of it yet. I've been working through You Just Wait by J & S and have enjoyed the challenge and structure of the Powerpacks. Good stuff, Dori! =)

  36. Thank you, Doraine, for this FABULOUS blog post--and thank you, everyone, for your terrific comments! Bridget: so happy to see (from a more recent post here) that you're one of the winners of a copy of HERE WE GO, as I just L-O-V-E what you've done with YOU JUST WAIT, week by week, at your blog!!!