Monday, April 22, 2013

APRIL MEANWHILE…MIDDLE GRADE: Poetry’s Influence


First, let's celebrate The Lucky 13 authors who had April Middle Grade releases! Congratulations to these authors and their fabulous books:

BULLY.COM – Joe Lawlor 04/01/13 (Eerdman's Books for Young Readers)
GENIE WISHES – 4/02/13 – Elisabeth Dahl (Amulet/Abrams)
THE KEY & THE FLAME – 4/02/13 – Claire Caterer (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET - 04/02/13 Nancy J. Cavanaugh (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)
RUMP – 4/09/13 – Liesl Shurtliff (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
THE FLAME IN THE MIST – 4/09/13 – Kit Grindstaff (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

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April is National Poetry Month, and for our Meanwhile...Middle Grade group post this month we're celebrating by talking about poetry's influence on our writing. 

Jenn, Kit, Polly, Kristen, Elisabeth, Melanie, and Nancy answered this question: Can you tell everyone how/if poetry has influenced you in your writing in general, or how you used poetry or elements of verse (rhyme, rhythm, stanza patterns) in your debut MG Novel? 

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Like my own heart beat, I like my sentences to hold a steady rhythm. Sure, what the words mean together is important, but how they sound as they tick off through my head...weirdly more important.

Jennifer Ann Mann, author of SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY Bloomsbury, October 1, 2013 You can connect with Jenn on

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A.A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six” was a first love; then after years of being a songwriter, using rhymes and songs in The Flame in the Mist was a no-brainer. For example: 
All little children had better beware / Hide in the attic or under a chair / There’s evil a-coming from up on the hill / If the Mist doesn’t get you, the Agromonds will.
The innocence of a nursery rhyme to express darkness was a creep factor I couldn’t resist!

Kit Grindstaff,  author of THE FLAME IN THE MIST
You can also connect with Kit on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


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My father loved to recite poetry, and he was wonderfully good at it. Listening to him made me begin to appreciate the richness in the sound and texture of words. I purposely used spare, simple language in The Neptune Project because it’s set in such a stark and difficult future. But in my fantasy and historical novels, I write in a more lyrical fashion, and I know I’m borrowing cadences and rhythms from the classic poems my father recited for us when I was a child. 


Polly Holyoke, author of THE NEPTUNE PROJECT You can connect with Polly on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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While poetry might not seem to have its place in a novel about two best friends who think their school counselor is a dangerous fugitive, it certainly does for me as a writer. I read poetry for breaks as part of my process: the rhythms, the distilling of emotion, and visceral images of some of my favorite poets like Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Elizabeth Bishop, and T.S. Eliot jog my brain and serve as a linguistic palate cleanser for me! It's a way of stepping outside my own draft, getting some distance, and remembering how in love I am with words. While one would be hard pressed to see evidence of those poets' influence in my own work, their work helps put me on the right mental plane for creating!

Kristen Kittscher, author of THE WIG IN THE WINDOW June 18, 2013 from Harper Children's You can connect with Kristen on her WebsiteTwitterFacebook

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There's no poetry in GENIE WISHES per se, but like most writers, I write with my ear as much as my head. I read the whole book out loud at least once or twice, to make sure the music of it--the sounds, the tempos, and so on--worked.

Elisabeth Dahl author of GENIE WISHES, Amulet/Abrams, available now. You can connect with Elisabeth on Twitter, her WebsiteFacebook, and Goodreads

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I used so many elements of poetry while writing Parched! I wanted the prose to mirror the sparse setting, so I paid careful attention to the rhythm and restraint of each sentence. I also used imagery as the primary vehicle for emotion in the story. When Parched begins, my characters are trauma-stricken and incapable of trust, so I couldn't just come out and say "she was upset" or "he was afraid." I had to build the atmosphere of those emotions through images, just as a poet would.

Melanie Crowder, author of PARCHED, Harcourt Children's Books June 4, 2013 You can connect with Melanie on her WebsiteBlogGoodreads, and Facebook




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My main character Ratchet writes a variety of poetry in THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET.  Her story is told through the assignments in her homeschool language arts journal.  Including poetry as one of the forms Ratchet uses to tell her story just adds another layer to the way the story is written.  I hope Ratchet's poetry shows readers how creative and interesting poetry can be.  

Nancy J. Cavanaugh, author of THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHETSourcebooks/Jabberwocky, now available. You can connect with Nancy on her WebsiteBlogFacebook


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Tamera Wissinger posted this blog entry. She wrote the middle grade book GONE FISHING: A Novel in Verse, and is thrilled to see the creative variety of ways that these MG authors use poetry in their work! Thank you, friends!



2 comments:

  1. Love that cover for the Flame in the Mist and sounds really good as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for putting this together, Tamera!

    ReplyDelete