Dec 1, 2017

POETRY FRIDAY: December Poetry and Writing with the Stars

Thanks to Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading for hosting Poetry Friday this week!
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November was a banner month for me. I traveled to Indianapolis to see my boys’ high school marching band compete at Grand Nationals (I am a proud tuba and trombone mom) and I surpassed my goal of 50,000 words in this year’s NaNoWriMo!
Now I am busy preparing for holiday gatherings, church performances, and one of my favorite traditions—the December poetry workshop I do each year with local fifth graders. In our October workshop, we talked about the importance of the poetic tradition, had fun with rhyme scheme, and read lots of wonderful poetry. In just a few weeks, we will continue our discussion and I will introduce some more fun poetic formats.
One of the fun forms we discuss each year is acrostic poetry. This format has been around a looooong time; acrostic poetry was discovered during the archaeological digs at Pompeii! The most common variation of the acrostic poem has a subject spelled out vertically in the left-hand margin, with each letter serving as the beginning of a word or phrase relating to or describing the subject.
Most elementary-aged students are familiar with acrostic poetry and are confident masters of the format. But when I show the kids this acrostic poem by my friend and critique partner Derick Wilder, with both the first AND last letters of each line spelling out the subject, they are shocked and amazed:

When it is time for the kids to write their own poems at the end of our lesson, many choose to tackle this particular challenge. It’s always fun to see what they come up with!
Another kid favorite is the cinquain, which is a five-line poem that spotlights a person, place, or thing. Each line has a prescribed formula and minimal words, and follows this pattern:
Line 1: Title - 1 word (noun)
Line 2: Description - 2 words (adjectives)
Line 3: Action - 3 words (verbs)
Line 4: Feeling - 4 words (phrase)
Line 5: Title - 1 word (synonym for the first noun)
Here is a cinquain poem that I share with the kids each year (this one was written by me):
I look forward to sharing more December poetry next week!
IF YOU WRITE PICTURE BOOKS please keep reading! My talented friend and critique partner Tara Luebbe*, who has two picture books coming out this spring (SHARK NATE-O from little bee and I AM FAMOUS from Albert Whitman), is kicking off the second year of her Writing with the Stars mentorship program. Writing with the Stars is a (free) contest that will match 16 aspiring picture book writers/illustrators with 16 published professionals. Mentorships are available for authors and author/illustrators who are unpublished and unagented.
I am super excited to finally be able to share this year’s incredible list of mentors, who are volunteering their time and talents to help aspiring picture book writers. Seriously, people—it is such an OUTSTANDING list!
So, drumroll, please….the 2017 Writing with the Stars mentors are:

Andrea Loney
Alastair Heim
Stacy McAnulty
Lindsay Ward
Melissa Iwai & Denis Markell
Josh Funk
Laura Gehl
Adam Lehrhaupt
Pam Calvert
Jody Jensen Shaffer
Corey Rosen Schwartz
Annie Silvestro
Rachel Ruiz
Lori Degman
Jennifer K. Mann
Brianne Farley

For more information, visit Tara’s website here. You can also follow Tara on Twitter at @t_luebbe. Please feel free to share this with any picture book authors or author/illustrators that you know!

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!

* Yes, I know—I have some rock star critique partners!


  1. Double acrostic naileD!

    With this post's boost I will try to write a complete one this month. Appreciations.
    I've shared the WRITING WITH THE STARS generous info with folks in email & twitter.
    More thanks, Becky.

  2. Hooray for a good year, and here's to many more!

  3. What a good year you've had, and now for the December celebrations. I imagine those 5th graders will love your poetry time together. Wow, acrostic with end letters, too. I may have to try it! Thanks, Becky!

    1. Good luck with the acrostic, Linda--I know you can do it!

  4. Woo hoo! Enjoy the successes of this year and more to come! Enjoy the poetry workshop. I had not seen the double acrostic before. I'm impressed the students take it up! I may have to try it myself.

  5. LOVE all the poetic and book-ie goodness over here this week! Did I ever congratulate you on the agent news? Congrats! And, lucky kids re. your poetry workshops. You know how to pack a lot of wonderfulness into the end of the year! :0)

    1. Thank you so much, Robyn! It has definitely been an interesting year!

  6. Your poetry workshops sound fantastic! Lucky kid writers!!!

  7. Great work, Becky. A nice bookend to a great year.


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