Three Poetry Thoughts, a Spring Tercet, and a Book Giveaway!

April 4, 2014

Tags: Spring, Tercet, Book Giveaway, Write a Poem Step by Step, National Poetry Month

When our kids were little and needed a bit more attention than they do these days, I used to wait till they were safely occupied or sleeping, make a conscious effort to let go of everyday concerns, sink down into a creative frame of mind, and open up to gifts from the blue. I’d tell myself to slow down and pay attention. I called that wonderful state Poetry Mode.

Later, I read For the Good of the Earth and Sun: Teaching Poetry by Georgia Heard. Heard describes a visit to her teacher Stanley Kunitz. Before she left, she asked him for any last advice. He said, “You must first create the kind of person who will write the kind of poems you want to write.”

The thought gives me goosebumps.

Then yesterday, though a Facebook post, I found this gorgeous poem, “Valentine for Ernest Mann” by Naomi Shihab Nye. The lines that struck me:

“. . . poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them. . . .”

Slow down and pay attention, right?

I’m thinking in threes today. I planned to write a triolet, but my Book of Forms opened to the tercet page instead. Any poem of three lines, rhymed or unrhymed in any meter, is a tercet. Here’s mine:

First Signs of Hope

Among the dry, brown leaves that shield the hill,
surprises bloom in spite of winter’s chill.
Crocuses—an unexpected thrill!

Book news!
Write a Poem Step by Step is now available as an eBook from Lulu. Soon it will also be in the iBookstore and the NOOK Book Store. Paperback copies are available from Lulu, IndieBound, amazon, Barnes&Noble, and local bookstores.

Book Giveaway!
Post a comment to enter for a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of Write a Poem Step by Step. Be sure to include your email address so I can notify you if you win and ask for your mailing address and personalization request.

I’ll choose a winner at random next Friday from all entries posted by midnight (CST) Thursday. Watch for another chance to win next week. Good luck!

Poetry Friday
Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Poem Farm.


  1. April 4, 2014 10:42 AM EDT
    Many congratulations on your book news! This is such a rich, rich post. I remember hearing Georgia share that quote at a conference, and it truly changed my life. It goes well with the poem Karen Edmisten shares today. Don't miss! Crocuses - yay! I have snowdrops and hopefully crocuses on the way. Just a few puddles left of snow... Happy Poetry Friday!
    - Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
  2. April 4, 2014 11:16 AM EDT
    You're right, Amy! I read "Plans" by Stuart Dischell at and loved the ending: "Picture what you wish
    To become, if you wish to become that picture." Thanks for mentioning it! Snowdrops--hooray! I hope you'll see crocuses soon!
    - JoAnn Macken
  3. April 4, 2014 2:35 PM EDT
    I love writing poems, the book would be lovely to read :)
    - JennaO
  4. April 4, 2014 3:02 PM EDT
    JennaO (and everyone), if you'd like to enter the giveaway, be sure to include your email address in your comment so I can notify you if you win and ask for your mailing address and personalization request.
    - JoAnn Macken
  5. April 4, 2014 4:53 PM EDT
    I love the way you started the post, JoAnn, how you searched for and found those little moments for yourself, to ponder what to write, how to write. That book by Georgia Heard has mentored me through the years as a teacher and in my writing, so inspiring. I love your tercet, hope for spring. We only have a few hyacinths so far, & our snow yesterday made them droop a little. Congratulations on your book. I will look for it, but also hope I might win a copy! lindab four fourteen at gmail dot com. Thank you!
    - LInda Baie
  6. April 5, 2014 12:14 AM EDT
    Some days I really wish Poetry Mode was not quite so elusive. Congratulations and best of luck with your book release! michelle AT michellehbarnes DOT com
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  7. April 5, 2014 7:34 AM EDT
    Thank you for a wonderful start of the day. Thank you for taking the time to share, it means a lot.
    - Connie Currie
  8. April 5, 2014 9:13 AM EDT
    JoAnn--Thanks for sharing these lovely thoughts and lines. I am inspired on this quiet spring morning . . .
    - evie robillard
  9. April 5, 2014 12:24 PM EDT
    Thank you all for your comments! Linda, yes, For the Good of the Earth and Sun has inspired so many of us. Hyacinths--heavenly! Michelle, Poetry Mode certainly is elusive--I used to think I could write only when the house was clean & all the bills were paid--ha! If you saw my house now, you'd know I've gotten over that. Connie & Evie, keep writing! Remember, all, to include your email address in your comment if you'd like to enter the giveaway.

    - JoAnn
  10. April 6, 2014 8:45 AM EDT
    Your post resonates nicely with the one right before it in the roundup -- Karen Edmiston's.

    Congratulations on your new book! Enter me with mlhahn at earthlink dot net.
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  11. April 7, 2014 10:41 AM EDT
    I would absolutely love to win the book! As a new writer, I'm craving all the valuable insight I can get!!
    - Kristi V.
  12. April 8, 2014 10:35 PM EDT
    Thanks, Mary Lee! Yes, someone else mentioned that poem, too--it's wonderful, isn't it? Kristi, good luck with your writing!
    - JoAnn
  13. April 9, 2014 11:41 PM EDT
    Good luck with your book. That's great news. The giveaway book sounds wonderful. Thanks for the chance to win. rosihollinbeck (at) yahoo (dot) com
    - Rosi
  14. April 11, 2014 8:38 AM EDT
    Thanks to everyone for your comments and entries. This week's winner is Linda Baie. Congratulations, Linda!

    If you haven't won yet, you can enter again this week. Good luck!
    - JoAnn Macken
  15. April 12, 2014 11:34 PM EDT
    I would love to win your book give away. I have written a poem every day this month,
    - Natasha Garnett
  16. April 13, 2014 11:42 AM EDT
    Natasha, I've added your name to this week's entries. Anyone who wants to enter in the future, please add your comment to that week's post. Thanks!
    - JoAnn Macken