Monthly Archives: April 2018

National Poetry Month: One more for Sandra

It’s the last day of April, and time to say goodbye to National Poetry Month. April really is my favorite, and to end it, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite people, my amazing cousin, Sandra.

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As you can see, if anyone is deserving of their very own poem, it is her. She dances in her chair with amazing tutus (in various colors depending on the season), she always has a smile (which is contagious), and her hugs are beyond compare. I love you Sandra, and I am so glad that you are a part of our family.  I wrote this poem just for you. Next time we are together, we will wear star-shine glasses and sing this song to everyone that walks by!

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National Poetry Month Week 4: Let’s get real!

Obviously, poetry has been an important part of my life. Both reading and writing have gotten me through some tough spells.

As punishment, my mom once made me take my journal outside and write. I was taught to work through difficult situations and emotions by expressing them, owning them, and figuring out a way to deal with them if they decided to stay.

When I lost my grandfather words poured out onto paper. If I had trouble with a boyfriend, best friend, work colleague . . . I would grab my laptop and type. When our family moved across the country to a state I had never even visited, far away from known relatives, I wrote . . . usually in rhyme.

Journaling isn’t something that I do anymore (although, I should probably pick it up again), but if I’m somewhere and something hits me, I immediately search for the closest scrap of paper and begin to write. Then, I try not to lose it, so that piece of paper can make its way to the folder that contains these bits of my soul.

But what I’m finding, as I grow older is that sometimes you indirectly write about a problem. And if, with age comes wisdom, then wisdom also comes with a sense of humor.

My first collection of children’s poetry, was filled with silliness of childhood. I had moldy dancing food, dust bunnies, and smelly brothers. PS, I’m pretty sure I’ve got one of these dancing green guys in my fridge right now!

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When I started my latest book, though, I still wanted to capture those moments of childhood, but I wanted them to be real. I wanted this book to represent lots of different children, not just the ones in my house.

I’m having trouble with one poem in my book. It’s my favorite, and it gets very real, very quickly. I’m wondering if it’s too real for a children’s book. I think that kids can handle it, in that obscure positive way that they tend to look at the world.

But as a parent it breaks my heart. I’ll paste it below, and you tell me what you think.

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Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and wonder why.

Feel the fear, and maybe cry, it’s okay to wonder why.

Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and dream today,

Picture someplace far away, free from questions, free to play.

Counting stars up in the sky, close your eyes and make a wish.

Imagine floating through the night in a giant rocket ship.

Take a breath, count down from ten, feel the rocket trip begin.

See the planets, see the moon, see adventure coming soon.

Counting stars up in the sky, imagination overdrive.

Take you where you want to go, when life gets tough and you don’t know.

When questions don’t have simple answers,

When days are long and time has stopped.

Counting stars up in the sky, helps when you are wondering why.

National Poetry Month Week 3: Finding Inspiration

If you Google the top five questions that authors are asked one would probably be: Where do you find inspiration?

For me it’s a combination of a lot of things. Things that are happening in my life, people I’ve met, places I’ve been, the world around me . . . all of this inspires me. But I’ve also found inspiration in other poets.

Hope

I’ve mentioned Robert Louis Stevenson and Shel Silverstein in previous posts. I will always love these poets, but as I grew older, I found myself drawn to female poets. Emily Dickinson and Maya Angelou being the two most prominent. I even painted a “Hope” mural on my bedroom wall.

 

The picture above is not my artwork, I’m no artist, but the poem inspired some of my best awkward high school/college poetry. I fully intended to open up the old journals and spill my 16 year-old heart out, but alas the notebook cannot be found. I am so sad because there were some doozies. For now, you will have to use your imagination, or maybe break out your own journal to rediscover your own teenage angst.

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I did find this picture of me with two of my amazing grandparents, yet another inspiration, but totally underappreciated in my youth. I’m sure I wrote a poem that went something like:

 

 

Cold day, Easter egg hunt,

Hawaiian shirts, and family fun.

Wish I could feel the sand on my toes.

Had to put sunscreen on my nose.

Instead I’m helping kids hunt eggs.

Running on their little legs.

Next time let’s just hit the beach.

Skip the eggs and have a retreat.

Fast-forward to 2018, and I’m helping my own kids hunt eggs on an equally dismal day. There weren’t any Hawaiian shirts, though. My, how times have changed.

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Today is also Earth Day, so I thought I’d share a poem from my new book, Bumble Bee Sneeze, that was inspired by a nature scene. Thanks again, to my amazing husband, Tevin, for the illustrations. I gave him a challenge this time around. The illustration that follows this one is a “finding/counting things” that are from the poem.

Jump Grasshopper,

Slither Snake,

In the grass down by the lake.

Sunshine warm,

Gentle breeze,

Flowers full of bumble bees.

Fish are splashing,

Birds in trees,

Thankful for this nature scene.

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

National Poetry Month Week 2

It’s week two of National Poetry Month, and I’m still excited!

Swing

The first poetry I remember hearing was Robert Louis Stevenson. My favorite was The Swing. I remember getting lost in my mom’s voice while she read it to me. I loved to swing, and this poem captured the movement and the joy. I don’t think I really understood the language, but the feelings were there. This poem is one that I share during events, and love reading to my own children. I even captured a bit of the magic in my children’s counting book, Kids Count.

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Kids Count is a repeating, rhyming picture book that teaches counting. There is a character that is the age of the number they represent. Livingston is one, Clementine is nine, etc. For number three we meet Annalee, and just like me when I was small, she loves to swing!

Poetry can be a great way for children (and adults, too) to connect with emotions and feelings. It can be something as simple as the love of swinging. But sometimes feelings are more complicated like anger, sadness, or loss. A few of the poems in my upcoming book hint at these feelings. What happens when a new baby sister suddenly appears? Or when you get into a fight with your best friend? What if mom says, “no” when you want a pet, or maybe she says, “yes” and you don’t know which one to choose? Emotions and feelings are hard to process, but by talking about them, sometimes through poetry, they can be easier to manage.

I’ll be back next week with more poetry!

Hi, Winter. It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s the second week in April, and the weather outside is looking bleak. I have a message for winter:

“Hi, Winter. We’ve been together for a while now, but we need to talk. It’s not you, it’s me. We just want two different things. I’m moving forward, on to something different. It’s not that we didn’t have some fun times. Sledding was a blast! And there is no one better at building a snowman than you. It’s just time for a change.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve met someone new. It was a week ago, when suddenly the sun was shining and it was warm outside. I even put on a tank top. It was just so new. I felt something that I hadn’t in a while. I just don’t think I can feel that way with you anymore.

It’s just time for us to go our separate ways. You’ll be okay, I promise. And who knows! In eight months things might be different, and we may find a way to make this work again. Thanks for the good times. I’ll never forget you.

Now get out!”

Happy Poetry Month

April is national poetry month!

Most of you are probably aware of my career as a mother of two, and might even be aware that I’m the CEO of Handersen Publishing. But I also write children’s poetry.WhenIWasAGrown-up

My first collection of poetry was released in 2015. “When I was a Grown-up and Other Poems” was inspired by my two kids, and what it’s like to grow up. It includes poems about everything from parents who are too busy to play, leftovers that sing karaoke in the fridge at night, and dust bunnies that might carry you away.

To celebrate poetry month, I want to give you a sneak peek – every week – into my new book, and also share some of my favorite poetry books from my childhood.

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My biggest inspiration growing up was (and still is) Shel Silverstein. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” is the first book that I remember getting as a gift. Although we had lots of books in our house, this book was SO magical that I wrote my name in it…with a multi-colored pen. (You know the pen I’m talking about!)

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Lazy Jane was a stand out, and I remember thinking, “This can be poetry? I want to write poetry like this! I want my poetry to be fun!”

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I still feel this way, and hope that I can bring even a quarter of the whimsy and creativity that Shel Silverstein brought to his work. I want kids (and adults, too) to want to write poetry and know that it doesn’t have to be complicated or pretentious. Poetry can be approachable. It can be relatable. It can meet you where you are.

That is what inspired “Bumble Bee Sneeze,” my upcoming collection of children’s poetry. Once again my very talented husband, Tevin Hansen has done the illustrations. This book will be a little different than the last. Each poem is still about growing up, and many of them still have silly elements, but sometimes growing up isn’t always funny. Some things are a little bit tricky to navigate, and this book has a few of those poems, too.

But today’s poem is all about smiles. This is the title poem, “Bumble Bee Sneeze”. Everything from the short length of the poem, to the cute little guy in the illustration, hints at the fun of the book.

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Thanks for checking in, all! I will be back next week with more great poems from my past, and another sneak peek at the upcoming book!

I also have an awkward high school poem reveal planned, but you’ll have to keep following along to see when that gem makes its appearance!

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Happy April!!!