April is poetry month and for a while, I've had something very special in the works that, as I envision it, will revive poetry celebration among children. It will also, I hope, encourage poetic expression, especially at times of overwhelming emotions with which kids might be struggling.
This nationwide event I've been preparing is meant to support budding poets and attract new ones, who may not have thought of themselves as very creative or poetic up to this point.
I'd like to challenge all children to try and discover the joy of writing, in this case, by creating their very own haiku.
I've given my readers a little preview of my upcoming Haiku Hype Kids Poetry Contest, but there are more goodies and surprises to be revealed. The anticipation is growing and so. . .
Today, I'm unveiling one important part of the event.
I'd like to introduce the first of our mystery judges! Please welcome children's poet, author and artist, Raven Howell!
I wanted to ask Raven a few questions so our readers and future contestants get to know her better. Here's what Raven shared with us:
I am excitedly looking forward to reading the contest haiku submissions - every one will be appreciated, and it's such a joy to be on the judging team. Children and students most often pull out the most fabulous ideas and create little poetic masterpieces if they give it a try.
I've found the child that feels hopeless as a writer or "not good at that type of thing" usually ends up writing a unique and appealing poem, using a quirky word or interesting phrase or theme! To inspire kids to write, they should know they don't necessarily have to consider themselves great writers. There are so many forms of poetry to have fun with, bending words and scribbling ideas one has pondered over.
My advice to students, teachers and librarians participating in the contest is to read and absorb at least one really good published haiku poem and let the spark from it take you to your own 3-liner! I'd also add that when possible, perhaps some of the submissions could be published or posted―whether that's in the school paper, a flyer in the library announcing the "haiku hype" writers, a FaceBook page, or on the bulletin board in the classroom. That motivates!
Here's a classic famous haiku known for its simplistic beauty and the way it stirs the senses:
An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
I have several haiku poems published in my book, Shimmer, Songs of Night. Presently, one of my writing projects involves tanka which is another interesting and challenging poetry form to check out and try writing! With my agent's suggestion and guidance, I'm also working on a concept board book series written in prose.
I have several upcoming rhyming picture book releases on the horizon, and I just became newly signed with a publisher for a children's book about the seasons that is written in a long poem format―and this is my first announcement on it! Meanwhile, I can't wait to read haiku from this fabulous upcoming contest! What a terrific opportunity for young aspiring writers and to those who just want to have some fun. I have no doubt we will be receiving some poetry gems!
Thank you so much, Raven! It's great to have you on board. Congratulations on all of your success―I am honored to get your first announcement for your newest book contract happen on my blog. I can't wait to see the seasons book and for the world to have it!
Well, I've got more mystery judges to reveal soon so stay tuned.
Raven is the author and poet of several children’s books, and most recently authored Shimmer, Songs of Night (Spork), and A Star Full of Sky (Daffydowndilly Press) which won the Royal Dragonfly and Pinnacle award for Best Children’s Poetry book. She writes poetry for a variety of magazines such as Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Bumples, Stinkwaves, Fun for Kidz, Cricket, Spider, Buds, Babybug, Hello Highlights, and High Five. Her work is included in anthologies, DVD’s and CD’s. Raven has received awards for poetry from the SCBWI and Poetry Soup, and enjoys presenting children’s writing workshops in libraries and to classrooms. She lives in the Northeast with her husband, Elsie, their terrier, and a mischievous Ragamuffin cat named Lilac. Ravendelights in keeping track of her college bound kids, spending sunny days seaside, and munching on warm butterscotch chip cookies out of the oven. Visit her website: www.ravenhowell.com
Last week, I suddenly felt in such a giving mood that I started something I call #MissionJoyGiveaway. I'll explain in a moment, but let me first say this. This idea has been circling in my mind for quite a while now – every time I think about my calling, my purpose, my mark in the world and the ripple effect I want to create through what I love doing most, which is writing and creating books for children. But I haven't been able to fully grasp the "how" in executing it.
How can I speak the right words at the right time to the kids who desperately need them? How will I find my audience? How will I deliver my message?
When I was little, I was very sensitive to words spoken to me. I often longed to hear words of encouragement, understanding, validation . . . from the people closest to me. But I never did.
So when I became an author, I knew that I wanted to make an impact. I knew that words were free while they were priceless, and that the right words could be powerful enough to affect a life. At the same time, I felt stuck and bummed by not reaching enough people or not reaching the right people, because I was somehow restricted by outside circumstances (or so I believed) or personal limitations: lack of marketing skills, not enough time, not enough resources etc.
How can I have my message heard if it's not reaching people?
And then came divine intervention. It all clicked. Words are free. They're priceless. Asking gives you the answers you need. I got it! I can spread joy through my words without worrying about resources or marketing skills or overwhelming tasks.
Sooo . . . #MissionJoyGiveaway was born! Forget about the fancy-schmancy gadgets as gifts. Let's go back to "the sticks and the stones" (they're still around, even after all this technology that surrounds us). So are the words and the handwritten letters. I can send those gifts out – personal, meaningful, inspiring. And I know who to ask in helping me find the recipients.
I reached out to a group of elementary school librarians and asked them to message me if they could think of any needy student or one who wishes for a book, but might not get one, or a child going through a tough time who could use a personalized card/letter of encouragement from a children's author. Or perhaps a whole class that might need to get excited about reading, books or writing. Anything that I can do to make a difference with a note, a kind word, or a book.
Soon after I posted, I got my first message. It was about a first grader who had just lost her mom to cancer, lives in poverty and will be moving in with her grandma. Heartbreaking.
I have just the right book for her, Sarah's Song, to accompany my letter and I hope those give her some small joy or a bit of peace as she's going through this painful time.
When I shared my idea for #MissionJoyGiveaway with a writer friend, she told me about another family in need – a single mom of four who recently lost their house and all their belongings in a fire and are now living in a hotel. My friend said, "The kids can sure use a book to read as they are getting bored in that hotel room."
They will be getting some books from me, as well.
Books are also going to Inova Life with Cancer in Virginia and I will keep writing notes and letters throughout this month.
'Tis the season and it makes me jolly to be able to help in some small way.
I'd like to extend an invitation to anyone who'd love to be a part of this, especially my fellow authors: Please join me in #MissionJoyGiveaway and reach out to your communities and beyond to seek kids in need and send them notes, letters or books.
Brighten a child's holiday this season!
Let's spread the word and the joy with #MissionJoyGiveaway
About the Author
Rosie J. Pova is a prolific children's writer, a wife and a mother of three.
Ever since childhood, Rosie has had a passion for writing and has been fascinated with the power of words. She has written essays, short stories and poetry in Bulgarian and French as a young girl, but as a grown-up, her writing gave way to family, jobs and just life. Until 2004, when she revisited her love for story-making, a few years after becoming a mom.
Rosie is originally from Bulgaria now living in Texas with her husband and three kids. She writes primarily for children of all age groups, as well as poetry.
Rosie dreams of inviting many readers into her make-believe worlds and hopes to touch hearts with her words.
Rosie J. Pova is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.