Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Singer’

Poetry Friday round-up is with Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe.

Maybe if you’d written over a hundred books for children, you could take a break, but not Marilyn Singer. I first met Marilyn at NCTE a few years ago when she was reading from and presenting about her books of reverso poems. Reverso is a brilliant form that I fail at miserably, but Marilyn has at least three books full of them.

This summer at ALA I was able to grab a new copy of Every Month is a New year. Marilyn signed it, “Happy New Years!” Who knew that every month, someone somewhere in the world is celebrating a new year? The extent of Marilyn’s research alone for this book is impressive. There are 77 sources listed in the back matter of the book!

Illustrator Susan L. Roth uses mixed media for the illustrations. You can imagine touching each piece and feeling the soft paper and fabric collaged together.

The experience of this book is different from other picture books because it opens horizontally like a calendar. Actually, I would love to have it as a calendar I could display in my classroom.

I thought I would share July’s poem since it’s July, but I love, love, love September’s poem and illustration. Ethiopia’s new year is celebrated on September 11th with gifts of daisies. I want to start a movement for us to adopt this practice for our commemoration of the tragedy of Sept. 11th. Random gifts of daisies. From the back matter:

Enkutatash, Ethiopian New Year, on the Ethiopic calendar corresponds to September 11 on the Gregorian calendar. Enkutatash is believed to be the day the Queen of Sheba returned to her homeland after her visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem in 980 BCE. She was welcomed with enku, jewels. Enkutatash, which means “gift of jewels,” has another ancient meaning that commemorates the receding of the great flood during the time of Noah. The day also marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of sunny days.
Today, on Enkutatash, children in new, white, hand-woven cotton clothes offer yellow Meskel daisies, along with pictures they have painted, as gifts to friends and neighbors.

I think I have found a new tradition to start with my students!

illustration by Susan L. Roth for Every Month is a New Year

By Marilyn Singer, Every Month is a New Year

In her poem about the June New Year, We Tripantu in Chile, Marilyn leads me in with simple sentence structure, “The night is cold./ My family is warm.” I love when the simplest of language can tell so much. She continues this pattern with “The air is quiet. / My family is loud.” As a writing prompt, I want to try using the pattern of opposites for my own poem. It could be about a season or a celebration. Would you like to try one, too? Share in the comments.

My own New Year celebration happens on my birthday, August 11th. The peak of the Perseid meteor showers occur around this day every year. This year I should make a point of going outside to dance.

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Poetry Friday is with Violet.

Poetry Friday is with Violet.

This week my students and I have been reading and writing about fairy tales.  They enjoyed hearing Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen.  We also read aloud reverso poems by master Marilyn Singer in Mirror, Mirror.  

“Writing a reverso is stressing me out.  How did she write a whole book of them?” said Emily as we worked together to write a reverso for Sleeping Ugly.  Yes, it was tough.  But we were happy with our results.  (Formatting has been another challenge.)

Sleeping Ugly

Plain Jane

On the outside,
beauty sleeps
lying still
the Prince
wandering through the woods.
He knows
lies within.


Lies within.
he knows
wandering through the woods,
the Prince.
Lying still,
beauty sleeps
on the outside.

Andrew worked on his own and created this reverso about Pirates

Don’ Steal me Booty

Here’s the truth                                              Forever I have it

I have the treasure                                         I shall battle

An ordinary treasure                                      Or I have to let it go

Give it up                                                           never

never                                                                  Give it up

I have to let it go                                               An ordinary treasure

I shall battle                                                       I have the treasure

Or forever you have it                                      Here’s the truth

Kaiden enjoys word play in his poem about “Fairy Fales (not a mistake)”

Magical stories, forever to be told.
Fairies,princes,and eggs made of gold
Talking toads, yellow brick roads,
stories happy and Grimm
Evil queens, horrible dreams
Long sleep, what a treat
In a palace, standing bold
Slaying trolls
Magical stories, forever to be told.


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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.


Marilyn Singer is a master poet. At NCTE in the fall, I had the pleasure of meeting her. I was also a lucky participant who won a copy of Follow, Follow. Marilyn invented the reverso poem and has published 3 books of them, two based on fairy tales and her latest Echo, Echo based on mythology.

On Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle Heindenrich Barnes interviewed Marilyn Singer and offered a ditty challenge to use the word echo in relation to a poem. I was determined to try the reverso form.

With my students as cheerleaders, I worked hard and produced something worthy of being called a reverso poem. The process began when we watched this video together.

I asked my students to select an insect to be in a mask (or persona) poem. I selected this image to inspire my writing.

screenshot from the film Microcosmos by Jacque Perrin.

screenshot from the film Microcosmos by Jacque Perrin.

Then I did some caterpillar research. I wrote “zig zag stitch” and then discovered that caterpillars excrete a silk line as they crawl in addition to using the silk to create a chrysalis.

Creepy crawly caterpillar
munch munch
munching milkweed
at tremendous speed.

Life changes
creeping, crawling
leaf to leaf.

Sunlight glimmers
on fuzzy bristles.
I zig-zag stitch
a silkthread path
leaf to leaf.

Leaf to leaf
a silkthread path
I zig-zag stitch
on fuzzy bristles.

Sunlight glimmers
leaf to leaf.
Creeping crawling

Life changes
at tremendous speed.
Munching milkweed
Munch, munch
creepy, crawly caterpillar.

This is a tough form to get just right. I don’t think mine successfully creates a different meaning in reverse. But my students liked it, so I am celebrating it none the less.

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