October 26, 2017

Poetry Friday--Highlights of Highlights

Last week I attended the Highlights Foundation workshop, "The Craft and Heart of Writing Poetry for Children." In all honesty, I was there for the craft, but over the five days spent in PA, I found a lot of heart. Laughter and friendship came easily to the group of attendees, which included instructors Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard. Charles Waters was there as workshop assistant. The poetry anthologist extraordinaire, Lee Bennett Hopkins, talked to us from FL via Skype. We also had a helpful session with Boyds Mills Press/Wordsong senior editor, Rebecca Davis. I reacquainted myself with friends from past conferences, retreats, and blogs: Pamela Ross, Linda Baie, and Janet Fagal. If you didn't know it already, children's writers are a kind and generous bunch!

Here are a few photos:



My cabin! Each person had his/her own room.



Meals were awesome! And snacks were available all day long.



Our instructors, Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.



Lee Bennett Hopkins in a Skype Q & A.



Yours truly between Georgia and Rebecca.



Poet friends Vicki Wilke, me, Linda Baie, and Janet Fagal.



Pamela Ross took this selfie of the two of us. I guess you can say we glow!



Poets are great ones for taking pictures! From the quality of this one, perhaps I should stick to words!



Rocks from the word garden. I took other non-people photos that I plan to use for future illustrated poems such as this cherita:



© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

We had one chilly morning and I found the frosted picnic table complete with handprint outside the dining hall!

Text:

early morning walk

the children's poet
on the lookout for ideas

her words come
as a Thanksgiving ditty
gobble gobble gobble


I'm sure you're waiting with bated breath for me to share the secrets of poetry. Here's what I learned:

1. Find your poem's real beginning. It's probably not where you thought is was!

2. Hone your poem! Sharpen your vocabulary and then cut, cut, cut everything that is unnecessary.

3. Surprise your reader. Think unexpected. In other words, avoid cliché. (I almost wrote, "like the plague.")

I'm sure others came away with different secrets, which I hope they will share.

My neighbor to the south (in MA), Brenda, is hosting this week's pre-Halloween Round-Up at Friendly Fairy Tales. Have a great weekend and remember the candy is for the trick-or-treaters!

30 comments:

  1. Diane, it is great to hear about the Highlights retreat and your takeaways. I was at an author workshop yesterday. Brian Heinz recommended your #2 as one of his tips. Conciseness works well and that is what you do with your haikus.

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    1. I long ago learned about the importance of writing tight from a book by William Brohaugh, Write Tight: How to Keep Your Prose Sharp, Focused, and Concise. It's even more important in poetry.

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  2. I can't imagine anything better. So jealous of your time with such amazing people and time to write poetry. I am craving this time right now as we are deep into the work of school every day. Thanks for the tips.

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    1. I wish I could say I spent time between sessions writing, but I didn't. I needed that time to allow my expanding brain to relax!

      I did find out that Highlights allows individual writers to book a room for several days so that they can work on a project. That is an awesome service. The food is excellent!

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. It is a great reminder on just how lucky I was to be there with all you poets. I will hone!

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    1. We all benefited from picking each others' brains. Not to get too zombie-like, but it was quite nourishing!

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  4. Yes you totally GLOW! I'm so happy for your lovely experience, Diane... thank you for sharing the glow (and frost!) with all of us. xo

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    1. All the windows in the dining area made everyone and everything glow!

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  5. Thank "you" for the grateful ditty, Diane. I think everyone left their mark, like the handprint, on me and our special time. It went very fast. . .

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    1. Yes, it went too fast. And, after being home for a week, it is fading... :-(

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  6. Love that handprint! Thanks for sharing the photos and thoughts. Looks like a great time.

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    1. It was great. I wish I had taken more photos!

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  7. Loved seeing the pictures. I was there last year and had a fabulous time. Thanks for sharing the poetry tips!

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    1. The tips are only those that resonated with me, there was much more shared.

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  8. I would love, love, love to attend a Highlights workshop, how I wish I didn't live so very far away! Thank you for sharing your experiences, I feel like I've had a taste of the workshop!

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    1. There are probably plenty in your area, Jane. As librarians we should be able to find a listing of writers' workshops.

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  9. I'm SO looking forward to the year when it will be my turn to go to a Highlights workshop!

    Thank you for the concise list of rules. #3 gave me a chuckle.

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    1. It is easy to fall back on cliche. You know then that everyone will "get" it. The trick with metaphor and simile is to say it so that the reader isn't left scratching her head.

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  10. I am so glad you shared your experience and take-aways from the conference. It looks like an incredible time. I once took an online course with Georgia Heard and learned so much from it. Maybe one day I'll make it to one of the Highlights workshops.

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    1. Georgia and Rebecca was very approachable in person, so you would definitely enjoy the face-to-face.

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    1. It was fun--we even played a few team games. Oops, did I say play? I meant we participated in a few cut-throat activities. ;-)

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  12. Diane, I love seeing these photos. It let me imagine being there, for a few brief seconds. I would have loved it. I have a Georgia Heard anthology on my nightstand this morning. One day, we should meet up for poetry and lunch. Are you in MA?

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    1. I'm in southern NH, so I'd love to meet up with you. I'll be in touch.

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  13. A Highlights workshop is on my bucket list! I would have loved to be there with you and Linda!!!

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    1. That would have been fun, Keri! If I win the lottery, I definitely will go again in 2018. (Who's going to remind me to play?)

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  14. Hi Diane! It was wonderful to meet you. I also have been outside walking in search of ideas. Thanks for the pictures. I look forward to following Poetry Friday. I have been looking to avoid cliche and write something surprising.

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    1. Now, a month later, I'm finding I'm falling back into old habits! Yikes! Think surprise! Think surprise! Think surprise!

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  15. What a great post! So happy we all had those wonderful days together!

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    1. It seems like it was months ago! Life has a way of pushing memories aside. I'm glad we have the FB page going.

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