Poetry Sisters Project — October, 2016

My pals and I have taken on quite a few ekphrastic challenges this year because, well — because we like them and we’re in charge! This month, Kelly provided the inspiration.


This statue, Arlequin, is by Rene de Saint-Marceaux and lives at the Musee des Beaux Artes in Lyon, France. I love this piece — it came alive for me completely and resulted in this:

By Liz Garton Scanlon

Hello, masked rascal, boy king,
Peter Pan with the cocky stance.

I knew you in high school,
you asked me to dance

and acted like it was my idea,
you threw frisbee, had a flask

were so sure that you could fly
and the water tower cried its siren cry.

But here’s the thing
with myths, they bleed together –

you’re a harlequin, an Icarus,
to the manor born and Shakespeare’s fool.

And what I want to say to you
is this: unmask the eyes,

obey the rules, grow up a bit.
It isn’t easy here, but harder

when you’re counterfeit.


You’ll want to see what the others have done, too!
Sara Lewis Holmes
Tanita Davis
Kelly Ramsdell Fineman
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Laura Purdie Salas

And Poetry Friday’s being celebrated over at Violet Nesdoly’s place — enjoy!

A Favorite So Far — Owl Sees Owl

I’m not one for absolutes, so when someone asks me about my favorite book of the year, I usually hedge my bet. Well, the delightful Eileen Manes at Pickle Corn Jam asked, and this post is my answer! (Please see below for posts by other readers and writers who share some of their new favorites, too!)

In picture book land, a current favorite of mine is OWL SEES OWL — a lovely, imagistic book that has more going on than first meets the eye.


The text is a reverso poem — a form created by the brilliant Marilyn Singer who popularized it in her spectacular book Mirror, Mirror. (Here’s a great post where she explains the form’s genesis and evolution.)

Laura Godwin, author of OWL SEES OWL, uses the reverso to take sweet owl out into the world — where he sees the night sky and the fall leaves and, eventually, his own reflection — and then to return him home again in the second half of the book — revisiting everything from earlier but with a new perspective.

That perspective’s aided by Rob Dunlavey’s gorgeous, warm, immersive artwork. (You can enjoy all the stages of its development here!)

I think it’s the idea of perspective that really makes this book special for me. It’s simple and quiet — both visually and textually — but it’s saying something big — that the world can be looked at in lots of different ways, through different lenses, at different times and from different angles. That, in fact, the world should be looked at with differing perspectives whenever possible.

Maybe it’s the mad election season, but that feels like a pretty resonant message right now.

Bonus book: For another absolutely gorgeous book that is all about perspective, check out Brendan Wenzel’s THEY ALL SAW A CAT. It’s up there in my top ten this year too. Enjoy!


For more favorites, have a look at these posts, all part of Eileen’s #pcjlinkup! Enjoy!

Cate Berry on The Snurtch
Charnaie Gordon on Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion
Danna Smith on Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
Eileen Manes on Best Frints in the Whole Universe
Henry L. Herz on Return
Karen Santhanam on Mabel and the Queen of Dreams
Kell Andrews on City Shapes
Keyosha Atwater on One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
Vanessa Roeder on Horrible Bear

The Poetry Princess Project — September 2016

I think we all shared mixed feelings over this month’s form. The clogyrnach (say that 5 times fast!) ended up seeming kind of limericky to us. It’s a Welsh form that requires a certain number of lines (either 5 or 6), a certain number of syllables (32) and a very clear-and-simple aa,bb-type rhyme scheme. But something about the prescriptive nature of this form as opposed to the prescriptive nature of other forms felt a tad too, well, sing-songy and prescriptive to us.

Still, we did as we were told and wrote the darn things. Well, ok, I didn’t follow the end-line requirements to the letter of the law. In fact I pretty much broke the rule that there should be a b rhyme in the middle of the last line as well as an a rhyme at the end. I kind of did that once. So. Let’s call mine Variations on Clogyrnachs.

According to our researchy sister Sara Lewis Holmes, this form was traditionally trotted out for weddings and funerals. She did a string with a wedding theme so I decided to tackle the other end of the spectrum — the funerals. Here goes….


Variations on Clogyrnachs for a Funeral
Liz Garton Scanlon

Who lies under suburban lawns?
A grumpy dog, all bark and brawn,
guinea pigs, two birds,
a frog. Whispered words:
good-bye, good boy, go on.

Who rests in peace in such a place?
It’s noisy, smoggy, there’s no space!
But wait, a headstone
so overgrown.
This smooth green breath like grace.

Who’s in the hearse that’s driving by,
that oh-so-silent long black sigh –
Someone’s first-born son?
Someone’s precious one?
Someone who hears us cry?

Who’s in the wardrobe down the hall?
Who wears a ghoulish grin, a shawl?
Are you ghost or dream?
Are you what you seem?
Memory tricks us all.

If you’d like to read more of this quirky form, visit my pals!

Sara Lewis Holmes
Laura Purdie Salas
Tanita Davis
Andi Jazmon
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

And for more poetry in general, check out Poetry Friday this week at my pal Penny’s blog A Penny and Her Jots!! Enjoy, all!

The Wild Adventures to be Found in Parks and Books!


In wrapping up our wonderful month of PAGE THROUGH THE PARKS, I wanted to take a few moments to celebrate my co-campers, Janet Fox and Barb Rosenstock — both acclaimed authors, and true lovers of books and parks!

Enjoy these little snippets of their experiences in the parks and on the page!

Me: What’s the biggest adventure or most exciting thing you’ve ever seen or done in a Natl Park?

Janet: I can’t pick just one so I choose two! One: my son and I used to go into Yellowstone every summer for a few days, and one year we became official “geyser gazers”, following the geyser eruptions around the Upper Geyser Basin (where Old Faithful is), using walkie-talkies with other gazers and running from one eruption to the next. It was huge fun. Two: on the other end of the scale was a trip I took with my son in Mesa Verde, where we took a guided sunset tour into the largest of the archeological sites. We sat in silence for a long time, all of us humbled and awed by the mystical beauty of the place and the ghosts of the vanished people who built it.

Barb: Well, honestly I first held a boy’s hand in Mammoth Cave, does that count? If you mean MORE exciting than that, I think every minute of my time spent in Yosemite was exciting, the waterfalls, the wildlife, the stars at night. All of it. Wait, I’ll qualify that, the most exciting thing in Yosemite is that they HAVE a library and that it’s full of history and fabulousness! A library in a National Park! That’s the kind of thing that makes me proud to be an American.


Me: What’s the biggest adventure or most exciting thing you’ve ever experienced as a writer?

Janet: When my book FAITHFUL came out, it was so exciting for me to be able to go back to the Park, where I’d spent so much time, and stand before Old Faithful with a copy of my debut novel, and then sign copies in the shop next door. That was such a thrill!

Janet and her book in Yellowstone!

Barb: Every day is an adventure when you’re a writer! I get to learn what interests me, meet fascinating people and go wherever my imagination leads.

Me: What’s the book that felt like the biggest adventure to you when you read it — as a child or adult!?

Janet: When I was a teen I loved books about horses, and when I read MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE I wanted a horse so badly! It seemed like a true adventure to live with wild horses, and to become attached to one. As an adult, my dream of owning a horse finally came true.

Barb: My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I loved it. I still love it. And White Fang by Jack London, I loved that too. And the whole Harry Potter series. And I loved Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet…I’m kind of bad at picking my favorites…


Me: What is your 100th Birthday Wish for our National Parks?

Barb: That they have a 200th anniversary and a 300th, 400th and a 500th…you get the picture.

Barb and her sister in Yosemite!

Janet: May we love you and give you back, in respect and preservation, as much as you’ve given us for 100 years.


One way the three of us have decided to give back is through this month-long celebration of the parks — and the books about the parks.

Click here to get our recommended book list!

Click here to enter our Goodreads give-aways:
Liz Garton Scanlon’s IN THE CANYON
Janet Fox’s FAITHFUL

And if you’re a teacher or librarian, click here for a rafflecopter entry for our GRAND PRIZE, which includes signed books by all three of us, a gorgeous piece of Grand Canyon art by illustrator Ashley Wolff, a chain-stitch embroidered patch of Sequoia National Park by Ft. Lonesome clothiers, and much more!

That’s all, folks. Hats off to the parks!

Poetry Princess Project — August 2016

It’s time for another ekphrastic, my friends.
This month, with Sara Lewis Holmes at the helm, we wrote poems inspired by artist Jennifer Angus’ exhibit WONDER.

Sara gave us several images to choose from, and here’s the one I went with.
If only we’d all been able to take field trips to see this amazing work in person….


By Liz Garton Scanlon

What if everyday
were a cabinet of curiosities
(or actually everyday
is a cabinet of curiosities
but what if we acted
accordingly?) What if
we opened our eyes
each morning
like small sliding drawers
to all the surprises
of the world unspooling
before us – the shrunken
heads and antique spoons?
The fossils? What if we
ooohed and ahhhed?

See my friends’ fabulous efforts here:
Tricia’s poem
Sara’s poem
Kelly’s poem
Andi’s poem
Tanita’s poem