A Few Haiku for You

Look around outside. What do you see? A bird? A flower? A sunset? A tree? Each one would make a great haiku — for you!

 

The Japanese haiku, one of the oldest forms of poetry, teaches us much about the art and craft of poem-making. The entire poem consists of only three short lines, yet the haiku contains all the basic elements of poetry.

 

The haiku is understated and concise. It is lyrical and dramatic, poignant and precise, personal and universal. Sometimes it is witty. But always it is ethereal and timeless, as meaningful today as it was hundreds of years ago when Basho, Buson, Issa and the other masters of haiku first began exploring its potential as an art form.

 

Here are a few samples of my haiku. I hope you enjoy them. I followed the Japanese tradition of using seasonal imagery to portray the cyclical aspect of Time and Nature.

 

After reading through these, you may want to try writing some of your own.

 

SUMMER

Summer LYB1507_Cover

June

The cricket calls to

the meadow, each evening he

hears his echo sing.

 

July

Beyond fields of rice

shadows sway to moonlight’s breeze,

lithe bamboo dancers.

 

August

Listen, the forest

waits for summer’s final song,

the whippoorwill sings.

 

FALL

Fall LYB1412-cover

 

September

Shadows bow to the

setting sun, pray to the sky

for blessings of light.

 

October

Artist autumn comes,

paints her blush across each tree,

drops palette, and leaves.

 

November

Geese fly south pulling

over the mountaintops a

stone curtain of sky.

 

WINTER

Winter LYB1611-cover

December

The last lullaby,

an owl cries out through the pines,

the north wind answers.

 

January

A sleeping doe stirs

beneath her blanket of dawn,

a new year rising.

 

February

The sea lion roars

across the far horizon,

storm clouds stalk the shore.

 

SPRING

Spring CKT0605-cover-full

March

A field full of pale

parachutes, dandelions

adrift in the wind.

 

April

Ivory butterflies

perch on black branches,

the dogwood blossoms.

 

May

The cherry blossom

wakes, stretches, opens herself

to the morning sun.

 

 Charles Ghigna lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and a nationally syndicated poetry feature writer for Tribune Media Services. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of more than 100 books from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Abrams, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. He speaks at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, and has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Library in Paris, the American School in Paris, and the International Schools of South America. For more information, please visit website at FatherGoose.com

Poems About Poetry for National Poetry Month

Have you ever read a poem ABOUT poetry?

Have you ever written one?

 

All it takes is a metaphor (comparison) and your imagination!

 

Here are some poems with metaphors

that compare poems to lots of different things.

 

 

What’s a Poem?

 

A whisper,

A shout,

Thoughts turned

Inside out.

 

A laugh,

A sigh,

An echo

Passing by.

 

A rhythm,

A rhyme,

A moment

Caught in time.

 

A moon,

A star,

A glimpse

Of who you are.

 

 

A Poem is a Spider Web

 

A poem is a spider web

Spun with words of wonder,

Woven lace held in place

By whispers made of thunder.

 

 

A Poem is a Firefly

 

A poem is a firefly

Upon the summer wind.

Instead of shining where she goes,

She lights up where she’s been!

 

 

A Poem is a Rosebud

 

A poem is a morning rose,

A promise just begun,

A blossom new with fragrant dew

Unfurling in the sun.

 

 

A Poem is a Mirror

 

A poem is a mirror

Sitting on a shelf

Inviting you to come and view

Reflections of yourself.

 

 

A Poem is a Painting

 

A poem is a painting,

A masterpiece divine,

Hanging on display inside

The gallery of your mind.

 

 

A Poem is a Song

 

A poem is a song

Made of color,

 

A rainbow

Made of sound,

 

A painting

Made of memory,

 

A paradise

Found.

 

 

A Poem is a Play

 

A poem is a play

meant to delight.

 

A poem is a show

meant to excite.

 

A poem is a song

full of desire.

 

A poem is a sunset

meant to inspire.

 

A poem is a secret

shared with friends.

 

A poem is a promise

that never ends.

 

 

A Poem is a Busy Bee

 

A poem is a busy bee

Buzzing in your head.

His hive is full of hidden thoughts

Waiting to be said.

 

His honey comes from your ideas

That he makes into rhyme.

He flies around looking for

What goes on in your mind.

 

When it’s time to let him out

To make some poetry,

He gathers up your secret thoughts

And then he sets them free!

 

 

A Poem is a Little Path

 

A poem is a little path

That leads you through the trees.

It takes you to the cliffs and shores,

To anywhere you please.

 

Follow it and trust your way

With mind and heart as one,

And when the journey’s over,

You’ll find you’ve just begun.

 

Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and as a nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He is the author of more than 100 award-winning books for children and adults from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. His poems appear in hundreds of magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights. For more information, please visit his website at FatherGoose.com

Inspiration: A Different Road Home

Want to write a poem, a story, a memoir? Need a jump start on some new inspiration? Try surrounding yourself with something new. Change is good. The Muse loves change. Turn off the computer and TV. Put away the iPhone. Go out to eat. Go to a live play or concert. Attend a sporting event. Hang out at a new coffee shop. Meet new people. Take a different road home. Listen to some new music. Find alternate station. Check out a book from the library. Look through old photo albums. Light some candles. Take a warm bath. Soak in your thoughts. Write randomly. Bathe in your own stream of consciousness.
 

Now you’re ready to write. Start with an image, a mood, a feeling. Let it tell you where it wants to go.
 

Writing is talking on paper. Let your words speak in a whisper. Let them lull you on to deeper thoughts. Think of someone special. Pretend you are telling them a secret. You are.
 

Now go have some fun. Writing is not a chore. It’s magic. Let it happen. It’s process of awareness and discovery, discovering something you didn’t know you knew until you wrote it. If it surprises you, it will surprise someone else. If there are no surprises, hit delete and move on to your next burst of inspiration. You have lots of ideas inside waiting to come out. Let them.
 
Inspiration

Inspiration
 
It is every thing
you think it is.
It is the end
of the tunnel
and the light
up ahead.
It is the sound
of the wind
and the silence
of the night.
It is the sun
and the moon
and the memory.
It is the eye
and the hand
and the mouth.
It is the present
and the future
and the past.
It is here.
It is there.
It is gone.
 
* * *

 
Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a tree house in the middle of Alabama.
He is the author of more than 5,000 poems and 100 award-winning books from Random House,
Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Charlesbridge, Orca
and Capstone. His poems appear in magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights.
 

For more information, please visit: FatherGoose.com

Touring that Place Like it was 1999

The title of this blog comes from a line in a story my 9-year-old daughter wrote recently. It’s funny, right? My daughter is not so good with capital letters or commas or periods (not yet, at least), but she does have a way with language that gives me great hope that she will be a good writer someday. As a writer myself, that makes me happy, but as a person who spends many hours reading poorly written stories, emails, blogs, texts, and other correspondence, I realize how important good writing is and will continue to be in this digital age where no one wants to answer their phone.
 

As a writing teacher, I often get asked: “How can I improve my writing?” Or “How can I help my child improve his/her writing?” The answer is three-fold and probably not all that surprising:

  1. Read other peoples’ good writing.
  2. Practice writing as much as you can.
  3. Take comments and suggestions on your writing gracefully.

In my experience, getting children to read good literature is actually more difficult than getting them to write a story or take suggestions. Is this as surprising to you as it was to me? There is just so much intentional mediocrity out there in children’s literature that picking up something good is not always an option. By “intentional mediocrity”, I mean that the stories are purposefully similar to each other and contain very few new words or concepts (Like these Rainbow Magic Fairy books my daughter loved) in an attempt to get kids practicing the skills associated with reading instead of expanding their world through literature. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the Fairies and other books of this ilk. She picked them up, she read them, she gained key literacy skills that will serve her well. But they are not literature. They are not inspiring. They did not make her want to write her own stories or help her understand the world in a universal way.
 

Luckily, even as my daughter was reading Rainbow Fairies, she was also reading Spider Magazine. Here was an easy place to find the quality literature that inspired her to write her own stories. Below, you will find one such story. The Last Bicycle appeared in the July 2012 issue of Spider. It is literature that has the power to touch your heart and bring tears to your eyes. I hope you will share it with the young writer in your life. Perhaps it will inspire you both to give the world your best writing. For more stories like this one, be sure to subscribe to Spider.
 

The Last Bicycle
By Betty X. Davis
Illustrated by Daniel Clifford

 

Touring 1JACQUES COULDN’T KEEP from grinning as he rode his bicycle along the cobblestone road, past the old castle, and down to the town square. From a mile away he could hear singing and cheering as the townsfolk celebrated the end of Hitler’s war. That day, August 26, 1944, Charles de Gaulle marched triumphantly into Paris, and the proud song of La Marseillaise lifted millions of hearts.
 

Jacques not only grinned for France, but also because he had found the last bicycle in town.
 

His friends stopped in their tracks when they saw his bicycle. “Hey, Jacques, where’d you get that bike?”
 

Jacques felt a lump in his throat. Then he squeezed out the words, “My brother Philippe hid it really well.”
 

The boys fell quiet. Pierre, one of Jacques’s schoolmates, said at last, “It sure is a beautiful bike.”
 

“Yes . . . Philippe love it. Hey, anyone want a ride?”
 

The boys clamored. “Me, me!” “Let me ride it, Jacques!”
After they all took turns, Pierre offered, “I’ll pay ten francs for it!”
 

Jacques laughed. “It’s not for sale.” The bicycle was priceless beyond measure.
 

Almost nothing was for sale in Uzaire, not bicycles or cars or fuel—only secondhand clothes and rusty tools. Food was scarce. Edgy, wary of danger, people emerged from their stone cottages and scattered farms, getting used to a world without constant fear. A few shops and an inn opened. Trains ran, carrying mostly troops.
 

But no one forgot the awfulness of war, especially Jacques. Four years earlier, Philippe had told him, “I heard that in Chinon the enemy torched the buildings and smashed whatever was left. They’ll come here next.”
 

Jacques’s family hid what they could in the rubble of the old castle. Jacques and Philippe stashed the bicycle up in the tower. The enemy raided the castle soon after; the bicycle survived. But Philippe—kind, handsome Philippe—went to war for his beloved France and didn’t return. For Jacques nothing would ever be the same, though now he could finally once more breathe the air of freedom.
 

One morning he pedaled along past the vineyards, the scent of newly replanted grapes on the breeze. The French countryside was coming alive.
He turned onto the paved highway that led to Paris. Ahead, he saw a man in soldier’s clothing.
 

Jacques’s stomach tightened. Recently, there had been rumors that enemy spies still hid in the countryside. Jacques again tasted the bitterness of fear. The uniform, dusty and worn, was not French.
 

Touring 2The stranger’s shoulders, hunched under a heavy backpack, straightened as he turned and stared at Jacques, then at the bicycle—Philippe’s bicycle. Jacques gripped the handlebars until his knuckles turned white.
 

Jacques tried to sound normal, unafraid. “Bonjour, monsieur. Comment
allez-vous?

 

Bonjour. I’m sorry, but I don’t speak French very well,” the man answered.
 

Jacques was relieved. “You’re an American! Why are you still here?”
 

“I stayed behind to treat small children. I’m an army doctor.”
 

“You care for the French as well as Americans?” Jacques asked.
 

“Of course. There’s been an outbreak of scarlet fever.” Jacques could see the exhaustion on the man’s face. “I’ve just come from the train station. I missed the last train to Paris. And now I might lose my place on the ship that will take me back to America.” His shoulders drooped. “You see, my father is very ill. I must get home.” Then, a hopeful spark lit up his eyes. “May I borrow your bicycle, son?”
 

“Borrow? I’d never get it back.” The man pulled a gun from his backpack. Jacques drew back.
 

“I’ll give you anything. This gun is valuable. I’ll trade it for the bicycle.”
 

Jacques shook his head. No guns.
 

But Jacques saw the desperation in the man’s eyes. He remembered that
American boys had died alongside Philippe. America helped liberate
France. But—Philippe’s bicycle! Did Jacques owe it to this man?
 

Jacques slowly relaxed his grip. Then, as if it had a life of its own, the bicycle was suddenly in the hands of the American.
 

“You’ll not be sorry, I promise. I’ll send you an even nicer bicycle from Texas.” The American looked at the identification on the handlebars.
 

“Thank you, Philippe Dupont. With all my heart, I thank you,” he said as he jumped on the bicycle, pedaling away.
 

“My name is Jacques!” the boy called after him. The doctor turned back and nodded. Jacques watched him grow smaller and smaller as he cycled up the road.
 

When his friends heard what Jacques had done, they yelled at him. “Jacques, you’re crazy! You gave away the last bicycle in town!”
 

Day after day, month after month, Jacques waited for the promised bicycle. Always, the stationmaster shook his head.
 

Slowly, Uzaire found its way back to an orderly life. Trains once again arrived on time. Food, clothes, books, even an old car could be bought. But
no bicycles.
 

Then, one spring day when the fields were blooming with the fleurs de colza that looked like sunshine, Jacques heard the whistle of a train. As he walked by the station, the stationmaster called out, “Vien vite! Jacques, come look!”
 

Touring 3When Jacques saw the shiny new bicycle, he felt joy bursting inside him. He had been right to trust the doctor! With his hands on the handlebars, he grinned and claimed his prize. Ready to zoom away, he put his foot on a pedal.
 

But the stationmaster stopped him. “Wait, Jacques, you must sign
for the rest.”
 

“The rest?” Jacques scratched his head in puzzlement.
 

“Yes, indeed,” the stationmaster said, handing Jacques an official paper to sign. He gestured for Jacques to follow him toward the boxcar, joined by the assistant stationmaster and ticket clerk.
 

Then Jacques’s jaw dropped, as the men began unloading ninety-nine shiny new bicycles from the train!
 

The stationmaster handed Jacques a note.
 

To Jacques Dupont:
 

For you and your friends in Uzaire. A hundred thanks.
 

Your grateful American friend,
Steven L., M.D.

 

Touring 4“Thanks, doc,” Jacques whispered. “And Philippe, merci beaucoup.”

10 Things I’ve Learned as a Children’s Poet

  1. Children have the best imaginations.
  2. Children look at the world from the inside out.
  3. Children love lyrical language.
  4. Daydreaming is a highly underrated art form.
  5. When you write for children, don’t write for children. Write from the child in you.
  6. It is better to show, than tell.
  7. Style is not how you write. It is how you do not write like anyone else.
  8. Enter the writing process with a childlike sense of wonder. Let it surprise you.
  9. Finding poetry in the world and sharing it with others makes us feel alive.
  10. Staring out the window and making things up is a fun way to make a living.

 

Charles Ghigna’s fantastic poem “Moon” appears in the October issue of Spider. For more poems like this be sure to subscribe to any of the magazines in the Cricket Media family and check out our website at shop.cricketmedia.com for some special poetry-themed product bundles. (And shhh, don’t tell anyone where you heard this, but use discount code FF2015 until December 15th to get the friends and family discount on all our magazines, as well as 60% off in our online store. Hey, we’re all friends here, right?)
 

American poet and author Charles Ghigna has written more than 100 books from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers and has published dozens of poems in Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug magazines over the past decade. Be sure to check out his website.

The Poetry of Life

We are all poets. Each one of us sees the world in our own special way. Whenever we look up at the passing clouds and see long tail dragons and sailing ships we are poets. When we share our visions and dreams we are poets. We are poets whenever we tell the world who we are, what we think, and how we feel.

What is Poetry?

A whisper,
a shout,
thoughts turned
inside out.

A laugh,
a sigh,
an echo
passing by.

A rhythm,
a rhyme,
a moment
caught in time.

A moon,
a star,
a glimpse
of who you are.

 

Poetry is music, theater, dance, art, and literature. Poetry is winter, spring, summer, and fall. Poetry is laughter and tears, faith, and fears. Poetry is life!

 

So what do poets like to write about? I’ve written poems for children’s magazines such as Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, and Babybug on a variety of subjects from “Snowfall in the City” to “Roses After the Rain,” from sunny days of “Summertime” to “The Cold Gray Days of Winter.”

 

Poetry is everywhere! It’s in the smile of a friend and in the sound of the wind. It’s in the scent of the meadow and in the skyline of the city. It’s in the setting sun as she bows her bright orange dress away into the purple haze of evening.

 

 

Finding poetry in the world and sharing it with others makes us feel alive. It fills us with hope and wonder. It celebrates life. It shines light into the corners of the world and turns the overlooked and the common into sparkling gems of wonder and joy.

 

Poetry is everywhere! It’s in the smile of a friend and in the sound of the wind. It’s in the scent of the meadow and in the skyline of the city. It’s in the setting sun as she bows her bright orange dress away into the purple haze of evening.

 

So what else do poets like to write about? We like to write about everything! Sometimes we write poems that compare one thing to another. We call that metaphor. Sometimes our metaphors compare poetry to things!

 

A Poem is a Spider Web

A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

* * *

A Poem is a Firefly

A poem is a firefly
Upon the summer wind.
Instead of shining where she goes,
She lights up where she’s been.

* * *

A Poem is a Painting

A poem is a painting,
A masterpiece you’ll find
Hanging on display inside
The gallery of your mind.

* * *

A Poem is a Busy Bee

A poem is a busy bee
Buzzing in your head.
His hive is full of hidden thoughts
Waiting to be said.

His honey comes from your ideas
That he makes into rhyme.
He flies around looking for
What goes on in your mind.

When it’s time to let him out
To make some poetry,
He gathers up your secret thoughts—
And then he sets them free!

 

So what is poetry? It’s life! It’s also the little path that leads us all the way to wonderland — and back.

 

A Poem is a Little Path

A poem is a little path
That leads you through the trees.
It takes you to the cliffs and shores,
To anywhere you please.

Follow it and trust your way
With mind and heart as one,
And when the journey’s over,
You’ll find you’ve just begun.

 

 

Charles Ghigna – Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama.
He is the author of more than 5,000 poems and 100 books from Random House,
Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone and other publishers.
His poems appear in hundreds of magazines from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Cricket and Highlights.
For more ideas about poetry, please visit his website at FatherGoose.com

Art by Barry Gott