Poetry Friday – Poetry Camp edition

06 Oct

Welcome to Poetry Friday, hosted right here today.

When I found out, way back, that Poetry Camp was going to be happening in Bellingham (a mere 40 miles from where I live), I knew I had to be there. Last weekend it all came to pass!

Sign boards like this one welcomed us to the beautiful Wilson Library on the grounds of Western Washington University Saturday morning.


A helpful library staff helped us find our way in this warren of a building to a grand marble staircase that took us to the fourth floor foyer. There table upon table of books were on display—all children’s poetry books!

Table upon table of children’s poetry books.

Just beyond the foyer, the vast, high-ceilinged Reading Room was our Poetry Camp mess hall, you might say, and between 8:30 and 9:30 it filled up quite healthily with poet enthusiasts, poets, teachers, librarians etc.

Inside, in addition to many strangers, were friends. It was such fun picking out the people I knew, sort of, having Poetry Friday’d with them for months but peered at their faces only as tiny thumbnails. Here are some you might recognize.


Poetry Friday poets: Doraine Bennett, April Halprin Wayland, Jeannine Atkins, Robyn Hood Black, and Irene Latham.


Irene Latham with the irrepressible Joy Acey


Me with Bridget Magee

The program was well organized and flowed quite flawlessly. After a welcome from our WWU hosts Nancy Johnson and Sylvia Tag, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong presented keynotes.

The morning one introduced the Poetry Friday books, how to use them, and then had contributors read poems from the books.

Both the morning keynote (theme: Poetry is for any time) and afternoon one (theme: Poetry is for every subject) made wonderful use of the 38 visiting poet contributors. As you’ll see from the little slide show of some of the readers, it was a treat! I felt like a kid again, held spellbound by teachers who could make poetry come alive.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also enjoyed breakout sessions.

As a fan of verse novels, it was wonderful to sit at the feet of four pros: Holly Thompson, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill, and Jeannine Atkins.


Verse Novel presenters Holly Thompson, Nikki Grimes, Stephanie Hemphill (Jeannine Atkins not in the picture).

Here are some bits from my notes:
Jeannine Atkins: She loves reading history and looking for “details that wake up the story.” She also looks for what she / we have in common with the historical characters she writes about.

Nikki Grimes: “I want to find the crack that will slip into the reader’s heart.”

Stephanie Hemphill: Her process (of research, and finding a connection with the character) is different for each book she’s written.

Holly Thompson: She uses page turns as a sort of stanza break for some of her chapter-length poems. She finds that the white space of poetry is also useful in easing tension and convincing reluctant readers to read.

My second workshop was “Writing for journals,  magazines and anthologies,” ably led by Bridget Magee and Janet Wong.  We were all encouraged to read (Janet: “Read 50 books a week – take your rolling luggage to the library”), write, send out our poems and reward ourselves—for rejections as well as acceptances. Janet reminded us:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

If / when we decide to self-publish, Janet assured us we were then artisanally published by a “small press” or “consortium” (if we collaborate in the publishing process).


Poetry & Science workshop presenters Jeannine Atkins, Heidi Bee Roemer and Linda Dryfhout.

My afternoon breakout was “Poetry + Science.” Jeannine Atkins, Heidi Bee Roemer and Linda Dryfhout shared their rich experience of writing and teaching science using poetry. (It almost made me wish I could go back into the classroom again—almost.)

The public was also invited to the last event of the day. Jack Prelutsky (first US Children’s Poet Laureate ever) signed books, recited poems and serenaded us. Then he was honored by some delightful poetry reciters from a local elementary school and by fellow poet, Tod Marshall, Washington State’s current Poet Laureate.


Jack Prelutsky signing.


Jack Prelutsky singing.


Jack Prelutsky reciting


Tod Marshall delivered a wonderful tribute to his fellow poet!

Finally, there was cake. What a perfect way to end a sweet day!


And now it’s time for today’s dessert—your poems. Please add them to the widget. Happy reading!


Posted by on October 6, 2016 in People, Poetry Friday, Writing


62 responses to “Poetry Friday – Poetry Camp edition

  1. Liz

    October 6, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Violet, what a great post. You got so many wonderful pictures, too. I also posted about Poetry Camp. It was such an incredible experience to be with so many other poets.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Matt Forrest Esenwine

    October 6, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Looks like everyone had such a good time…I wish I could’ve afforded the plane ticket to join you all! Thanks for the retrospective, Violet – and for hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brenda Davis Harsham

    October 6, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Looks like a wonderful time, Violet. I wish I could have gone. Maybe someday, when the kids are older, when every day is less insanely busy… Sigh. Thanks for hosting this week. I published a few days ago for yesterday’s UK National Poetry Day. I’m offering the poem I wrote for that, This is just to say… Thank you, Earth. I’m looking forward to reading all the poetry, but I am repainting a bathroom this weekend, so I’ll have to eke out those moments where I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. joyacey

    October 6, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    I love being called irrepressible! Thank you. Janet Wong explained me to someone as “Joy believes in living big.” Nicer compliments I can’t think of. In my presentation on Poetry Presentation Tips for Elementary Students, I was teamed with Brod Bagert and Michele Krueger. What a team we made!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jama

    October 6, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    So nice to see all those familiar faces! Thanks for the lovely Poetry Camp post. From all reports it was a fabulous, fun event :).

    At Alphabet Soup I’m featuring Marilyn Singer’s Miss Muffet, or What Came After with a review, pie recipe and giveaway.

    Thanks so much for hosting this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dmayr

    October 6, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks for all the photos. It is nice putting a face to a name. Are there plans for a Poetry Camp next year? Will it be held in Washington?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. margaretsmn

    October 6, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Can you see my green? I am so envious of your workshop. Wow! Some awesome poets. I want to go to poetry camp!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. murphpoet

    October 6, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Wow. What a wonderful day you all had! How i wish I could have an experience like that – but tahnks for letting me join in vicariously.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laura Purdie Salas

    October 6, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    That looks like the best weekend ever! I’m so jealous, but thrilled so many poetry friends had a great time:>)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    October 6, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I so enjoyed this recap of your Poetry Camp experience, Violet! Thanks for sharing your pictures and notes.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. readingtothecore

    October 6, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you for hosting, Violet. Can’t wait to come back when I have time to savor this post about Poetry Camp!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Myra GB

    October 6, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    Thank you so much for hosting, dear Violet. Lovelovelove all those photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Bridget Magee

    October 6, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    You captured it all, Violet! Great snapshot of the weekend – both in pictures and your annotations. It was lovely to meet you in person. Thank you for hosting! PS – my comments on blogs will be sporadic as I am boarding a plane to Germany tomorrow. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Violet Nesdoly

      October 7, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      Oh my! Be safe. Hopefully no hurricanes to fly through on the way!


  14. lindabaie

    October 6, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for hosting, Violet, and for all the pictures and details of Poetry Camp. I sounds like such a sweet time.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sylvia Vardell

    October 6, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    It was lovely to meet you in person, Violet! Your post is such a great way to revisit Poetry Camp too. I love your slideshow of poets especially! My post this week is ALSO about Poetry Camp. Just can’t get enough! I hope we’ll get the chance to do this again sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ramona

    October 6, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Violet, I love your post! I’m so glad to see your lovely pictures. I’m usually much better about taking pictures, but I totally bombed in that department on Saturday. Thanks for your delightful wrap-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. cvarsalona

    October 6, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Violet, I thought this post was so enticing that I wish I could have been the fly on the wall. I am hoping that Poetry Camp will come East one year so I can join in. For now, I am happy to meet some Poetry Friends at ILA and NCTE Conventions. It is always an aha moment when I meet virtual friends face-to-face. Thank you for hosting and being a great supporter of my galleries. I am revisiting Summerscapes Gallery to give a backstory narrative of the why’s behind the galleries.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Alan j Wright

    October 6, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    What a revelation this poetic gathering turned out to be. A brilliant idea enacted. I have little doubt all those who attended felt a quiver in their poet’s heart.Thanks for sharing this magnificent occasion in such a transparent way.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. katswhiskers

    October 7, 2016 at 12:11 am

    I was surprised how many names I recognised from your account/pics, Violet. PoetryFriday has widened my network. Great photo! Thanks for sharing your album, and your notebook – and hosting us today.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Tabatha

    October 7, 2016 at 1:07 am

    Looks like an ebullient time was had by all! Thanks for hosting, Violet. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. amyludwigvanderwater

    October 7, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Thank you, Violet, for this glorious peek into the weekend! I feel like I was there. What a blast! Thank you, too, for hosting! Happy Poetry Friday! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  22. mbhmaine

    October 7, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Thanks for sharing some of the highlights of this wonderful experience and for hosting today!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Linda Mitchell

    October 7, 2016 at 3:07 am

    An absolutely stunning post… in details this east coaster has been craving about Poetry Camp and nuggets of wisdom and truth. Thank you for such a generous sharing of the weekend! Your notes are a perfect glimpse into the writers that I adore. Thank you again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Penny Parker Klostermann

    October 7, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Thanks for hosting and thanks for giving us a peek at Poetry Camp. I can tell you all had a wonderful time and learned a lot. What a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Sara Lewis Holmes

    October 7, 2016 at 4:03 am

    I need Poetry Camp on the East Coast! What a stellar lineup. Poetry everywhere, all the time, huzzah!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Mitchell

      October 8, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Sarah Lewis Holmes….I’m game for creative organizing. You visited my school a few years ago. I think my library would be a great space. Think about it.


      • Sara Lewis Holmes

        October 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm

        Thank you! Your library is at Stonewall Middle, am I remembering that correctly? I would love to talk more with anyone interested in making this happen.


  26. Irene Latham

    October 7, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Hi Violet– what a joy to meet you in person!! So happy to know you, and I appreciate your re-cap here… just sorry we didn’t snap a picture of ourselves together. 😦 Next time. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Janet Wong

    October 7, 2016 at 5:22 am

    Thank you, Violet, for coming to Poetry Camp–and for this terrific post. I enjoyed meeting you and am looking forward to keeping up with you here and on FB!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Monica

    October 7, 2016 at 5:22 am

    Poetry Camp looks wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Kimberley Moran

    October 7, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Poetry camp sounds dreamy. Being with like-minded people is life changing. Thank you for sharing all of the pictures and feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Tricia

    October 7, 2016 at 5:59 am

    I’m so sad I missed this conference. If I wasn’t already scheduled for one, I would have made the trip to join all you amazing folks.

    Thanks for sharing these memories and for hosting today.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Kiesha Shepard

    October 7, 2016 at 6:02 am

    Violet, what an incredible time it must have been! This was truly a once in a life time experience. Thank you for giving us a glimpse!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. dorireadsd

    October 7, 2016 at 6:09 am

    Violet, what a great job of capturing the weekend you have done! It was such a joyful moment when were able to meet face to face. Thanks for hosting today.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Elaine M.

    October 7, 2016 at 7:35 am


    How I wish I could have gone to Poetry Camp with you! Washington state is all the way across the country from my state of Massachusetts–a little too far to travel. Besides…I am a busy nanny granny caring for my two “grand girls.”

    At Wild Rose Reader, I have two poems about autumn leaves and reviews of three pictures on the same subject. I LOVE this time of year!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. tee+d

    October 7, 2016 at 7:35 am

    CLEARLY what’s needed in life are more adult camps like this, and with poetry as a focus, it looks like it was amazing. Thanks for hosting and for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Violet Nesdoly

      October 7, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Tanita, I so enjoyed your ekphrastic poem. Tried to comment on your blog, but the program wanted a sign-in, which wasn’t successful for me.


  35. sarahtuttle

    October 7, 2016 at 10:07 am

    What a wonderful event! Thanks for sharing, and hosting.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. jeannineatkins

    October 7, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Violet, how lovely to meet you in person at Poetry Camp, and look out and around and see your reassuring smile. Thanks for the great recap! I can still feel the warmth!

    Liked by 1 person

  37. jeannineatkins

    October 7, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    And that slide show — a work of art!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Violet Nesdoly

      October 7, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Thank you so much, Jeannine! I was happy that the mugshots of readers mostly turned out. Glad my camera didn’t let me down. It was a lot of fun putting it all together.


  38. maryleehahn

    October 8, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I SO wish I could have been there! Maybe next year!!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. macrush53

    October 8, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I loved every minute. Love your thorough recap. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Heidi Mordhorst

    October 9, 2016 at 4:29 am

    I appreciate your detailed and illustrated descriptions, Violet, and like so many, I wish I could have been there. I’m frankly surprised at how many made their way to that corner of the country for one day–I guess it shows the power of poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. macrush53

    October 10, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Violet, thank you for hosting. I was happy to meet you. You captured the weekend wel.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Robyn Hood Black

    October 11, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    It was SO lovely to meet you in person in your beautiful corner of the world, Violet! Thanks for the fun recap. (I’ve hated to be “out of the loop” here lately, but no sooner had we returned home from WA than we had to start making hurricane evacuation plans. We are heading back home tomorrow – Wed., but not sure we’ll have power!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Violet Nesdoly

      October 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Robyn, so glad you’re okay! As soon as I heard about the path of Matthew, I thought of you, and certainly noticed your absence last Poetry Friday (as you seldom miss). The pleasure of meeting was absolutely mutual. Hope your power is on when you get home and all is safe and sound!


  43. Charles Waters

    October 23, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    What fun! Thanks for sharing. I hope they have the event again.


  44. deepthinkingdissident

    January 5, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    Loved it. I just wrote my first poem. Check it out?


  45. jonathanagbeko

    January 11, 2017 at 1:07 am

    This is awesome



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