Friday, October 21, 2011

I Love Choosing & Hooray for P*TAG!

Ballerina Georgia in 2004
Photo by Amy LV

Students - Last week, I was chatting with my sister-in-law about our young niece. They had gone together to see a ballet, and our niece chose her own outfit: red and black plaid dress, red and black plaid tights, Mardi Gras beads wrapped 'round her wrist again and again as bracelets, sparkly shoes, and hair in a side ponytail. I couldn't help thinking, "What a lucky girl to pick her own clothes!"

So, last night when I sat down to write, I remembered this conversation and decided to write about those funcrazy outfits that we choose all by ourselves. I found today's poem idea in a recent telephone conversation, remembering that story that my sister-in-law told me about our niece. Try this technique yourself. Sit quietly and think about the conversations you've had in the past week. What do you remember? Find a conversation that might grow into a poem or a story and just jump in!

This week I also reread the new P*TAG, a new digital poetry anthology for teens. Snuggled up by the heater, I scrolled through poem and photograph after poem and photograph, remembering what it was like to be a teenager. So much of that time came back to me, from conversations with friends to my feelings about boys to my own questions about growing up.

Brought to us by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, this collection includes poems by so many well-loved writers for teens: Arnold Adoff, Jaime Adoff, Kathi Appelt, Jeannine Atkins, Jen Bryant, Margarita Engle, Betsy Franco, Helen Frost, Lorie Ann Grover, David L. Harrison, Stephanie Hemphill, Sara Holbrook, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Paul B. Janeczko, Michele Krueger, Julie Larios, JonArno Lawson, J. Patrick Lewis, Kimberly Marcus, Heidi Mordhorst, Naomi Shihab Nye, Michael Salinger, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, Sonya Sones, Charles Waters, April Halprin Wayland, Steven Withrow, Allan Wolf, Janet Wong, and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Sylvia took all of the photographs, and one-by-one, each poet tagged another, just as in POETRY TAG TIME.

P*TAG is available only as a digital download ($2.99!) for your Kindle, iphone, Android, or computer, and it's a great gift for a teen in your life or the teen in yourself. If you haven't taken a peek at this or at POETRY TAG TIME, I highly recommend both as strong collections that may well introduce you to poets you have never read.

For another wonderful e-collection by Janet Wong, check out ONCE UPON A TIGER, poems and artwork about endangered animals.

Janet Wong's poem, published in this fall's issue of the JOURNAL OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, expresses the way I feel when I hand my own phone to Hope, Georgia, or Henry for poetry reading in the back seat of our car.

The Line

We've been standing in line
five long minutes.
I'm starving but Mom won't let me
sneak a snack from the cart.
It's hard to stand there waiting, nothing to do, and Mom
knows it (because I know she's starving, too).

Then out of nowhere
she hands me her cell phone
and tells me to read the screen:
"Loud enough so I can hear."
A poem? I can't believe it:
I like the poem. It's funny.
The old lady behind us laughs so hard
she spit-sprays in my ear.
I put my hoodie up.
Mom asks for another.
It's good. I like this one even better,
even if it's not funny.
Even if it doesn't rhyme.
It makes me forget about the line
and makes me remember summer.

Three and a half poems later,
Mom says, "Time to go home."
I look up. The groceries are in their bags.
The checker says: "Wait! Won't you read
the ending, please?"

Janet Wong

Jama Rattigan, hostess extraordinaire, is holding today's Poetry Friday party at Jama's Alphabet Soup. And when Jama has a party, you don't want to miss it! Enjoy the food and festivities...  Happy Poetry Friday!

(Please click on POST A COMMENT below to share a thought.)


  1. I'd LOVE to hear kids reading poetry aloud from their parents' phones while we waited in line at the grocery store!

  2. Thanks for the P*TAG review and I love the line "a great gift for the teen in your life or the teen in yourself"! And thank you for mentioning ONCE UPON A TIGER. I do think it makes for good cell phone reading. Keep passing your phone full of poems to Hope, Georgia, and Henry!

  3. I just read most of P*Tag as my first book on my Ipad-what a treasure for everyone. I like your poem as I have lately watched my granddaughter 'choosing'. It's a special thing when they realize they can!

  4. Hi, Amy, thanks for the lovely nod to P*TAG, PTT, and the ease of the e-book. We love the idea of injecting more poetry into kids' daily lives and you've nailed that idea! Thanks again.

  5. I have a feeling that this would be my first e-book purchase. We're doing a Poetry-filled Yuletide Cheer theme for November/December - and it seems like a perfect book to include as one of our features.

    The photo is just gorgeous - perfect for your lovely poem. Yes, truly such a privilege to be able to choose one's own clothes and express our individuality through those combination of colors and textures. :)

  6. I also purchased the new P*Tag for my Kindle and am really enjoying it :).

    Janet's poem is wonderful. Wouldn't it be great if more people read poems in checkout lines? and in the stands at baseball and football games? and at restaurants? and on street corners?

  7. So much to love here today! Now that my kids are 19 and 16, your post had me make the leap from their "dressing myself" days as preschoolers to their "dressing myself" days as teens - life is a spiral. And he new p*tag is terrific.

  8. i've often though it was a shame that, somewhere along the way, we stop having fun with our wardrobes and start dressing "smart." we choose our clothes, certainly, but always conscious of how we will appear to others.

    looking forward to checking out p*tag!

  9. Amy, thank you for the Poetry Friday cheer. I love Janet's poem, love that mom and those kids and the checker at the end. Thanks for nudging more people into reading poems from something besides pages, qnd your support of p*tag in particular.

    I'm looking forward to sharing some poetry space with you soon!

  10. More choosing, more dressing up, more costumes! More poetry in the public space! Occupy Wall Street with p*tag!

  11. Amy,

    Love that ballerina picture--and the poem!

  12. Oh, everyone...thank you for the good cheer for p*tag! Such fun the way poetry can spread from phone to phone in an eyeblink! xo, a.

  13. Myra: If you still need a book for your Yuletide Cheer theme...please consider the newest PoetryTagTime ebook, called GIFT TAG. It just came out yesterday!! Amy has a terrific ode to snow (and mittens and kittens) in it!