RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 4 Marilyn Singer

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RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day4

Marilyn Singer

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Guest Blogger Badge     RPBM 15 Marilyn Singer

Photo by Laurie Gaboardi/The Litchfield County Times.


 As I was creating my wish list of bloggers for this year one name sat right at the top.  She is an author and an outstanding poet who has written over 100 books and has even created her own form of poetry. This writing community is always so supportive of new writers and I am thankful for all the wonderful authors and poets who agree to participate in RhyPiBoMo!

It is my honor to introduce,

Marilyn Singer


RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather

* Photo by Laurie Gaboardi/The Litchfield County Times.



by Marilyn Singer


One evening at dinner, a group of friends and I were trying to define poetry.   We were not attempting to define GOOD poetry—just what is a poem at all.   We all agreed on one thing:  if it rhymes, then it’s a poem.  It may be a totally lousy one, but it’s a poem.

We also agreed that a poem doesn’t HAVE to rhyme.   But then we got onto shaky ground re: free verse. I don’t think we reached any consensus.  I recounted a story that took place when I was in first grade or so and I’d recently started writing poetry, all of which rhymed.  My teacher suggested that I try my hand at free verse.  So I did—and I ended up writing a prose paragraph about roller skating.  It was not a poem by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m certain that, had they read it, my dinner companions would have agreed.

So we know when something is a paragraph, right, and not a poem, right?  But what if you take the same words and break them up into short lines?  What if you remove the punctuation?   And if you throw in a metaphor or two, what then?  Come to think of it, what if you throw in a metaphor or two into what is clearly a paragraph?  Is it still prose?  These are the questions that keep me up at night.  Well, not really.  But they do enliven dinner parties (depending on your guests).

Here’s the thing:  when it comes to children’s poetry, most people don’t think about paragraphs or free verse at all.  They think about rhyme.  So, I thought it might be fun to put together a list of “Myths about Rhyme” and tackle these thornier questions about what is a poem some other time (preferably way in the future).






1.  Rhyme is easy to write.

2.  All kids’ poetry must rhyme.

3.  Rhyme is only for children. (See “Spring and Fall to a Young Child” by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

4.  Publishers like rhyme. (They don’t unless it’s good)

5.  Publishers hate rhyme. (They don’t unless it’s bad)

6.  Nonsense words make for successful rhyming poems or picture books.   Unless you’re Lewis Carroll or Dr. Seuss, not likely.

7.  Rhyme will make an old idea fresh.  No way, José.

8.  The only good rhyme is an end rhyme.

9.  Rhyme is only for light verse.  (See another Hopkins–Lee Bennett)

10.  Only certain subjects are fit for poetry, period.  And rhyme is only fit for certain subjects.

11.  Great poets always write great poems.  (See the Emily Dickinson piece below)

12.  Rhyme is passé.



So when should you choose to use rhyme?  That’s a hard question to answer, but I’d say when you hear it in your head, when the poem insists upon it, when it makes sense in music and meaning.  When is rhyme something you shouldn’t choose?  Well, the myths above should give you some clues and tell you when rhyme is something to lose.



Gerard Manley Hopkins


Márgarét, are you gríeving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leáves, líke the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah!  ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wíll weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It ís the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.




From Been to Yesterdays (Wordsong/Boyds Mills)©1995 by Lee Bennett Hopkins:



have to

move again


Mama’s money’s spent.

I don’t have

enough to make

our monthly rent.

The check

that Daddy said

he’d send

was never sent.”



I look

at empty boxes

and I know

what they

are for.



to store

some things

you live

your whole life




a teddy bear,


old door keys,





Stowed in cardboard


memories rest


in paper chests


when you need them most

to move you on–




when we must take


in the middle

of a wrinkled,

corrugated night.




Emily Dickinson


If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.




About Marilyn:

Winner of the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry, Marilyn Singer is the author of over one hundred books, many of which are poetry collections, including Mirror Mirror (Dutton), for which she created the “reverso” form.  Her latest poetry books are: Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems about Our Presidents (Disney-Hyperion); Follow Follow:  A Book of Reversos (Dial); A Strange Place to Call Home (Chronicle); and The Superheroes Employment Agency (Clarion).  Her third book of reversos, Echo Echo, will be published next year by Dial.

Super Heroes EA




 Thank you so much Marilyn!



RhyPiBoMo 2015 tiles with bird

RhyPiBoMo 2015 Optional Writing Prompt:4

This is NOT part of the pledge. It is an option for a writing exercise for those interested. You will not publically share this as part of RhyPiBoMo but may keep a journal of your writing this month for your own review.

Today’s writing prompt is to write a rhyming poem about a somber subject. Use rhyme as the ending lines as well as internally.


For example:

 Wearing a smile while feeling so sad,

Refusing, not choosing to cry.

Leaving while grieving a moment in time,

Beguiling, still smiling, but why?

Feelings are hidden,  forbidden to show.

Strength, divine armor to shine. (shine rhymes with divine and sign)

And just when you feel the real heart of the beast,

Weary teardrops fall down as a sign.

 © 2015 Angie Karcher



Congratulations to

Week 1 Prize Winners

Mon      Kirsti Call  Won a copy of BEAR’S LOOSE TOOTH Donated by Dawn Young

Tues     Maria Bostian  Won a copy of SUPERWORM Donated by Dawn Young

Wed      Melanie Ellsworth Won a copy of TEENY TINY TRUCKS Donated by Tim McCanna

Thurs   Lori Laniewski  Won a copy of an Autographed Book Donated by Nikki Grimes

Fri         Darshana Khiani  Won a copy of WORD BUILDER Donated by Ann Whitford Paul


“Friday Favorites” Winner – Elaine Hillson  Won a Rhyming Manuscript Critique Donated by Angie Karcher (after April – 500 words or less) Elaine, please contact me in May. Congrats!


 Congratulations to the week 1 winners!

Thank you to our generous prize donors!

Winners, PLEASE message me your address on Facebook

or email it to Angiekarcherrpbm@gmail.com



Golden Quill Poetry Contest


The Golden Quill Poetry Contest will accept entries STARTING April 13th and the deadline is April 25th midnight Central Time.


Contest Rules:

First and Last name included in the body of the email at the top left

Email address included in the body of the email at the top left

Phone number – top left

Space down 5 spaces

The Theme is: Freedom

Title of poem – centered with no by line or name here

8 line limit

Must be a rhyming poem

You will be judged on clever title, rhyme scheme, rhythm, scansion, perfect rhyming words, internal rhyme, alliteration, consonance, assonance, onomatopoeia, and clever ending.

Poems due to Angiekarcherrpbm@gmail by April 25th midnight central time



Format example:

First and Last Name


Phone Number

Poem Title

Line 1








*Any poem that strays from this format will be disqualified.




*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Bird with Feather



Add both your FIRST and LAST names to your daily comment! This is what enables you to be eligible for a prize that day. Many people are forgetting!! I request this because the reply section doesn’t give me your name unless it’s a part of your email address. And even then sometimes it’s very hard for me to figure out the exact name.

How I choose daily winners…Late each Saturday night, I will go back to Monday’s comments and count how many there are. I then type that number into a randomizer program that choose a number for me. I count from the first post down to that number and that is the daily winner. If that post doesn’t have a first and last name listed it will not win. I will then go to the next post that has a first and last name listed. I will do this for each day of the week and announce the winners on the following Monday.

Please DO NOT go back now and add another comment now as I need each person to only comment one time to keep things fair. Thanks!

Good Luck and ADD YOR FIRST and LAST NAME to your comment!!!! = )




More information coming soon concerning

Rhyming Critique Groups and

the Barnes and Noble BookFair

Stay tuned!



Official RhyPiBoMo 2015 Registration ends this Wednesday, April 8th, Midnight Central Time

so register now!


If you are not officially registered you will not be able to participate in the Golden Quill Poetry Contest, in Rhyming Critique Groups or will not be eligible for daily prizes.


To see if you are registered go to the Master Registration List on the drop down menu under the RhyPiBoMo Blog tab above.


Registration Link:


*RhyPiBoMo 2015 Pledge

Please comment below. You MUST add your FIRST and LAST names

to be eligible for today’s prize!


88 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2015 Day 4 Marilyn Singer

  1. A poem is something hard to define but easy to recognize by the feeling it evokes in meter and sometimes rhyme. That may be a myth but it’s the best I can do. Thanks for a thought provoking article. Gail Cartee

  2. Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Marilyn. That’s certainly a question to enliven dinner conversation. I once had a student who wrote rhyme formatted as prose, without other poetic devices… It certainly made me reconsider my preconceptions!

  3. Marilyn
    Sage advice on poetry. Truly amazing that you began writing in first grade. Thank you for the myths about poetry.

  4. I’m glad to know that more experienced poets than I am grapple with what qualifies as free verse! Lovely thoughts, Marilyn. I especially enjoyed Lee Bennett Hopkins’ poem. Thank you! Sandy Perlic

  5. Appreciations from Jan Annino/bookseedstudio to Angie Karcher & Marilyn Singer for a thoughtful discussion.

    I luv Marilyn’s last name; not only it is poetic in itself but it also reminds me of a creator of most wonderful stories – Isaac Bashevis Singer. I look forward to more of Marilyn Singer’s reverso in Echo, Echo in 2016!

    Today’s RhyPiBoMo article calls to mind a poem by Janet Wong, “Coin Drive,” which was written after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans & our Gulf of Mexico coast.

  6. The Lee Bennett Hopkins poem is rich. I particularly liked the evocative ending — the “wrinkled, corrugated night.” Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Melinda Kinsman – Thanks for a great post, Marilyn. I’ve been struggling with working out how to define poetry to young children, and your post has me see that I’m not alone in realising there is no easy answer.

  8. Jill Proctor – Marilyn, thank you for all the great information and examples of rhyme! It was a big help to me!

  9. Lynn Alpert – I try to help as many fainting robins as I can! : ) Thanks for letting us see that even Emily Dickinson wrote some stinkers!

  10. Thanks for sharing! At a conference I attended, a publisher declared that rhyming picture books are not out, just the bad ones. Reading your myths made me remember that.

  11. Maria Bostian: Playing catch up today. I am a few days behind.

    Loved this blog post. It got me thinking about serious subject. So far, my poetry tends to be silly.

    Thanks for the prize. I’m so excited to receive it in the mail.

  12. Patricia Toht: I sometimes have trouble distinguishing free verse from lyrical writing that is broken up like a poem — I do believe there is a subtle difference. It’s nice to know that, as a pro, you’ve questioned this, too.

  13. Ann Magee. Thanks for these thoughts. Poetry is difficult to define. And these three examples are superb! I love the way poetry makes you think of what’s not written as well as what is.

  14. Darlene Ivy – I’m late in posting, but I’ve been keeping a journal this month and it’s been fun to see what’s come to mind.

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