Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in poetry (12)


Jane Yolen wrote a poem about one of my Broken Crayon drawings!

Thanks so much to Elizabeth Dulema for interviewing me about creative process on her blog recently. She included lots of photos and art samples, including my Broken Crayon dragon. After seeing the later, Jane Yolen (yes THE Jane Yolen!!!!) emailed me a poem she had written after seeing the image.

Jane has kindly given me permission to post her poem here:

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Micropoem: Punctuation Rebel (for Day 12 of #AprPAD)


Poem for writers about bad reviews

As I mentioned earlier, I'm having fun participating in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem-A-Day Challenge. This poem was written in response to the topic "defence."




Comic: Poet Fame #NationalPoetryMonth

Happy National Poetry Month

I'm participating in Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem-A-Day Challenge, and have been posting some of my poems on Twitter at @inkyelbows and have also been posting some on my Poetry For Young Readers page.


Bad-Poem-A-Day, Where Are My Books?, Sherlock Holmes, Music and the Brilliance Of Kari Maaren

I've been a fan of YA writer Kari Maaren fan ever since I heard her perform Kids These Days, a song from the viewpoint of a traditional vampire complaining about the Twilight generation of vampires.

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Comic: The Celebrity Poet


Board Game For Writers: Cyrano

CyranoCover sm

If you're looking for a fun board game to try with a group of writers (all levels of experience), I recommend CYRANO.

When I introduced this to our local gaming group, people were skeptical and hesitant ("I can't write poetry!"). By the end of the game, however, most of the participants admitted that they enjoyed the game much more than they expected. One of them said that his kids would enjoy the game as well.

CyranoWords sm

In each round, a card determines the theme (in the case above: "Mythology") as well as the line endings (the card also gives suggested rhyming words for those who are having trouble coming up with their own). Each player then composes a quatrain (poem of four lines) with two of the lines ending with one of the rhymes and the other two lines ending with the other rhyme.

I found that because the poems had to be written very quickly AND with specific parameters (rhyme scheme and theme), I stopped worrying about whether the poems were any good or not … and just had fun. :-) The game is also a great creativity booster and reminder of the joy in writing purely for the fun of it.

I suspect that playing with a group of writers would be even more fun! You can find out more info about the game on BoardGameGeek.

Basic info:

4-9 players

Playing time: about 45 minutes

Suggested age of players: old enough to be able to write rhyming poetry. Manufacturer suggests 8 and up while BGG users suggest 14 and up.




On poetry, language and Robert Lee Brewer's ESCAPE

Escape RobertBrewer 500

I used to hate poetry. I blame scholarly literary dissection and school. My memory (which, I admit, may be tainted by early years of accumulated hatred) is one of many hours of tortuous analysis, taking a few simple lines of text that I kind of thought were cool at first but then learned to dread as we hacked and slashed at every syllable, every nuance, every possible interpretation, until there was nothing left except a dry husk that made me want to run from the room screaming "ENOUGH WITH THE RED WHEELBARROW!"

Years later, a poet/librarian friend of mine introduced me to some poems that I actually enjoyed. That I LOVED.

Some poems, I discovered, could be understood and appreciated by the average person. I also learned to love the language of poetry, and became more aware of writing style and the importance of word choice in my own writing. Every word counts, after all, and not just in poetry.

Recently, I purchased Robert Lee Brewer's most recent poetry chapbook: Escape. I bought  his first collection, ENTER, because I wanted to support Robert. He's been a wonderful editor at Writersmarket.com and great to work with, plus I've enjoyed his Poetic Asides blog. But the bonus: I loved Robert's poetry.

So when I found out that he had a new collection of poems, I ordered one right away. I have no formal poetry scholarly training and have never reviewed poetry before. All I can say, though, is that I LOVED THESE POEMS. They're full of emotion and music, and a joy to read.

If you're interested in owning a copy of Escape, send Robert Brewer an e-mail at robertleebrewer[at]gmail[dot]com, with "I Need an Escape" in the subject line. Price: $10 (which includes shipping to anywhere in the world). Do it before they sell out!

p.s. I actually do like The Red Wheelbarrow now.


Interview: Robert Lee Brewer & the Poem-A-Day (PAD) Chapbook Challenge

One of the creative challenges I've decided to take this month is Robert Lee Brewer's November PAD Chapbook Challenge, in which participants write a poem each day, based on a prompt. "During the month of November, don't worry so much about finished drafts; just get the rough drafts cranked out each day. After all, you've got December (and the rest of your life, for that matter) to edit.

It's been fun posting as well as reading other people's poems. Robert was kind enough to take some time out of poetry writing to answer a few questions...

What gave you the idea to start the PAD Challenges? (& how many have you had so far?)
We’re currently in the third annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Earlier this year, we finished the third annual April PAD Challenge. That’s where all the prompts and challenges started. I’m always trying to think of ways to help other poets—and inspiring them to write is just one way to do that. So I started offering a prompt a day (and two on Tuesdays) in April of 2008. That first challenge was so successful I started doing Wednesday Poetry Prompts each week. As we neared NaNoWriMo month in 2008, I started thinking that it would be neat to give poets a slightly different challenge while fiction writers work on their novels—so I challenged them to write a poem a day in the hopes of getting a 10-20 page chapbook together.
You must be so pleased with the response you've had! Every time I check in, SO many poets have posted! How have you found the experience so far?
I remember telling my wife (who I was dating at the time) that I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody participates that first year. Boy was I surprised when more than 100 poets jumped in the first day! And it’s only increased in popularity since. I’m the type of person who always hopes for success but expects failure. So I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by any type of success. The best part is that over time I’ve heard from many current and past PAD participants who have placed their PAD poems with various publications and even published whole collections. Plus, it’s amazing to hear that these challenges have either sparked an interest in poetry or brought poets back to their poeming ways!
What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
Read contemporary poets. Local poets if possible. Find them at literary festivals, open mics, readings, online, or wherever possible. Read online journals. Read anthologies and literary journals (at the library or bookstore). Of course, you must write too, but I find that the more poetry I read the better I feel about my own voice. Outside of that, read your poems aloud or have a friend do so for you. This really helps you figure out obvious flaws in the rhythm of your words.

What are your current/upcoming projects?
I currently have the November PAD Chapbook Challenge, the WD Poetic Form Challenge: Rondeau, and a challenge to create a new poetic form. In addition to poet interviews, craft advice and publishing tips, I’m usually trying to offer prompts and challenges for poets. At the moment, I’m also figuring out my plans for the 2012 editions of Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market. Plus, I’ve been submitting both individual poems and a few chapbook submissions of my own.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
If anyone wants to tweet poetic on Twitter, there are a few different hashtags available to poets. On Tuesdays, they can use #poettues. Throughout the week, poets use #poettalk to share links, poems and poetic quips. @32poems hosts a #poetparty every Sunday evening from 9-10 p.m. ET. And, #novpad is the hashtag of choice for poets who are pushing through the November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Outside of that, thank you so much for the interview. It was fun!


Learning about rondeaus from Robert Lee Brewer

Was fascinated by Robert Lee Brewer's description of rondeaus today, so decided to step up to the challenge and posted two. Here they are:



I hold my breath as I check mail
Wait for the cruel words to impale
my fragile writer soul so low:
it shudders, rails against the blow.
Yet I will triumph, I'll prevail!

I start again, revise & quail
as my poor baby soon sets sail
into the ether, tidal flow -
I hold my breath.

An answer comes: they like my tale
but want some changes ("do prevail!")
so back to editing below
and next month I will let it go...
and hold my breath.



Oh rondeau woe afflicts me now
as angst and sweat drip from my brow
and once again I wonder why
self-torture so appeals to my
twisted need to figure how.

Because this form does not allow
straying from the path, I vow
to master it before I die
Oh rondeau woe.

I grit my teeth and on I plow
trying to find rhymes somehow,
but my syllables go awry
I curse the French then start to cry
so to this form I do bid ciao...
Oh rondeau woe.


Morning Inspiration: "To Be Of Use"

Author Jane Yolen posted this wonderful poem by Marge Piercy in Facebook recently, saying that people are always asking her about her compulsion to write and work ethic. I -love- this poem, and totally agree with its sentiment. Not just about work but about life in general.

Image above: my Daily Doodle (I've been posted Daily Doodles on my main DebbieOhi.com site, for those interested), inspired by the poem this morning.


Review Fuse Poetry Contest - February 2010

Review Fuse sponsoring a Poetry contest and are accepting entries until February 28th. Details: Title: Review Fuse Poetry Contest - February 2010 Prize: $100 Cash Entry Fee: $0 (must register for free Review Fuse account if haven't already) Length: 50 lines or fewer Theme: Open More Info: http://www.reviewfuse.com/blog/2009/11/poetry-contest-february-2010/ Deadline: February 28th, 2010 Contact Info: support@reviewfuse.com To enter: 1. Sign up for Review Fuse (it's free) 2. Upload your entry and choose "Poetry Contest" as the category.

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