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George Ella Lyon, Writer and Teacher; For All Our Voices
Issue No. 13 April 2014

Tulips Happy National Poetry Month! Here in Kentucky it snowed on April 15th. But even 27 degrees and tax day couldn't faze these tulips. They sprang back and kept right on blooming, strong as a poem. (Note also their repetition and rhyme.)

I pledged to write a poem a day this April, as I did last year. Not a good poem, mind you-who could pledge that? (Maybe Shakespeare, whose birthday is the 23rd.) Instead, I follow William Stafford's advice for drafting a daily poem: "Lower your standards." Who knows if I'll wind up with any keepers, but I've made myself available, sunshine or snow, and that cultivates flow and strengthens my poetry muscles for the future.

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Voices from the March on Washington, 1963


Voices from the March on Washington, 1963, the collection I co-wrote with J. Patrick Lewis, will be out October 1 from WordSong, a division of Highlights. A crowd of thanks to Pat and to Rebecca Davis, our wonderful (and tireless!) editor.

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science

I am delighted to have poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, co-edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. Geared to Common Core standards, this collection includes a weekly poem, plus teaching suggestions, for each grade level. It offers a great opportunity for fun and for learning across the curriculum.

What Forest Knows

Picture Books:

Deep in the winter, I received the F & G's for What Forest Knows. My gratitude to August Hall, for the spellbinding illustrations; to Debra Sfetsios for the beautiful design; and to Dick Jackson for everything. The pub. date is November 18, 2014.


I have almost finished the first draft of The Other Side of Everything, a novel for adults. Much work lies ahead. The first draft is like falling in love. Revision is more like marriage. But that's where the book (and the heart) deepen.

QUOTATIONS recently copied into my journal

"There are only two questions to ask about a piece of writing: What works for you? And where are you confused?"—Leatha Kendrick

"One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking. I have only touched it, just touched it."—Dorothea Lange


A friend of mine has a practice of taking one photo every day. It's a ritual of pleasure and attention since all day Vicky is on the lookout for what calls out to be captured.

Sandpiper Sunset

A haiku can be a kind of snapshot, too, and given its brevity--three lines, twenty-two syllables, in a 5-7-5 pattern-it's not too intimidating. You may not be ready to sign up for a month, but how about a week of daily haikus? It helps me to make the pledge with a friend or two, so we're accountable for emailing our poems to each other. I have to say, I've sent mine as late as 11:46 p.m. Here's one from a beach trip early this month:

Sandpiper tracks stitch
satin sand between silk waves.
Sanibel sunset.

(Full disclosure: This isn't the version I sent the day I wrote it. Revision is the gift that keeps on giving.)

Happy wordwork! Happy spring!

George Ella Lyon

It All Connects

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