April 12, 2016

Thursday, April 11, 2013

National Poetry Month: April Halprin Wayland Introduces Us to RhymeWeaver

Poetry Friday is party time in the TechnoVerse! Today's guest DJ is children's poet April Halprin Wayland, who blogs at Teaching Authors.

(What is the TechnoVerse? Read a description here.)

April's got some RhymeWeaver on her poetry turntable. I'll let her start this party off on the right track:

Okay, Campers…say you want to write a book in rhyme.  But there's just one problem:
you're a teeny tiny bit fuzzy about poetic meter and rhyme.  As in: HUH?

So…where to start?

You might start with the RhymeWeaver website
which claims that it will explain "some fairly complicated stuff in a really simple way."

A massive understatement. 

I asked Rhyme Weaver's birth mother, author Lane Fredrickson, to meet me here for a chat.

Thanks for stopping by, Lane!  What compelled you to share your knowledge about poetry in this way?

The children’s writing community is one of the kindest, safest places to experiment with your creativity. But I felt like the rhyme and meter rules were muddled in that community.  There were a lot of question marks and none of us really knew the answers, so the conclusion was “Don’t write in Rhyme!” 

But a lot of children’s writers still feel compelled to do it. 

Academia is the vault where the rules are kept and I went to school looking for answers. When I finished my BA in English, I felt like I could explain rhyme and meter differently than I had ever seen it done. 

I have a strong background in developmental psychology.  Experimental psychologists study how people learn and grow, they research cognition and neural encoding.  I know that images augment learning so I wanted my site to be image based.  I wanted to work from the bottom up and make every component part of a system.  Depicting a concept as a system augments neural encoding and ultimately how thoroughly we understand integrated ideas.

STOMP slip.

Who designed your site?

I designed and built RhymeWeaver myself. I designed the simple graphics myself, but bought the illustrations from Shutterstock.  A professional graphic artist at designed the home page. 

What was the most difficult part?

Organizing the content.  I had all this information that I thought was relevant, but there was no blueprint for how to present it and I needed it to be integrated, a system. 

For example, I have never actually heard anyone break down meter into three constituent components: stressed and unstressed syllables, metrical feet, and metrical lines.  I learned it backwards, myself, by examining different meters, but I don’t think that’s the best way. 

I also had never heard anyone specify that all rhymes must contain a parallel stressed syllable.  It was hard to decide if that particular fact belonged under rhyme or meter.  But I needed to integrate the relevance of meter to rhyme.

Tell us about your first book (and congratulations!)

Watch Your Tongue,Cecily Beasley, illustrated by Jon Davis, (Sterling) is a cautionary tale.  It’s about a girl with poor manners who suddenly realizes that her behavior can be hurtful. 

I wanted to write about a less-than-perfect kid because I wasn’t exactly a parent’s dream when I was little.  I always loved books where the kid was kind of naughty, but still loved and still good at heart.  I was pretty much Max of The Wild Things, except I was a girl, which is why Cecily had to be a girl.  Boys-will-be-boys is a totally unfair rationalization.

And finally, quick! What are three of your favorite-sounding words? 
(I blindly stole this question from PF blogger Robyn Hood Black)

Parsnip (probably because it sounds like its getting cut off just as it's getting started), Hrothgar (from Beowulf because it sounds like you're coughing it up as you're saying it)
and gorgonzola.  No reason.

April Halprin Wayland’s books include Scholastic's Best Seller, ToRabbittown a free-verse picture book, Knopf's It'sNot My Turn To Look For Grandma! (recommended on PBS's "Storytime"), the Sydney Taylor Gold Award-winner New Year at the Pier, and the multi-award-winning Girl ComingIn For A Landing—an illustrated novel in poems for teens (Knopf).  Her CD/MP3 of stories and poems ( ) won the National Parenting Publications Gold Medal for storytelling; her poetry appears in numerous anthologies, and she's a seven-time recipient of SCBWI'S Magazine Merit Award for Poetry.  April has taught in over 400 schools across America, in England, Italy, Germany, France and Poland.  She blogs with five other children's authors who also teach writing on is a founding member The Children's Authors Network and has been an instructor with the Writers’ Program of UCLA Extension for over a decade. Her website?  where you'll discover she's ½ author, ½ poet, ½ not good at fractions.

I'm taking a break for the weekend to attend Baltimore's CityLit Festival. Monday, another Poetry Friday regular is joining us in the TechnoVerse. Amy LV of the Poem Farm is going to tell us about SoundCloud and Pinterest.

Our Poetry Friday host is Diane Mayr. Stop by her blog, Random Noodling, for more poetry posts. And come back here on April 23, when Diane takes over the TechnoVerse!


Diane Mayr said...

As soon as I'm done rounding-up Poetry Friday, I'll make sure to check out RhymeWeaver. As someone who is not comfortable with rhyme, I hope to learn something to help me get over my fear!

Janet Wong said...

How brilliant to represent metrical feet with the work boot and the ballet slipper--RhymeWeaver is a pretty neat site! And you are such a great choice of guest blogger for this piece, April, with the hundreds of hours spent on meter in Myra Cohn Livingston's classes!!

Linda B said...

RhymeWeaver looks like a great site, April (& Lane). Thanks for sharing all about it. New to me, so I'll share with those I work with too!

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Thank you for introducing me to Rhyme Weaver - we'll head there next Poetry Thursday in my class, and I'm sure my lids will love it!

Author Amok said...

Diane, I tell the teachers whose classrooms I visit that rhyme is more complicated than people may realize. When asking a child to use end-rhymes in a poem, we are asking him or her to keep part of the mind on the rhyming word that will come at the end of the line she's writing. It's tough! That explains why kids, in rhyming poems, go for an "easy" rhyme, whether or not it makes sense in the poem.

Author Amok said...

Janet, thanks for visiting. Lane Frederick's book and slipper are a perfect way to teach visual learners about metrical feet.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Diane, I am really enjoying this series! April and Land did a wonderful job of presenting this rhyme tool. Love the learner centered approach!

Bridget Magee said... is now bookmarked on my computer! Thanks for sharing the interview and fabulous resource, Laura! =)

Author Amok said...

Thanks Andi and Bridget. All kudos go to April and Lane for this one. I'm being introduced to the site along with all of you.

Linda said...

Laura, I read about RhymeWeaver a few weeks ago on April's blog. It's a great resource. I've never felt comfortable with meter so a site like this is especially good for me! Thanks for sharing this interview!

Lane said...

Thanks for all the compliments and thank you to Laura and April for sharing my site. I hope its as much fun to browse as it was to build.
Lane Fredrickson

Robyn Hood Black said...

Thank you, April and Lane, and host Laura, for this terrific post! Nice to meet you here, Lane.

And I learned a new word on RhymeWeaver: acatalectic. (I was an English major too but don't remember that word.) It might even make it into the "favorite-sounding word" category... ;0)

laurasalas said...

Thank you, both of you. I checked out RhymeWeaver a while back, and I love it. I've recommended it already to lots of people and will continue to do so. I love how image-filled it is!