Teaching Poetry to Kids

I often get asked how to teach haiku to young people. As I’ve stated before, it’s my belief that the most effective way is to introduce them to poetry that they can relate to.
Happy Haiku (shortlisted for the American Haiku Foundation Touchstone Distinguished Books Award) is a valuable teaching tool for early childhood and junior grade teachers, as the poems are about family love and happy stories about nature.
When I learned that haiku poets were using it as a teaching tool for older kids, I decided to write a poetry book for kids from grades 6-12, which is now available. As editor and poet Michael Rehling stated in the foreword for What We All Want to Say, poetry for grades 6-12, “For better or worse we carry with us all of the experiences in our life. They are though much less of a burden if they are in the form of a poem. Haiku are short poems that are small reminders of the larger issues in life.”
This is an example of one of the contemporary haiku poems you will find that kids in middle grade or high school may be able to relate to. Remember, haiku is meant to be read slowly, and often twice.

after school
all the activities
I never chose

Happy Haiku and What We All Want to Say, poetry for grades 6-12, are available for purchase on the Books page of this website. Hopefully the poems in these books will inspire the young people in your life to try their own. And maybe you will, too!

Quote: “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

Poetry for Middle Grade and High School

My love for Japanese short form poetry is no secret. One of the reasons I wrote What We All Want to Say, poetry for grades 6-12, is to put a poetry book out into the world that is relevant to young people today. My hope is that it will inspire students to create their own poetry, or to encourage discussion in the classroom or at home.
What We All Want to Say is a collection of contemporary haiku, senryu (a close cousin to haiku) and three haibun (prose with a haiku), written in the voice of a teenager. Haiku has evolved over the years, and it became important to me to show the younger generation what haiku poetry sounds like today.
My recent picture book, Happy Haiku (shortlisted for the American Haiku Foundation Touchstone Distinguished Books Award) is targeted to pre-school and junior elementary children, but there is still a void for contemporary poetry in the middle grade and high school market. It’s my hope that What We All Want to Say can help fill that void.
Published by Cyberwit.net, it will become available for order the week of July 21, 2020, from both Amazon and Cyberwit.


Quote: “Too many adults wish to ‘protect’ teenagers when they should be stimulating them to read of life as it is lived.” Margaret A. Edwards

Teaching Haiku

After taking a little break, I have just signed a new contract with Crimson Cloak Publishing for my picture book, Happy Haiku, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It will re-appear on Amazon soon! Happy Haiku has been used by junior grade teachers as a teaching tool to introduce haiku into the classroom.

Speaking of teaching tools, I am thrilled to say that Cyberwit.net will soon be publishing my book of Japanese short form poetry (haiku, senryu and haibun) for grades 6-12. There is a huge void in the contemporary haiku market for relevant poems for that age group. I’ll post again as soon as it becomes available.

I’ll leave you with a helpful hint for teaching haiku! The plural of haiku….is still haiku!

The Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Contest

Founded in 1990, the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku and Senryu Contest for grades 7-12 is co-sponsored by the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association and the Haiku Society of America. It was an honour to be asked to co-judge the contest this year with Michael Dylan Welch. The results can be found on the Nicholas A. Virgilio website, The Haiku Society of America website and its journal, Frogpond. A hearty congratulations to the six winners! It was truly a privilege to read your work.


Quote: “Our aspirations are our possibilities.” Robert Browning

The Touchstone Distinguished Book Awards

I found out yesterday that my picture book, Happy Haiku, has been shortlisted for the prestigious American Haiku Foundation Award. This is the second time I have been fortunate enough to experience this, as my chapbook Not Like Fred and Ginger, was shortlisted for a Touchstone Award in 2014.

To say it gave me pause for reflection would be an understatement. The first book chronicled my very challenging journey with cancer from 2010-2013. There was a time that I didn’t know that I would still be here in 2020, let alone have another book, particularly a happy one, worthy of such recognition.

This is probably a thinly veiled attempt to say that in troubled times, we must do our best to hold on and always look forward to better days ahead.

I am grateful to the American Haiku Foundation and the Touchstone Committee and judges for this  honour.

 “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” William Woodsworth


So pleased to announce my latest Japanese short form poetry book, How Soon the Colour Fades, is available on Cyberwit.net and Amazon for pre-order. Sincerest thanks to Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agarwal (Managing Editor). Amazon

(Also, huge thanks to the first reviewers for my women’s fiction, The Smell of Roses. So appreciated!) goodreads


Quote: “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” Mark Twain


New Book!

As you may already know, I write in different genres, although most of it has been in women’s fiction and Japanese short form poetry. I’ve had two exciting things happen in the past couple of days in both.

My third women’s fiction with a strong romantic element, The Smell of Roses, published by Crimson Cloak Publishing, was released on the weekend, and this morning I found out that my poetry book, Wondering What’s Next, published by Cyberwit.net, has found a home in the Burlington Public Library. Thank you to all involved in making those things happen. I am grateful. Here’s a little blurb about The Smell of Roses (available in e-book and in print on Amazon)…

Groomed to run the family business, Sarah Ballister sacrifices everything else in life to climb the ladder to vice-president. Unsure of who she is anymore, if not the person her judgemental parents mapped out, she makes the agonizing decision to leave Ballisters.
Sarah meets Sam Fergus, a shoe-shine man with a disarming smile, when he asks to shine her Louboutin’s at the airport. She also runs into businessman Dan Jamison, who expresses interest in Ballisters.
Dan calls the next time he’s in town and asks her to meet him at the airport. Walking past the shoe-shine stand, she sees Sam again. She glances back at him and is surprised she has butterflies. Could the woman known as the queen of acquisitions really be flirting with the shoe-shine man?


The Smell of Roses (promo pic)

New Books

It’s been a busy time in my little corner of the writing world. My children’s picture book, Happy Haiku was just accepted into Burlington Public Library and Oakville Public Library, and featured on CHCH TV in a CanLit segment with Annette Hamm and Edy Graziani.
Wondering What’s Next, my newly released poetry book is now available on Cyberwit.net and Amazon, and I’ve been busy promoting that, as well as Happy Haiku.
And what turned up in the middle of all this, but the final edits for my women’s fiction/romance, The Smell of Roses, which is due out in a matter of weeks. Throw in the traditionally busy month of December, and my mantra has become, “Breathe.” (:
Wishing you all peace, joy and love throughout the season and beyond. Remember to breathe…and enjoy!


Quote: “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” William Woodsworth

New Poetry Book Cover Reveal

I was honoured when Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agrawal, Managing Editor of Cyberwit.net, approached me about publishing a book of my Japanese short form poetry. The result is “Wondering What’s Next” a compilation of haiku, senryu, and haibun, that will soon be available through Cyberwit.net and Amazon.

Cover Reveal for Wondering What’s Next:


Wondering What's Next cover