Tamera Will Wissinger is the first-time author of Gone Fishing: A Novel In Verse (Houghton Mifflin, 2013). From the promotional copy:
For fishing tomorrow
it’s just us two.
Not Mom, not Grandpa,
It’ll be like playing catch or
Painting the garage.
Just Dad and Me.
Sibling rivalry, the bond between father and son, the excitement – and difficulty – of fishing all add up to a day of adventure any child would want to experience.
Matthew Cordell illuminates this novel-in-verse throughout with his energetic black-and-white line drawings.
While each poem can be read and enjoyed on its own, the poems work together to create a story arc with conflict, crisis, resolution and character growth.
The back matter of this book equips the reader with a Poet’s Tackle Box of tools and definitions for understanding the various poetic forms the author uses in this story.
How did you approach the research process for your story? What resources did you turn to? What roadblocks did you run into? How did you overcome them? What was your greatest coup, and how did it inform your manuscript?
To develop that end matter section, I read a pyramid of poetry and reference books. I wanted to make sure that the poems and the details about them were accurate. It was challenging because each book was structured a little differently and included or excluded some forms.
Finally, in the front of one of my rhyming dictionaries, I found a section that outlined rhyme, rhythm, and stanza patterns. That information was my key. From there, I developed more detail about each of these poetry components, added in poetry techniques, and elaborated on the different poetic forms. It not only helped shape that section of the manuscript, but it changed how I think about poetry.
As a poet, how did you achieve this level in your craft? What advice do you have for beginner poets interested in writing for young readers?
|The first book Tamera recalls singing along to as a child|
Even before I could read, I loved to sing and chant nursery rhymes. I guess I’ve been practicing for a very long time. And up until a few years ago I wrote a lot of bad poetry, and then it started to be mediocre, and finally after more practice, it got better.
The best advice I could offer someone interested in writing poetry for young readers is:
- Read a lot of poetry, both rhyming and unrhymed. Seek out contemporary poetry for a variety of age levels (from babies to adult) and think about content and structure as you read. Include classic poetry; that’s a great way to tune your ear to the basic elements of poetry and to see how those poets used form and technique.
- Study rhyme, rhythm, stanza patterns, poetry techniques, and poetic forms. Understand the tools you’re working with so that you can control your poetry. (I think this is what people mean when they say, “know the rules before you break them.”)
- Write and revise. Practice and make it better and better.
- Work with other poets. Read your poetry and theirs out loud. Tune your ear to what sounds good and what sounds off. Writing for children is meant to be read out loud – I think this is especially true of poetry. Make sure your poetry sounds natural and is effortless to read out loud, and more importantly, make sure anyone else reading it will have that same level of success.
- Several years ago Heidi Bee Roemer, a poet whose work I admire, suggested that I consider submitting to the magazine market. Once my poetry was polished enough, I took that advice and eventually sold my first poems and received my first publishing credits from children’s magazines. That boosted my confidence, added to my resume, and gave me the encouragement to keep trying. I happily pass along Heidi’s good advice.
|Tamera's temporary desk (during a home remodel)|
|What inspires Tamera.|