Did I mention I was in school? On top of working and mothering, I decided to return to school and I am pursuing an MFA in Children and Young Adult Literature at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Each month I read about ten books (from picture books to middle grade to YA), write two critical essays and produce 40 creative pages. It is fabulous, amazing and A LOT. You know that phrase: writing in the margins. Well it has new, deeper and more specific meaning for me as life has gotten bigger and the margins skinnier.

One of the books I read this month was Linda Sue Park’s Tap Dancing on the Roof. It is an illustrated (Istvan Banyai) book of Sijo, which is a type of poetry that originated in Korea. Sijo has a fixed number of stressed syllables, usually divided in three or six lines. It is like a haiku but it has more syllables and the last line is usually has a twist. Also the poems are about everyday events.

Here is one I love that Park wrote:


For this meal, people like what they like, the same every morning.
Toast and coffee. Bagel and juice. Cornflakes and milk in a white bowl.
Or—warm, soft and delicious—a few extra minutes in bed.

At the end of the book, Park gives specific pointers for writing Sijo. Re: the last line, she she says, “ I try to think of where the poem would go logically if I continued with the idea, then I go in the opposite direction.” Re: the syllables and stress count, Park encourages beginners to work with the 16 syllable count per line. Advanced poets can try working with stress count, which is a bit more complicated. Titles are optional.

I tried the beginner variety. Here is my effort:

A is for Alice

For her very first day of school, Alice puts on a brand new dress;
Hair fixed. Shoes tied, Pencil sharp. Back Pack on. She is ready to go.
Then she climbs into bed and sets the alarm. Eight more hours to wait.