Thursday, May 31, 2018

Today's Quote: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Linda Mitchell

IMPERFECT poet Linda Mitchell shares an inspiring diamante in the anthology, and here she shares a mini poem about an invention that could have been dangerous for its inventor. Chemistry can involve a lot of surprises and volatile mistakes!

Earliest known written formula for gunpowder,
from the Wujing Zongyao of 1044 AD.

Mixed a little...
with a long wooden spoon --
charcoal, sulfur, and saltpeter
in a bamboo tube --
sparkles in the sky...
don't know why...
a mistake?
or a really lucky guy!

The inventor in Linda's poem was lucky,
but we don't know what happened to this bird:
An expendable bird carrying
an incendiary receptacle round its neck.
From the Wujing Zongyao.

LINDA MITCHELL is a family girl and middle school librarian which makes her increasingly curious, geeky and creative on a daily basis. She writes in the edges of her life. You can catch her weekly Poetry Friday posts at A Word Edgewise

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Make Failure Your Fuel

Abby Wambach at USWNT Training

Sharing something that U.S. Olympic soccer player Abby Wambach said at Barnard College's Commencement Address:
Rule No. 1: Make failure your fuel.

Here’s something the best athletes understand, but seems like a harder concept for non-athletes to grasp. Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright, and they end up wasting it.

Listen: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be powered by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.

When I was on the youth national team, only dreaming of playing alongside Mia Hamm – Y’all know her? Good. I had the opportunity to visit the national team’s locker room. The thing that struck me most wasn’t my heroes’ grass stained cleats, or their names and numbers hanging above their lockers. It was a picture. It was a picture that someone had taped next to the door, so that it would be the last thing every player saw before she headed out to the training pitch. You might guess it was a picture of their last big win, or of them standing on a podium accepting gold medals. But it wasn’t. It was a picture of their long time rival, the Norwegian national team celebrating after having just beaten the USA in the 1995 World Cup.

In that locker room I learned that in order to become my very best — on the pitch and off — I’d need to spend my life letting the feelings and lessons of failure transform into my power. Failure is fuel. Fuel is power.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Christy Mihaly

George Washington at the Battle of Trenton
engraving by the Illman Brothers, 1870

Some mistakes have big repercussions. IMPERFECT poet Christy Mihaly wrote a poem for the Team Imperfect blog about a military mistake:

The men who celebrated
became inebriated,
their stomachs fully sated,
oblivious to threats;

then in their camp at Trenton
commenced their slow descent in-
to sleep, in this event in
our early history.

[The mistake-makers here are the Hessian soldiers camped at Trenton, NJ, who celebrated Christmas a little too hard as General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River to attack them, Dec. 25-26, 1776, in a great victory for the Continental Army.]

CHRISTY MIHALY writes in Vermont at a pine table overlooking forests and fields. The activities in those fields inspired her first picture book, HEY, HEY, HAY! (A Tale of Bales and the Machines that Make Them), illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Holiday House, 2018). Christy is a member of the Poets' Garage, an online community of people who write verse for children. As a founding member of GROG, the group blog for writers and readers of children’s literature, Christy blogs about books and the writing life. She also creates ELA exercises for an online educational company, which is great writing practice and pays better than poetry. She has published articles, stories, activities, and poetry in children's magazines. Her poem for writers, "Muse," appeared in the SCBWI Bulletin in 2014. She has, in addition, amassed a tall stack of rejections.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Today's Quote: Cynthia Heimel

When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth.
~ Cynthia Heimel

Photo taken at the WOW® World of WearableArt™ exhibit last year at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. --DM

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


IMPERFECT bookmarks and postcards are available to teachers, librarians, school counselors, and other folks who work with young people (until our supply runs out). Write with your mailing address to request your freebies.

Also, there's a giveaway of IMPERFECT at The Children's Book Review (ends June 17th)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Diane Mayr

IMPERFECT poet Diane Mayr knows that some mistakes begin perfectly small gesture gets the ball rolling. Maybe something as small as a cookie.

In All Probability

Probably, I'll grow frantic
--see how I obsess.
You gave me the cookie,
now it's everything in excess.

DIANE MAYR is a public librarian, a writer for children, and a poet. She also plays at being an artist. Her published children's books include Littlebat's Halloween Story and Run, Turkey, Run! Her illustrated poems can be found at Diane lives in southern New Hampshire with her feline friend, Skippy.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mary Lee Hahn

photo courtesy the Asian Carp RCC

Sometimes what seems like a good idea can go very wrong, like the introduction of Asian carp to the U.S. They were brought to control weeds and parasites but have ended up causing problems for native fish and the water quality. Currently people are trying to keep Asian carp from spreading other places in the U.S. IMPERFECT poet Mary Lee Hahn spotlights that mistake:

A Note From the Asian Carp

Don’t forget, you invited me.
I didn’t intend to be invasive –
the floods just carried me away

and now I’m on the loose
heading towards the Great Lakes to reproduce.
Will you be able to keep me at bay?

MARY LEE HAHN is a teacher-poet. She has taught fourth or fifth grades for over thirty years and is the author of Reconsidering Read-Aloud (Stenhouse). Mary Lee blogs about children's literature and teaching at A Year of Reading ( with Franki Sibberson. Her poems can be found in all of the volumes of the Pomelo Books Poetry Friday Anthology series (K-5, Middle School, Science, Celebrations), The Best of Today's Little Ditty (2014-2015 and 2016), Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems, and National Geographic Book of Nature Poems. She collects her poetry at Poetrepository (

Today's Quote: Mahatma Gandhi

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Susan Weaver

photo by Sarah Zukoff

IMPERFECT poet Susan Weaver shares a mini mistake maker poem from real life. In it, Susan recalls a night when her brother found dozens of praying mantis nymphs on his bedroom floor:

a tanka

from a boy's pocket
to bureau drawer
an unfamiliar egg case
forgotten. . .
until it hatches

photo by WoodleyWonderworks

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Mistake-Fixing Mom

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Have you heard the Monkees?

The mom of the guitarist is the person who invented white-out (aka liquid paper)!
Bette Nesmith Graham (1924-1980) was a bank secretary who wanted something to cover up her typing mistakes. From her Wikipedia page:

It was difficult to erase mistakes made by early electric typewriters, which caused problems. In order to make extra money she used her talent painting holiday windows at the bank. She realized, as she said, "with lettering, an artist never corrects by erasing, but always paints over the error. So I decided to use what artists use. I put some tempera water-based paint in a bottle and took my watercolor brush to the office. I used that to correct my mistakes."

Graham secretly used her white correction paint for five years, making some improvements with help from her son's chemistry teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas. Some bosses admonished her against using it, but coworkers frequently sought her "paint out". She eventually began marketing her typewriter correction fluid as "Mistake Out" in 1956. The name was later changed to Liquid Paper when she began her own company.

Good work, Bette!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Suzy Levinson

IMPERFECT poet Suzy Levinson shares a mini about a messer-upper who is lucky someone comes along to save her from this mistake:

Grandma's looking weird today.
I can't believe my eyes.
Her ears are big, her fur is brown,
her teeth have grown in size.
Should I take a closer look?
Yes, I'm sure that's wise.

photo by Patrick Tubridy

SUZY LEVINSON writes poetry and picture books. Her poems have been published in several anthologies, including The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books). Others have appeared (or are forthcoming) in the SCBWI Bulletin, Ladybug, and Highlights' High Five and Hello magazines. She lives in New York. You can find her online at, on Twitter @suzylevinson, and in IMPERFECT with the poem LOTS OF THINGS.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Today's Quote: George Santayana

It may be a mistake to think that the only way to be an educated person is through formal schooling. The world has a lot to offer if we take the time to look at what's going on in the woods, streams, or our own backyards. --DM

Also, maybe we'll need to learn things about ourselves and other people that we aren't taught directly.

A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.
~ George Santayana

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Keeping it casual

The color of your skin don't matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony

Sometimes, people decide to keep a mistake even when they could fix it. Why did these folks leave a wrong note in the intro keyboard solo? Not sure, but it didn't stop the song from being a hit! (If you want to hear the mistake, listen to the very beginning.) War:

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ken Slesarik

A mini mistake-maker poem by IMPERFECT poet Ken Slesarik today.


"Bad Boy" Bob, he's got some news,
back in the day he got tattoos.
He's eighty now and never rude,
but he'll tell you not to get tattooed.

KEN SLESARIK is a special education teacher and children's poet from Phoenix, Arizona. His "Heroes and Poets" assembly program, poetry “Lunch Bunch,” and after school poetry club have been well received by teachers, students, parents and administrators. Ken has spoken at conferences, written poetry curriculum and enjoys providing professional development for teachers. When not teaching, speaking or visiting schools, Ken writes poetry for children with poems published in several world-wide anthologies and magazines. Ken's mission is to empower students through the medium of poetry and he is a poetry advocate to children and teachers alike.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Kat Apel

In addition to 21 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S., IMPERFECT poets also live in Australia, Haiti, and Italy. Here is a historical mini mistake-maker poem from one of our Australian poets, Kat Apel:

A patron decried
the potato; ‘Not fried!’ –
so I sliced it in strips,
’cause I was spitting chips!*

Kat explains: There are different versions of the first potato chip story - but this is one of them, attributing the first chips to George (Crum) Speck, after someone complained (multiple times) that his fried potatoes were soggy.

* spitting chips is an Aussie slang meaning angry/annoyed.

George Speck with "Aunt Kate" Wicks

When I was looking up photos of George (Crum) Speck, I discovered that he named a restaurant after a mistake! One of Speck's customers was Cornelius Vanderbilt (founder of the university in Nashville). Vanderbilt, who had trouble remembering Speck's name, mistakenly called him "Crum." Speck liked "Crum" because he thought "a crumb is bigger than a speck," so he ended up calling his next restaurant "Crum's"!


Kat also spotted something that reminded her of kintsugi: beautiful manuscript repair.

KATHRYN APEL is a born-and-bred farm girl who’s scared of cows. She lives among the gum trees, cattle and kangaroos on an Australian grazing property. Kat has five published books, including a rhyming picture book (about a cow stuck in the mud) and three verse novels.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Today's Quote: Padraig O’Morain

People who practise self-compassion, which is kindness towards oneself, are good at taking on challenges...It is often our own condemnation that we most fear.
~ Padraig O’Morain

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

Some IMPERFECT poets have been concocting wee riddles about mistake makers, just for Team Imperfect fun. IMPERFECT poet Michelle Heidenrich Barnes shares a limerick that covers one way to earn somebody's forgiveness. (A pie goes a long way with me. What about you?)

This housekeeper might misconstrue
all that you've asked her to do.
She'll mess up your kitchen
and dress up your chicken,
but pie-baking skills see her through.

Pretty cute book jackets

MICHELLE HEIDENRICH BARNES is an award-winning children's poet and anthologist. Her work appears in magazines and anthologies, including One Minute till Bedtime (Little, Brown), Here We Go and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books), and forthcoming collections from National Geographic and Charlesbridge. Her blog Today’s Little Ditty is a poetry playground featuring writing tips, interviews with authors and editors, and monthly poetry challenges for anyone with a passion for wordplay. Visit her at