Friday, April 03, 2009

Blogger of the Week:
Tricia Stohr-Hunt, The Miss Rumphius Effect...

Tricia Stohr-Hunt, a professor in the education department at the University of Richmond, started blogging in late 2006 "because I wanted to require blogging in my spring semester class," she says. "How could I possibly ask my students to do something I wasn't doing myself? So, I jumped in. I wasn't sure what I was doing or where I was going, but before I knew it I'd been embraced by the amazing community that is the kidlitosphere."

Tricia's blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect, discusses "poetry, children's literature and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers." Below she discusses blogging, offers advice, and talks about the wonderful National Poetry Month series going on now on The Miss Rumphius Effect.

When you began blogging, what did you hope to accomplish?

My original goal for the blog is still pretty much the same. Here's what I wrote in my very first post in describing my blog's name. As for the title, I selected it because I am living my life in the shadow of Miss Rumphius and trying to live by these words:

"When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea."

That is all very well, little Alice," said her grandfather, "but there is a third thing you must do."

"What is that?" asked Alice.

"You must do something to make the world more beautiful," said her grandfather.

"All right," said Alice. But she did not know what that could be.

Miss Rumphius planted lupines, but I want to do so much more. What could that be? Like young Alice, I still do not know. When I find the answer, I'll let you know.

I also blog because I need to write. Given the technical, academic and oftentimes very boring stuff I must write for work, I need an outlet for all the other stuff kicking around in my brain.

What makes your blog unique? What types of posts will readers find there?

I wish I could put my finger on what makes my blog different. There are so many great blogs that do much of what I do and do it more eloquently and more often. Perhaps what makes it unique is that it does a little of this and a little of that. Folks interested in writing will find poetry prompts. Teachers, librarians and homeschoolers will find thematic book lists for connecting the curriculum using children's literature. There are also book reviews, though I focus heavily on nonfiction and poetry.

Do you offer any regular features?

I begin each week with a series called the Monday Poetry Stretch. I describe a poetic form or suggest a topic for folks to write about. Sometimes I provide links to additional information or include sample poems. Folks go off and write their poems and then let me know about them. Some writers leave their poems in the comments, while others post the poems on their blogs. Near the end of the week I post the results. A recent example, and one of my favorite stretches to date, was to write a personal ad poem. Click here to read the results.

I started doing these stretches during the summer of 2007 and folks really seem to like them. Every so often a published author/poet (or two or three) will stop by and participate. Some folks write for adults, others for kids. I write whatever moves me, though it's usually for kids and almost always related to science.

How are you
celebrating National Poetry month on The Miss Rumphius Effect?

Last year for National Poetry Month I wrote a series called Poetry in the Classroom. Every day I posted a review of a book or set of related books of poetry. In addition to the reviews I offered suggestions for using the books in the classroom and provided links to additional resources. I loved doing it, but wanted to do something different this year.

My 2009 series is called Poetry Makers. In choosing a project I decided that I wanted to learn more about children's poets and what motivates them. In February I wrote to 38 poets with the hope that 30 would agree to a brief interview so that I could feature one each day. To my sheer delight, 36 said yes! I put the same set of questions to each writer, and even though the questions are a bit prosaic, their answers are not. I have been moved and inspired by their views on writing, their muses, and of course, their poetry. I know readers of the posts will feel the same way.

What's your advice for new bloggers?

The best advice I can give is to write about a topic that for which you have a passion. That choice alone will give your blog staying power. Once you know what you want to write about, stay true to your own voice. A strong voice and sense of who I'm reading keeps me going back to certain blogs.

I'm also a big believer in developing community. Blogging is about sharing your thoughts and ideas and seeing how they are received by others. To develop a readership you need to comment on other blogs. Once you start making your presence known on other blogs, folks will find their way to yours.


tess said...

So glad to have found this blog through the Miss Rumphius Effect.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Wonderful interview! I am always amazed at the depth and breadth of Trisha's posts. I don't know how she has the time to keep doing such a fabulous job on her blog and keep up with everything else.

Also I have to say I would be lost without the Monday Poetry Stretch.

tanita davis said...

Yay! Thank you for also celebrating the awesome that is Miss Rumphius!

laurasalas said...

Great interview! I've been reading the Miss Rumphius Effect for quite a while and have even worked on a couple of group poetry projects with Tricia. Thanks for giving me a sense of the big picture!

Love the advice to blog about something you're passionate about. Such a great starting place.

And hurray for Monday Stretches and Poetry Makers!

Tricia said...

Thanks, Alice, for featuring me. I enjoyed it and am so grateful for the selection.

Carol Baicker-McKee said...

I love your blog, and I apologize for butting in with a non sequitur comment.

I'm a children’s book writer and illustrator. I’m on a mission to save vintage children's books, and I'm trying to alert all the people who might care about them. Under a new U.S. law that went into effect in February (the CPSIA or toy lead law), it is now illegal to sell or give away (and technically also distribute from a library) any children's books printed in 1984 or earlier (with an exception for a small number of adult-only collectibles). The problem is that prior to 1985, there was sometimes a small amount of lead in the inks used to print books - but most books are lead-free and those that aren't are only dangerous to people who eat them. Nonetheless, there is no way to tell if a book is lead-free without using digestive testing, which is both expensive and destroys the book, so the old books aren't supposed to be sold.

You can learn more about this law and how it affects children's books at,,,, and my blog,, as well as from articles in Publisher's Weekly (here's the link to the most recent article about it - you can get to their others from it:

Sorry for such a long, intrusive post. But if more people don't join the fight, old books are just going to gradually fade away. Congress so far is not interested in making any changes to the law.


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Lee Wind said...

Great interview, and Miss Rumphius Effect is a great blog!
Thanks for sharing about it,

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