Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Research Risks - The Myth of the Plover

I won an ARC of Animal Partners (written by Scotti Cohn and illustrated by Shennen Bersani) from Arbordale Publishing for my entry in their Poetry Month Contest! I was very excited to be selected out of the number of entries (well, one entry to be exact...).   

The challenge was to write a poem about animal relationships. Researching zebras & ostriches, sea anemones & hermit crabs, and other symbiotic relationships got my juices flowing. Upon finding the crocodile and plover bird's tooth-cleaning relationship, my head filled with bits of lines and rhymes.

"Wait, wait. Let me get this straight.
So, you thought I would let a bird
just fly into my mouth, and
I wouldn't eat it? Dude.
Have you had chicken wings?
They are awesome!
Bwa, ha, ha, ha!"
(by Yan81 via
My draft needed another term for jaws/ mouth/ teeth of crocodiles to complete a rhyme...which led me to the internet...which led me to a crocodile specialist and his discussion called "The Myth of the Plover."

"This guy is a quack!" I yelled to no one in particular, clutching my almost finished poem. 

Alas, further research confirmed there is no evidence of this partnership except for in a doctored photograph and an old story. 

"Son-of-Crocodile-Dundee!" I yelled in a poor Australian accent. 

So the plover and the crocodile weren't really friends, but darn it, I was invested in this relationship or at least in finishing the poem. And thus the ending was born.

Plover's Lunch

By Lauri Meyers

Please open up wide.
I'll flutter inside
To pick out all your scraps.
Forgotten to crunch,
The rest of your lunch
Still stuck in toothy gaps.

A bit of fresh fish
Is really delish
A perfect birdy treat.
A dentist like me
Is helpful you see
To keep incisors neat.

But wait just a sec.
I'll take a raincheck.
Your fishy grin seems cruel.
It's giving me pause-
To eat in your jaws
Would make me quite a fool!

So there you have it-- an important lesson learned on the risks of research!

Have you had any research mishaps?  


  1. Nice post, Lauri, and very nice poem! And you are right, research can be "risky". For me, it's about trying not to put in everything. I recently wrote a fictional picture book story about elephants and wanted to learn more about them. What I learned through research fascinated me, so I tried to add as much of it as I could into my story. Problem is, it really weighs the story down. Best to pick between one and three interesting facts to incorporate and let the rest go. Maybe they'd work in another story.

    1. Great point Lauri! (love how you spell you name too!)

    2. We should start a "Lauri" club to honor all the misspellings we've had to endure over the years! By the way, great title for your blog! Wish I had thought of it. :)

  2. Wha!? The plover isn't a pal of the croc? I haven't been this shocked since I learned that there was no such thing as a brontosaurus.

    Great poem, though!

    1. Wha!? The brontosaurus isn't real? What was Fred eating all those episodes? Oh, I don't want to know...

  3. Love your poem, Lauri! I also find the plover fact very interesting. i've heard that they pick food out of crocodile's but I never felt the need to verify it. Why? Because as a dental hygienist, I want to wallow in the idea. Anyway, I admire your skill in adjusting your ending based on you discovering its truth. Lol. The Plover is no fool.

    1. Yes, I loved the idea of the crocodile being smart enough to know he needed to keep his teeth clean. It really sent me in a tailspin when I read it was a myth. Now, I've learned my lesson, even when writing fiction - check your facts!

  4. Even when writing fantasy, or romantic suspense (is that the same thing?), research is imperative. But sometimes I'd really like to just make up my own world, and pretend that's the 'real' thing.
    Your poem is creatively fabulous.

    1. Thank you so much! I think most non writers would be surprised how much research goes into fiction. Even if you want to make up your own thing, like say a rocket ship which flutters like a butterfly, you still have to research butterfly propulsion. There's always something!

  5. I love your poem, Lauri! So cute! I had never heard the myth so I wasn't terribly shocked. I love that it inspired you to write this poem though! So clever!


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