Time to revamp my blog?

Hi everyone,

When Whiz-Kid Kathy Temean designed my website and blog in 2009, we worked until both sites met our expectations. We’ve made some adjustments along the way but it has been a while now since we stood back to take a look to see how well they fit today’s reality based on six years of experience. Nothing major, just a snip here and a tuck there ought to do it I think.

For example, I NEVER think to keep my schedule current so I think I might drop that little box and maybe replace it with the background information I just finished compiling. Anyone interested in reading some of that would find it a handy reference.

I’m sure I need to drop or rewrite my letter to principals about the Word of the Month Poetry Challenge section for students. I’m sad that teachers everywhere seem overwhelmed these days and few can carve out the time to work with their kids on writing poetry. We used to get dozens of student poems and now we get none most months and a handful in others from stalwarts like Ken Slesarik. I’m not sure what to tell principals but most of them are former teachers themselves so they understand the problem and are sympathetic to it. I keep hoping that the educational pendulum has reached its amplitude and as its velocity slows there will be more time to add in some of the important elements it lost during its initial rush toward change. Kids need time to read, time to write, time to become familiar with and passionate about the power of our language.

Okay, where was I? Oh. So I’ve asked Kathy to look over the current format and content of my blog. Many of you know my blog about as well as I do so I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for your input.

I’m going to leave this up for a couple of day. I think it’s important.


Update on Downriver

Hi everyone,

On April 12 I told you that I was embarking on a new venture for me — writing a chap book, if indeed that’s what it turned out to be. It was a story line I’d considered since a trip up the Amazon many years ago and I decided it was time to give it a try. I promised to report now and then on progress.

I pulled everything else aside and wrote the story in six weeks. Then I took a deep breath and submitted it to an editor twelve weeks ago. IMAG1203 Maybe one day soon I’ll get my first official response. Whatever it is, I’ll let you know. A promise is a promise.


A butterfly that brought back memories

Hi everyone,

I took this picture yesterday. The little guy on the wet leaves is a blue hairstreak. 20150829_184153_resized When these butterflies fly, you see their beautiful blue wings. Sometimes they congregate in large numbers around a source of moisture.

20150829_185150_resized Seeing this lone blue hairstreak brought back memories of my butterfly collecting days.

I lived outside the city and often roamed meadows and pastures armed with my long handled net. The pastures often made walking a challenge thanks to the many cows our landlord kept. My reward for tempting the awful fate of stepping in a cow patty was the swarms of blue hairstreaks I sometimes found there. They loved the moisture and didn’t mind the smell so they often decorated patties with their dainty blue presence.

This, of course, presented me with a dilemma. Much later, in my 50s, I wrote a poem about it for a collection I called THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS. My editor, Bernice Cullinan, was a professor at New York University and although she hailed from Ohio (as I recall) she had been a city girl for a long time and was quite put off by my poem.

I resisted her efforts to eliminate the poem from the group but still hadn’t won the negotiation until I spoke at a conference in Atlanta and Bee slipped in the back of the room in time to hear me read the poem to an audience of giggling teachers who applauded afterward and by so doing rescued my poem. Here’s the poem.

David L. Harrison

in the middle of the path
a cow patty
bigger than a dinner plate

Smelly pie
with blowfly raisins

Melting in the sun

How can your charm
these butterflies
these dainty jewels
in sky-blue tights
to dance around
such disgusting pastry?

My net at the ready
I stand
pondering how
to swoop up the jewels

And leave the pie.

Later Sandy found a praline pastry called Cow Pie in a shop and we mailed it to Bee. All was forgiven. We even wrote a book together. Bee died recently and I miss her.

Good memories.

Daring to look over my shoulder

Hi everyone,
David from 417 Magazine
Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” Flaunting such wisdom might be risky, but I had a reason. I decided that I ought to have a presence on Wikipedia.

I thought I’d read that one can self-nominate, so I began going through all the old bios and lists of this and that in numerous disorganized, outdated folders, attempting to pull everything together into one updated document from which I might write a nice, tight little submission to Wiki. It took a week of off and on searching.

Only THEN did I look into the matter and learn that Wikipedia does not like it when someone submits his own bio. Okay. So it would have been smart to check that out first. On the other hand, I now have 24 pages of information about my track record over the last, uh, “few” decades. One of the more interesting areas of discovery (for me) was where my work has popped up in other people’s work. I knew I’d been in a good many anthologies but now I can tell you that the number is over 185, probably by quite a bit.

By anthology I mean a book by someone else that has included some or all of a poem, story, or nonfiction book for children by me or excerpts from a professional book for teachers that I’ve written or co-written.

The first entry was a long time ago:
1976, “The Little Boy’s Secret” from THE BOOK OF GIANT STORIES. Tapestry. By 4 editors. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Fast forwarding, here are a few from the last five years:
Teaching Middle School Writers. By Laura Robb. Heinemann.
2010, Numerous entries (17 listed in index. I don’t know what they are.)
Using Poetry Across the Curriculum: Learning to Love Language. By
Barbara Chatton. Libraries Unlimited.

Pam Allyn’s Best Books for Boys. By Pam Allyn Page. Scholastic Teaching Resources.
2011, Selected poems for two voices, probably from PARTNER POEMS.
The Read-Aloud Scaffold: Best Books to Enhance Content Area Curriculum, Grades Pre-K-3. By Judy Bradbury. Libraries Unlimited.

2012, Rhymes from FARMER’S GARDEN.
Poetry Mentor Texts. By Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli with Georgia Heard. Stenhouse Publishers.
Balanced Literacy Essentials: Weaving Theory into Practice for Successful Instruction in Reading, Writing, and Talk. By Michelann Parr and Terry Campbell. Pembroke Publishers.

Before They Read: Teaching Language and Literacy Development through Conversations, Interactive Read-Alouds, and Listening Games. By Cathy Puett Miller. Maupin House.
Models for Teaching Writing-Craft Target Skills, 2nd edition. By Marcia Freeman and Susan Koehler. Maupin House.

2014, “Nicholas Cobb” from DARE TO DREAM.
Creativity and Children’s Literature: New Ways to Encourage Divergent Thinking. By Marianne Saccardi. Libraries Unlimited.
2014, Selected poems plus a feature
Poetry Aloud Here 2. By Sylvia Vardell. American Library Association Editions.

2015, “The Future Me”
Literature and the Child, by Lee Galda. Cengage.
Writers Express, A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers, and Learners. By Dave Kemper, Ruth Nathan, and Patrick Sebranek. Thoughtful Learning.

The complete document lists my books, articles, interviews, activities, awards, selected talks . . . the whole works. I’m not sure what to do with it. Maybe I’ll bomb the kids with it and tell them to keep this for future reference, should the need ever arise for a future reference. I could use it to traumatize conference planners who ask for background info. Or to threaten people into doing what I want them to do: “Do what I want you to do or I swear I’ll stand up and read all twenty-four pages right here and now! Stop that caterwauling or I’ll read it twice!”

I could send it to Wikipedia, but that, of course, would only justify their policy and strengthen their determination to avoid people who think they should be listed with them.