Not long ago an author and fan of the French artist PHILIPPE FIX, contacted me to see if I could help him get in touch. He was hoping to purchase a piece of Fix’s art. I told him I’d tried a few times over the years since THE BOOK OF GIANT STORIES was published in 1972 but had never received a reply.
I was delighted to hear, a few weeks later, that the author had not only reached Fix but received a response. Encouraged by that, I tried one more time, this time translating a brief note into French. And this time it worked.
Philippe is my age, 85, and no longer creates books the way he has for so many years. But he remains active with his business matters and prefers to keep his work in Europe. I loved the long overdue exchange between two old men, fifty years after our Christopher Award book first came into print.
Here’s an oldie you may not have seen before. It’s about a spider. Sorry. Sometime in the 1990s, while I was working on the collection, THE ALLIGATOR IN MY CLOSET, I was at my desk at Glenstone Block Company when I observed a baby spider begin its life’s journey by leaping from the top of my office doorway into the unknown abyss below. Losing track of time, I stopped working to watch the long, dangerous (for the spider) event unfold as it’s tiny form played out its silken line and slowly, slowly made its way toward the floor. At any time someone walking in to see me about something would have spoiled the trip. In the wild, a quick-eyed bird or dragonfly might have made a snack of the little creature. The resulting poem was included in the book.
Noiselessly the spider plunges,
like a diver off my door,
a tiny living dot that dangles
seven feet above the floor.
miniature member of its race,
letting out a silver cord,
works defenselessly in space.
lost in shadow, bathed in light,
slowly inches undetected,
patient in its daring flight.
The floor at last beneath its feet,
it ends the risky episode
and sets out on a new adventure,
down the carpet’s nappy road.
(c) 2003 David L. Harrison
Who knows the eventual fate of the young spider. Probably got crushed beneath someone’ shoe and perished unheralded. I like to think it somehow survived and made it out the door to freedom. Either way, it had its moment, its great adventure, risked everything for a chance to live a life, no matter how brief, of its own.
As I continue to work on the book with TIM RASINSKI and LYNNE KULICH, there is less and less to report about it that isn’t a repeat. I know this week will be given mostly to 4th grade and a growing sense that I’m going to meet my February deadline. Good for me, boring to talk about.
Currently I have four books under contract. Besides this one I have another education book (Shell) and two trade books (Charlesbridge and Holiday House). I think my work is finished on the trade books and hope to see them out next year. The Shell book should be out in 2023 also.
I’m behind in submissions so before long I need to take a few days off and attend to those chores. Recently I’ve agreed to a school visit, a children’s literature festival, a talk, a signing, and a couple of library programs. Otherwise my time will be spent mostly in the wheel.
A quick reminder to those who have not posted their November Word of the Month poems yet. Grief is filled with meaning and stories. Thank you for the insightful poems already posted. I hope to see others as the month winds down.
If you remember, a few months ago I turned to the poets who attended my first workshop in 2011 near Honesdale, Pennsylvania and asked them to choose words for the next eight months. They were CORY CORRADO, JEANNE POLAND, KEN SLESARIK, SUSAN CARMICHAEL, JOY ACEY, HEIDI MORDHORST, BECCA MENSHEN, and CAROL-ANN HOYTE. In previous posts I’ve mentioned this group of poets, most of whom came to the workshop as strangers and left friends. Many have remained in touch over these past eleven years. With that original group in mind, I asked each in turn to provide the Word of the Month word for the months of September (Cory), October (Jeanne), November (Ken), December (Susan), January (Joy), February (Heidi), March (Becca), and April (Carol-Ann).
So far we’ve enjoyed words provided by Cory, Jeanne, and Ken. Coming up in December is Susan. I’m eager to see what she suggests to tickle our muses.
I am honored to be added to the series of stories about people and times that help make the Ozarks the way they are. On the site, Kaitlyn describes its purpose like this.
My thanks to Nathan Papes, Springfield News-Leader, for the picture
What is Ozarks Alive?
Ozarks Alive is a cultural preservation project that seeks to document the region’s people and places. Since its inception in 2015, more than 450 stories have been published about the region and its people. Most of these pieces cover southwest Missouri, others dip down into Arkansas. And while some are historical in nature, the vast majority tell of what life is like today.
I describe Ozarks Alive as historical preservation in the present. My goal is to document the way life is now so it’s better understood in the future.
You are welcome to leave a comment after the article if you wish. I’m sure everyone is busy on Thanksgiving Day and the various activities and sports events that are traditional at this time, but I hope a few of you might find time between dishes and football to give it a look. Kaitlyn is a pro and has done a thorough job with this story.