Tonight at the library

Hi everyone,

Tonight is a big night for me. For the first time since it came out, I’m introducing my autobiography, THIS LIFE, to the public. At 7:00 my editor, RACHEL KERSEY, and I will sit before an audience gathered at The Library Center in Springfield and talk about the book.

Rachel will come prepared with questions and I, hopefully, will come with answers. I may read a bit now and then to help provide further insight about how I chose the events in my life that I think eventually influenced me as a writer and poet.

The cover for THIS LIFE was taken by RANDY BACON when he was shooting Words and Pictures, the marvelous exhibit that has been on display at numerous locations around the area. I’m very grateful to Randy for allowing me to use the picture of me on the cover.

I’ve given many programs at The Library Center over the years. Most have been well attended by audiences that included numerous children. But tonight’s event is different. There won’t be many or any children there. This time the subject is for adults — writers, readers, teachers, librarians, parents… I don’t know what to expect and can only hope for a nice turnout. Wish me luck. Come if you can.

First activities of the new year

Hi everyone,

Today I’ll finish the Benchmark book. I may take a few days off, or at least cut back on the hours for a while. I still need to make a few more notes about the school visit to WOLF School this Thursday and coming up on the 12th is a program at The Library Center that will be a Q/A interview/presentation with my editor, RACHEL KERSEY, about This Life. I look forward to both events.

Looking for Authors of What I’ve Learned So Far

Hi everyone,

The date is set. On the evening of August 11, 2023, Foundation for Springfield Public Schools will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the book, WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR.

This was one of my all-time favorite projects. With the full support of our public school system, I formed a committee of more than fifteen teachers and we asked the district’s 24,000 students Prek-12 and 2,400 staff members to finish the prompt, “What I’ve learned so far is…

More than 12,000 students and staff responded. My committee and I pared the contributions down to 1,100. After students illustrated the book, I had it printed in Cassville, Missouri, got it copyrighted, registered it with the Library of Congress, obtained an ISBN number, and we started selling our masterpiece. It was by every measurement a runaway success.

I’ll tell you more about the book and how we marketed and celebrated it when we get closer to the upcoming event. I will mention now that I quoted from the book in commencement speeches at Missouri State University and Drury University. I called the talk, “Never Go Camping with One Pack of Hotdogs.” You can read it on my website at . Go to VISITS and click on the picture of me speaking.

For now the focus is on finding authors and illustrators of the original book. The youngest author, 4-years-old then, will turn 34 next year. The oldest, then, was 18. Between now and August we want to reach as many as possible of those 1,100 contributors to WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR and invite them to the party to celebrate their achievement. If you are one of them, or know someone who was, it’s not too soon to make plans to attend. It promises to be a milestone event!

Writing for Children — Why and How

Hi everyone,

My PowerPoint slides are in a thumb drive and in the cloud (thanks JEFF) and I’ve selected the poems I’ll read. I’ll go over my notes a few more times and be ready. I know that some of you plan to attend tomorrow evening at The Writers Place and look forward to seeing you there. Three of my publishers have contributed a total of 26 books that I’ll be giving away. The event is open to the public and free so please share the information with someone who lives close enough to join us. The address in Kansas City is 31 W. 31st Street between Main and Broadway.

Most of us who have published books for children are asked now and then, “How do I get started?” The question seems simple enough but the answer isn’t. My talk is meant to add perspective to the question and provide some guidelines for those who might decide to try. The information will be of interest to others who are involved in various aspects of children’s literature — researching, teaching, reading, fostering a love for it. Wish me luck.

Poetry reading at Denver book store

Hi everyone,

Early this month LESLIE BULION and I recorded a video moderated by the store’s SOPHIE NOGAR, to be aired at a later date in Denver by the Second Star to the Right Books. That day was yesterday. I heard it go live and thought it went well. It was a pleasure to meet Leslie and partner with her on the presentation. She read from her book, SERENGETI, PLAINS OF GRASS, and I read from THE DIRT BOOK. After our readings, we talked about how we work and why we think poetry is important in the lives of young people. Here’s the video.