I like write days more than work days

Hi everyone,
David from 417 Magazine
Yesterday was a work day. I wrote a poem early in the morning, but mostly I attended to other duties of a writer. As you may know, I don’t have an agent and can’t articulate why other than this is the way I do it.

I found an unfinished manuscript in the files that I hadn’t touched since 2015. It’s a proposal with samples and I still like it. I submitted it to an editor I know but so far haven’t worked with.

Remember that first middle grade novel I said I was going to write, also back in 2015? I finished it and tried two houses. Both editors called it too literary. Since then I’ve had more than half a dozen readers vet it and make excellent suggestions that I’ve incorporated into the story. Yesterday I spent time checking on possible homes and queried three of them about interest in seeing it, including one of the two that turned it down the first time. I also asked an author friend what she thinks about her publisher and hope to make that a fourth possibility. If I don’t place the book during this effort, I’ll start over and make another list. I’m pleased with the story and plan to work until I find a spot somewhere. As a footnote, one of the editors I queried responded in half an hour and I sent her the script.

I sat for a while looking over a collection of poems that I think has some of my better work. The problem is that it has no “hook.” Maybe I’ll coin a new term: “If it’s hookless, it’s bookless.” Many editors these days require a connection, a reason, a tie-in to the land of school and library sales, which means there must be a strong, obvious support for school curriculum such as Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I get it but this bias can lead to good stories being left off lists because they’re guilty of only being good literature. Other publishers maintain their philosophy of publishing literature, but of course the marketing opportunities change over time. Thus you might ask me again why I remain agentless. But moving on. In this case I have two houses in mind but they both have submissions from me at the moment so I’ll wait a while longer.

I also happily greeted the news that Polemo Books is bringing out HERE WE GO: A Poetry Friday Power Book, their latest title, and I’m one of twelve poets anchoring it.here-we-go That’s great news and, as always, I’m flattered to be included in anything that Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong publish. https://www.amazon.com/HERE-WE-GO-Poetry-Friday/dp/1937057658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484248684&sr=8-1&keywords=here+we+go+a+poetry+friday+power+book
I used to know how to make those teeny addresses but seem to have forgotten. Soon afterward Janet sent this bulletin along: Good news! HERE WE GO is a Children’s Book Council “Hot Off the Press” selection for January 2017: http://www.cbcbooks.org/cbc_book/here-we-go-a-poetry-friday-power-book/#.WHeip3jAUrR

Next I spent some time making arrangements for an upcoming research trip to help me finish my current middle grade novel. I’ve done the story but want to visit the setting in Arizona once again to make sure I’ve nailed everything accurately. I’ll walk and visit and take pictures, then come home and put on the final shine. If I miss that window, I’m busy until mid-March. While I’m in Phoenix I will visit Burton Barr Main Library to see my poem in the sidewalk and have my picture taken with a group of youngsters who will be there. But to do that means I’ll need to drive four hours that morning after overnighting in Bisbee to meet them at 10:00 a.m. Little details like that can take time.

At 1:45 I took a break for cheese and crackers, dropped off leaves at recycling, and drove to the store for grub and grog in anticipation of the predicted ice storm. When I put away the grub, it looked just fine, but I wasn’t sure I trusted the grog. I took a wee sample to be sure and determined that there were no discernible imperfections. Satisfied, I settled back to work.

Correspondence involved a business matter and something to do with one of my favorite volunteer projects. I exchanged updates with my writing partner, Sandy Asher, on the new venture we’re exploring and sent a note to my editor at Guilford about the poetry chapter I’ve written for the latest edition of CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN THE READING PROGRAM.

I can’t account for where the day went. I still had a lot of friends I wanted to talk to but I was out of time. It was suddenly 4:22. I had only one hour and thirty-eight minutes before 6:00, that fateful moment when my M.O.W. makes me quit playing. I had another wee sample, because of a certain lingering doubt about the first, relaxed for a few minutes enjoying the video provided by my U.K. friend, fellow poet, and frequent visitor to Word of the Month Poetry Challenge, Bryn Strudwick, (https://youtu.be/ePk3bK6oU90), and started writing a poem. Didn’t finish it, but that was yesterday. Today is a new day!
David
P.S. At the last minute I remembered to shave. Close call!

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Keep those dirt poems coming!

Hi everyone,

We have plenty of time for you to share a poem inspired by dirt. So far we have fewer poets but their work is stellar. If you have not yet clicked on Adult W.O.M. Poems to enjoy their offerings, you need to do so. So far we have Cory Corrado (Canada), Bryn Strudwick (England), Silindile Ntuli (South Africa), and Jane Yolen, Donna Welch Earnhardt, Karen Eastlund, Jeanne Poland, Chris Regier, Linda Baie, Linda Boyden, and Cheryl Harness from the U.S.

Have I overlooked anyone? I’ve enjoyed all the poems this month and never cease to be impressed by the variety of work that spins off of the same word. I hope to hear from more of you before we have to get out the soap and water and clean up for November.

Playing to a mixed audience

Hi everyone,

I don’t know all of you who visit me here equally well. I’ve tried in the past to figure out how my visitor-ship breaks down among authors, poets, artists, teachers, librarians, administrators, professors, agents, young people, parents, friends, family, and supporters of literature in general and children’s literature in particular. I wish I did know but most days I can only go by raw numbers: X number of visitors clicked on my blog.

What makes me think of this is the humorous poem published on my blog yesterday by poet Bryn Strudwick. Gentleman that he is, he was kind enough to ask in advance if I would be comfortable publishing it. I decided it would be okay because the poem isn’t about prurient sex and because the animal kingdom abounds in stories of reproduction and death. If by chance I have some young reader who spots that poem, my question to myself was whether the reader would be exposed to anything his or her parents might find objectionable. I voted for humor.

But I turn to you for input on this subject. A number of you have, over the years, offered poems seasoned with slang that I’ve asked you to rephrase and you — ever so sweetly — have readily complied. If you are a classroom teacher preparing to throw my daily post onto the wall, I trust that you check it out before you do. BUT, if you happen to be in a hurry and trust the blog to be classroom friendly, would this cross a line?

Thanks for helping me out with this.

David

Meet Bryn Strudwick

Hi everyone,

A few days ago I heard from a gentleman in England who wrote, “On 7th February, I am reading poetry at Basingstoke Discovery Centre ‘to celebrate the joy of words and language’ as part of an event to mark National Libraries Day and would like to include your poem ‘My Book.’ May I please have your permission to do so? I live in Basingstoke and write and perform poetry although, on this occasion, I shall mainly be reading other people’s.”

With best wishes
Bryn Strudwick

I immediately looked for Bryn on Google and was delighted to agree to his request. Here are links if you’d like more information about Bryn. https://www.facebook.com/search/more/?q=Bryn+Strudwick&init=public and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-qNOxwAX1w .

Bryn was kind enough to send me one of his poems and so, with his permission, here it is.
Bryn Strudwick

PAPERBACK EULOGY

Dearly beloved, I stand here today,
A weight on my heart and a tear in my eye.
Everything’s mortal and passes away.
A time when friends gather to say goodbye
Books have been with us since something B.C.,
On velum, papyrus, parchment and bond.
But now you download them from any P.C..
The books that we love have been “Amazoned”
Shakespeare’s complete works, the Bible, Koran,
Austen and Dickens, every author you know,
All on a screen you can hold in one hand
Carry your library wherever you go.
But remember one thing as book sales dwindle.
You can’t press a rose twixt the leaves of a Kindle

© Bryn Strudwick

I enjoyed the poem very much and asked for more information. Bryn obligingly sent this brief bio. I thought you might like to meet this English actor and poet too.

“You invited me to talk about my favourite subject – me! So here’s a potted history. I’ve tried to make it brief but quite a lot has happened in 77 years.

I was born in 1938 in Enfield, Middlesex and moved to Hampshire in 1966, first to Alton, now in Basingstoke. Widowed with three sons, a step-son and step-daughter.

All my working life was spent in local government housing until having the luxury of retiring at 54. For the next six years I ran a large charity shop with my wife.

I have been writing poetry since my teens and, more recently have extended my writing to short plays and stories, winning several awards in creative writing competitions. My poems have appeared in about twenty anthologies although, to date I have managed to retain my ‘amateur status’, having never been paid for anything I’ve written.

My other main interest is the theatre. I started acting in am-dram at fifteen and continued, on and off, over the years. For the last fifteen years I have been with the Proteus Theatre Company in Basingstoke. This is a professional touring company, going as far afield as Edinburgh and even Broadway but I belong to its amateur ‘wing’, the Proteans. We have the benefit, not only of using the company’s facilities but also having productions directed by the Artistic Director.

Since 2013, I have turned more and more to performance poetry, having had two full-length shows of my own work and taking a shortened version to various social clubs. This has the advantage that I can read the poems and don’t have to learn everything!

Over the years, I have also played a lot of sport, mainly cricket.

Sorry, that was a bit longer than intended. I think the term “Jack of all trades, master of none” might well have been written for me.

Very best wishes,

Bryn”

Bryn, thank you for the delightful bio. I am confident that you’re about to make new friends in America. Rather than “Jack of all trades, master of none,” I’d describe yours as a life well spent.

David
P.S. “My Book” originally appeared in SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, Boyds Mills Press, 1993. It has been sandblasted into the Children’s Garden sidewalk at the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix and painted onto a bookmobile in Pueblo, Colorado. I’m happy to see it jump continents to seek other readers. Thanks, Bryn!