Last week my seven days of thinking turned out well. I worked on a revision with Sandy Asher of Jesse and Grace, the verse novel we wrote some time ago and which Sandy turned into an award-winning play. We’re polishing it a bit to prepare to enter it for a dramatic reading. If we make it, I’ll tell you more about that.
Cheryl Harness and I pulled a story from the file that she and I hatched a few years back over wine and chatter at a dinner somewhere; maybe at a Warrensburg Children’s Literature Festival? Correct me, Cheryl. Anyway, we couldn’t sell it because it’s about a princess and some editors who saw it informed us the world wasn’t much in need of another princess story. So to heck with ’em, we’ve embarked on a completely different story springing from the ashes of the dearly departed princess.
Also during the week, I got to thinking about an extremely unlikely subject for a science picture book, outlined it, shared it with my agent, he likes it, so as soon as I can I’ll start work on it.
What else? Got my new webcam installed (thanks Jeff) and a tripod ordered (thanks, Jeff). Posted a new picture on OZARKS FAMILY VOICES (with another plea for more pictures I can post there: https://www.facebook.com/ozarksfamilyvoices. Gave a ZOOM presentation to Springfield Writers’ Guild. Received two rejections. Wrote the first draft of my Word of the Month Poetry Challenge poem, which I’ll post soon. Agreed to meet virtually tomorrow with our moderator and eight other poets to rehearse for a program to be aired on October 15. Jane Yolen and I wrote our poems for the upcoming series of bloggers who will help us introduce our new picture book, RUM PUM PUM. Su Hutchens and I agree to give my agent another week or two to read our new collaboration before I start nudging.
I recommend a good thinking week now and then. It relieves pressures and allows the imagination to get out for a good romp.
A few days ago Marcus Cafagna and I began planning for a poetry reading event to be held in Springfield (tentatively) on Friday evening, September 8. Marcus is inviting two of his star MSU student poets and the three will read from their original work.
Taken at spring 2018 photo day. February 6-7, 2018. Kevin White/Missouri State University
As I have before when Marcus and I join forces, I’ll read some poems of my own. Marcus asked if I had any other children’s poets in mind to invite onto the program. In the Springfield area I couldn’t come up with anyone I know who has had at least one book of his/her own poetry published by a trade publisher.
I don’t pretend to know all the children’s writers in the state but the only other poet I know who fits the criterion is Constance (Connie) Levy, a wonderful poet and old friend in St. Louis.
I contacted Connie and put the question to her. She doesn’t know of anyone either and believes we are the only two established children’s poets in Missouri.
There are, of course, other talented poets. Cheryl Harness lives in Independence. Jody Jensen Shaffer lives in Liberty. There must be others scattered around the state. But as far as Connie and I know, poetry is not their focus and their publications of children’s poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Highlights. There may also be poets who have paid to have their work published through one of the vanity presses.
All this has fanned an interest on my part to learn if there are indeed other living poets in our fair state with one or more books of their own poems issued by a trade publisher. I’d love to be wrong about this so please correct me if you know about someone I don’t. At a time when more elementary school teachers and librarians are learning how to put poetry to work in the classroom, this is not a good time to be running low on Missouri poets!
I haven’t had a chance to tell you what a fine time I had last Friday when dear friend Cheryl Harness came to town from Independence, Missouri to do a writing workshop for veterans hosted at Drury University. http://www.cherylharness.com/biography.htm What a talented lady! She paints, she writes, she sculpts, and she carries an encyclopedic amount of history in her brain.
Our last time together was when we were the two speakers at a conference at Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas last year so we had tons of catching up to do. I took her to Big Whiskey’s where we whiled away the afternoon sipping milk and nibbling cookies. We had a fine time.
And as if that weren’t enough excitement in my life, another talented friend of many years, Bill Anderson, is coming to town next week — the very day I get back from Houston — and we’re already planning on a good visit. http://www.williamandersonbooks.com
Bill also knows how to make history come alive for young audiences and his fans flock to hear him talk about his books on Laura Ingalls Wilder, Mark Twain, The von Trapp Family, and many others. I took Cheryl to see “my” school and Bill is kind enough to ask to see it too. Oh twist my arm!
We had a great run of poems and comments in January. Now let’s see what we can do with the word for February. It is LEAVES. Variations of leaf, leaving or leafing are acceptable. As always, I look forward to what you are inspired to write. And also as always, I appreciate the support you share on this blog. I love comments from people who say they feel safe and appreciated. We have a wonderful community of visitors and contributors.
For anyone unfamiliar with the site, you can post your poem by clicking on the box to the upper left of this post where it says, Adult W.O.M. Poems. Scroll down to the box at the bottom where you can post your poem or comment and click on post comment. If it’s your first time, your entry will wait until I approve you. After that the computer recognizes you and there’s never a wait. There is also a box where teachers can post poems by their students to the upper right of the daily post. We all love it when students join us.
At the end of each month I sweep away the W.O.M. postings to make way for the new ones. I keep no permanent record and of course make no claim on your work. I’m not sure if you can call your poem a previously un-published poem if an editor should ask, and I suspect that the answer will vary, but it’s my understanding that once your work has been posted you are protected.
This monthly exercise has been going on for six years. You don’t have to be published to join the fun so don’t be bashful. Over the years we’ve been honored by numerous poets of the highest caliber and they set examples that others can study. We’ve also been the leaping off point for many first-time poets and they have without fail found understanding, appreciation, and support here. If you’re newish to this game and have been wondering how your poem might sound to others, 2016 is a good time to find out.
Sometimes you’ll see poems placed in the comments to my daily post. Often these poems are in direct response to something I said in the post. Among a few noted folks who do that, Jane Yolen, one of the best in the business and lightning fast and Cheryl Harness, multi-talented artist and author, sometimes respond that way to kick off further discussion of the day’s subject. You can do that too if you like as long as you understand that people may or may not return to that day’s post but many will follow the Word of the Month column throughout the month. Either way I’m glad to see what you’ve written.
I rarely comment on the poems posted in Word of the Month. I read them. I enjoy them. I just can’t keep up with commenting on each one. However, many others who regularly follow W.O.M. are wonderful about commenting, asking questions, and issuing atta-boys and atta-girls.
So here’s to another good month. Let’s get it done!
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.