Welcome to a new week and all it holds. We spent part of the weekend in the garage. It’s surprising what you find in your garage when you start shoving boxes around and actually peeking into a few. If anyone is looking for a good place to start a poem or maybe a mystery story, look no further.
I also spent part of the weekend reflecting on the poetry workshop at the Boyds Mills farm. It’s hard to imagine a more congenial group. Thanks to Marcia and her crew for feeding us as well as any cruise could boast. Thanks to Kent Brown for leading the vision to create the “barn” and the opportunity for so many talented, creative people to spend time there honing their skills and picking up tips from those who have gone before and are glad to share what they have learned. Thanks to Alison Myers and Jo Lloyd for setting up the workshops and staying in touch with all the players throughout the Highlights Foundation’s busy season.
Thanks to my co-leaders of this workshop, Eileen Spinelli and Rebecca Dotlich, for their wisdom and enthusiasm as we teamed in various combinations to keep the days lively and informative. Thanks to our special guests for the week, Rebecca Davis, Marjorie Maddox, and Melanie Hall, for adding greatly to the richness of the experience by sharing their own insights into this tricky thing called writing for children. A special thanks to Jerry Spinelli who not only accompanied his wife but sat in on numerous presentations and made himself available to anyone with a question about his wonderful work. He even posed willingly for pictures. Well done everyone!
A way-up-there highlight of the week for me was when my friend and fan Rachel Heinrichs came to see me all the way from West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Her heroic mom, Michele, drove more than three hours each way to make it happen and even brought young sister Sarah. Rachel was in sixth grade this year and was named mascot for her school’s ball games. A while back she shared with me a picture of herself looking mighty fine dressed in her cougar costume. Rachel and I became friends when she was chosen (by popular vote) Monthly Hall of Fame Young Poet for April, 2010. Later that year I spoke at the New Jersey SCBWI and Rachel asked her mother to drive her there so that we could meet. Michele did. When I introduced 4th grade poet, Rachel Heinrichs, to the auditorium filled with writers, they gave her a well deserved round of applause. It happened again this time too! Thank you Rachel, Michele, and Sarah for coming so far to brighten my day.
Most of all I thank those who attended this workshop to spend five days learning, sharing, exploring, and enjoying the inspiring atmosphere that pervades the place where we stayed and worked together: Joy Acey (Arizona), Robyn Black (Georgia), Christi Diamond (New York), Julia Ferdinand (Barbados), Carolyn Hankel (Arizona), Sharon Barry (Washington, DC), Cory Corrado (Canada), Joanne Durham (Maryland), Jacqueline Gramann (Texas), Julie Hedlund (Colorado), Bill Johnson (Pennsylvania), Bridget Magee (Arizona), Heidi Mordhorst (Maryland), Dale Purvis (Georgia), Buffy Silverman (Michigan), Hannah Wilde (California), Lucinda Kennaley (Missouri), Rebecca Menshen (Pennsylvania), Jeanne Poland (New York), Rebecca Shoniker (North Carolina), and Liz Steinglass (Washing, DC).
I apologize that most of the pictures I took are of poor quality. The camera isn’t at fault. In case you wonder about the dead sparrow, I was distracted by it during one of Rebecca’s writing exercises. Everyone else was using handouts with pictures and poems for models but I kept looking at the unfortunate bird so my quick poem turned out to be about it.
Service in the Rain
David L. Harrison
Small brown bird lying on its side
as though asleep,
recently a living thing flitting
limb to limb, flying fatally
against a windowpane,
we bathe now, anoint its body,
wash dust from stilled feathers,
mourn its loss as only drops
of sweet rain can do.
Here’s another first draft, this one in response to a prompt by Eileen to think about and write about a memory. When I was a six-year-old, living with my parents in Arizona, they bought me for my birthday exactly what I wanted, a cowboy outfit complete with hat, bandana, chaps and a cap gun pistol in a holster. I was like “Yeehaw!” But I was a boy who liked to imagine things and invest inanimate objects with special powers known only to me. I liked my new six-shooter cap pistol but I loved even more something I found in the yard, something even better. As I remember, my parents struggled to understand my preference.
I have a secret,
shh, don’t tell.
In my pocket
I have a rock
that shoots out
and knocks down
alien space ships.
It looks like a rock
but really it’s not.
Shh, don’t tell.
As you can tell, we had fun and I heard talk among some attendees about keeping in touch and returning next year. Good memories. My thanks to all.