Two days ago I received an e-mail from a French educational publisher in Paris asking permission to reprint my poem, “It’s Me,” in an upcoming textbook for students 17-18 years old. Some of you may remember this one. I wrote it for Jan Greenberg’s award winning, art-inspired book, HEART TO HEART, which came out from Abrams in 2001.
I was asked to write a poem based on Andy Warhol’s Cows diptych. After Jan had accepted the poem, she learned that that the painting was not available so she asked if I could do something with Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe diptych. I switched “cow” for “Marilyn” and the poem worked fine, even better. Jan received awards for the book, as her books tend to do. I arrived late to a ceremony at ALA when she received the Michael L. Printz Award “for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.” Someone read “It’s Me” as an example from the book but I missed it. Jane Yolen, you remember the book? You are in it. So are J. Patrick Lewis, X.J. Kennedy, Sandy Asher, Constance Levy, Janet Wong, Brenda Seabrooke, and numerous others you would recognize.
In 2012, “It’s Me” popped up in another collection, published as a Borzoi Book by Alfred Knopf called ART AND ARTISTS. It was edited by Gallatin professor Emily Fragos (Columbia University School of Arts and Letters) who received one of two 2015 Witter Bynner Fellowships from the United States Poet Laureate Charles Wright. Fragos was one of ten poets selected to receive a Guggenheim fellowship in 2014 as well as The American Academy of Arts and Letters 2014 Prize in Literature. I forgave her for throwing into her book a bunch of old dead guys such as Homer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Byron.
For a poem that began with a cow, my little ditty is enjoying itself. This latest outing is with French publisher Editions Didier in a book to be called PASSEWORD LITERATAURE 1RE/tLE. It’s due out in April. Maybe I’ll have enough time to brush up on my French.