Today will have to go some to beat yesterday

Hi everyone,

Does my wife make pretty children or what? Happy birthday yesterday, sweet Robin. We loved sharing it with you!

Not only did I have a good evening, the day was fine too. It began with a SKYPE session with my writing partner, Mary Jo Fresch, about the book we’re winding up for Scholastic, BEFORE THE FIRST DRAFT, that’s due out next spring. Several teachers are involved with that one and it’s looking good.

Within hours apart I received the jacket copy for CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS, due out next spring, and hi-res art for the whole book of A PLACE TO START A FAMILY, also due next spring. Both books are looking glorious.

While I was walking around the house grinning into mirrors, I heard from a music professor in Texas that she is writing a score for men’s chorus based on my poem, “I’m Signing on a Crew,” (from PIRATES), which she found on The Poetry Foundation website. She attached the first few pages of the sheet music. So I stopped grinning and starting singing”Argh!”

And then I heard back from someone who can be helpful to me as I consider the possibility of a new nonfiction book that may take a few years to develop. So “Argh!” turned into “Wowzers!” It was a good day for vocalizing. Oh, got a school visit invitation in there too.

I also completed my part of the three-way poetry manuscript with Steve Withrow and J. Patrick Lewis.

Today I’ll get back to tweaking the poetry chapter for CHILDRENS’ LITERATURE IN THE READING PROGRAM. (Yup, due out next spring.) My deadline is May 12 but I’ve got Chicago to do between now and then.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF NATURE POETRY

Hi everyone,
J. Patrick Lewis
J. Patrick Lewis’s latest anthology is out. It’s called NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC BOOK OF NATURE POETRY: MORE THEN 200 POEMS WITH PHOTOGRAPHS THAT FLOAT, ZOOM, AND BLOOM! Publishers Weekly says, “Few books make it clearer why nature inspires so many poets to reach for the pen.” It’s a highly entertaining and inspirational book and I recommend it. The poets who are in it have been sending high-fives to one another. It’s that kind of book. Pat Lewis and Book of Nature Poetry

My contribution reflects on the act of union between a stalagmite and stalactite that touch at last and join as one after eons of reaching toward one another in the dark.

You’ll find many of your favorite poets in this collection as well as several talented names you need to know better. Thanks, Pat!

Pat Lewis’s book and Sandy Asher’s play

Hi everyone,

First, a reminder about Sandy Asher’s upcoming play, WALKING TOWARD AMERICA, at the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row. Sandy Asher See http://walkingtowardamerica.wordpress.com for info about the festival, the play, ordering tickets to the Saturday, October 17, 4 p.m. performance — and possibilities for the earlier sold-out performances. Please share. For those who want to support, consider boosting Sandy at GoFundMe campaign at http://gofundme.com/walking.

Pat Lewis and Book of Nature Poetry
I’ve now received my advance copy of National Geographic’s BOOK OF NATURE POETRY, edited by J. Patrick Lewis. Here’s the cover and here’s an Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1426320949?ref_=gfix-ews-form .
J. Patrick Lewis
The combination of Pat Lewis’s encyclopedic knowledge of poetry coupled with National Geographic’s treasury of stunning photography combine to make this latest partnership a book for everyone of all ages. The contents are arranged into general categories such as In the Sky; In the Sea; Across the Land; In Season. The range of poetic voices represented throughout makes it one of the best anthologies of this scope (192 pages) you’ll find.

Of course if I weren’t in it, I wouldn’t like it nearly as much. But I am so you can’t go wrong.

Comes out October 13. Order as soon as you can. You’ll be happy you did.

What does poetry mean to you?

Hi everyone,

I appreciate your contributions to the chats about increasing our poetry reading audience, how we keep records, and turning our thoughts to poems about bugs for the wee set. Next up is none other than J. Patrick Lewis, former United States Children’s Poet Laureate. Here is Pat’s suggestion for a topic to chew on.

“David,
Robert Frost said that ‘a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.’ My friend John Barr, former President of the Poetry Foundation, said that a children’s poem ‘begins in delight and ends in delight.’ The definitions of poetry are endless, but do you suppose your readers might be interested in weighing in with their own descriptions of poetry or children’s poetry? Who knows? They might just come up with one as simple yet brilliant as William Carlos Williams’s line: ‘If it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem.’”

So there you have it. How do you define poetry? Do you define poetry for children differently? I’ll leave this up today and tomorrow.

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More favorite poems, 3

Hi everyone,

I’m glad to say that I have permission from J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen, and Marilyn Singer to post the poems I described from their books. I’ll do one a day for the next three days. Sadly all three books are out of print.J. Patrick Lewis

From HEROES AND SHE-ROES by J. Patrick Lewis, published in 2005 by Dial. Posted by permission of the author.

THE UNKNOWN REBEL
Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
June 5, 1989

The rulers were in hiding,
The day darkened with shame.
The Square would flood with students’ blood
Till a man without a name

Appeared from out of nowhere
With nothing on his mind
But to stop the clank of a Chinese tank
That rattled humankind.

Suppose we call him Courage,
Defiance-to-the-Bone,
The symbol of a cut above,
The One Who Stood Alone.

(c) J. Patrick Lewis, all rights reserved

Pat chose the narrative voice in three regular ballad stanzas to remind us of the courageous young man who, in 1989, walked into Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China and faced a tank that was grinding across the square in a demonstration of the government’s might. The young man was pulled to safety and his fate is unknown. But his act, and Pat’s poem, remind us of our “defiance-to-the-bone” need to be free.