“See” you at the grill

Don’t anyone dare leave! People and refreshments keep arriving. I’m looking for Steven Withrow, Lester Laminack, Kate Messner, Sarah Holbrook, Michael Salinger, and many others at any minute.

Hi everyone,

The other day when I asked for ideas to talk about, Matt Forrest and Joy Acey both liked the idea of hanging out at the grill. Joy went a step farther, as you see here.
Matt ForrestJoy Acey
You asked for topics or you were going to be away grilling… What if you plan a garden party on your blog. Everyone needs to bring a dish to share and we could all hang around and chat. For instance, if I knew Sandy Asher was going to be there, I’d want to ask her how one gets into writing plays and what is she currently working on. I’d want to know from all of the guests what they’re reading and what is their favorite book on craft . Get out the ice cream freezer, I’m bringing the ingredients.”
20150620_164255So there you have it. You are hereby invited to join us at my first ever blog party around the grill at Goose Lake. You know what it looks like so imagine you’re here in my back yard. The party is now in its third day but there are plenty of good seats left. Look around and get comfortable.20150620_164445
Check in on the comments so we’ll know you’re here and tell us what dish you decided to bring. I hope it will be something you like to prepare and that you’ll share the recipe. Once we know you’ve checked in, please look for messages from time to time.20150620_164345
Everyone is busy but I hope we’ll have a nice turnout and enjoy the chance to chat as we stroll around or sit to enjoy the view. It’s going to be rainy today but tomorrow will be in the low to mid 90s so shorts would be a good idea.20150620_164502

As soon as I post this I’m going to send out some special invitations but you should feel free to invite friends and neighbors too. After all, what’s a garden party without a lot of people?20150620_164537

Thanks, Joy. See you and Matt around the grill.



How do we keep track of our work?

Hi everyone,

I’m taking suggestions for post conversations in the order in which they arrived. This one came from Joy Acey.
Joy AceyDavid, you mentioned once about having to keep your log/journal up to date with your publications. I think that’s what you called it. It led me to believe you keep a central record of submissions and publications. I’d like to “see” what that looks like for you. What system do you use to remember where and at what stage things are at? I know it is a small thing, but how does Jane, Sandy, Bard, or your other real poetry friends do it?

Joy, when I wrote my first story to submit, in 1959, I bought a little record book and on page one, #1 I proudly printed the name of the story, its word length, where I sent it, and how much it cost to mail it. When the story came back, as they all did, I recorded the second try, and so on. In the back of the book I started a second list that merely recorded the name of the work and when I wrote it, a tally of my efforts. I didn’t buy my first computer (a TRS-80) until 1982 so by then the habit of keeping a written record was firmly established.

Today I am less attentive to keeping up with my records. With all of my correspondence on the computer, it’s possible to track the history of my work by combing through those files and folders, should I have an interest in doing so. I often neglect my little record book (I’ve nearly filled the second one now) but from time to time I make myself spend the hours it takes to catch up. I’m not sure why I do it anymore. Some sense of obligation to tradition I think.

I just scanned for you sample pages of both kinds of records. This first shows a couple of pieces and where I placed them. The rest of the section happens to reflect one of my catch-up day findings when I attempted to round up some of the anthologies I’d been in but never thought to record anyplace.

From records – examples of sold work

This one is another case of catching up, which is why dates are all over the place. Where I found a poem unrecorded, I dutifully recorded it. As I said, I’m not sure why I keep doing this. I admit I enjoy looking back over time to see what I was up to in this year or that, but when I’m gone I can’t imagine anyone else caring enough about how I spent my life to wade through such tedious details.

From records – examples of written work

So there you have it. The floor is open if anyone else would like to respond to Joy’s question. I’m guessing I’m the last to convert entirely to the computer.

Yesterday at IBBY

Hi everyone,

Yesterday Sandy and I drove to St. Louis so that I could join Sylvia Vardell in a presentation at the IBBY regional conference. Everything went well, at least as far as I was concerned. I loved presenting with Sylvia, and I loved it that one of the poems that she featured in her half of of the hour was by none other than Joy Acey. Way to go Joy! It’s the poem in which Joy learns that in some cultures, the position of your hand — palm down or palm facing out — is important when showing size. The audience appreciated the poem and I enjoyed it again.

Sylvia and Janet Wong printed post cards of one of my poems in the newest collection: POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL. I handed out the post cards and read the poem. You may have seen this one already but here it is.

He was so Little
David L. Harrison

Couldn’t reach a chair,
just stood there begging,
eyes bright, fanny wagging
until I reached down.

His puddles were so little
sometimes I’d miss them,
but he always gave himself away,
head hanging,
ears drooping,

Loud noises scared him,
made him whimper,
come running to me
too scared to know what to do,
I’d pick him up,
hold him against my chest
till the shivering stopped.

We grew up together
except I got bigger,
he just got older.

we took him to the vet,
said goodbye,
left him there.

He was so little.
The hole in my heart

Summing up the poetry workshop

Hi everyone,

It was a long trip home with flight delays in Scranton and Chicago. By the time I got home, visited with Sandy, opened mail, and found my bed it was 2:00 this morning. I gave myself an extra hour of sleep but now it’s time to get started.

My thanks to everyone who attended and participated in the poetry workshop these past few days. To my special guests, Pat Lewis, Rebecca Davis, and Renee La Tulippe,Pat Lewis with chocolate mustache
rebecca-davis I thank you personally and on behalf of the fifteen poets who sat in your audience and profited greatly from your expertise and generous sharing of your time. Renee LaTulippe reading

To each of you who attended the workshop, thank you for coming and for joining together into a family of poets who shared willingly and openly during our time together.

Thank you, Joy Acey, for always finding ways to encourage and stimulate fellow writers, from coded golf balls scattered around the property to the group reading of “Shirley the Shark.”Poetry Workshop at Honesdale, 2012, Joy 2

Thank you, Jeanne Poland, for loading your car with the sounds of music. I seriously doubt that many other workshops can boast of forming a percussion band to play and sing under a gorgeous, starlit night.Honesdale, David and Jeanne

Thank you, Matt Forrest, for divulging your secret recipe for smores.

Thank you, Jo Lloyd, for taking care of each and every detail to make it all work so smoothly. To Chef Joseph and your staff, I blame you for the extra three pounds I brought home, but I bet I’m not the only one who couldn’t resist going back for seconds and who kept shoveling down dessert night after night.

To Kent Brown, Jan Cheripko, Larry Rosler, and other distinguished guests who came by to share meals and sit in on sessions, my sincere gratitude. Janet Fagal, thanks for driving out for a visit and to meet the rest of the group. I hope that you can sign up for next year’s workshop.
Back view of The Barn at dusk
Speaking of next year, the date has been set for September 29 – October 2. I think we already have a few names on the list so let Jo Lloyd know if you might be interested. If you thought that your workshop experience was worthwhile, I hope you’ll share your thoughts with others who might enjoy the experience. As anyone who has been there knows, it’s hard to imagine a more inspiring setting for a workshop than The Barn and surrounding land that beckons from the home of the founders of Highlights Magazine for Children.My cabinBrook at Boyds Mill Walking in the woods

Writers at Work: Making On-line Writing Challenges Work for You, Part 2


Hi everyone,
David publicity photo
Making On-line Writing Challenges Work for You
Part 2
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Well, dear Sandy, dear Sandy, I’m glad you asked how on-line challenges work from the point of view of the challenger. So far I haven’t been much of one to accept challenges but boy can I dish ‘em out.

My challenge-tossing habit began in 2009 when I became sole owner of a brand-new blog thanks to the devilishly clever Kathy Temean who, upon finishing the nifty website she’d created for me, said that I had to have a blog and, in spite of my manly protestations, proceeded to make me one anyway.

After some stuttering starts, I settled into the routine of searching for material to post. I didn’t want to talk about what I had for breakfast, as utterly fascinating as that might be. Besides, some mornings I skip breakfast so where would that leave me? I began to think about worthwhile content that would justify the time of anyone who happened by my speck of space.

One of my favorite exercises is to take a word – any word will do just fine – and see where it takes me. I’m hardly alone in doing this. What reminded me of it at the time was something I’d just heard Billy Collins say when he lectured in Springfield. One of his poems, “Hippos on Holiday,” sprang from those three words. First came the title, then the poem inspired by the thought.

I issued my first challenge, which I called, WORD OF THE MONTH POETRY CHALLENGE, in October 2009. It has continued each month since then. Again enlisting Kathy Temean’s help I created one category for adults and two for students (grades 3-7 and 8-12). Each month a number of poets, some in other countries, think about the word until a connection occurs that starts them off writing a poem. Long ago I stopped tracking how many poets, poems, and countries have been represented on WORD OF THE MONTH during the forty-five months since it began. Maybe one thousand poems? I get contributors from United States, Canada, U.K., Italy, Australia, Philippines, South Africa, Germany, France, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, and many others. I always accept my own challenge so I’ve now written forty-five poems for WORD OF THE MONTH.

The challenge hasn’t been as successful with students although we’ve attracted quite a few. Partly it’s a matter of time. Rules call for teachers to select up to three poems per month per class to post. But if a teacher is into a nonfiction unit or bearing down on math or preparing for testing or a million other things, spending time with young poets has to slip down the list of priorities.

Over the years I’ve thrown down the old gauntlet a few other times too. Now and then I’ll respond to some spontaneous urge. A year ago the lake behind our house was “turning.” Scum from the bottom was rising to the top as the weather changed and caused the semi-annual cycle. I moaned on my blog about my ugly lake and issued a plea for help in couplets. They came in serious numbers from poets who seized the moment to dash off a bit of sarcasm or encouragement.

Linking up with my friend and partner in two books (bugs and Vacation), I occasionally prevail upon Rob Shepperson to provide one of his wonderfully witty drawings, which I post with a challenge to caption it. The idea is borrowed from the weekly contest on the last page of the New Yorker. I see it as a way to exercise a different writer’s muscle and many of my visitors apparently do too.

On several occasions I’ve enjoyed posting challenges issued by others. J. Patrick Lewis has come on my blog with such interesting challenges that poets leap into the game. Steven Withrow suggested a challenge. So have Joy Acey, Jeanne Poland, and others. I’m happy to act as host when these opportunities come along.

Sandy, for some reason the challenges I’ve issued so far have all involved poetry. I think I know why. There are many good bloggers who keep writers challenged with writing novels, picture books, creating story ideas, and so on. I also know of some who challenge their visitors to write poetry. Laura Purdie Salas posts a picture on Fridays and asks poets to write something in fifteen words. But poetry keeps me amused so I tend to stick with it.

My most recent addition, May 2013, is something called THEME OF THE MONTH POETRY CHALLENGE. The twist here is to help writers focus on one basic theme, very much like they’d probably need to do if working with an editor in hopes of being published. For this one I asked visitors to suggest themes and I got a lot. The first one I selected was fishing. For June, the theme was food. This month it’s relatives.

Sandy, I think I’ll wait for my second act to talk about the responses I get from those who accept my blog challenges. By then maybe I’ll have some new comments from participants that I can pass along. So for now, back to you!