A surprise from last year

Hi everyone,

Sandy Asher just shared her discovery that SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK was produced last year in Edinburgh, Scotland. Here’s an excerpt from the article.

“Victor J. Andrew High School Presents: Somebody Catch My Homework!

Theatre students of Victor J. Andrew High School will be putting on a fun, high energy production on Thursday, July 27th that they will also be presenting just a few days later at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland! The show is titled “Somebody Catch My Homework” and follows the everyday lives of fourth graders. Unlike a traditional musical, where the actors would break into song, in this production, they will break into poetry. Alex Craig, a student involved in the production said “We were looking to do something a little different for our show”. This family friendly, children’s show will be the only one they do before they bring it to Scotland.”

Sandy’s play, published by Dramatic Publishing, was first performed in Springfield, Missouri in 2002. She chose characters and poems from my work to pull together a class of 4th graders. I don’t know how many times the play has been produced now, but it has been several. This isn’t the first time it has appeared in another country.

Sandy, thanks for finding this and sharing it. Yay for SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK!

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Good way to end a week

BULLETIN: Happy Easter to those who celebrate this day. Happy Sunday to those who do not.

Hi everyone,

Sandy Asher poses outside her Lancaster City Home. Photo:Shahan


I heard from Sandy Asher yesterday with not one but two nice pieces of news. First, Sandy’s wonderful picture book, CHICKEN STORY TIME, has been nominated for the Kansas Reading Association’s 2018 Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award! Way to go Sandy! If you haven’t picked up a copy of her book, you need to pronto.

The second piece of good news is that SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, the play that Sandy wrote based on poems from my collected works (at the time), is about to be performed again, this time at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, PA on May 19. I’ve seen it performed more than once and love it each time. It opened with its world premier here in Springfield at the Vandevort Theatre in 2004. I don’t know how many times it has been performed. Maybe Sandy will remember. I believe it was also performed in Europe on one occasion. If I’m wrong about that, it makes a good story.

And the kids said, “Really?”

Hi everyone,

This morning I hope to finish the poem I’ve been working on for ten days or so. I haven’t spent much time on it most days but enough to make it seem like it has taken a long time. At the festival one child asked how long it takes me to have a book published. The longest for me was THE MOUSE WAS OUT AT RECESS, my second book of poems about school, which came out in 2003.

The first book about school, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, was released in 1993 and sold well. It went into a third printing during its initial year. I decided to do a second school collection and eventually sent my manuscript to my editor, Bernice (Bee) Cullinan. She liked it and was proceeding with it. Before it got too far I reread the manuscript and contacted Bee to tell her I didn’t want to publish the book yet. She seemed surprised but was gracious about it.

I got busy on other projects and it took me some time to get back to work on the second set, but I eventually discarded some of the original poems, revised others, and added a few new ones. Bee liked the second effort and put it back in line to be illustrated. Before that happened, I revisited what I’d sent her and found several pieces that I didn’t like and wondered how I could have thought they were good enough. I contacted Bee. She agreed to let me have another chance to make whatever improvements I thought necessary.

By the time I finally sent the third version of THE MOUSE WAS OUT AT RECESS to Bee and it became a book, nine years had passed. I had written seventy-four poems and kept twenty-five of them for the book. All the others were discarded along the way.

P.S. The book was nowhere near as successful as SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK. Maybe I should have tried harder.

Jesse and Grace live performance today

BULLETIN: More poems from the students at Sanibel School. Check them out!

Hi everyone,

Sandy AsherI’m pleased to report that the award-winning play Sandy Asher wrote based on our script, JESSE AND GRACE, is being performed today, tomorrow, and Saturday at Carpenter Middle School in Plano, Texas. David from 417 MagazineThe book version is being read by a couple of editors so we hope to see it published as a book one of these days. In the meantime our pair of fourth graders are doing just fine on school stages and we’re proud of them.

For anyone interested in bringing the play to his or her school, here’s a helpful link. https://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2240/Jesse-and-Grace:-A-Best-Friends-Story/product_info.html

We also collaborated for the school play, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, which Sandy wrote based on my poetry from several books. It, too, is available through Dramatic Publishing.

Meet Bryn Strudwick

Hi everyone,

A few days ago I heard from a gentleman in England who wrote, “On 7th February, I am reading poetry at Basingstoke Discovery Centre ‘to celebrate the joy of words and language’ as part of an event to mark National Libraries Day and would like to include your poem ‘My Book.’ May I please have your permission to do so? I live in Basingstoke and write and perform poetry although, on this occasion, I shall mainly be reading other people’s.”

With best wishes
Bryn Strudwick

I immediately looked for Bryn on Google and was delighted to agree to his request. Here are links if you’d like more information about Bryn. https://www.facebook.com/search/more/?q=Bryn+Strudwick&init=public and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-qNOxwAX1w .

Bryn was kind enough to send me one of his poems and so, with his permission, here it is.
Bryn Strudwick

PAPERBACK EULOGY

Dearly beloved, I stand here today,
A weight on my heart and a tear in my eye.
Everything’s mortal and passes away.
A time when friends gather to say goodbye
Books have been with us since something B.C.,
On velum, papyrus, parchment and bond.
But now you download them from any P.C..
The books that we love have been “Amazoned”
Shakespeare’s complete works, the Bible, Koran,
Austen and Dickens, every author you know,
All on a screen you can hold in one hand
Carry your library wherever you go.
But remember one thing as book sales dwindle.
You can’t press a rose twixt the leaves of a Kindle

© Bryn Strudwick

I enjoyed the poem very much and asked for more information. Bryn obligingly sent this brief bio. I thought you might like to meet this English actor and poet too.

“You invited me to talk about my favourite subject – me! So here’s a potted history. I’ve tried to make it brief but quite a lot has happened in 77 years.

I was born in 1938 in Enfield, Middlesex and moved to Hampshire in 1966, first to Alton, now in Basingstoke. Widowed with three sons, a step-son and step-daughter.

All my working life was spent in local government housing until having the luxury of retiring at 54. For the next six years I ran a large charity shop with my wife.

I have been writing poetry since my teens and, more recently have extended my writing to short plays and stories, winning several awards in creative writing competitions. My poems have appeared in about twenty anthologies although, to date I have managed to retain my ‘amateur status’, having never been paid for anything I’ve written.

My other main interest is the theatre. I started acting in am-dram at fifteen and continued, on and off, over the years. For the last fifteen years I have been with the Proteus Theatre Company in Basingstoke. This is a professional touring company, going as far afield as Edinburgh and even Broadway but I belong to its amateur ‘wing’, the Proteans. We have the benefit, not only of using the company’s facilities but also having productions directed by the Artistic Director.

Since 2013, I have turned more and more to performance poetry, having had two full-length shows of my own work and taking a shortened version to various social clubs. This has the advantage that I can read the poems and don’t have to learn everything!

Over the years, I have also played a lot of sport, mainly cricket.

Sorry, that was a bit longer than intended. I think the term “Jack of all trades, master of none” might well have been written for me.

Very best wishes,

Bryn”

Bryn, thank you for the delightful bio. I am confident that you’re about to make new friends in America. Rather than “Jack of all trades, master of none,” I’d describe yours as a life well spent.

David
P.S. “My Book” originally appeared in SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, Boyds Mills Press, 1993. It has been sandblasted into the Children’s Garden sidewalk at the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix and painted onto a bookmobile in Pueblo, Colorado. I’m happy to see it jump continents to seek other readers. Thanks, Bryn!