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.

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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!

Leaving Corky

Hi everyone,

A few days ago I received the pleasant news that a poem of mine, “Leaving Corky,” is being used by Pearson Education Asia in an upcoming English language textbook in Hong Kong. The poem originally appeared in THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS, published in 1998 by Boyds Mills Press. Later on Sandy Asher included it in her play inspired by my poetry, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK.

A few years later Boyds Mills published my autobiographical collection of poetry, CONNECTING DOTS, but SECRETS came first and held some of my strongest memories. Corky was my cat. Even as a kitten it was a scratcher of arms and biter of hands but we bonded anyway, in the way a boy can still love a pet that plays rough one minutes then rolls over for a tummy rub the next.

Corky grew up to be a tough cat. We lived outside the city in a small cottage on a farm. Corky and I had plenty of space to explore and investigate, but I did my roaming by day and he pursued his interests in the dark world of the night. As time passed, Corky fell into the habit of staying away for a day or two, then a week, if he felt like it. I always worried about him and would stand at the edge of the pasture behind our house, calling his name in my high pitched nine-year-old voice. “Corky! Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

Sometimes he would come when I called. He often showed signs of a fight. He would be missing a patch of fur. His face would be slashed. He might be limping. After a few days of loafing while he healed, off he would go again.

After two winters in the little house, my dad found something better. The wind didn’t whistle in under the door or around the windows, I would have my own bedroom instead of sharing the same room with my parents, and we would have an indoor bathroom. I was thrilled. Except for one huge worry. Corky was off on another of his extended stays and I was afraid that he would come home one day soon and not know where we had gone.

Moving day arrived. We loaded our belongings into our car and made a few trips to the new house. It didn’t take many. Finally, we were ready to leave with the last load. This was it. Mom was already in the car. Dad was behind the wheel. I stood at the edge of the pasture and called for Corky. I turned in slow circles and called him in every direction. I just knew he would suddenly appear and everything would be okay. But he didn’t come. That’s what this poem is about.

LEAVING CORKY
David L. Harrison

I stand with the car door open.
“Corky!” I call out across the fields.
“Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!”

“Time to go.”
Dad’s voice is quiet.

“Just one more hour,” I beg.

“He’s been gone a month already,” he says.
“Probably chewed up again.”

The car eases down the dirt drive.
I stare out the window,
leaving a mind trail,
but in my heart I know.

I’ll never see him again,
never know if he’s alive,
never be able to explain.

Leaving Corky,
I’m too sad to cry.

THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS has been out of print for years but sometimes you can find a used copy. Here’s a link to Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Purchase-Of-Small-Secrets-The/dp/1563970546/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351003933&sr=8-1&keywords=the+purchase+of+small+secrets 

David