One to go

Hi everyone,

Whew! This morning I’ll finish the end notes for AFTER DARK, my next book with Boyds Mills Press. There are twenty-two poems (1,439 words) in this group so it meant twenty-two 100-word end notes (2,200 words), each on a different animal. More and more I’m grateful for those degrees in biology! The layout for a 3,639 word picture book is going to be tricky. I might consider dividing it into two titles if it runs too long. I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

I’ll spend most of the day going back over each piece, circling and double checking key points. By this afternoon I plan to click the final manuscript off to Mary Colgan and take a minute to celebrate.

If there’s time, I’ll get back to a long story that’s less than a week from completion. If there isn’t, I’ll declare happy hour!

Not sure what’s next but something will come . . .

Hi everyone,
David from 417 Magazine
Last week I finished the novel and completed the first draft of a nonfiction-based story. Giles Laroche is at work illustrating my next book of poetry with Charlesbridgeschool_giles2 and Julie Baylessuntitled is working on my next collection with Boyds Mills. No one has been chosen yet for the one after that. For now at least, those three are out of my hands.

Today I’m supposed to hear from an editor about an educational book proposal but until that comes I’m on my own with a week of few meetings and nothing under contract that requires attention. I don’t have a clue at the moment about how I’ll spend this week, but I can’t wait to get started.


Thank you, Larry Rosler

Hi everyone,

This marks the last week in his office at Boyds Mills Press for my friend and long time editor, Larry Rosler.

I’m not sure when we met but it would have been early in my relationship with the folks in Honesdale, probably in 1991 or so. I do remember the first of our sixteen books together. WHEN COWS COME HOME was inspired by a Gary Larson cartoon on my desk calendar. I loved the humor and was instantly taken by the possibility for a book about zany tricks that cows might play behind our backs. Larry liked it too and that was the beginning of a long, cordial relationship. Our most recent collaboration was COWBOYS. Here is the whole list.

2011 Cowboys
2010 Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones
2007 Piggy Wiglet (redone and reissued)
2006 Glaciers, Nature’s Icy Caps
2005 Farmer’s Dog Goes to the Forest
2005 Mountains, The Tops of the World
2004 Earthquakes, Earth’s Mightiest Moments
2003 Oceans, The Vast, Mysterious Deep
2002 Rivers, Nature’s Wondrous Waterways
2002 Volcanoes, Nature’s Incredible Fireworks
2002 Dylan the Eagle-Hearted Chicken
2001 Caves, Mysteries Beneath Our Feet
2001 The Book of Giant Stories (reissued)
2000 Farmer’s Garden
1997 The Animals’ Song
1994 When Cows Come Home

I don’t know what Larry plans to do in his retirement. He’s just a kid so I can’t imagine him being overtaken by the rocking chair anytime soon!

I thought today would be a good opportunity to say goodbye (at his office address) and to say, “Thank you, Larry, for everything. Others should be as lucky as I have been.”


Home from IRA

BULLETIN: Poets, forgive me for being slow to post the May Word of the Month! Blame it on IRA. I’ll remove April’s poems and comments this morning. In the meantime, you can start thinking about your new poems. The word is WINDOW.

Hi everyone,

I’m back at my computer this morning, trying to decide how and where to begin playing catch up. IRA was a whirlwind and I loved it. Sunday at 5:30 I met Janet Wong, April Halprin Wayland, and Esther Hershenhorn for conversation at Mercat a La Planxa then attended a wonderful dinner party at Dee’s Mandarin Restaurant hosted by Highlights Foundation where I had a chance to greet my friend Kent Brown.

Monday began with breakfast at 8:00 with Tori Bachman from IRA followed by meeting Laurie Edmondson at the Phoenix Learning Resources booth to help introduce our new DVD series and kit, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. (More about that later).

From 11:00 – 1:45 I participated in a symposium called “Using Poetry for Word Study, Fluency, and Instruction.” The other presenters were Tim Rasinski, Brod Bagert, and Alicia McCartney. I divided the afternoon into signings at Boyds Mills Press, Scholastic, and Phoenix Learning Resources.

At 5:30 I attended the Scholastic Authors’ Reception at the Cage Restaurant, which was splendid, as always, and then caught a cab to join my friends and hosts, Dona Rice, Conni Medina, and Sharon Coan, at the Teacher Created Materials dinner at Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse. What a great evening. However, during dinner I received a phone call that the manufacturing plant on my property in Springfield, which was formerly my firm, Glenstone Block Company, was on fire. Sandy went to the scene, which was blocked by six firetrucks and three squad cars and had a hard time getting close. She finally spoke with the fire marshal and learned that the fire had been set by someone. It took hours to bring it under control and the building is a total loss.

There was nothing I could do, of course, except grind my teeth. I haven’t been to the scene yet but yesterday’s and today’s papers show pictures and explain more about the situation. The original plant was built on that spot in 1945 by my dad and his partner. Lots of memories went up with the flames and smoke.

Later in the evening I left the Teacher Created Materials dinner and barely made it to the Poetry Olio held in the Hilton in time to present a couple of poems and enjoy hearing a few by other poets. I was supposed to meet Mary Jo Fresch for a nightcap but it had been a long day and we both decided to put off getting together until Tuesday.

Tuesday began with breakfast with Ruth Culham and then I spent the rest of the day signing at Boyds Mills Press, Phoenix Learning Resources, Zaner-Bloser, and back to Boyds Mills Press. Mary Jo and I managed to squeeze in a brief meeting about the book project we’re doing together. I finished there at 4:00 as the exhibit hall was closing for the day, grabbed a cab to the airport, and made it to my gate with a few minutes to spare. For some reason I napped in the cab going out.

That’s my report. It is always stimulating to attend IRA and see so many old friends. Every year I meet new ones too. I’m already looking forward to next time.


Poetry Writers Workshop and Cheryl Harness

BULLETIN: I am embarrassed to say that when I posted Cheryl Harness on “What Are the Pros Up To?” two days ago, I somehow missed a section of her remarks. I have apologized to Cheryl, who was a good sport about it, but I just don’t want to lose a chance to share the rest of her thoughts merely because the Internet gremlins were at work on the appointed day. So please read her comments in their entirety at the end of today’s post. You will not be sorry!

Hi everyone,

Today it’s a personal plug by way of inviting you to consider signing up for my poetry workshop on June 2-5. This will take place a few miles outside of Honesdale, Pennsylvania in the home of the founders of Highlights. I am glad that Carol-Ann Hoyte plans to be there. I know of another regular contributor to this blog who is also considering it. It would be great fun if my workshop served as a place where many of us could meet for the first time and work together. Think about it!

Here’s a memo that Boyds Mills Press sent out a few days ago.

Subject: RE: 2011 Workshop News from the Highlights Foundation

It’s time to break out that brand-new 2011 planner and pencil in those things you don’t want to miss out on this year! The Highlights Foundation has a scheduled packed with exciting new workshops, as well as time-tested favorites that fill fast.

We keep our workshops intimate, with a low faculty-student ratio to give you and your writing plenty of focused attention. Reserve your space early so you don’t miss out! Take a look at our Founders Workshop newsletter, request an application for the workshop(s) of your choice, star those dates in your planner, and give yourself something wonderful to look forward to in the new year.

Please feel free to forward this e-mail to others who might find it of interest, paste it into your blog, or spread the news on social-networking sites.

For more information about the workshops in general:

For more information about my workshop.

Highlights Foundation, Inc.
814 Court Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Phone: (570) 251-4500

Now, here is Cheryl.

David, did I tell you that I sold a manuscript? For the first time in an awfully long time – ’twas rain in a dry landscape, I swear. Almost makes one tempted to believe in oneself and that one isn’t going to wind up living in one’s car. Albert Whitman’s going to do my picture book about Dr. Mary Walker, that cranky old reformer (only dame to be cited with the Medal of Honor).

The nice, sweet ed. there had me do a couple of pictures by way of an audition so I’m still waiting to see if I’ll be doing the illustrations. I’d never had to do that before, but as you know, the world is a very different place nowadays. and always has been, as you also know.

I had a great visit in Joplin with old friends w/ Vicki Grove & Veda Boyd Jones. I swear that’s the best thing about this so-called book biz, the people you get to know. You for instance.

I have some other reasons:

1. Because when the writing biz is going well, it’s pretty satisfactory fun. Even when it’s not, one can work out a fine little life in the margins.
2. Sometimes we make money.
3. The things we learn. Being able to tell about them, if not as much as we’d like.
4. Finding out how we think & feel about things.
5. To share our points of view, mine being that there pretty interesting people, dead or alive, well worth the knowing and that in the knowing, we’ll be heartened. I have been anyway.
6. The places we get to go, such as, well, the first place that comes to mind is Susan B. Anthony’s house in Rochester, NY. and the White House, for that matter. It occurred to me then and now that when the occupants went out the door to talk to people, they may well have felt that it wouldn’t do any good, wouldn’t change anything, but they went anyway.
7. Total strangers read what we write. One can hope.
8. Being part of our civilization’s conversation, the borderless, timeless nation of wordsmiths, writers of letters, manifestoes, tales, explanations, & drivel.
9. To justify our lust for office supplies.
10. Like I’m going to go get a real job?

I got to visit Florida here lately, to see my fizzy, 94-year-old Uncle Lester, and I, Auntie Social, went to Savannah, GA to attend the wedding of my baby brother’s daughter, THE little Sara pictured in my Ghosts of the White House, time being a runaway train. She’s completing a doctor of physical therapy degree. Her new husband is Josh Stinson, an exceedingly cute baseball player w/ the Mets organization.

Life sure has its compensations, no?

If you’re not ready yet to say goodbye to Cheryl, visit her own blog at

Thank you, Cheryl.