The summer issue of the KS/MO SCBWI Scribbles Newsletter just came out. If you are a member, you can go to it and log in. I always enjoy reading Scribbles but I especially like this issue because it carries an article/interview by Jess Townes, co-regional advisor, about Constance Levy and me and our careers as poets.
This began when I wondered if there was another children’s poet in Missouri other than my friend Connie Levy in St. Louis. I know there are other writers who write poems for magazines and other outlets. Cheryl Harness, Independence, sometime adds spice to my blog posts with one of her deliciously clever efforts, but if you go online looking for other Missouri poets who have written books of poems published by traditional means, well, I couldn’t find any. Neither could Connie. Neither could several others we asked who are involved in children’s literature circles. We expanded the quest to Kansas. No better luck.
I hope we’ve simply overlooked other children’s poets in Kansas and Missouri who meet the criterion of having at least one book of their poems published. If you know of any, please let me know. Some time ago I did a similar search and came up emptyhanded. I found some rhyming picture books, but in most cases a story told in rhyme is not the same thing as a book of poems. Anyway, Jess Townes found the subject of MO/KS poets for young people interesting enough to write about, for which Connie and I are grateful.
There is more to this issue of Missouri Reader but a large section of it is dedicated to poetry. My thanks again to Sam Bommarito and Glenda Nugent for all their work to create this special issue of the Missouri IRA journal.
To see the entire issue, click on this link. https://joom.ag/o1ta To turn pages, hit the arrows at either margin. To increase font size, roll the top of your mouse forward or backward. To move around the page, move your mouse where you want to be. In the poetry section you’ll find beautiful articles by Mary Jo Fresch, Tim Rasinski, Eric Litwin, Melissa Cheesman Smith, William Kerns, Betty Porter Walls, and Molly Ness. My article also highlights our friend Susan Hutchens, April Halpin Wayland, and Missouri poets Constance Levy and Peggy Archer. Together it’s a joyful tour of how poetry enriches the learning experience of students and it provides numerous ways for teachers to make it all happen.
I hope you will give this issue a read and share it with as many people as you can. It is highly unusual to dedicate so much of an entire journal to the subject of poetry. Sam and Glenda have done their part so now I’d like to see the link shared as widely as possible. I haven’t asked if the editors would allow articles from this issue to be reprinted in other reading journal across the country, but I feel confident they would be happy to discuss that possibility as well as other ways of getting out the word!
I need your help. I’m still searching for Missouri based children’s poets who have had at least one collection of their original poetry published by a traditional trade publisher. I want to include them in the poetry article I’m working on that will appear sometime in the winter.
So far I have Constance Levy, Peggy Archer, and Amy E. Sklansky, all from St. Louis area, plus myself in Springfield. Surely there is someone else. Kansas City? Four is a small number. If anyone knows of a poet I’ve overlooked, please let me know. I will appreciate it very much!
A few days ago Marcus Cafagna and I began planning for a poetry reading event to be held in Springfield (tentatively) on Friday evening, September 8. Marcus is inviting two of his star MSU student poets and the three will read from their original work.
Taken at spring 2018 photo day. February 6-7, 2018. Kevin White/Missouri State University
As I have before when Marcus and I join forces, I’ll read some poems of my own. Marcus asked if I had any other children’s poets in mind to invite onto the program. In the Springfield area I couldn’t come up with anyone I know who has had at least one book of his/her own poetry published by a trade publisher.
I don’t pretend to know all the children’s writers in the state but the only other poet I know who fits the criterion is Constance (Connie) Levy, a wonderful poet and old friend in St. Louis.
I contacted Connie and put the question to her. She doesn’t know of anyone either and believes we are the only two established children’s poets in Missouri.
There are, of course, other talented poets. Cheryl Harness lives in Independence. Jody Jensen Shaffer lives in Liberty. There must be others scattered around the state. But as far as Connie and I know, poetry is not their focus and their publications of children’s poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Highlights. There may also be poets who have paid to have their work published through one of the vanity presses.
All this has fanned an interest on my part to learn if there are indeed other living poets in our fair state with one or more books of their own poems issued by a trade publisher. I’d love to be wrong about this so please correct me if you know about someone I don’t. At a time when more elementary school teachers and librarians are learning how to put poetry to work in the classroom, this is not a good time to be running low on Missouri poets!
I saw this gull and immediately thought of Constance Levy’s wonderful poem, “Seagull Tricks.” I contacted her to ask for permission to post the poem and I’m delighted that she agreed. It’s from A CRACK IN THE CLOUDS. Thanks, Connie
You may think
he’s not thinking
about your sandwich
because he is looking
the other way.
You may think
he’s not scheming
because he is dreaming
and stands like an innocent
statue in gray.
And the place where he lands,
which is three feet away
seems a safe enough spot.
Well, I warn you, it’s not.