My calendar is free

Hi everyone,

I’ve just resigned from my last board. My term expired on the Highlights Foundation board of trustees. I never attended a meeting in person. For me it was always by conference phone. Honesdale is a bit far to travel for a two hour meeting. It was a privilege to serve with that group, which includes Chris Cully, Editor in Chief of Highlights, and Clay Winters, former president of Boyds Mills Press, and learn about what it takes to create the Highlights Workshops that attract so many writers and illustrators each year from the United States and abroad.

My thanks to Kent Brown for nominating me when he was executive director of the foundation, and to his son and the new executive director, George Brown. The new board members bring strong backgrounds to the table and I’m confident that the foundation will continue to flourish and fulfill its mission to support children’s literature by supporting those who create it.

For the first time since the 1980s I serve on no board or steering committee. My active years as a volunteer spanned thirty-six years. As I move toward reducing my week-day work schedule from sixty hours to thirty-five, it makes sense to trim back in other areas to help accommodate the new order.

Onward and upward, everyone!

Introducing my 2016 Poetry Workshop

Hi everyone,
I told you in February that I’d agreed to do another workshop for poets at The Barn near Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It’s part of the ongoing series of workshops hosted by Highlights Foundation under the leadership of Kent Brown. I’ve been waiting for the names and bios of some of my guest speakers to go up on the site, and now I can tell you more about the event, which is set for August 21-24.

There will be a LOT of writing going on at this workshop. I’ve scheduled us for three hours each morning and each afternoon, and I’ll be there throughout to act as sounding board, mentor, facilitator, and coach. After two full days, each poet will have at least four poems, each in a different subgenre.

On the third morning we’ll hold a critique session so that participants can leave with some honest feedback to take home and guide further revisions if thought necessary.

Here’s where this workshop offers valuable added value, thanks to the input of previous participants. Every poet dreams of being published and agonizes over how difficult it can be to figure out how to do it. That’s why I’m so delighted to introduce the four key guests who have accepted my invitation to speak.

On Day One, our two speakers (one in the morning, one in the afternoon) come from the magazine side of Highlights. Allison Kane is the editorial assistant at Highlights Magazine and edits most of the poetry as well as numerous other publications. Patrick Greenwish is Art Director for Highlights Magazine for Children. Patrick can provide insight about the importance of writing with an artist in mind.

For Day Two our speakers will represent the book side. Mary Colgan is Senior Editor for Highlights Press, the book-publishing division of Highlights for Children. Mary can answer questions about the whole range of books the company publishes. Rebecca Davis is a senior editor for Boyds Mills Press and for Wordsong, the only imprint in the United States dedicated to children’s poetry.

How’s that for a lineup of people who can tell it like it is? This is a perfect chance to learn firsthand from editors what they look for and how the process of reviewing poetry and deciding whether or not to accept it for publication works. We have to be good and hone our work till it’s ready, but we also need to be savvy about how this publishing business works. That knowledge can save a lot of heartache and wasted effort. For more complete information, here’s the link. .

August will roll around before you know it. If this sounds interesting to you or you know someone who might like to come, please contact Jo Lloyd ( at the Foundation for more information.

I have four spots left

BULLETIN: OUR WORD OF THE MONTH FOR APRIL IS FRAGRANCE. Thanks to everyone for providing so much fun in March with the word “snake.” We had 164 poems and comments. It has been quite a while since we’ve had so much activity.

Hi everyone,

I hope you had a good weekend. Some of you may have received a note last week from Kent Brown. Kent started Boyds Mills Press when he was editor-in-chief for Highlights. These days he heads up the Highlights Foundation and directs the Founders Workshops. His note was to encourage folks to sign up for one of the poetry workshops being offered this year on the Highlights Founders schedule. Here’s what Kent had to say.

Quite a few years ago, I fancied myself a budding poet. My grandparents and my mother all spurred me on.

Sometime about the fifth grade, my mother had an assignment to go down to the Carolinas and interview Carl Sandburg. She tucked into her purse one of my best poems. I don’t remember the poem, but I doubt it was more than eight lines. My mother told me she was going to share my poem with Mr. Sandburg.

Well, she got to the interview, had a fascinating time, and came home to write up the interview. But, sadly, she admitted she had forgotten to present my work to the master.

I’ve thought about what I missed back then, and even today I have some wistful regret. I’m sure that if Sandburg had read my poem, my whole life would have changed. “Bring the boy to me,” he begged in my fantasy. “He has talent far greater than mine.”

I drifted away from poetry after that and became a juvenile delinquent. Hated school. I got back to writing some when I was in the army, far from home. My epic work, “The Court Martial of Razzy B. Jackson,” was never published. I squeaked through college, farmed a few years, and ended up as an editor.

I now know that I should have had some training in poetry. And read lots of it. And worked harder. Some little part of me wonders how it would have come out if I had schooling in poetry. And perhaps a little more humility.

YOU have a chance, however.

I’ve known a few poets in my day. Two I know well will be coming over to my corner of Pennsylvania this year. There is David Harrison, the only person I know who has a school named for him, and, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, a great poet and a great teacher. Also, Writing the Poetry Novel with Helen Frost and Kelly Bingham will enlighten those of you who take your word skills in that direction. Their workshops here are in April, May, and September.

To secure your spot, or for more information, contact Jo Lloyd at 570-253-1192, e-mail , or request an application online.

To view more 2013 workshops, which take place near Honesdale, Pennsylvania, please visit .

Please feel free to share this e-mail with others who might have an interest or to include the information in blog posts or through other social networking forums.

The Highlights Foundation is a public, not-for-profit 501®3 organization. We dedicate our efforts to connecting, nurturing, and inspiring children’s book writers and illustrators.


Highlights Foundation, Inc.
814 Court Street
Honesdale, PA 18431
Phone: (570) 251-4500
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I haven’t checked with Rebecca or Helen and Kelly so I don’t know how many more they can accept. I think I can handle four more people. If you’re interested or know someone who might be, this seems like a good time to make decisions.


A new poetry workshop in the works

ANNOUNCEMENT: Our friend and fellow poet, Ken Slesarik, is featured in a video on Renee La Tulippe’s marvelous No Water River site, ( ) immediately following Jane Yolen’s video. Don’t miss it. We met Ken at the poetry workshop in Honesdale in 2011. He’s a gifted teacher who does wonderful things for his students, including the creation of an anthology of their poetry, POETRY ROCKS ( )

Hi everyone,

I’ve accepted Kent Brown’s invitation to return for another poetry workshop next year as part of the 2013 Highlights Founders Workshop series in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The date is set for September 30 – October 3. Nothing is posted about the event yet but I’m told it’s okay to tell you about it now. I conducted a workshop there in 2011 and another in 2012, which was a three-way event that also featured Eileen Spinelli and Rebecca Dotlich. In 2013 I’ll go back to doing a solo workshop but look forward to having distinguished visitors join us along the way.

I haven’t written the description of my workshop yet but here’s how it read for the one in 2011. If you want to know more about these events, here’s a link.

Highlights Foundation
Somebody Ought to Write a Poem

Workshop Description

Date: September 30 – October 3, 2013

Designed For: Anyone with an interest in writing poetry, from just getting started to seasoned pro.

Maximum Capacity: TBA

From you I receive,
To you I give,
Together we share,
From this we live.
— Old Sufi song
In this workshop, as in life, we come as teachers and learners.

Group activities will include:
• Sharing favorite poems and exploring why we like them
• Reading poems with alternating voices to build teamwork and camaraderie
• Brainstorming ideas for poems using a variety of practical techniques
• Discussing what makes poetry poetry
• Arguing the pros and cons of verse and free verse
• Debating the relevance of children’s poetry
• Participating in four useful workshops on key aspects of conceiving, writing, improving, and marketing poetry

Individual activities will include time to:
• Practice writing what you’re learning
• Be still with your thoughts
• Start something new
• Have your work critiqued by your workshop leader
• Meet and chat one-on-one with your workshop leader

What we will accomplish:
• Write poems!
• Work on fundamental elements of poetry
• Send you home loaded with ways to find and develop ideas
• Make you a better poet

Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops

BULLETIN: Check out Joy Acey’s blog yesterday and today for her lovely treatment of COWBOYS. Thank you, Joy! Here’s the link:

Hi everyone,

Kent Brown is one of my all time favorite people. There are many reasons for this. Kent not only served for years as publisher of Highlights for Children, the world’s foremost magazine for young people, but he also imagined and then turned into reality a new line of books called Boyds Mills Press that would include America’s first and only imprint of poetry books for children — Wordsong.

It has been my pleasure to work with Kent and numerous fine people at the company since 1993 when SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK was published. COWBOYS, which came out early this month, marks my 28th title with Boyds Mills Press, 16 of them with Wordsong.

Another of Kent Brown’s passions is to foster and encourage the development of countless budding artists and authors of children’s literature. He is not alone in this work. His family and their company have long been known for their generosity and steadfast efforts to bring new generations of creative people into the world of children’s books.
I’m sorry that this photo came out dark. The facility is new and lovely.

For the past few years, The Highlights Foundation, now headed by Kent, has been moving toward the establishment of a place to serve the needs of emerging writers and artists who come to the company founders’ property near Honesdale, Pennsylvania to study under a variety of people who are successful in their fields. That dream is now a reality and I’m pleased to introduce Kent Brown to tell you more about it. Kent?

Dear David,

We are in full bloom at our new Barn in Boyds Mills, and are holding 32 workshops this year. A number of our long-time faculty from Chautauqua are going to join in.

See the full list at .

Look forward to welcoming you, Eileen Spinelli, Rebecca Dotlitch, and Becky Davis to The Barn next month.


Kent L. Brown Jr.
Executive Director
Highlights Foundation, Inc.
814 Court Street
Honesdale Pa 18431
570 251 4500