Friday, November 12, 2010

Adventures on a YALSA Poetry Panel in Albuquerque for Poetry Friday!

Howdy!  I was all set to write a whole post about the best advice I found on writing an acceptance speech.  It’s in an article by Thomas Murrell:  Speech Tips: Ten Things to Remember When Accepting an Award. The one that particularly struck me was:

“End With a Call To Action. What is it that you want the audience to do? You are the role model - inspire them to greater heights!”

It’s terrific advice.  It jump-started my stalled writing of the five-minute award acceptance speech I gave in Seattle this summer.

And if you’ll stay with me, I promise I’ll show you how that’s connected to what we TeachingAuthors call an Out and About:

This past weekend I was Out and About at the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I should have known it was going to be a good conference from the start.  On the shuttle from the airport, I met two wonderful women: Natashya Wilson, Senior Editor at Harlequin TEEN, and Jacque Alberta, editor at Zonderkidz (she’s the editor of Nikki Grimes’ forthcoming book, A Girl Named Mister.)

I was on a panel called THE FORMS AND FACES OF POETRY FOR TEENS created by (bowing low to the ground now) the woman behind the go-to-blog for children’s poetry, Sylvia Vardell. 

Author and poet Janet Wong introduced me to Sylvia many years ago, and boy, am I glad she did.
Sylvia Vardell, Ph.D: author, speaker, Texas Woman's University Professor and SO MUCH MORE!
Besides being smart, classy, funny and generous, Sylvia is also a professor of School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman's University, AND the author of: POETRY ALOUD HERE, and POETRY PEOPLE, and CHILDREN'S LITERATURE IN ACTION, and co-editor of BOOKBIRD, the journal of international children's literature,
and the annual review guide, LIBRARIANS' CHOICES; whew!

It was fabulous to be included as one of the five poets on Sylvia’s panel.  The others were: Jen Bryant, Ann Burg, Margarita Engle, and Pat Mora. (Sylvia wrote, “Betsy Franco had hoped to be part of our panel, but had to be in NYC to act in her son, James Franco's movie! Cool, huh?”)

Our poems, personalities, and backgrounds were all very different—that’s what made this panel so interesting.  And Sylvia sure knows how to build a cozy community between the speakers and the attendees in a session.

The panel began with a Poets’ Q & A and ended with Poetry Improv Prompts. I loved the way her original format encouraged us to play off each other, like jazz improv—lots of fun!

Sylvia’s spells out the format in this post and shows you how this format can be used with teens.

I waited about a gazillion hours for lunch along with my tablemates YALSA president Kimberly Patton, two fabulous librarians whose names I've forgotten (someone please remind me!), author/poet Ellen Hopkins, and Albuquerque's own author, Carolee Dean, who has also posted about the YALSA Symposium 

Author Carolee Dean lives in Albuquerque!
Oft-censored author / poet Ellen Hopkins
Also at the conference was my friend and fellow Southern California poet extraordinaire Nikki Grimes who gave a terrific session called OPEN MIKE: REACHING TEENS AT RISK THROUGH POETRY.

Nikki Grimes, Ann Burg and me, April Halprin Wayland,
                                                   at the YALSA Symposium

The best thing about the authors and editors and librarians I met at this conference was their generosity of spirit.

Authors Ellen Hopkins and Lauren Myracle spoke at the closing session about intellectual freedom and the banning of their books. Lauren quoted Judy Blume who has said that censorship is “Fear disguised as moral outrage.”
Author Lauren Myracle spoke without notes--
as if she were speaking to a just a few special friends. 
 Lauren also said, "Authors are freedom fighters...fighters for intellectual freedom."

Ellen and Lauren made us laugh, made us squirm, made us well up with tears, and, finally, their stories from the trenches of intellectual freedom were a call to action—they inspired us to greater heights. 

So, inhale that inspiration--go out there and write what you need to write.  Some reader, somewhere will need to read exactly that.
 drawings (c) by April Halprin Wayland


Carmela Martino said...

>>go out there and write what you need to write. Some reader, somewhere will need to read exactly that.<<
Thanks for the great call to action, April!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Aw shucks, thanks for the lovely shout out, April, and for adding your lively voice and generous spirit to our terrific panel. It WAS a wonderful session because of these varied voices and a highlight of the entire weekend for me! Your post really captures the dynamic energy of the Symposium. Thanks again!