Friday, December 3, 2010

BEWARE OF BOOKS! Books that have kidnapped us, a poem for Poetry Friday & a question for you

Howdy and Happy Poetry Friday!  There's a teeny tiny Writing Workout and a not-so-teeny poem below!

A recent School Library Journal article has inspired TeachingAuthors to chat with you about the books that have most influenced us. 
That article introduced us to Bookprints. Run by Scholastic, its full name is You Are What You Read; it's sort of a FaceBook for readers. 

Upon registering, I discovered a few glitches to Bookprints' wonderful universe.  I couldn't figure out how to sign on as an author (help, anyone?) and, on strict orders of my financial advisor (aka my husband) I never give out my birth year.

So I signed in with a different birth year.  I must say, I look remarkably young for a 109-year-old.  : ^ )

The first thing it asks you (after rudely inquiring about your birth year) is to list the five most influential books in your life.  Here is my list:

A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
As I wrote when listing my five favorite poetry books, an older teen gave this one to me on my 13th birthday. I was thrilled she thought I would like these poems. I memorized the poem, DOG and choreographed a dance about it for my modern dance class...I even wore my dog's collar!  (Of course, those were the days I painted a flower on my cheek each morning to match my outfit...and painted Twiggy lashes on my eyes.)

Roget's English Thesaurus by Peter Roget
When poems began pouring out of me in my teens, this book was like having an external hard drive. It was my late-night writing partner. These days I use an online thesaurus.

Rhyming Dictionary
Actually, I adored the Capricorn Rhyming Dictionary which is no longer in print.  These days I use an online rhyming dictionary.  Like the thesaurus, this book was my writing partner--or maybe better, it was my dance partner. It expanded what I could say in rhyme, made me feel smarter and made rhyming even more of a pleasure.

Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; L. Galantiere (Translator)
This is the autobiography of the author of The Little Prince. My mother checked it out of the library for me when I was ten or had been one of her favorites. It's translated from French; the language is beautiful. It's also spiritual and full of adventure. The cover of this edition says it won the National Book Award and is a National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time.  Here's a quote from the New York Times review: "A beautiful book, a brave book, a book that should be read against the confusion of the world."

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
My all-time favorite children's book. It showed me wild possibilities.  It continues to influence me, teaching that we can (and do) create our own lives.

Here's a book-ish poem for you (inspired by a dream!) on Poetry Friday. I started writing it more than a year ago and worked on today.  Would you like to read the first draft and today's draft?  All poems are a work in progress, I think.  I like the first version for its seriousness and the last version for its humor.  Which do you prefer?

first draft -- 7-19-09
by April Halprin Wayland

I bring home library books
on little book feet.

One is shy,
padding away quietly while I am busy,
hiding under a chair.

One is loud,
talkative, chattering up a storm—
I have to close it to catch my breath.

One picks me—
pulls me in, and before I realize it,
has kidnapped me completely.

It tries to leave the house
with me in it’s grasp
I have to brace myself against the door frame
hold on as tightly as possible,

I have to want to stay here in this house
or it will take me
take me,
take me away

and I may never find my way back.

latest draft:

by April Halprin Wayland

I bring home loads of library books
once or twice a week.
And every single one of them has curious little book feet.

Here’s a book that’s LOUD!  It’s wild!
Leaping off tables!  Crashing to death!
I close it quick to catch my breath.

Another beckons, it reels me in…
before I’m lured, before it’s cooked me,
this dangerous book has baited and hooked me!

It snatches me up and tries to escape
I could brace my legs against the door

I could relax,
could stop yelling, “NO!”
I could simply sit back, I could just let go.

I could ride this book
far and free… Hmmm.
Should I let this story kidnap me? 

What about you?
  What books have captured you, or what ONE book changed your life? 

Teeny tiny quick Writing Workout for you or your students:

What books have influenced you? 

Whether or not you join Bookprints, join the conversation here!  Inquiring minds want to know!

poem and drawing (c) April Halprin Wayland


Author Amok said...

The rhyming dictionary is my BFF, but Jane Eyre was the book that made me want to be a writer.

At Author Amok, I've got the poetry of scat -- a review of the picture book, "When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat."

Thanks for hosting and happy December!

Author Amok said...

Hi, April. I had my hosts mixed up, sorry! Thanks for sharing this insight into your revision process. Always helpful to see revision in action. -- Laura

Carmela Martino said...

Especially like this:
>>before I’m lured, before it’s cooked me,
this dangerous book has baited and hooked me<<
Thanks so much for sharing your process with us, April.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Laura and Carmela ~

And I meant to add that fellow blogger Carmela Martino is the one who drew our attention to BookPrints--thanks, Carmela!

Carlie said...

What a fabulous poem! Thanks for sharing your drafting evolution as you work on it to see it come more alive under your pen.

I am totally going to check out Bookprints now too! Thanks for the link, I'd never heard of it.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Carlie--so glad you like it! And yes, do check out Bookprints ~

gteamhj said...

Wonderful column. Great poem(s).
I deeply wanted to participate in Bookprints, but there's no way to do it without sharing my contacts/friends and other personal info from my Gmail or Facebook accounts.

A few of the books that have influenced me over the years:
* The Once and Future King, T.H. White), based on the Arthurian legend. White reinterprets it in relation to WWII - and reviewers say he wrote it the way he wanted the world to be. I read it in 5th grade and treasured it. Really liked the title.
* Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger. It's a good thing I didn't know what a lech Salinger was because it would have taken away some of the identification and utter enjoyment I got out of reading this in 9th grade. The wry humor - I saw me.
* How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, the autobiography of Lenny Bruce. I was 14 and was amazed at his honesty and blunt speaking, and thought he was hilarious and brave. I was influenced by hearing Mom laughing up a storm while she read it late at night...
+ He/She/It, Marge Piercy. This woman is a versatile writer - poetry and fiction, I love them both. This was the first semi-science fiction book I liked. Loved the Golom.
* Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx. Dense, hard to get into, but the payoff was huge for me.
* Caught Inside, Daniel Duane. Duane's 1997 memoir-ish book of a year surfing on California's north coast, was just what I needed - a thoughtful California view of the world tied into one of my favorite sports. Read it on the recommendation of my son Josh and still think about it.
* The Outlander, Gil Adamson. 1903 Canadian Rockies setting – mentally ill young woman escaping for her life after she kills her abusive husband. Stunning prose, amazing story. One of my favorite spur-of-the-moment book buys - the Honolulu airport.
Read on!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, Lyra--great list of books! The Shipping News made me feel physically cold--brrr!

laurasalas said...

Enjoyed seeing both versions of your poem, April!

I recently had to come up with childhood books that influenced me. It was supposed to be one most influential book. No way. I could barely narrow it to 10, and even those are each representative of hundreds of others.

The Bobbsey Twins taught me that no matter how bad things were, I could escape into a book.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret taught me to ask endless questions and accept that there aren’t always answers.

Where the Red Fern Grows taught me that love is risky, but worth the risk. And that teachers cry, too.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler taught me to fight for my own worth and create my own adventures.

Harriet the Spy taught me that words are powerful and demand careful handling. And, as an adult, that password-protected files are helpful.

The Figure in the Shadows taught me the pleasure of one good friend, one (two if you’re lucky) trusted grownup, and one scary book, read alone, at night, curled up in a comfortable chair.

A Wrinkle in Time taught me that being different, a “sport,” a misfit, was ok.

Nancy Drew mysteries taught me that adults were often incompetent and teenagers could do anything they set their minds to (especially with a wealthy father and a cool convertible).

The Agatha Christie book with a child as the killer taught me that humanness doesn’t start with adulthood. We’ve got it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly—inside us from a very young age.

Flowers for Algernon taught me that the most stunning, life-changing books, the ones that stay with you forever, are the ones most likely to be hidden from you in the file cabinet in the home office. They are worth finding.

Books didn’t just influence me. They raised me. I might not be able to really pinpoint what one specific book did for me, but I know every one of them kept me afloat.

Happy poeming!

April Halprin Wayland said...

A wonderful and inspiring list, Laura. And I wish I could learn to write as succinctly as you!!!!!

Okay. So I'll stop writing this now.


Amy L V said...

Oh, I love those little book feet. They're like the little cat feet of fog...

It is hard to choose books, but Eknath Easwaran's WORDS TO LIVE BY has sustained me since college. Now it's online too.

Thank you for sharing your process - it's such a treat to see how writing grows and changes.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks for that link, Amy...and for your comments that you liked seeing the process. I think I'll do that more in the new year.

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Laura, I think we might have been separated at birth. :)