Friday, June 6, 2014

Interview with Poet Joan Bransfield Graham and Book Giveaway for Joan's New Book--Happy Poetry Friday!

Howdy, Campers!

Before we get to Poetry Friday, before you enter our newest book giveaway to win a new spanking-new poetry book, I'm thrilled to announce the winner of an autographed copy of Debbie Dadey's Treasure in Trident City (Aladdin).
Here's Carmela's guest TeachingAuthor Interview with the Debbie.)

And the winner is...drum roll, please...Catherine A!

Congratulations, Catherine!  

And now onto Poetry Friday, which is hosted by Carol, of,
interestingly enough, Carol's Corner. Thanks for hosting, Carol!

And today, we're lucky ducks. Why?  Because my dear friend, poet
Joan Bransfield Graham, is stopping by for a glass of iced tea!  Here she comes now ~ um...looks like I'd better bring a trough of tea...
The effervescent, inventive and truly original author and poet,
Joan Bransfield Graham. 

In January, when her latest book of poetry--The Poem That Will  Not End: Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices, illustrated by Krysten Brooker--was published, TeachingAuthors was proud to be part of Joan's blog tour.  At our stop of her tour she offered a Wednesday Writing Workout called the Olympic Writing Challenge.

Today, Joan has agreed to be tied to a spit and grilled with our tough TeachingAuthor interview questions.  She has also been kind enough to offer an autographed copy of  The Poem That Will  Not End: Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices to one of our lucky readers. (Here's Miss Rumphius' fabulous interview with Joan to whet your appetite for this book.)

This book giveaway runs from midnight, June 6 to the end of the day on June 21, 2014.  See below for entry details.

As I reported in January, Joan is an award-winning poet who can't STOP writing poetry. She has files and piles of poems, which have been featured in anthologies, magazines, textbooks, and on CDs. She likes to think "outside the page" because poetry is "everywhere." Her books SPLISH SPLASH and FLICKER FLASH--shape poems about water and light--were both chosen as School Library Journal Best Books of the Year and NCTE Notables, among many other honors, and have been described as "ingenious," "wonderfully evocative," and "stunningly delicious." She loves photography, art, traveling and lives not-too-far from me in Los Angeles, CA.

 Celebrating its 20th Birthday!

Celebrating its 15th Birthday!

So, Joan, how did you officially become a TeachingAuthor?

I officially became a TeachingAuthor when my teacher brain and my writer brain merged!  My favorite part about teaching was helping students leap beyond knowledge into creativity, to use their imaginations to see the world in new ways.

What's a common problem/question that your students have and how do you address it?

"Does a poem have to rhyme?"  Of course not.  I tell students rhyme can be like a wild horse that wants to take you in the wrong direction.  You have to be in charge of your poem and guide it; don't throw in any word just to make it rhyme.  Expressing what you want to say is the most important thing--use the form that works best. 

Lately, I've  been surprised when students haven't been able to tell me what a poetry "anthology" is.  The word anthology comes from the Greek word "anthologia," a "flower gathering."  Isn't that a great way to think of it . . . a bouquet of voices rather than poems from only one writer. 
Bouquets at the Davis, CA Farmer's Market
Recently in an assembly, before we were going to do a poem together in sign language, I asked, "What is sign language?" A kindergarten child said, "Using your hands to communicate."  Wow.

What one piece of advice do you have for teachers?

Share and enjoy poetry with your students across the curriculum--it fits everywhere!  Do poems in "call and response" so that everyone can participate, be part of the poem.

Tell us about one particular school visit which stays with you.

Spending a day in the life of a school is an honor and a joy.  Each school has its own personality.  Between assemblies at one school, a teacher came up to me with a little boy and told me he had come to the school speaking no English and also had developmental problems.  After my presentation, he went back to the classroom, picked up my book, and was singing the words he was so excited.  He wanted to give me a hug to thank me.  That's why we write, isn't it?  To open the world for ourselves . . . and others.

And what's next on the horizon for you?

I've just had an incredibly busy May in California, which took me down to San Ysidro, up to Bakersfield for their amazing week-long Young Author Fair, down to San Clemente, and, on May 16, to my daughter Aimee's graduation from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. 

June 28 - 30 I'm headed to ALA in Las Vegas, where I'll be reading in the Poetry Blast.  I have lots of poems due to come out in anthologies--April and I have been "flowers" in many of the same anthologies--at various times and many projects in the works.  On Oct. 25 I'll be doing a Spotlight presentation at the SCBWI CenCal Writers' Day at California Lutheran University.  March 7, 2015 you'll find me in Teaching Author mode conducting a workshop--REV YOUR POETRY POWER:  Poetic Forms, Voices, and Choices. 

And finally, since it's Poetry Friday in the Kidlitosphere, do you have a poem you'd like to share with our readers?

I'm torn about which poem to share.  I've been having so much fun with my "Conductor" poem from THE POEM THAT WILL NOT END.  I pass out my ocean drum, rain sticks, wooden frogs, thunder stick, and we have an environmental symphony.  Those who don't have an instrument are part of the "wind chorus."  I direct all this--"Conductor" is an Italian sonnet--with my large pencil baton as I read the poem. 

But I think I'll share my haiku:

     Smooth patch of white snow,
stretched out before watchful eyes--
                  an invitation!

poem © 2014 JoanBransfield Graham. All rights reserved

I say to students, "The next time you look at a blank sheet of white paper, think of it as a freshly-fallen field of snow, just waiting for the footprints that only you can make."

My character Ryan O'Brian writes because he has to, he has a "Fever" (Can you hear Peggy Lee singing?).  Thanks, April, for this opportunity to connect with kindred "fevered" spirits.

Thank YOU, Joan--and g'bye!  (Readers, be sure to enter below for a chance to win Joan's newest book!)

Joan with her trusty camera.  Behind her is one of her many fans.

Now it's time for you to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Joan's The Poem That Will  Not End: Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to TODAY'S blog post telling us what you'll do with the book should you win: save it for yourself or give it away? And please include your name in your comment, if it's not obvious from your comment "identity." (If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.  ) The giveaway ends on June 21st. 

A note from Carmela: To enter the giveaway you MUST use the Rafflecopter widget below, since Rafflecopter will pick the winner. Posting a comment without doing so won't enter you into the drawing.

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address. Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Carol said...

Joan was one of the first children's poets I shared with kids. Can't even tell you how many times I've rebought SPLISH SPLASH. Kids just read it to death!

Tamera Will Wissinger said...

Great interview with Joan, April. Thank you both! I love the anthology translation...I hadn't heard that before. And the story of the sweet young boy who connected with your book...that's the best. If I'm the lucky winner, I will enjoy the book myself.

Tara said...

Wonderful interview, April. I love that bit about connecting that teacher self to the writer self, which has been my journey, too. learning about your month in California was fascinating - what a busy person you are, Joan, and what wonderful work you do bringing poetry everywhere you travel!

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

It sounds like a terrific book! I always enjoy collections that strive to utilize different styles or forms...and Joan has a wonderful way with words! (I know, it's cliché to say that, but true) I'd love to give this to my two younger kids, to help them learn not only an appreciation for poetry but the skills for writing it!

Linda B said...

It's a wonderful book, & I won it here the last time Joan visited! Thanks for the interview, & for that poem metaphor for writing, Joan. I hope I may borrow it for my lessons!

Joy said...

Thanks for a great interview. I enjoyed the meaning of an anthology.
I loved all the poems in Poem That Will NOT End, and I'm expecting a sequel. The book was brilliant!

If I win,I'll read the book, study the forms and then go find a kid and ask him/her if they have read this great book.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for the interview, April. I love picturing you and Joan as "flowers" together. :-)

A note to our readers--if you want to enter the giveaway you MUST use the Rafflecopter widget, since Rafflecopter will pick the winners. Posting a comment isn't enough to get you into the drawing.

Joan said...

Thanks, Carol, Tamera, Tara, Matt, Linda, Joy, and Carmela for stopping by and for your kind words! And thanks, of course, to my fellow "flower," April! In the photo of the Welcome posters one class made 3-D flowers and put their school pictures in the centers. I have those posters on the door to my office to remind me who I write for. Check my FB page for some more amazing posters.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carol--I know. How satisfying it is to read her now-classic shape poem books--both bursting to be shared.

Tamera ~ I loved the metaphor of a bouquet, too. That's the kind of leap Joan makes all the time that I adore.

Tara--Joan IS a busy bee...not just this month, always!

Matt, I hope you do share this book and her others with your children.

Linda, let us know how your students react when you share Joan's poetry metaphor!

Joy--that's exactly the way I'll bet Joan would want this book to be used (besides, of course, reading it for fun)~

Carmela ~ Thanks for reminding our readers: Gang, if you want to enter the giveaway you MUST use the Rafflecopter widget, since Rafflecopter will pick the winners. Posting a comment isn't enough to get you into the drawing.

And Joan, thanks for joining us on the TeachingAuthor porch and sharing!

And thank you, Joan, for returning to the TeachingAuthor porch to share!

Carl Scott said...

Oh, I'd definitely keep the book for myself, but I'd share it with the kids when they came over, I'm generous that way. Thanks

Mary Lee said...

This is just to say that I have been here and read your words, but surgery on both thumbs last Tuesday prevents me from typing a personalized comment. Forgive me -- copy/paste is the best I can do this week! :-)

jama said...

Fun interview -- love the elephant in that last photo :).
Enjoyed hearing more from Joan -- great story about the boy who sang the words from her book.

GatheringBooks said...

I simply love that
in those few short lines
packed with so much meaning.
Love the interview and all the photographs here. Thank you so much for sharing.

Joan said...

Hi, Carl, I can tell you have a great sense of humor! Mary Lee, wishing you a speedy and complete recovery--thanks for taking time to reply. Jama, wonderful to hear from you! That elephant is seven years old, and so I say to students, "I guess that makes him a second grader, right?" Myra, thanks for your lovely response--I hope you will be making some "snow angels" with your words!

Renee LaTulippe said...

Thank you for this wonderful interview with the energetic and delightful Joan! We love POEM THAT WILL NOT END in our house, and I can just imagine that it's a hit in the schools. What a beautiful gift that little boy gave you, Joan. :)

Joan said...

Yes, it touched my heart. I've received many gifts over the years--bouquets, gift baskets, laminated placemats, letters, poems . . . a construction paper "red carpet." One of the best gifts is having a child say, "You inspired me." Renee, the series on NCTE Poets you are doing with Lee Bennett Hopkins is inspiring!

CS Perryess said...

Thanks for the interview with the Amazing Joan Bransfield Graham. She's not only a fine poet, she's a heck of a gal.

Janet Wong said...

In addition to being a poet with a musician's ear, Joan is a stellar performer; she had the crowd at the TLA Poetry Roundup perform "Conductor" with her rain stick and other instruments/props--to GREAT delight! I'll bet that it was the highlight of our panel for many librarians (and this was a blockbuster panel, too, with Joyce Sidman, Kwame Alexander, Margarita Engle, Eric Ode, and Karma Wilson). Go, Joan!!

Rosi said...

This interview was a lot of fun to read and glean ideas from. I have been wanting a copy of this book to share with my grandchildren. Thanks for a chance to win.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I really enjoyed this interview-- thank you April and Joan! I especially liked Joan's wild horse analogy and the story about her memorable school visit. My daughter loved this book when we borrowed it from the library, so if I won a copy I would give it to her as a surprise. She'd be thrilled!

Unknown said...

I have enjoyed Joan's poems and music / poems (the CD The Song We Chose to Sing). I used to read her poetry books to my students before I retired. Joan and I were elementary classmates. Our friendship has continued over the years.

Joan said...

Charlie, you are a "word scholar" and a great guy with lots of heart! Janet, you and Sylvia are such a dynamic duo--true Poetry Ambassadors. TLA was so much fun! Rosi and Michelle, thanks for stopping by and best of luck in the drawing!

Joan said...

Diane, great to see you here! Diane and I grew up together in Wildwood, NJ. When we were in school we wrote a poem together and sent it to KATY KEAN MAGAZINE--it was published, and we were so excited!

April Halprin Wayland said...

All--so glad you're reading Joan's poems and can sense her lovely energy. Thank you for stopping by!