Monday, August 28, 2017

When Great Trees Fall

Last week we lost a shining star in children’s literature. Dianne de Las Casas was the patron saint of literacy, a champion for storytelling, and creator for the internationally celebrated Picture Book Month. (See more about Picture Book Month here.)  She was a Kidlit Superhero.

A world renowned story teller, she loved school visits and inspired kids to read, write and tell their own stories. Her many books paid homage to the Louisiana landscape and people she loved,  wrapped in the engaging narrative of the tall tale. The rhythms and patterns, the musicality and the poetry of language. Mama's Bayou is a particular favorite. Another  is Beware, Beware of the Big Bad Bear. You can find out more about Dianne's books here.

Dianne was kind to me when my first books were published. I marveled at her boundless energy, her passion for the craft, and her fierce love of life. She was a force of nature. She touched the heart of everyone she met, including my crusty old thing. Friends and family described her as a “Spirit Mama,” leaving a trail of glitter where she went.

What an everlasting legacy for a teacher: to wrap the world in a rainbow of glitter and story. In tribute, I am reminded of this stanza to Maya Angelou's beautiful poem, When Great Trees Fall:

"And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed."
(You can view the complete version of When Great Trees Fall, by Maya Angelou at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art here.)

Bobbi Miller

Friday, August 25, 2017

1 Poem I Wrote When I Was Young(er)--and Happy Poetry Friday!

Howdy Campers!  Happy National Dog Day on August 26, happy book birthday to a new and marvelous poetry resource, A POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK PET CRAZY By Sylvia Vardel and Janet Wong. (more on this book soon)....and happy Poetry Friday! The link to PF is below.

I'm in Kauai, and the other day we went on a glorious red-dirt tropical jungle hike, and within an hour, the heavens opened, pouring bathtubs of water on us for over an hour!  The upshot was a hilariously red-mud, slippery and stunning hike...and a drenched cell phone which lingered in a coma in a bag a rice for 24 hours, was transferred to the ICU of dehumidifying crystals, and died a sad death yesterday morning.

Which is a long way of saying that the universe did me a favor by ripping my cell phone out of my grip but also messing with me, my brain, my calendar and the fact that it is my turn to post today--oops!

None of my photos from the hike survived to float up to the cloud, so here's a picture I took of a bumpersticker the day before our hike for your amusement:

I'm the last to post on our topic along the lines of What I Wrote When I Was Young (scroll below for what I'm sure are magnificent posts by my fellow bloggettes--I haven't read them yet)

I've decided to offer you a poem I wrote it on this date seven years ago, when I was five months into my first year of writing a poem a day.


by April Halprin Wayland

I like summer
when Eli is chewing his old bone
which hasn’t had meat on it for forever
and it is a gnawing chewing crunchy sound
and I just mixed yogurt and honey and pecans together which is
deeply delicious

I like the summer
when Mom opens the roof of our old car
and we zoom down the road with all the windows down
and my job is to watch Eli to make sure
he’s only putting his head out of the window
and not trying to hang his whole body out.

I like summer
when shoes are optional and I opt no
and the breeze is good on my shoulders
and the cement is hot on the bottoms of my feet
and we get to go to the thrift store after all the errands
and I can buy anything I want for three dollars
and I pick the little red boat with a real sail

I like summer
when Dad puts one leg on the arm of our old couch
and he’s reading a mystery novel
and its night and you can hear the crickets outside
because the door is open
and Mom and I are playing Scrabble
and I have all the letters for SUMMERY
and the first M and the Y are on triple letter squares.

I like summer
because my breathing gets slower
and we don’t have to go anywhere
and we walk the dog without shoes
and a postcard comes from my friend who lives on a sail boat
and I am almost there with him, swimming with the dolphins
and I am also here in our backyard, barefoot

eating a deeply delicious grape.

 (c)April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

Thank you, Jone for hosting at Check It Out!

posted with sun on my shoulders by April Halprin Wayland

Monday, August 21, 2017

What I Wrote When I was Young

What I wrote when I was young…what I have to say will either be an encouragement or a disappointment, depending on how you look at it. 

I’m not one of those writers who dreamed of authoring books when I was young.  It never crossed my mind.  I didn’t journal then and I still don’t. And my diary entries are as sparsely populated as the Sahara desert.  You can see a pic of my actual powder pink diary in this blog post:  How I Became a TeachingAuthor

However I did win a peppermint stick for my groundbreaking (Ha) poem in the third grade that went like this:

I have a dog named Rusty.

Sometimes he gets Dusty.

That’s why I call him Rusty. 

Sort of disappointing, isn’t it?

But, in a way I hope my lack of writing when I was young is an encouragement to aspiring writers out there dreaming of seeing their name on the cover of book one day.  I don’t have any formal training as a writer.  And you don’t have to have a master’s degree in creative writing to author books. 

You just have to be willing to work hard (for little pay), work on the craft of writing, and be persistent. 

If I can do it, so can you.

Carla Killough McClafferty