Friday, June 7, 2019


Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (Be sure to visit this week's Poetry Friday host, Michelle at MoreArt4All)

Today's post is about Sadness and Celebration.


Many of you know Paul B. Janeczko died on February 19th. Paul was an original, he was a force of nature, and he was funny. He was also the author of more than fifty books, including poetry anthologies, novels for young readers, books of his own poetry, nonfiction, and guides for teachers. The loss is a big one in our poetry community.

Here's Publishers Weekly obituaryCynthia Leitich Smith's post in memory of Paul, and a wonderful spine poem by Heidi Mordhorst.

Oh, Paul...
Paul's wife captioned this one, "Keep smiling"

I met Paul in 1996 through a mutual friend, super librarian and library activist Richard K. Moore. Paul showed up on the porch of the TeachingAuthors treehouse twice: when I interviewed him in 2015, and the following week, when he shared an exercise he used in school writing workshops. My poems are in six of his anthologies.

Though I only saw Paul a few times in person, we corresponded about politics, poetry, the weather and our families. I learned a lot from his sunny emails (signed pbj), especially stop being so uptight and enjoy the frickin' ride. (Paul would have phrased that more poetically or funnier.) I will miss those emails.


THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG and Other How-To Poems (February 2019, Candlewick Press) is beautifully illustrated by Richard Jones--please look at a few of his luscious illustrations here.

Something to celebrate? I should say so! It's gotten three starred reviews (from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus)!  Kirkus says: "The engaging artwork nudges the poems into the foreground, giving them ample room to breathe. The collection closes with "How to Pay Attention," just two lines that are almost a sacred offering. "Close this book. / Look." Young people lucky enough to find this miraculous collection in their hands will indeed look."  

That four word poem is mine :-)

I wrote my other poem in this collection after my husband and son gave me a shiny white bike for Hanukkah. I named her Bird. I didn't understand her brakes. Oh, what a wonderful, hairy-breezy first ride...until I had to brake fast to avoid a car. Bird was aptly named: I flew over her handlebars--oy! That's how "How to Ride a New Bike" was born.

by April Halprin Wayland

Head protector?

            Let’s ride!

Quick quiz, Cycling Whiz:
when car turns in a flash,
how won’t you crash?

            Brake hard!
            Brake fast!

You won’t last.
You’ll fly
past handlebars
seeing stars.

Next guess?
(Less mess, please)

Feather brakes slow
bike doesn’t throw me
so I touch ground
safe and sound?

Yup. You’ve got guts—

A plus!

poem (c)2019 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

There are 46 poems in this collection (many by several likely posting links on today's Poetry Friday blog). Here they are, listed in order of appearance: Charles Ghigna, J. Patrick Lewis, Elaine Magliaro, Allan Wolf, Marilyn Singer, Christina Rossetti, Calef Brown, Monica Shannon, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Karla Kuskin, Douglas Florian, Irene Latham, Marjorie Maddox, Kwame Alexander, April Halprin Wayland, Anne E. Jordan, Robert (Bob) Louis Stevenson, Margarita Engle, Ralph Fletcher, Charles Waters, Martin Garden, Nikki Grimes, Steven Withrow, Helen Frost, Pat Mora.

In Irene Latham's wonderful post on this collection, the dialogue between Irene and poet Allan Wolf is filled with affection, both for poetry and pbj.

What a loss to our community; what a lovely, final book you leave us to savor, Paul.

Posted with love by April Halprin Wayland


Carmela Martino said...

Oh April, I hadn't heard the news. I'm so sorry about Paul. I heard him speak years ago at Vermont College. He will definitely be missed!
But congratulations on having not just one but two poems in this great collection!

jan godown annino said...

O yes, sadness still, in June, April.

Appreciations for posting about this collection.
I love feeling that I have read works of most of the named poets - some of them deeply.
And your four lines are the Closer!
I usually begin poetry collection picture books (& many others that aren't novels) in the back -
so when I get this, that one will be my First.

Thank goodness that you are healing/did already heal from your Bright White Bird Surprise in December.
I love your brake lesson poem & think you will likely save a fall with your lyrical reminder. In addition to
entertaining us all.

I feel lucky to have met Big Paul when he sat in on creating writing classes at Hollins summer program.
The books he autographed for me, including A Poke in The Eye, are Treasures.

Appreciations for this generous blog today.

With wishes for Weekend Wonders

Jan Godown Annino/Bookseedstudio

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thank you, Carmela...I feel so lucky to have met Paul. The fact that he liked my writing made a big difference in how I felt about myself as a writer.

Jan ~ Thank YOU for your generous comment! The Bird bike accident actually happened in December of 2014, when Paul was beginning to ask for poems for this collection. These collections take time!

I love that you call him Big Paul!

Linda B said...

I love the book, a wonderful treasure of a goodbye, isn't it? And I love your poems, April, but that four-word one, perhaps needs to be in every children's poetry book. Lovely to read about your connection with Paul.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Linda ~ thank you for stopping by! Yes, it's a lovely parting gift Paul left us. And thank you for your comment about my little poem. Concise is nice, but I rarely know how to do it!

Michelle Kogan said...

He's a favorite of mine, and this looks and sounds like another must have poetry collection–love the art too.

Wow what a ride your bike poem took you on, and takes us on when reading–glad you are still all together. Thanks for your rich review here and all the links–I liked Paul's lesson in writing "I'd rather be" poems.

Margaret Simon said...

You were blessed to be in this final collection and to have known such a poetry giant. He will be greatly missed.

Cheriee Weichel said...

I have only read one collection of Paul B. Janeczko's poetry, The Death of the Hat. I didn't know he had died until your post today. He will be missed.
I used to ride my bike back and forth to work daily until the evening I was travelling home after dark on my usual route. During the day, someone had spread gravel across the road. I was flying along and when I hid it, the bike slowed down, but I flew head first over the handle bars.

Kay said...

Congratulations on your poems being included in this collection. This is a lovely tribute to a fabulous voice in children's poetry and literature.

Bobbi Miller said...

What a glorious tribe to such a fabulous poet. Thank you, April!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Michelle ~ Yes, Paul was a consummate teacher--he was one of this country's Johnny Poetry Seeds.

Margaret ~ You're right. I have been blessed on so many levels.

Cheriee ~ you and I both flew...without the aid of wings!

Kay ~ It's always scary to post a tribute or even the bio of a living writer, so your comment means a lot to me--thank you.

Bobbi ~ I'm in awe of your writing and and of your research...thank you!

Mary Ann Rodman said...

Just now catching up on my TA reading, and am so sad to learn of Paul B. Janeczko's passing. His World's Afire, his verse novel
about the 1944 Hartford Circus Fire is the best example I know of my two favorite genres--historical fiction and verse novels. Greedy person that I am, I am sorry that there are only two more Paul B books to look forward to (that are currently being edited) but so thankful for the enormous body of work he left behind.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Mary Ann ~ Sad on so many levels. He was one of our great poetry teachers/anthologists/writers. And he was one of the Good Guys.