Friday, April 21, 2023

Book Giveaway...It's here! Egyptian Lullaby

I drove to work on Tuesday and found myself sobbing…deep sobs…coming from a wave of sorrow unexpectantly bubbling up from somewhere hidden. Finally, the day had come, pub day for my picture book, Egyptian Lullaby.  It has been a long time coming…five  years…I had anticipated intense joy  but not sadness. And then I remembered that my father had died a little over a year ago.  There would be no phone call today to share the anticipated book birthday. 

 In fact, I was in Cairo exactly a year ago because he passed away on March 19th.

Click here to view post about my trip to Egypt

Even more heart breaking was the memory of my Aunt Zina who had been the inspiration for the book. She too died before the book came out.  Again, there would be no phone call. 

I thought about legacy and memories and what we leave behind as I drove to work to be with with my 19, 5-year-olds. I thought about the lifetimes they have ahead of them. I thought about the audience I wrote for when I wrote this book over 5 years ago.  I thought about the irony that the students who would share this book birthday with me were either yet to be born or were just born.  I thought about how their parents were incubating them at the same time I was incubating this book.  I felt how it all swirled around me... Life and death, beginnings and endings, celebrations and being alone…and I marveled at it all through my sobs.


Click here if the video above won't play

Click here if the video above won't play

As an artist, I am always seeking to speak my truth and tell stories through different mediums.  My current way is to write children's picture books.  When I became a parent, I found it difficult to continue to develop as a photographer and visual artist.  My days as a parent were too delicious to divide between being present with my child and creating new works. I chose parenthood and paused my artistic endeavors.  Now that she is transitioning into young adulthood, I am finding the time and energy to return to my former life.  

Picture books seem to come out on Tuesdays.  An odd day of the week to ask children to come to an author event.  This book held so much emotion. It is my love letter to Cairo and all that it means to me. It is also my way to counter the negative media depictions of Arabs that demonize the culture. 

I wanted to acknowledge the day, so I created a photography exhibit with photos of Cairo titled, Dear dear Cairo. The artist reception served as my artist/author event designed to complement the book and carry the same intention and message, to normalize Arab culture for those who are unfamiliar and to celebrate for those who are familiar with it. The Los Angeles photo exhibit is happening simultaneously at two different venues, the Venice Abbot Kinney Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and Village Well Books and Coffee in Culver City.  Different photos will be on display at each venue as part of the exhibit. There will also be a second artist reception on April 22 4:00pm - 6:00pm.

To celebrate the release of Egyptian Lullaby by Zeena M. Pliska, illustrated by Hatem Aly and the 14th Blogiversity of Teaching Authors, we are giving away a copy of the book! See below for instructions on how to enter.

By Zeena

We are giving away ONE copy of the latest TeachingAuthor picture book, Egyptian Lullaby (Roaring Brook Press) written by Zeena M. Pliska and illustrated by Hatem Aly! 

To enter the giveaway drawing, use the Rafflecopter widget below. (Note: if the widget doesn't appear, click on the link at the end of this post that says "a Rafflecopter giveaway" to enter.)

You may enter via up to 4 options. The more options you choose, the better your odds!

If you choose option 3, you MUST leave a comment on TODAY’S blog post or on our TeachingAuthors Facebook page. If you haven’t already “liked” our Facebook page, please do so today!

If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.

Note: if you submit your comments via email or Facebook, YOU MUST STILL ENTER THE DRAWING VIA RAFFLECOPTER BELOW.  The giveaway ends May 8, 2023 and is open to US. Residents only.

If you’ve never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here’s info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. And a second article explains the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 7, 2023

What's a Serial Deconstruction Poem?

Howdy, Campers and Happy Poetry Friday! 

I am feeling particularly happy today. I've been dealing with a stupid health issue and have been in pain for quite a while. But guess what? 

NO PAIN last night! No pain today! 

And: it's SUNNY again in So Cal! Not rainy, not wildly windy. 

So: No pain, a sun-shiny day, two poems in a new anthology, and Poetry Friday...what more could a girl ask for?

At the end of this post is the Poetry Friday link, info about my summer class, and my poems from Pomelo Books' newest anthology, What is a Family?

Our topic this round is "Offer our readers a writing exercise or prompt." 

Like many friends in the Poetry Friday family, I write a poem a day. Surely I'm not alone when I say that sometimes my brain stands up, puts on its coat says, "Nope. No ideas. I'm outta here."

So the other day when my brain walked out of the room, I took these two phrases from a friend’s email:

·        1) delicate balance

·         2) I wanted to stab my hand with a fork

an   ...and began playing with them. I sliced the second sentence into pieces with which to start new lines:



I wanted to slice watermelon but you wanted

to stab a steak or maybe spear a pimento olive.

My hand hesitated. I offered you a fig, which you ate

with a fork.



I wanted it to stop. I wanted

to stab the newspaper, rip it to shreds, or swipe right with

my hand. After, I went to the ocean and made circles in the sand

with a fork.



I wanted to find the pulse of a poem. I wanted

to stab this page with surprise.

My hand wants that, too. But it’s distracted by that guy

with a fork.



I wanted stars, stars, and stars

to stab this night. I wanted to lift

my hand to them, conducting their murmurs

with a fork.



I wanted you to speak,

to stab that diaphanous curtain.

My hand goes to my lips. You are, you are! I listen

with a fork halfway to my mouth.



I wanted to call this exercise How

to Stab a Sentence to Death. But

My hand disagreed. Hands are very opinionated, especially hands

with a fork.

poems © 2022 April Halprin Wayland


It was a so much fun! I asked my husband what I should call this form. He was eating at the time. He said, "Serial Deconstruction. Or," he said, looking down at his granola, "you could call it Cereal Deconstruction."


I like presenting these poems in groups. Try it. Let me know how it goes!

Many of you know Pomelo Books ~ I call them the publisher with the 💗big heart💗. At its helm are Sylvia Vardell and Janet S. Wong, the proud parents of their newest book, WHAT IS A FAMILY? born on March 31st. 

The 40 ekphrastic poems in this book—inspired by a wide variety of diverse and inclusive black-and-white photos—explore extended families, blended families, classmates and sports teams as families, animal families, and family occasions such as birthdays, holidays, weddings, funerals, and much more.

As with the companion book WHAT IS A FRIEND? and also their books in the "THINGS WE" series (THINGS WE DO; THINGS WE EAT; THINGS WE FEEL; THINGS WE WEAR), 100% of the profits will be donated by this truly big-hearted publisher to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund ( (Worth joining; I'm a member.)

Here are my ekphrastic poems from WHAT IS A FAMILY?:



And once again I'll be teaching a one day, three-hour class called ​​Intro to Writing Children's Poetry for the Big-Hearted, Brave,and Curious​! (my title, not necessarily UCLA's). It's on Wednesday, July 12th from noon-3pm PST. The course won't be visible until April 10th; Summer enrollment opens April 24th. 

Tah-dum! I started writing this happy, and I'm ending it happy that 

Margaret is hosting Poetry Friday!

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell

Reminder: I'd love to hear about your own Serial Deconstruction poems! 

I keep bubbling, I know, but one more thing to leave you with. I've been listening to Leonard Bernstein conduct his playful Overture to Candide. It lifts me. Maybe it will lift you, too.

Posted with love by April Halprin Wayland 
with help from Kitty, seen here on my desk, helping me work 
(she's another thing that makes me happy):