The Big Three or Why Poets Have More Fun
A poetry post in March? Outrageous! Impossible! Absurd! But when three distinguished children’s poets visit your library system, the polite thing to do is to blog about it a week later. That, as I am given to understand it, is the official protocal in these matters. I mean, I’ll have to check The Official Blogosphere Book of Manners, but I think it’s found under the subheading Blogging About Poets.
Of which there were three. Yes, last week all the NYPL children’s librarian got up the gumption to get together to be entertained by three children’s poets, none of whom I had ever seen in person.
The gleesome threesome consisted of . . .
Charles R. Smith Jr. on the left. Janet Wong in the middle. And on the right is none other than Marilyn Singer. Doesn’t it look like they’re smiling right at me?
I am not a poetry type person. I respect it. I think it’s neat. But generally I find it probably my least favorite thing to review. No wonder I’d never seen any of these people do their stuff, eh? The crazy thing was that somehow or other, these three played off like some kind of fabulous poetic dream team. There was something about their quirks and varying styles that worked exceedingly well together.
Now Marilyn Singer (on the far right) is the author of such books as Creature Carnival (winner of a Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor in 2005 and featuring some early Gris Grimly illustrations), Fireflies at Midnight, City Lullaby, and many others. Marilyn has clearly been giving people advice about writing for quite some time, since her handy dandy website features such elements as Ten Tips for Writing Poetry and What Makes a Good Young Picture Book? And Marilyn had a relaxed, quirky edge to her. She was the kind of person who could talk to you about writing and not sound preachy or high-faluting about it. The kind of writer you’d just like to sit down and have coffee with sometime. That was my impression anyway. She was down to earth. Plus she read a frog poem called "Baron" (it being the word that she thinks frogs say) and it was great. She has an upcoming book this year called Shoe Bop, so take a gander at that if you are so inclined.
Janet Wong came in #2 and where Marilyn was self-contained, Janet was out there. She falls into the category of "Yet Another Former Lawyer Turns to Children’s Literature" (someone needs to make a list of these), and she was out-and-out funny. She talked about her books and her experiences. She also spoke about attempting to put some ambiguity in one of her children’s poems and getting hassled by her editor as a result. As Janet said, "In adult poetry you get brownie points for being ambiguous." In poetry for small kids? Not so much. After making all the librarians partake of the yoga pose known as The Lion (it involves tongues) she read a passage from her upcoming book Minn and Jake’s Almost Terrible Summer which I WANT (*cough cough* FSG *cough cough*).
(CONTINUED IN PART TWO)
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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