Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Spirit 2014 and National Poetry Month

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a writing conference hosted by the North/Central California region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in Citrus Heights, CA. Because it was so close to Sacramento, my husband and I decided to make a family weekend trip of it and drive up. While I went to the conference, he would take the kids around Old Sac, the California State Railroad Museum, and his old stomping grounds at Sac State. And maybe we would even stop by the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield on the way back home (which we did).

So many things happened during that weekend, that I can't even begin to relate it all here. However, I will tell you about four interesting things.

Two of them happened before I even got to the conference: at 7:40 am, we piled into our minivan, and found its battery was dead as a door nail, and I took my first ride alone in a taxicab (which was not as scary as I thought it was going to be).

Due to this unfortunate situation, I didn't get to go to the pre-conference session I originally wanted -- it was packed. However, I was able to slip in to one given by poet and author extraordinaire, Nikki Grimes. She spoke about "Multiculturalism: The Universality of Story" and given my last post, there couldn't have been a more fitting topic. While I might have been hesitant to write a children's story featuring Filipino characters, after listening to this talk, I was fully convinced and inspired. That was interesting thing number three.

Interesting thing number four happened at lunch. My friend Alejandra and I parked ourselves and our stuff at a back table that was pretty much empty. We stepped away for a few moments, and when we came back, who should be sitting at our table but some of the authors we had just listened to in our previous sessions, including the very sweet and knowledgeable Susan Goldman Rubin, Anne Marie O'Brien, and Nikki Grimes. I felt like I was in junior high, all tongue-tied, and star-struck. I was anything but articulate. Once I got over that, I was able to enjoy a nice chat with them -- all very kind and encouraging people. Please check out their websites and especially their books. They write wonderful stories for children, and they do it in very creative ways!

That brings me to the other topic of this post: April is National Poetry Month! I have to admit, I am not much of a poet. At least not anymore. When I was younger, I used to enjoy writing and reading poetry. Writing poetry is like painting pictures with words. It involves creativity and freedom of expression -- things, unfortunately, that often get stifled, diminished, and eventually lost with age. But all is not lost -- you can still rediscover your poetic self!

I just finished reading Word with Wings by Nikki Grimes.

It's a wonderful story, written entirely in verse, about a young girl whose mind is occupied by wonderful daydreams. It is the perfect story to inspire children (and adults) through poetry.

What better way to launch National Poetry Month in your class?

Go ahead...dream, write, and take flight!