Monthly Archives: January 2008

“Found” Poem by David Galef

Check out this academic “found” poem by occasional

Inside Higher ed. humorist David Galef here.  Anyone who’s
spent any time in the ivory tower will appreciate.


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As AWP Turns: And The Dance Card Fills


AWP has not yet begun in earnest, but after a bit of sightseeing (the MOMA and SoHo) we were able to pick up our programs and then meet with a friend, Wendell Mayo, who now teaches in the Bowling Green MFA, for dinner. Wendell was our teacher at Lafayette and a real mentor and role model for both of us, especially John.

I am exhausted from tromping hither and yon all day and catching up on some work, but I wanted to post SOMETHING.  So I thought I would post a list of the sessions I hope to attend in the next few days.  AWP does a neat thing with their conference program (hint hint, 4C’s)–they provide you with a sturdy detached cardboard foldout with a blank schedule on it where you can write in where you need to be and what you want to see in the next few days.  Called your Personal Planner it may as well be a dance card.  4C’s and NCTE give you a blank planner, but it’s on a flimsy page inside the conference book, so you can’t refer to it nearly as easily.

So, here goes:


Breakfast with Mary Ann Cain

Inside Publishing:  Editor’s Speak

Key Developments in Creative Writing Research

The MA in the UK and the MFA in the USA

Galway Kinnell: A Reading and Conversation

Bedford St. Martin’s Reception


K-12 Poetry Pedagogy

Heather Sellers and Anna Leahy are signing at the Bookfair

From Stories to Novels: Crossing the Great Divide

The Road Not Taken: Alternative Careers with the MFA

Old York, New York: A Picture of the UK’s Literary Culture

Keeping it Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Creative Nonfiction


Recognizing Common Ground: Creative Writer’s as Comp Teachers

The Art of Writing on Craft (with one of my fave writers, Charles Baxter!)

Judging Art: The Role of Assessment in Creative Writing

A Department of Our Own: Creative Writing in Independent Writing Programs (with our own David Harvey!)

Reading and Conversation w/ Martin Amis

Whew!  Will she make it to all of these or will she be trampled enroute to a crowded session, never to be heard from again?  Find out tomorrow in the next installment of . . .

As AWP Turns. . .



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New Strategy, New Post, Don’t Forget the Giveaway

Okay, I do believe a new strategy is called for and that involves thinking outside the box and giving myself permission to put the second half of the Golden Legacy review on the back burner because it’s keeping me from putting up new posts, as in I’ve had lots I’ve wanted the post in the last week or so, but the Miss Grundy in my head keeps wagging her withered finger at me and saying, “Not until you post the second half of that Golden Legacy review, young lady!”  Well, it’s taken me forty one years but I’m finally ready to say,

“Shut up, Miss Grundy!”

Ooh, that felt good.  “Shut up” is almost as bad as the F word in our house.  Never mind that the actual teacher I’m picturing as I write that must be long dead by now.

So, here is the first of many things I’ve been dying to share with you all.  A must see, it’s called The Literacy Site.  Clicking on the site once a day gives a book to a child in need!!! Books, folks!!! Almost as sustaining as food.  I plan to do my daily clicking!

Plus, the site is so much fun.  It is a clearinghouse for other charities besides The Literacy Site, so if you go to their store, you’ll find all kinds of groovy fair trade stuff at reasonable prices.  The kind of stuff you can get at Ten Thousand Villages or Oxfam only without leaving your computer.  Or the kind of cool international stuff you used to be able to get at Pier One–if you’re my generation or older, you know of which I speak.  Handmade wooden toys from South America.  Animal-shaped soap from Japan.  Oh, and if you want, there’s another part of the store where  you can spend more and send two Afghan girls to school ($20) or pay an Afghani teacher’s salary ($40).

And a substantial part of the proceeds goes to getting books into the hands of low income kids, who, according to the Literacy Site, quite possibly live in a totally bookless world.  I cannot imagine a bookless world!

All just for one click a day.  If you scroll down after you click, they’ll even show you how many books have been donated so far that day!!!  Almost as exciting as checking your Blog Stats!

 So go ahead.  Add it to your favorites right now. Go, Go!

Ah, so happy to be back posting.  I’ve been reading a wonderful book by Eric Maisel called Fearless Creating–I’ll be posting some great quotes from it very soon.  Great theory on creativity, right up the alley of this closet psychology junkie.

Meanwhile, I’m also packing to get ready for AWP, which I’m leaving for Tuesday.  I was at this same hotel for 4C’s last year and internet access was only spotty(though it never occurred to me to try the lobby for better wireless access, which I’ll do this time) so I’m not sure I’ll be able to post, but I’ll try.  Even though I’m getting into my usual “wah, I hate to leave my kids, I hate to fly,” mode, I’m also looking forward to some really interesting sessions and reconnecting with people like Anna Leahy (and picking up a signed copy of her new book of poems), Mary Ann Cain, Wendell Mayo and maybe even Bill Lychack if he’s able to be there.  And who ever else I run into in the elevator line; AWP is like old home week. Chris Motto won’t be able to be there, but I’m not trying to make her feel guilty about that or anything. Sniff, sniff.

And of course, snagging stuff at the bookfair.  And this time my husband will be with me (another thing to look forward to) which means I can spread out the booty over two suitcases and worry less about the luggage weight limit (which, FYI, is 50 lbs)!!

So, don’t forget to post between now and the 4th so that you’re entered in the giveaway!!

Bye y’all,



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Today’s Challenge

Do you teach? Do you write? Some combination? 

I challenge you to read this essay and remain unmoved:

It won the 2007 Bechtel Prize for Writing About Teaching Writing.

Meanwhile, in other news, there is considerable discussion going on about furor and scandal swirling about Irene Nemirovsky’s life and the novel Suite Francaise which I have effused about on this blog.  Read about it here.  I still contend it’s a brilliant book.

The second half of the Golden Books review is coming; it’s just all this other interesting stuff keeps popping up in the meantime.


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The Caldecott Nails It!

Part two of the review of the Golden Legacy, Leonard S. Marcus Sets the Record Straight, which will deal more closely with the book itself and all the favorites readers wrote in about, will be coming soon.  But in the meantime, I could not resist commenting on my excitement that the American Library Association has selected illustrated novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret  by Brian Selznick as the winner of this year’s Caledecott award for children’s illustration. Bravo ALA committee for selecting such a brilliant, cutting edge book and busting out of the box to choose not a picture book but an illustrated novel!  You can read more about their selection of the book here.

But don’t miss touring the mysterious world of the book’s website here.

 I listed it on my top five for fiction a few posts ago; even though it’s technically a young adult novel, it captivates young and old alike with a seamless marriage of illustration and text, mystery and history.  It’s also beautifully written and no exaggeration to say that it represents the future of publishing.

Go read it!!


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The Golden Legacy: A Review Essay in Two Parts

<img src=”PhotobucketPart One–My Love Affair with Golden Books

(Look for Part Two, Leonard S. Marcus Sets the Record Straight sometime later this week.)

My Love Affair with Golden Books

My affection toward Golden Books began in my childhood but truly blossomed when I became an adult and began to divine and appreciate the aspects of culture that made me who I am, my influences, if you will.  Of course, like anyone who grew up in America post 1940, these books were part of the backdrop of my childhood and as such, I have only hazy memories of many of them.  There was Richard Scarry’s Golden Book of Manners, the Best Word Book Ever, which I loved to tatters (just like the little boys above), My Picnic Basket, The Monster at the End of this Book, The Together Book (I am proud to call myself a member of the very first Sesame Street Generation), but without realizing it, I gravitated most toward the work of Eloise Wilkin, who illustrated hundreds of books over the course of her career, many of them for Golden Publishing.  The illustrations in Mother Goose , The New Baby,  (both the 1940’s and 1970’s editions), We Like Kindergarten, with their realistically cherubic babies and children, and their detailed, cottage interiors and idealized families never failed to captivate me as a child.  I wanted to be part of the family in Baby’s Birthday, to sleep under the cozy eaves in the nursery or partake of the frosted animal-cracker birthday cake (I even made my son an exact replica for his second birthday), to attend Clara Kennedy’s Kindergarten in We Like Kindergarten or to wear the adorably smudged face and smocked dresses of little Polly Flinders.  For all intents and purposes, it was a perfect world.

In fact, I didn’t even realize these books were all by the same illustrator until my mother gave me The Eloise Wilkin Treasury when I was in college.  Even in those pre-ebay days, I set about re-constituting my collection, which had long since been farmed out to tag sales and younger cousins.  But it wasn’t until the internet dawned and I began to search for information about about Ms. Wilkin in earnest that I learned she was also a legendary doll designer for Vogue dolls, “mother” of the popular Baby Dear One of the sixties and seventies and of the prize of my own extensive doll collection, Welcome Home Baby.  Why, no wonder those illustrations and those lifelike baby dolls stirred my childhood heart like no other–they came from the supple hands of the same artist!

Fast forward to Fall 2001.  I have been collecting Eloise Wilkin’s books in earnest, for some years, and as an extension of my love of writing for children and children’s books (which extends far far beyond Little Goldens, I assure you) have begun teaching Writing for Children at the University of Central Arkansas where I am a writing professor.  My class and I are visiting the home of Venita Lovelace Chandler, an academic, Physical Therapist, and owner of one of the largest collections of Little Golden Books outside the archives of Western Publishing.  Dr. Chandler has generously  invited us to hear about her love, her obsession, and its crucial role in the history of American literacy and children’s publishing.

Only weeks before, the Twin Towers have fallen and thousands of people have been vaporized in a cloud that continues to hang over New York City, where I grew up.  Postal workers are dying from anthrax, world leaders appear on television nightly with pale, shaken countenances and we worry about our children’s very futures as we await the next attack.

But for the first time, as Professor Chandler shows us her books, with their vibrant and yes, nostaglic illustrations of times past, the work of artists who had just been forced to abandon their Eastern European homelands, emigrate to this country and somehow create art, whimisical, merry art, the terrifiying din of the outside world begins to fade to a whisper and for a little while, we remember what it’s like to feel safe again.  To smell an apple pie cooling on a window ledge or worry about a puppy with a taste for adventure, to know that happiness is a shared skate key and comfort only as far away as the fluffy duvet in your dormered bedroom. 

So, that’s the story of my love affair with Golden books.  If you have one, I’d love to hear it.

Don’t forget, every comment between now and February 4 enters you in the Wordamour January/February Goody Giveaway!

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An offbeat survey–Goldenbooks coming soon

My Goldenbooks Legacy review is coming, soon, very soon (part one perhaps today) but until then I’ll just post my answers to this survey which I found on another blog. Feel free to copy it and link to your answers here!

On My Bedside Table:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

The Machine in the Nursery by Jeffrey Baker

The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter

(Then there’s what’s under my bedside table, the second string, so to speak, of anticipated reading.  A big pile.  Too big to list.)

Next Up from Netflix:
Spiderman 3 (Family Movie Night)

The Constant Gardener

The End of the Affair

Latest Interests:

history of neonatology/incubators

World War II

(last are for two writing projects)

On My Mind:
people I care about who are in recovery

the new semester

the welfare of our CFCA sponsored child in Kenya

to be a better blogger (hopefully)

Sarah Lugg-inspired collages on printer’s drawers painted shabby white–photos soon.

Looking Forward To:
going to Michael Feldman’s Whadya Know Tomorrow in LR

making bread this weekend

family movie night (High School Musical!)

date night

reading the new ME Home Companionthat arrived yesterday

using my brand spanking new blue toile file folders with farm animals on them!

my second cup of coffee and NPR in the background

getting ready for my first class

answering this survey (I love surveys, don’t you?) which I found on the Bella Dia blog

Amused By:
my cats

my polar opposite children (One who mused jovially en route to school today, “hmm, wonder what we’ll do today” then cheerfully anticipated each subject, in chronological order;  the other who had the usual Friday morning stomach ache and angled to stay home.  Which one is most like me?  They both are–I’ve always loved learning but I would have been just as happy to do it at home.  I didn’t really enjoy school until college, which has a lot to do why I teach there.)

Don’t Forget: The Wordamour Birthday giveaway going on this month–all posts between January 4 and February 4th will be included in the raffle.


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Another Giveaway to Report

I’ve loved reading everyone’s postings about favorite Little Golden Books–rest assured they will feature prominently in the review I write this week.

In the interests of reciprocity, I want to tell you all about another book review/ giveaway I’ve discovered at  Laura has reviewed and is giving away a copy of Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.  Check it out and leave a comment.

Laura has also listed my giveaway and this is what attracted me to her site.  I liked it so much I’m putting it in my blogroll.  So did callmeabookworm, who’s already listed there.  I’m loving discovering that the blogosphere loves free stuff as much as I do.

 Let me try to be a little more specific about what I’m hoping to give away from the conference, although it’s hard because it’s at the end of January.  But certainly, there will be current literary magazines, perhaps advance publishers copies, free books, and whatever good stuff the Gettysburg review will be giving away this year.  I’ll let you know as soon as I can.

In the meantime, keep those Golden Book favorites coming!!!!

Bye y’all,



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Golden Books Survey–and the giveaway begins!



Here’s the plan–if you write me with the titles of your favorite golden books growing up, I’ll write a review that includes backstories on those very books! Sort of an interactive book review. So, let me know with a comment:

Were you an old school golden book devotee who liked the books and illustrators of the Golden heyday Tenngren, Weisgard, Scarry and Wilkin, the 40’s and 50’s, in books like:
Photobucket” alt=””>

Or were you more of a transportation gal or guy, into books like:

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Or maybe, you favored the Sesame Street gang and your favorite was among classics like these:

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Whatever your pleasure, if you were a child from 1942 on, chances are there was a golden book title that suited it. So write in and let me know. Even if you can’t remember the title, describe it as best you can. Who knows, maybe I can find it.  You’d be suprised!

And remember, any comments from now to February 4 will enter you in the second wordamour giveaway, with goodies garnered from the AWP bookfair and any other book-related stuff I can procure.

Bye, y’all.


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Auld Friends


Funny how the new year brings out old connections.  I heard from two old friends as 2008 dawned, both writers, Bill Lychack, and Chris Motto.  I got to hear about the latest short story collection Bill is putting together and all the worries that entails (is it too cohesive?  not cohesive enough? personally, as a reader, I prefer the heterogenous collection), and that we can all look forward to a new story in the next Ploughshares.  If you haven’t read his 2004 debut novel, The Wasp Eater, then, if you read this blog you can predict the exhortation to follow:  get thee to a bookstore or a library (I know ours has a copy) post haste!  You won’t regret it.  It debuted to widespread acclaim for good reason.  It’s a damn near perfect book.

Bill and his wife, Betty, have also entered the parenting fray in a big way, with a three year old boy and baby twins.  The idea of twins (actually, just the idea of more than two children, which is what I have) has always struck a certain awe in me.  But I’m sure the abundance more than compensates for any scarcity of say, sleep.

Chris has sent me two essays she’s been working on, a personal essay on teaching the personal essay and one about her own particular entre into parenting.  I’m especially looking forward to the rest of what she has to write about the latter–she has a lot to say that hasn’t been said yet.

There is always a certain amount of gratitude involved with reconnecting with important people in one’s life, confirming the idea that our journey really is a continuum and not a lurching series of staccato leaps.  Bill reminded me that we’ve been at this writing thing twenty years (we started out in Blanche Boyd’s fiction class at Connecticut College); with Chris it goes back almost as long, to the George Mason MFA program.  Reminds me of that workplace question they ask you on (yes, I was sucked into that once):  Are you doing what you thought be doing?  Pretty much, is my answer, and feeling pretty lucky to be doing it too.

The new AWP Chronicle arrived yesterday, and as I read through it I thought it’d give me some ideas to write here.  But it didn’t.  Some intriguing articles about writing couples, including Beth Spires and Madison Smartt Bell, which piqued my interest, since I’m part of a writing couple myself.  It was comforting to see that they don’t share drafts until late in the game either.  I try to get pretty far along before I show something to my husband; he’s so prolific I sometimes don’t even see a story till he’s published it (as in, “What, I didn’t show you that?  I thought I did?”). 

In terms of my own writing, I’m not making any new resolutions this year, just trying to stick to the old ones.  Stay focused on a few projects, the novel, the creative writing in higher ed book, sending stuff out, especially the essays.  Allow a few projects on deck in research mode but don’t let myself be tempted by what Heather Sellers calls the “sexy new books,”that are always giving me that come hither look.  Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to stick to it.

And the blog of course.  In preparation for my upcoming discussion of Leonard Marcus’ new book on the Golden Legacy, I”ll be surveying everyone soon for their favorite Little Golden Book, with an eye toward dishing some inside scoop about its creation.  So be thinking about it.  Are you the “Monster at the End of this Book?” type, or the “Pokey Little Puppy,” type or both?

Remember, any posts between January 4 and February 4 will qualify you for the next Wordamour drawing.

Bye, y’all.

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