Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Poet for LIfe

Lots of good news today! Daphne Grab, author of Alive and Well in Prague, New York, got more fantastic reviews. Check them out here and here and an author interview, here. Liz Gallagher, author of The Opposite of Invisable, got a reccommendation from the bookseller site, Shelf Awarness. Way to go!

Today, Laurel Snyder , author of, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, shares how the poetry in her life created the writer she is.

Laurel: I absolutely-positively-with-a-doubt credit poetry for the fact that I'm a writer today.

See, when I was little, my dad read me poems. Almost every night before bed (he also sang gruesome songs , like Leonard Cohen's "Story of Isaac" though that's a tale for another day). He read me a lot of things, (and so did my mom. Hi, Mom!) but what stands out, burned into my memory forever, is the Yeats. To this day I know every word of "Song of a Wandering Aengus". I can recite it for you in any state of sleep or inebriation, along with the Stolen Child and the Lake Isle of Innisfree

From about age 2, when we backpacked through Ireland, until he stopped reading me to sleep in middle school, he read these same poems to me. Over and over. And somehow, those rhythms just got stuck in my brain. So much so that I studied poetry in high school and college, and then moved to Iowa, to complete an MFA in poetry. So much so that I spent years pretending to read (shiver) THEORY!But the punchline to all of this, the weird circle of things, is that during grad school, I actually found myself sneaking off to the children's library when I was supposed to be arguing postmodern aesthetics or something. I think because the serious academic culture had nothing in it that I could love simply and joyfully, the way I loved Yeats at age 8. So I went back to the words, the books, the voices that had surrounded me in those years when I fell in love with poetry to begin with.

And that was when I first began to work on Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. There, in Iowa, I took a yearlong (secret) hiatus from "serious" poetry and read a lot of books for kids, and finally I remembered how to love books again. Not "for school" but "for me".

And once I got back to that-- that feeling of pure love, excitement, fun--I started writing poems again too.

Funny, huh? A big giant circle. My dad read me adult poetry, which got me loving books as a kid, which started me writing poetry, which took me to grad school, which forced me back to children's literature, which started me writing again.

And now I find I'm writing all of it, all of it. Poems for kids and poems for adults. Books for kids and book for adults. How lucky am I?

To illustrate-- here's teaser from the book:

Men in silly uniforms who get to make the rules
Should all be poked with wooden spoons, and sent away to schools,
Where wild beasts will teach them that it's better to be free
Than it is be a grownup, stiff and stubborn as a tree!

Laurel will be blogging a poem a day for the month of April. You can check it out here or here.

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