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  • Writer's pictureCharles Waters


Greetings my poetic people!

Well, the trip to Seattle to perform for various schools, and conduct a workshop or two, turned into a journey that rivaled anything Captain Ahab attempted in his quest for the Great White Whale. It felt like, at least to me, a contest between Winter Storm Jonas vs. myself.

I was scheduled to fly out of Newark International Airport on Sunday, but that got cancelled due to the blizzard of 2016. I called esteemed children's poet, editor, publisher, all-around great human Janet Wong of Pomelo Books, was responsible for bringing me to Seattle in the first place. She suggested I get a Bolt Bus, which are cost effective buses, from Manhattan to Boston, fly out of Boston Sunday night for Seattle, and get there in time for Monday's first performance in the neighboring town of Bellevue. I said, "Yes, I can do that!" I got online, booked a Bolt Bus, (holy allieration!), switched my flight from Newark to Boston, which hadn't cancelled any of their flights, then breathed a sigh of relief ... for about 12 hours. I checked the bus schedule in the morning, found out all Bolt Buses were cancelled on Sunday, looked for other bus lines, saw they were cancelled as well. I did find one that wasn't when I saw that NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo were asking for people not to leave their homes until further notice. I thought the roads were probably not going to be safe for any vehicles on Sunday morning, so I called Janet, told her I would have to cancel, then, out of curiousity, I called Alaska Airlines, they told me my Sunday flight was still scheduled for departure from Logan International Airport on Sunday, I saw that Boston wasn't hit as bad as NYC, and thought about taking Amtrak on Sunday to Boston then traveling to the airport. I looked at the Amtrak schedule, saw they had many cancelled trips but did have a few that weren't, with one of them leaving at 10:00am. I booked that trip, determined to beat Winter Storm Jonas after all and make it to the Evergreen State of Washington; children's poetry was calling, and I needed to answer! The students and teachers at Eton School, Louisa Boren K-8 STEM, Dearborn Park Elementary School, and Hamlin Robinson School are covered in awesome sauce and I wanted to share in their poetic awesomeness, too.

To wrap up this too long of a story, next day I trudged to Penn Station, saw the Amtrak train was delayed by 70 minutes, waited, caught the train to Boston, caught a bus to the airport, flew out to Seattle, was picked up by Janet, and arrived at my hotel 16 hours after I left Manhattan. And guess what, it was ALL worth it! I had a great time performing and conducting workshops alongside Janet, Julie Larios, and Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. I'm also thankful to have met Lorie Ann Grover on Monday for supper, what delightful, smart, strong humans each of them are! By the way, Pomelo Books is the publishing house that puts out the Poetry Friday Anthology series, and I couldn't be more honored to have been asked to come to the Pacific Northwest courtesy of their kindness and belief in me. May this be the first of many times I travel to Seattle, hopefully with no weather, or any other sort of issues, ever getting in my way again!

I performed Poetry Time for Healing Arts Initiative at various senior citizen homes and mental health facilities in the New York area. I've been able to perform more serious poems for these audiences and the response has been encouraging.

I'm looking forward to visiting my old stomping grounds in Florida after a twenty month absence when I perform and conduct workshops at Windermere Prep on March 1st and 2nd. I've also been working the phones and e-mails about booking more children's poetry gigs in the Orlando area while I'm there from February 28th - March 6th.

I received a cool gift in the mail, it was a novel-in-verse called THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY by my Poetry Friday pal, Laura Shovan, and published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Laura, who also has an informative blog you can find here, started writing this book in 2008, and after years of hard work is ready to bring her poetic baby into the world. I received an Advance Reader's Copy (ARC) and this copy is going on tour to different children's poets/educators across the country. The previous recipient was Isabel Joshlin Glaser, who mailed it to me, and after finishing, I've passed it along to Poem Farm superstar Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.

Also included with the book was a Postcard Prompt. How's how it worked, there were a stack of postcards, I was allowed to pick one that interest me, and write about it. You will see the result at the end of this blog post.

By the way, the book is magnificent. I'm SO proud of Laura for crafting a heartfelt, unsentimental, hopeful novel in verse. This book of children's poems has many different poetic forms, which are explained in the back matter, as well as how students can write in those forms. Methinks this book will be a huge success when it is released on April 12, 2016. Laura Shovan has made National Poetry Month even better!

I saw the Off-Broadway musical TAPPIN’ THRU LIFE at New World Stages. Written, choreographed and starring tap dancing legend Maurice Hines, this was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen since living in NYC. Backed up the fierce Diva Jazz Orchestra, who give new meaning to the words girl power, supported by the tap dancing fire of The Manzari Brothers, Hines takes you thru his life in the segregated 50’s and 60’s from performing with Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and legends, to the loving yet turbulent relationship with his younger brother Gregory. A fusion of tapping, singing, big band playing and the storytelling of a black man in an often unkind world, I was laughing one minute and shocked into silence the next. What a show.

Went to the free multimedia Alice Live! at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. In celebration of the 150 year anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, this exhibit had everything from illustrations to videos to playbills to my favorite, Lewis Carroll’s 1888 Hammond typewriter.

Read-a-Poem or R.A.P. My rallying cry to bring children’s poetry to every human being in the world continues rolling along. Not every book I mention has to be about children’s poetry but that’s the main thrust. I have read:

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Christian Robinson.

ROLLER GIRL written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson.

TROMBONE SHORTY words by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. Pictures by Bryan Collier.

THE BOOK ITCH: FREEDOM, TRUTH & HARLEM’S GREATEST BOOKSTORE by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

FINDING WINNIE : THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BEAR by Lindsay Mattick. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

WAITING written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes.

DON’T THROW IT TO MO! by David A. Adler. Illustrated by Sam Ricks.

A PIG, A FOX, AND A BOX Written and illustrated by Jonathan Fenske.

SUPERTRUCK written and illustrated by Stephen Savage.

INTERSTELLAR CINDERELLA by Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Meg Hunt.

EVERYBODY SLEEPS (BUT NOT FRED) written and illustrated by Josh Schneider.

LADY PANCAKE AND SIR FRENCH TOAST by Josh Funk. Illustrated by Brendan Kearney.

STICK AND STONE by Beth Ferry. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

WHAT ABOUT MOOSE? by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez. Illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi.

IT’S ONLY STANLEY written and illustrated by Jon Agee.

PIRATE’S LULLABY: Mutiny at Bedtime by Marcie Wessels. Illustrated by Tim Bowers.

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE by Katheryn Russell-Brown. Illustrations by Frank Morrison.

I leave you with a poem from Laura Shovan's Postcard Prompt that you read about earlier in this post. The postcard showed the setting of the sun on the mountains of Black Hills and Badlands in South Dakota.


apricot mountains

stand proud as a church choir

while dusk bids goodnight

©Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.

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