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  • Writer's pictureCharles Waters


Welcome to Poetry Time #50 my poetic peeps! And a happy National Poetry Month to you all!

Here's the latest.

Irene Latham and I had a lovely time talking with over 900 teachers in a virtual visit extravaganza for our book DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A -Z for the Book Love Foundation which provides funds for children's libraries all over America. They chose our book as part of their summer 2020 reading list! Many thanks to Clare Landrigan for the invitation. Blogger Sierra Dertinger posted a most lovely write-up about our vitual chat which you can find here.

Thrilled to have DICTIONARY also featured on the 2020 summer reading list of The Toronto Star newspaper. Thank you to teacher-librarian, Rabia Khokhar, for writing about our book. You can read the article, where we're featured at the bottom, here.

Blogger, author and all-around swell human being, Rosi Hollinbeck, wrote a kind book review of DICTIONARY which you can enjoy here.

Irene and I were humbled and exhilarated to receive almost 400 poems from all over the world for our IF anthology from Candlewick Press. We've been reading, shaping, pruning, and all sorts of other poeticials as we bring the manuscript to fruition for our editor extraordinaire, Liz Bicknell. Anthologizing a book is such a different skill set than working on say a picture book or novel-in-verse. Mining with jeweler's eyes in finding poetic diamonds and making sure each poem read gets our full attention before we decide whether we accept it or not is a responsibility neither of us is taking lightly.

Thrilled to hear that DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD was named as a Top 20 book for this year by the organization: Read Woke. This article was written by Cicely Lewis and published by School Library Journal. You can read all about it here.

DICTIONARY was also honored at NCTE (National Council For Teachers of English) by being selected on their list of 2021 Notable Books in Poetry.

Happy to announce that DICTIONARY was also listed as one of a handful of poetic works to win the 2020 Nerdy Book Club Award. You can read about all of the other winners here. Many thanks to Heidi Mordhorst, Donalyn Miller, Colby Sharp, Katherine Sokolowski, and Cindy Minnich and the rest of the crew for the support.

Author, Kate Messner, did a multi-part seminar on the current new normal of virtual visits to schools and it has helped me tremendously culled down the slides that I use, put together a more precise presentation and understand the nuances of Zoom. Many thanks, Kate!

At the tail end of 2020, I did two different virtual presentations that I'm proud to share.

The first was a virtual teacher workshop thanks to Literacy Matters, which specializes in the field of staff development. Many thanks to Sarah Cordova, Director and Literary Consultant, for the invitation. A lovely compliment I received was when one of the educators said my workshop "helped demystify poetry for her." For me, that's a big poetic WIN!

The second was a virtual author visit with students, faculty and administrators of Jose Vargas Elementary in Mountain View California. Also signed almost eighty book plates for them by request for the book order they did of both CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? and DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD. Many thanks to Claire Quesnel-Oueini, Megan Henderson, Angela Keating, and Sarah Bye for the opportunity.

Did a gallery of virtual authors visits so far this year with hopefully more to come throughout 2021. There's been presentations about my history as an poet and actor, writing workshops, joint author visits and teacher workshops. Each of them went well, had students and faculty dialed in with what I was presenting, and am so grateful to each of them for their hard work and courage during this pandemic.

They are Gail Bordon Public Library (thank you, Katie Clausen, Elizabeth Forkan, and Deborah Roycroft), Rumsey Hall School, who also donated over $2,000 to the Amber Brown Fund in my honor, which touched my soul deeply (many thanks to Valerie DiLorenzo, Robert Brenner, Amanda McGrew, Mark Simonelli, Phil Perreault, and Michelle Rittler). Princeville CUSD #326 (thank you, Kim Friedman). My alma mater Fairleigh Dickinson University, in particularly the Regional Center for College Students with Learning Disabilities (many thanks to Dr. Mary Farrell and Dr. Mary L. Hebert). Daniel Webster Magnet School (thank you, Jennifer Meyer). My first virtual joint author visit with Irene Latham at Sherman School (many thanks to Catherine Flynn and Keri Snowden). Round Rock Library (many thanks to Amy German and Jane Dance). The Churchill School (thank you, Cherie Yanek) and Walcott Elementary (thank you, Sarah Lynch).

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:

COUNTING ON KATHERINE: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk.

A GIRL LIKE ME by Angela Johnson. Illustrated by Nina Crews.

WOOSH! Lonnie Johnson's Super-soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton. Illustrated by Don Tate.

CRANK by Ellen Hopkins.

WE ARE WATER PROTECTORS by Carole Lindstrom. Illustrated by Michaela Goade.

LET 'ER BUCK George Fletcher, the People's Champion by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by Gordon C. James.

ELLA MCKEEN, KICKBALL QUEEN written and illustrated by Beth Mills.

ALL OF A SUDDEN AND FOREVER: Help and Healing After The Oklahoma City Bombing by Chris Barton. Illustrated by Nicole Xu.

CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Illustrated by Ellen Shi.

SULWE by Lupita Nyong'o. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

A CHAIR FOR MY MOTHER written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams.

BULL by David Elliot.

PATRICIA'S VISION: The Doctor Who Saved Sight by Michelle Lord. Illustrated by Alleanna Harris.

A MAP INTO THE WORLD by Kao Kalia Yang. Illustrated by Suo Kim.

A BOWL FULL OF PEACE by Caren Stelson. Illustrated by Akira Kusaka.

KNUFFLE BUNNY: A Cautionary Tale written and illustrated by Mo Willems.

KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO: A Case of Mistaken Identity written and illustrated by Mo Willems.

KNUFFLE BUNNY FREE: An Unexpected Diversion written and illustrated by Mo Willems.

SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR ME written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams.

THE OLDEST STUDENT: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita L. Hubbard. Illustrated by Oge Mora.

PLANTING STORIES: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika A. Denise. Illustrated by Paola Escobar.

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha. Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu.

I AM EVERY GOOD THING by Derrick Barnes. Illustrated by Gordon C. James

EXQUISITE: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade. Illustrated by Cozbi

A. Cabrera.

BAD NEWS FOR OUTLAWS: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Michele Wood.

WHOSE HANDS ARE THESE? A Community Helper Guessing Book by Miranda Paul. Illustrated by Luciana Navarro Powell.

ANTIRACIST BABY by Ibram X. Kendi. Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky.

THE LAND OF CRANES by Aida Salazar.

THE BOY AND THE GORILLA by Jackie Azaua. Illustrated by Cindy Derby.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING by Kao Kalia Yang. Illustrated by Khoa Lee.

THIS POEM IS A NEST by Irene Latham. Illustrated by Johanna Wright.

YOU MATTER written and illustrated by Christian Robinson.

BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR by Angela Joy. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes.

BROWN BABY LULLABY by Tameka Fryer Brown.

KEESHA'S HOUSE by Helen Frost.

OVERGROUND RAILROAD by Lisa Cline-Ransome. Illustrated by James Ransome.

MY BEST FRIEND by Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Jullian Tamaki.

BEDTIME FOR SWEET CREATURES by Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.

JUST LIKE ME written and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

ARE YOUR STARS LIKE MY STARS? by Leslie Helakoski. Illustrated by Heidi Woodward Sheffield.

JULIAN AT THE WEDDING written and illustrated by Jessica Love.

THE PROUDEST BLUE: The Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali. Illustrated by Hatem Aly.

YOU FORGOT YOUR SKIRT, AMELIA BLOOMER! A Improper Story by Shana Corey. Illustrated by Chesley McLaren.

A PLACE TO HEAL INSIDE ME: A Poem To Heal The Heart by Zetta Elliot. Illustrated by Noa Denmon.

THE DAY YOU BEGIN by Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by Rafael López.

SHADES OF PEOPLE by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly. Pictures by Shelly Rotner.

THE BIG UMBRELLA by Amy June Bates co-written with Juniper Bates. Illustrated by Amy June Bates.

HAIR LOVE by Matthew Cherry. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

A PLACE INSIDE OF ME: A Poem To Heal Your Heart by Zetta Elliott. Illustrated by Noa Denman.

ALL BECAUSE YOU MATTER by Tami Charles. Illustrated by Bryan Collier.


ABOVE THE RIM: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant. Illustrated by Frank Morrison.

THE TEACHER'S MARCH! How Selma's Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace. Illustrated by Charley Palmer.

DRAWING ON WALLS: A Story of Keith Haring by Matthew Burgess. Pictures by Josh Cochran.

SING A SONG: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons. Illustrated by Keith Mallett.

TEA CAKES FOR TOSH by Kelly Starling Lyons. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

DREAM BUILDER: The Story of Architect Philip Frelon by Kelly Starling Lyons. Illustrated by Laura Freeman.

VROOMALOOM ZOOM by John Coy. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda.

BEAUTY MARK: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monore by Carole Boston Weatherford.

LEGACY: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Nina Crews, Pat Cummings, Laura Freeman, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, April Harrison, Vashti Harrison, Ekua Holmes, Cathy Ann Johnson, Keisha Morris, Daria Peoples-Riley, Andrea Pippins, Erin Robinson, Shadra Strickland, Nicole Tadgell, and Elizabeth Zunon.

The Poetry Time Foundation or as teacher/children's poet Heidi Mordhorst calls it, the PTFoundation, continues to give back by donating books.

I leave you with a poem on a subject you might all understand as spring arrives after winter's visit.


water dripping off roofs

thawing out post-snowstorm

housing perspiration

(c) Charles Waters 2021, all rights reserved. 

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