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  • Writer's pictureCharles Waters


Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Hello my poetry people of the galaxy!

Been a long time. Here's the latest.

Many thanks to Betsy Bird for interviewing and myself and

Irene Latham in preparation for the January 4, 2022 release of our book AFRICAN TOWN from Penguin Random House. You can find the article by clicking here. You can pre-order on all outlets including clicking on the links embedded in the names of: Amazon, Bookshop and Indiebound. And here is the cover!

Many thanks to School Library Connection for their starred review saying: "The voice of the characters is strong and ... the journey itself is not to be missed."

Chuffed that Booklist in their starred review stated: "A compelling novel that doubles as an important historic document, invaluable for both classroom use and independent reading."

Happy as can be that Bookpage in their starred review wrote: "African Town is a book that should be both taught and treasured."

Pleased as punch that Kirkus Reviews said about our book: "... this is a strong addition to literature about slavery.”

Also super grateful to BCCB (The Bulletin of the Center For Children's Books) for calling our book: "A thoughtful portrait of how trauma informs and inhibits identity."

Publishers Weekly made two rad announcements you might like to know more about. Here's the first:

So honored to add the name anthologist to my poetic titles. I've adored Candlewick Press for years and am thrilled to be reunited with my friend, Irene, and having Olivia Sua on board. There are some mighty fine poets selected for inclusion and I can't wait to share them, and Olivia's illustrations with you. Oh, and let me tell you, Liz Bicknell and Carter Hasegawa at Candlewick are class acts! May there be many more anthologies from us in the future. We certainly have been gathering some pretty cool, detailed proposals over the past few years that haven't been the right fit yet at publishing houses, but, alas, patience my friends.

Here's the second rad announcement from Publishers Weekly:

Traci Sorell and I met at the Highlights Foundation Novel-in-Verse retreat taught by Kathy Erskine and Alma Fullerton, kept in touch throughout the years, and when the opportunity presented itself, I asked her would she like to collaborate on an idea I had, which turned out to be MASCOT. If there is any kind of silver lining during the pandemic for me it's that it gave Traci and I the time to work on the manuscript.

I also met our editor, Karen Boss, at a different Highlights Foundation workshop, so to work with her on this book is exciting and humbling. Proud to now be a part of the Charlesbridge family.

National Poetry Month was not as busy for me in past years due to the pandemic, yet methinks and hopes next year's one will be back to some kind of normal again.

That doesn't mean there weren't poetically lovely things happening such as:

Participated in a lovely podcast interview with with Nicole Young of KidLit These Days. Many thanks for the invitation, Nicole! You can listen to the full podcast by clicking here. My interview starts at the 11:19 mark.

Had most excellent virtual visits with Mosby Woods Elementary (many thanks to Heather Brown), The Valley School (shout out to Laura Meier), Calkins Road Middle School (so thankful to Michael Falzoi, Toni Baller, and David Buritt), Monroe #1 BOCES (appreciate you, Wendy Petry), University School of Milwaukee, (super grateful to Cheryl Bair and Margy Stratton), a joint visit with Irene Latham at Durham Community School, (tip of the hat to Molly Hogan and Sara Domingo), Red Bank Borough Public Schools, (oodles of gratitude to Cheryl Cuddihy and Kate Mills), Morse Pond School, (all hail the kindness of Liz Abbott), Queens College through an invitation from Meet The Writers, (praise be to Michele Weisman), Unity Braxton Middle School, (bundles of appreciation to Linda Mitchell and Hope Dublin).

It was a pleasure speak on a Zoom panel with other authors, including my poetic forever friend, Irene Latham, to students and educators from across the country as part of National Poetry Month sponsored by Cardinal Rule Press. Over 270 people logged on for the virtual podcasting shindig. Among items talked about were writing inspirations and the process of putting words on the page. Many thanks to Maria Dismondy for the invitation and to Mandy Bush for also helping put it all together. You can listen to the podcast in its entirety by clicking here.

Celebrated Independent Bookstore Day by signing Can I Touch Your Hair? and Dictionary For A Better World and talking to book loving humans at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. It made my soul happy to be in the fresh air among like minded humans again. Many thanks to Diane Capriola, Justin Colussy-Estes, and Matilda McNeely for the invitation.

Was honored to find out that Nancy Kenworthy of Cornerstone Community Church in Norwalk, CT reached out to Lerner Publishing Group, the publisher of Dictionary For A Better World, to ask permission to use my poem, "Shero", for publication in their newsletter to celebrate their pastor Rev. Elizabeth C. Abel for winning Fairfield County's Shero Award which, according to Ms. Kenworthy is, presented to a woman who has "gone above and beyond" to improve the lives of underserved populations. You can find the poem on page. 5 in their church newsletter here.

Thrilled to hear about Dictionary For A Better World being named to the Utah State List! Many thanks to the Children's Literature Association and the Beehive Book Award committee. You can read the article — where Dictionary is mentioned at the bottom — by clicking here.

Super grateful to educator and blogger, Katherine Palaces Narita, for her blog post about incorporating Dictionary For A Better World into her curriculum. These students are so lucky to have her as their teacher. Enjoy reading her most excellent post here.

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:

D-39: A Robodog's Journey by Irene Latham



CHLORINE SKY by Mahogany L. Browne

STARFISH by Lisa Fipps

RED, WHITE, AND WHOLE by Rajani LeRocca

MAYA ANGELOU by Lisbeth Kaiser

YOUR NAME IS A SONG by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow. Illustrated by Luisa Uribe.

MADDI'S FRIDGE by Lois Brandt. Illustrated by Vin Vogel.

EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS by Joanna Ho. Illustrated by Dung Ho.

I AM ENOUGH by Grace Byers. Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo.

THE COLOR OF US by Karen Katz

JUST ASK: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor. Illustrated by Rafael López.

A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY by Sara O'Leary. Illustrated by Qin Leng.

THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS by Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

PINK IS FOR BOYS by Robb Pearlman. Illustrated by Eda Kaban.

ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimental. Illustrated by Nabi Ali.


SOMETHING HAPPENED IN OUR TOWN: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard. Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin.

SPOON by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Scott Magoon.

CHOPSTICKS by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Scott Magoon.

LITTLE PEA by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Scott Magoon.

A DAY FOR REMEMBERIN' by Leah Henderson. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

HAILSTONES AND HALIBUT BONES: Adventures in Color by Mary O'Neill. Illustrated by John Wallner.

MARCH Book One/Two/Three by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin. Illustrated by Nate Powell.

SCHOOLS OF HOPE : How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education by Norman H. Finkelstein.

DEAR MR. ROSENWALD by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

MEMORY JARS written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol.

HOME IS NOT A COUNTRY by Safia Elhillo.


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 about reaching out to someone in need. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Simply acknowledging their existence in a kind way can mean so much.


I stand outside kicking a pine cone.

Eyes darting between this one level

maze and clusters of kids emitting

a steady stream of chatter about their

Summer vacations. Why am I constantly

the new kid? I silently whine. Being a

military brat stinks. A girl then walks up

to me. She has strawberry hair with purple

streaks, chalky white fingernails, a minty

green dress, plaid socks and salmon colored

shoes. It's obvious that shyness is not in her

vocabulary. "I don't remember you from last

year." She said. "I'm new here." I whisper.

"What's your name?" She asks. "RonJon."

I mutter. "I'm Indigo. C'mon I'll introduce you

to my friends." She grabs my hand and off I go

thankful for my life preserver.

© Charles Waters 2021, all rights reserved. 

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