Welcome to the 30th blog post here at Poetry Time!
As we wrap up 2015, with the speed of a sneeze, I might add, I’m grateful for what the year has brought me:
One book deal, five poems in three different anthologies, multiple commissions to perform my one person show Poetry Time, and conduct children’s poetry workshops in Manhattan and Queens, NY, and continuing to make contacts with librarians, administrators, teachers, editors, writers, and literary agents.
I also had the pleasure of attending another Highlights Foundation workshop with one of my poetry mentors, the esteemed Rebecca Kai Dotlich. If there is a heaven on earth, the Highlights Foundation workshop might be the one.
On the acting front, I now freelance with two different agencies, went on my first audition in NYC for “principal” work, which is industry parlance for a “speaking” part, and done background and stand-in work for many different TV shows and motion pictures.
My now forever friend and part-time poetry partner Irene Latham had her 10 year Blogiversary on November 8th and asked her fellow children’s poetry bloggers to send in a blog post of their own on the theme of WILD.
I was going through a tough time making my way in New York City and didn’t feel up to sending anything in, but after weathering that storm, I decided to write about it here:
For me I felt WILD when I decided, after leaving Walt Disney World due to cutbacks, to make the leap to NYC. This city is not for the soft hearted in some ways, in others though I’ve seen kindness, not just to me, but to other people, that has humbled me to my essence. I knew that there would be more acting and children’s poetry opportunities here than in the Sunshine State, so I sold my purple car that I called Professor Plum, packed my life into a rental car, drove from Orlando, FL to the border of Delaware, slept for four and a half hours in the car at a rest station to save money on a hotel, had a respite in Toms River, NJ that morning/ afternoon to visit my friend Lori Centeno, who fed me and let me swim in the family pool, and continued on my journey to Gotham City. The next day, I was submitting for acting work, and heck, any work I could find that was legal. I’ve made great friends, met some cool acquaintances, and taken a bite out of the Big Apple. I’m beyond grateful I made it through this year and am looking forward to 2016 with the knowledge that I’m getting closer to where I want to be in my life.
I attended the 2015 “Best in Rhyme” Award Ceremony at the KidLit TV studios in Manhattan which was hosted by Julie Gribble and televised on KidLitTV. It was an evening of celebrating rhyming picture books and meeting some great human beings in the picture book world. I brought along my poetic pal, Highlights Foundation comrade, and up and coming children's poet Maureen “Moe” Phillips. Writer and all-around great human Angie Karcher invited me to the shindig, I couldn’t be more grateful to her for all she does for children’s literacy.
I also attended another soriee at the KidLit TV studios the next day, went to dinner with some of the participants, and took a chauffeured ride through NYC with some of the book peeps stopping to view such sights as The Statue of Liberty, and the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center.
In 2016, so far, I have three poems in two different children's poetry anthologies to look forward too, as well as an opportunity to perform in Seattle, WA in late January.
Esteemed children's poet/educator/publisher Janet Wong and Dr. Jeana M. Hrepich of Antioch University are putting together shows and workshops for teacher and students at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) schools in the area, as well as informal sessions with Dr. Hrepich's graduate students at Antioch. My other colleagues on this poetic journey will be authors Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and Julie Larios. Thank you Janet and Jeana for the opportunity.
Since we’ve last seen each other I’ve also attended the following shows:
The Off-Broadway play CLEVER LITTLE LIES by Joe DiPietro at The Westside Theatre. This comedy, starring Emmy, Grammy winner Marlo Thomas, dealt with love, betrayal, and secrets; it surprised me with a somber streak that was threaded into the final third of the play, it was an unexpected wallop. Oh, and the set designs were so creative, I love me some crisp moving set pieces!
The Broadway play THE GIN GAME by D.L. Coburn at the John Golden Theatre. This two character play, about two nursing home residents who play gin rummy, ruminate on their lives and deal with the regrets that catch up to them eventually. It was an honor to watch James Earl Jones and Cecily Tyson perform as the residents. Mr. Jones is 84 years old and Ms. Tyson is 90 years old, and I hope with all that my soul can offer, that I can be as vital and sharp as both of them when the universe allows me to become a senior citizen.
The Broadway play SYLVIA by A.R. Gurney at the Cort Theatre. This comedy, starring Matthew Broderick, dealt with a middle age couple and their relationship with a dog, one who can communicate by talking to them, no barking required. All four performers in the cast, as well as the director, had been either nominated or won a Tony Award, so I had a feeling I was going to be in pretty good hands, and I was. And my goodness, another play with crisp moving set pieces. I must have been a scenic designer in my previous life!
The Broadway dancing spectacular LORD OF THE DANCE: DANGEROUS GAMES at the Lyric Theatre. This whirlwind of Irish dancers, dancing robots, and acrobats did not disappoint, neither did an end of the show holograph appearance by the “Lord of the Dance” himself, Michael Flatley. I have a new found love of Irish dancing, yep, no doubt about it.
The Off-Broadway show REAL MEN at the New World Stages. This musical comedy about men dealing everything from dating to marriage to having a mid-life crisis is not for all ages, but is for aduts trying to navigate a never boring world.
The Off-Broadway show A WILDER CHRISTMAS at the Theatre at St. Clement's. The production is actually two rarely seen one act plays by the legendary Thorton Wilder. The first one, THE LONG CHRISTMAS DINNER, tells the tale of an American family that spans over 90 years and multiple generations. The second one, PULLMAN CAR HIAWATHA, shares a story of passengers aboard a Pullman car during the holiday season of 1930. We the audience are guided in this tale by a "Stage Manager." If you're thinking, you mean like the character in the classic play OUR TOWN? Then you would be correct!
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:
HYPNOTIZE A TIGER: Poems About Just About Everything by Calef Brown.
A CHILD’S CALENDER by John Updike.
A GREAT BIG CUDDLE: Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen.
VOICE OF FREEDOM: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford.
BOYCOTT BLUES: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
THE SCHOOL IS NOT WHITE! : A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement by Doreen Rappaport.
MARVELOUS CORNELIUS: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner.
SWEEP UP THE SUN by Helen Frost.
THIS ORQ: (he say “ugh!”) by David Elliot.
EMU by Claire Saxby.
YOU NEST HERE WITH ME by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple.
COUNTING LIONS: Portraits from the Wild by Katie Cotton.
IN MARY’S GARDEN by Tina and Carson Kugler.
TOAD WEATHER by Sandra Markle.
SNOW SCHOOL by Sandra Markle.
OLD KING COLE by Iza Trapani.
THE LITTLE KIDS TABLE by Mary Ann Mccabe Riehle.
VAMONOS! LET’S GO! by Rene Colato Lainez.
GREEN IS A CHILE PEPPER: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong .
HOW TO BEHAVE AT A TEA PARTY by Madelyn Rosenberg.
DUCK FOR TURKEY DAY by Jacqueline Jules.
HERE COME THE HUMPBACKS by April Pulley Sayre.
BY MOUSE & FROG by Deborah Freeman.
FULL CICADA MOON BY Marilyn Hilton.
PEGGY: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure by Anna Walker.
THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH: The Improbable Life Of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman.
THE NUTS: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin.
PLEASE, MR. PANDY by Steve Antony.
BLIZZARD by John Rocco.
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coats.
I leave you two poems, the first deals somewhat with the WILD theme that was written about earlier. This has to do with my Mom, who has been so supportive since I made this leap to NYC. I decided to write a poem about what I think could be most mothers perspective when their children start their own journey on life's sometimes grueling highways. The other poem is about how we as kids and adults need that quiet time away from humanity to listen to our thoughts, to get soaked up in "story."
MOTHER’S GIFT (For Paula)
I can’t think of another gift
more heartbreaking, both good and bad,
than a mother bringing her child into the world,
and next, in an eyeblink, watching them drive off
into the waning slivers of sunlight
to find their way on life’s mysterious path.
© Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.
THE BLANKET SANCTUARY
Huddled under layers of blankets and sheets
protecting me from life’s harsh glare,
its judgmental stare, I click on my flashlight,
fasten on headphones, crack open a book,
safe at last in a sanctuary of my own creation.
© Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.