Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Speech, THREE Drink Nights, Two Panels, and an Announcement

1. The text of the speech I delivered on Friday at Carleton College, "The Wand Chooses the Wizard: Of Carleton, Children's Books, and Creating Yourself," is now online at my website here. It's less about Harry Potter than about the idea of being yourself, and the pleasures and the real pain of that, with some thoughts for soon-to-be college graduates on adulthood and a life's work.

2. Our next New York Kidlit Drink Night will be tomorrow, Monday, April 26, at our old favorite Sweet & Vicious, in Soho between Bowery & Elizabeth, starting around 6:30 p.m. By coincidence we'll be there at the same time as the Teen Author Drink Night that David Levithan runs, so all your children's AND YA literature drinking needs will never be satisfied more fully than they'll be that night. Hopefully it will be warm enough that we can hang out in the back garden.

3. We will also host a BEA Kidlit Drink Night exactly a month later -- Wednesday, May 26, 6 p.m. at the Houndstooth Pub on 8th Ave. (where we were last year).

4. And if you're coming to the ALA convention in June in Washington, D.C., Sara Lewis Holmes has your Kidlit Drink Night goodness then! Mark your calendars for Friday night, June 25, and get the details here.

5. New Yorkers: Francisco X. Stork, the wonderful and very wise author of Marcelo in the Real World and The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, will be appearing on two different panels on Thursday as part of the PEN World Voices Festival -- "Writing, Speaking, Dreaming," during the day, and "A Gathering of Voices" in the evening, alongside David Almond and several others, moderated by Betsy Bird. More information ahoy.

6. And on Saturday, May 1, at 2 p.m. I'll be appearing at Betsy's Children's Literature Cafe at the main New York Public Library as part of a terrific panel called "Lost in Children's Literary Translation." Les deets on that one.

7. Finally, I'm sorry about this, but starting May 1, I am closing to unsolicited submissions (SQUIDs) for a couple of months, except in the cases of conference attendees submitting under the terms established at that conference, and writers with whom I've previously corresponded and invited to send future manuscripts. (Agented submissions are also welcome, of course.) I'm doing this because there has been a remarkable uptick in submissions in the last few months (which I'm not the only one experiencing -- and anecdotally I've heard other agents say the same); this time off will hopefully let me clear out some of the backlog. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Beauty," by Tony Hoagland

When the medication she was taking
caused tiny vessels in her face to break,
leaving faint but permanent blue stitches in her cheeks,
my sister said she knew she would
never be beautiful again.

After all those years
of watching her reflection in the mirror,
sucking in her stomach and standing straight,
she said it was a relief,
being done with beauty,

but I could see her pause inside that moment
as the knowledge spread across her face
with a fine distress, sucking
the peach out of her lips,
making her cute nose seem, for the first time,
a little knobby.

I’m probably the only one in the whole world
who actually remembers the year in high school
she perfected the art
of being a dumb blond,

spending recess on the breezeway by the physics lab,
tossing her hair and laughing that canary trill
which was her specialty,

while some football player named Johnny
with a pained expression in his eyes
wrapped his thick finger over and over again
in the bedspring of one of those pale curls.

Or how she spent the next decade of her life
auditioning a series of tall men,
looking for just one with the kind
of attention span she could count on.

Then one day her time of prettiness
was over, done, finito,
and all those other beautiful women
in the magazines and on the streets
just kept on being beautiful
everywhere you looked,

walking in that kind of elegant, disinterested trance
in which you sense they always seem to have one hand
touching the secret place
that keeps their beauty safe,
inhaling and exhaling the perfume of it—

It was spring. Season when the young
buttercups and daisies climb up on the
mulched bodies of their forebears
to wave their flags in the parade.

My sister just stood still for thirty seconds,
amazed by what was happening,
then shrugged and tossed her shaggy head
as if she was throwing something out,

something she had carried a long ways,
but had no use for anymore,
now that it had no use for her.
That, too, was beautiful.


Poems by Tony Hoagland previously posted here: "A Color of the Sky" (my favorite breakup poem, besides "You Must Accept"), and "Hard Rain" (a bare knife blade). All of these via The Writer's Almanac.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Two Lovely Thoughts on Faith

This was the first Sunday after Easter, so the wonderful minister at my church preached about "Doubting" Thomas today; and he said a lovely thing and we sang a lovely hymn that each really resonated with both the religious and nonreligious parts of me. Because of course I thought also about keeping faith with one's literary work here, "waiting for the morning light" of inspiration, trusting you'll find the way through a difficult revision, and "being ready still to give" when that way is revealed. And doubt about a project is normal; it's only those other things that will kill it. In that spirit:

"The opposite of faith isn't doubt. The opposite of faith is fear, cynicism, and despair." -- Rev. Herb Miller

Faith is patience in the night,
waiting for the morning light,
never giving up the fight.
Spirit God, give us faith.

Faith is laughter in our pain,
joy in pleasures that remain,
trust in one we can't explain.
Spirit God, give us faith.

Faith is steadfast will to live,
standing firm and positive,
being ready still to give.
Spirit God, give us faith.

Faith is courage under stress,
confidence in hopelessness,
greatest gift we can possess.
Spirit God, give us faith.
-- Lyrics by Mary Nelson Keithahn

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Scholastic Fall 2010 Librarian Preview Webcast

On Monday, Scholastic did a very cool and, I think, generally unprecedented thing: We broadcast our Fall 2010 librarian preview across the web, with five editors discussing most of our terrific autumn titles. You can watch the preview (hosted by our intrepid School & Library Marketing Director, John Mason) here:

Scholastic Librarian Preview

The Arthur A. Levine Books portion begins around 15:00, and features Mad at Mommy, the next picture book from New York Times Ten Best Illustrated honoree Komako Sakai; Welcome to My Neighborhood: A Barrio ABC, written by Pulitzer nominee Quiara Alegria Hudes, with illustrations from Shino Arihara; The Memory Bank, by National Book Award honoree Carolyn Coman, illustrated by Rob Shepperson; Plain Kate by the very unplain Erin Bow; StarCrossed, the kickass second novel from the Morris Award-winning Elizabeth C. Bunce; The Miracle Stealer, a terrific religious suspense novel by Neil Connelly; and the uber-fun Bobby the Brave (Sometimes), by Lisa Yee and Dan Santat. I edited or co-edited Mad at Mommy, StarCrossed, The Miracle Stealer, and Bobby, so you can expect to hear quite a bit more about them in the months ahead. Hope you enjoy the show!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Poetry for Good Friday: "Little Gidding IV," by T. S. Eliot

The dove descending breaks the air

With flame of incandescent terror

Of which the tongues declare

The one discharge from sin and error.

The only hope, or else despair

Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre—

To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.

Love is the unfamiliar Name

Behind the hands that wove

The intolerable shirt of flame

Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire

Consumed by either fire or fire.

Read the complete poem here.