Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can it really be???

I think I am suspending this blog, and moving my online life over to the blog at my new author site!!!

I will still be reviewing books, and I will still be ranting (likely more often) about nothing in particular, and my writing life in detail. But I have too many blogs, so I want to smoosh them all together...

Please go ahead and bookmark the new site? Thanks so much!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Poetry Friday!!!

I first started reading Tomaz Salamun in college, where my teacher (who had been a Fulbright to Yugoslavia) was obsessed with Slovenian poets.

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to meet Tomaz in several places. First in a cabin on Lake Bled, then in my own kitchen in Chattanooga, and finally at a party in Iowa City. The guy gets around.

And I love him. I love him, love him, love him. And I think you will too.

There is something really spare in his work, which I adore. But there's so much in each line. A great economy of language! It's just a little religious, a little surreal, a little sexy, a little sad, a little despairing, a little in love. It's a little old-world, but also very contemporary-- funny and wise.

A few years back I posted this tiny poem, which is hilarious:

What is Abomination

Abomination is when you come home
and say heat up the stove
and no one heats up the stove for you
and it's February

be gone be gone
the most global abomination is peas

But his range is great. And so here's another:

I Know

Last night, in the water where Barnett Newman’s
line disappeared, I drowned. I swam
to the surface, like a black, dark-blue
luminous blossom. It’s terrible to be
a flower. The world stopped.
Mute, like velvet, I opened, perhaps
for good.
Before, with Toma┼ż Brejc, we
talked about the mystique
of finance, about the eye, the triangle,
about God, possible readings
of chance, of Slovenian history and
Don’t touch me.
I’m the greatest capital just as I am.
I’m the water in which the
destiny of the world takes place for us.
I’m dizzy. I don’t understand.
I know.
Tonight, when I made love, I
reported. I’m a black cube now,
like marble or granite-from-the-other-world,
a bird standing, with yellow
feet and an immense yellow beak, my black
feathers shining: now the eminent church
dignitary, that is:
they all wanted me,
the blossom.
I’m the pure dark blossom
standing still on the surface.
Untouchable and untouched.

Monday, March 17, 2008

This week... a tornado and a leprecaun!!!

Yes, that's right! A tornado touched down in my neighborhood, or right around the corner anyway. But I wasn't here... I was deep below ground, in the IKEA parking lot, hiding out with the kids.



Now... in honor of St. Patrick's Day (yes, that's right... my other blog is JewishyIRISHY!) a poem, from Ireland! One I read over and over and over and over as a kid, as it was included in THIS AWESOME BOOK! (except that I discovered it was not this book, but another. Does anyone remember a seventies version with a purple cover?)

The Fairies--William Allingham

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back
Between the night and morrow;
They thought she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Poetry Friday REDUX!!!

I didn't realize it was Dylan Day!

Here, in honor, is a prosey poem I wrote about a year ago.


Dear Bob Dylan,

The me I was at every time before this time was yours. No longer.

The me of smoke and mirrors for long stretches. The me of down on my knees and night in the cemetery and attic apartments and dreamily, dreamily, thin. The me of my ridiculous then.

I was deathly serious. I was deathly.

Of lying to people and grinning. Of beauty. Of goodness. Of ragged coughs and vegetarian and braids in my hair. Torn fabric and gilt edges. Late nights gone stale by morning. Smoke gone stale. Incense too. Flowering, weeds in a mason jar. Flowering gone stale.


I was little—romping. Bears and picnics… I was slightly less small—my skirts above my knees (in pretense). If you’re a travelin… I was older—cars and highways. Nashvilles. Skylines…

But I was still little. Then. I was something!

I miss you. I miss me. I miss us, then. I miss the then.

Murder by nostalgia. Gone stale. Goodbye.


I am loving Poetry Friday! It is letting me dig around in my brain, wander through the poems I loved long ago, outgrew, and am ready to come back to (much as I am returning to all the books I loved in the many wild long agos of my already).

Anyone else remember this Norman Dubie poem? Please, do yourself a favor and ready the last 4 lines!!

I'll consider this my kiss-off to winter!

Of Politics and Art

Here, on the farthest point of the peninsula
The winter storm
Off the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.
Mrs. Whitimore, dying
Of tuberculosis, said it would be after dark
Before the snowplow and bus would reach us.

She read to us from Melville.

How in an almost calamitous moment
Of sea hunting
Some men in an open boat suddenly found themselves
At the still and protected center
Of a great herd of whales
Where all the females floated on their sides
While their young nursed there. The cold frightened whalers
Just stared into what they allowed
Was the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow's
One visible eyeball.
And they were at peace with themselves.

Today I listened to a woman say
That Melville might
Be taught in the next decade. Another woman asked, "And why not?"
The first responded, "Because there are
No women in his one novel."

And Mrs. Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.
Coughing into her handkerchief. Snow above the windows.
There was a blue light on her face, breasts, and arms.
Sometimes a whole civilization can be dying
Peacefully in one young woman, in a small heated room
With thirty children
Rapt, confident and listening to the pure
God-rendering voice of a storm.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Good Stuff!!!

Okay, so I've been reading Anne Ursu's Shadow Thieves, and it's delightful, and funny, and contemporary and smart and all that good stuff.

But the end ROCKS! I will not give it away, but it DOES!

Though there is still one thing I'm confused about... probably because I fall asleep reading (which I do with all books) and missed a key page. Sigh.

(To folks who read the book, do you understand how Grandma Winter knew Metos?)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Poetry Friday!!!

Poetry Friday today, and I'm dashing out the door with the kids... to take my husband his laptop, which he left home.

But all week I have had a poem in my head, a poem I loved a long time ago, in college. I think it's resonating this week because I long to slooooooow down, have a remarkable moment (or two, or three).

Maybe a little cheesey, but here it is, by James Wright:

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fine Lines...

What I am doing a pathetic, irregular attempt at accomplishing with this blog...

Is being hysterically, successfully, wonderfully executed over at Fine Lines. Lizzie Skurnick is a wonder, and if you read YA/kidlit and you do not know this weekly feature, you are missing OUT!

This week she's talking about Louise Fitzhugh's The Long Secret (yes, the sequel to Harriet the Spy, silly!)

(Oh, I am so jealous of Lizzie! I want to be as clever as she is!!!)

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Treasures of Weatherby...

I hadn't heard anything about the Treasures of Weaterby, which led me to think it would fall flat. But you know what?

I loved it!

The story of a young boy (Harleigh) living in a falling-to-pieces manor house, with an assortment of odd and old family members, the book falls into the category of "books about kids with mysterious places to explore", which I LOVE! Hidden spaces, overgrown gardens, secret rooms and trapdoors. Mazes and towers and hidden treasures.

I'll admit that the character of Allegra (Harleigh's secret friend) is a bit of a disappointment in the end. She gets "wrapped up" too quickly, after a well paced read. But that aside-the book is wonderful! It has that "is this magic or not?" vibe Zilpha Keatly Snyder is so darn good at!

Poetry Friday!!!

I apologize that this will make 2 PF posts in a row, but my BOOK IS DUE on Monday, and as I've been dashing toward that deadline, I haven't had time to read or blog. This will all change on Monday. Monday Monday Monday Monday...

Now that that's out of the way.... it's POETRY FRIDAY!

Today I'm taking a deep deep breath and posting something original for the first time. Not my adult poetry, but a picture book in verse, "Lily and the Wily Corn Bears" that I revised for an editor Houghton Mifflin, only to have it cut (a lesson in why not to revise on spec. I guess). It was the first picture book I ever really sent out!

I never sent it back out, because I realized after the fact that I'd stolen a little too much from both "Outside Over There (Sendak)" and maybe also the "Teddy Bears' Picnic."

So instead, here it is, for Poetry Friday. It's rather long...

And the illustration was done by a wonderful artist friend of mine to accompany the text. (I hope it's okay I posted it here, Aaron?)


Lily and the Wily Corn Bears
By Laurel Snyder

The day she left her farmhouse to wander through the corn,
Lily wore her scamper-boots and took along her horn.

She packed a checkered satchel with sandwiches to eat,
And also her umbrella, for rainstorms she might meet.

She made her way through rows of corn, and heard the tractors hum.
She watched the birds go flitting past. She thought she heard a drum.

The sun moved fast across the sky, but Lily wandered on.
She watched it rise and sit, and set, until the day was done.

Then— just as it was getting dark, she heard the drum again,
The sound of something dancing, or the rhythm of the rain.

The pounding of a hammer or the beating of a chest.
Poor Lily didn’t know she’d found The Wily Corn Bears’ nest!

She clambered from the cornrows onto a little hill,
Where Wily Corn Bears jumped and twirled and danced around, and still

Brave Lily moved in closer— until it was too late!
They pushed her down and tied her up and strapped her to the gate.

They hooted and they hollered. They pulled at Lily’s hair.
They’d never seen a Lily, and she’d never seen a bear.

She stared at them in disbelief, as they all gnashed their jaws,
Rubbed polka dotted bellies, waved little yellow claws.

The corn bears scowled at Lily. They made a yelping sound.
They opened up her satchel, and wolfed her sandwich down.

They gobbled up her carrot sticks and swallowed down her juice.
When Lily saw them chomping, she tried to wriggle loose.

She summoned up her courage, and soft began to speak,
“That sandwich was my supper, you thiefy little sneaks!”

But corn bears don’t know human talk, and so they barely heard.
She might as well have been a goldfish burbling at birds.

She might as well have been a bluebird singing to a child.
Corn bears don’t know human words. The words they know are wild.

They just kept right on chomping, so Lily gave a shout—

The corn bears heard her bellow, but they puzzled at the sound.
They snickered corn bear snickers, glanced sneakily around.

And then they turned to Lily, wondering at her yell.
They poked and prodded both her knees. They pinched her arms as well.

They unlaced both her scamper-boots. But now she shook in fear.
She wrestled to and fro against the ties that bound her there.

Tiny bear-claws combed her hair, tangled up her braids.
She felt the tiny bear-claws, and then she felt afraid.

They tugged until her head was sore. They scratched, as corn bears will.
They danced and whispered wily sounds. They pulled her clothes until

Her hem was frayed and falling, her pockets torn clean through
Lily felt quite sure that there was nothing left to do.

She trembled while she waited. She felt a creeping dread.
Until two corn bears stole her socks to wear upon their heads.

They wore the socks like little hats, which socks aren’t meant to be,
Then pulled them tight around their snouts, which caused both bears to sneeze.

But that made Lily giggle, and woke her from her fright.
She struggled with the ropes she wore, the ropes that bound her tight.

She managed then to free one arm, and with that arm she tried
To grab the Wily Corn Bears as they went running by.

She reached out for their silky backs, their pointy little ears,
But found instead her fingers fell on something lying near.

She found instead her satchel, discarded on the lawn,
And in the bag she found her horn, and in the horn a song.

The creatures twirled around her still, shapes moving through the night,
She felt their claws against her skin. She shuddered deep with fright.

But when she blew upon her horn, The Wily Corn Bears fell,
In huddled lumps at Lily’s feet, and ceased their Corn Bear yell.

She played as she untied her ropes, as she ran through the dark.
She played till she was out of breath, until she saw a spark.

A sun, a flame, a lamp, a glow, a window all alight.
When Lily saw her own front porch, she hurtled from the night.

She threw her horn into the fields, and scampered up the stairs.
She ran into the kitchen and found her mother there.

The moral of this story: Don’t wander in the corn
But if you have to wander, be sure you bring your horn.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Poetry Friday!!!

Here in the kidlitosphere... it's Poetry Friday again!

Today I'm linking to my very favorite of John Berryman's Dream Songs. Because I've always thought of it as a children's poem, even though it really isnt.

But that line, my mother told me as a boy/ (repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored/ means you have no/ Inner Resources." reminds me so strongly of childhood.

Though my teacher put it differently. She said, "Laurel Snyder-- only stupid people get bored. Are you bored?"

(side note: if you've never heard Berryman read his own work, you should give the recordings a listen. Start with Dream Song #1. He's craaaaazy!)

Dream Song 14

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no

Inner Resources." I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Country Bunny!!!

The Country Bunny & the Little Gold Shoes!


Written by Du Bose Heyward, with art by Marjorie Flack, this is an Easter book I remember reading year round.

The country bunny attains the exalted position of Easter Bunny in spite of her responsibilities as the mother of twenty-one children. "It is difficult to believe that this very modern feminist tale was originally written in 1939. A gem of a fantasy in which kindness and cleverness win out over size and brawn."

The last time I visited my mom, I came home with a box of books for my boys. And there, at the bottom of the box, slightly torn, was the Country Bunny...

I remember loving her, this bumpkin. And the kind, wise, old grandfather rabbit. But most of all, I remember being the child, identifying with the sleeping child. I must have been really little when I read this...

Because I WANTED THAT EGG! I wanted to look inside.

It's worth saying that I'm Jewish (though with an interfaith background) and generally, I avoid having any Christian kiddie lit in my home (this would have to be a long complicated post in order for me to explain fully. Please understand...) But I made an exception for the Country Bunny.

Something about her vulnerability, her perserverence, her sweetness.

I think it's especially wonderful to think of this book coming out when it did, on the brink of WWII. To think that this book was read by all those kids being raised on the glory of strength, the justice of war. Guns and steel. MEN!

Because at bedtime, you need a mama bunny, a sweet voice, little gentle something soft.


The worst picture book EVER!!!

You may *think* you've read the worst book ever but you have not.

Because you have not ( I assume) read DRIPPY!

It really looks like this. All pixelated-like.

Inside is worse!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Poetry Friday: Matthea Harvey...

Okay, so I spent all week excited to post about the wonderful poets I read who are also beginning to write for kids. There are more and more of them!

Matthew Harvey has published 3 collections of poetry (and the picture book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake) , and the most recent was abig dang deal, nominated for the NBCC Award. But I'm posting (below) a poem from her first book (Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form) , because it employs something called a swivel line, which I think might be of special interest to people who write picture books. A swivel line enjambs so that the last word of a line is also the first word of the next line or phrase. So that the word does double duty.

Like any formal tool, it can be clunky, but it can also work amazingly, and is the kind of wordplay kids love!

Okay... and now the poem:

Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form

Pity the bathtub that belongs to the queen its feet
Are bronze casts of the former queen's feet its sheen
A sign of fretting is that an inferior stone shows through
Where the marble is worn away with industrious
Polsihing the tub does not take long it is tiny some say
Because the queen does not want room for splashing
The maid thinks otherwise she knows the king
Does not grip the queen nightly in his arms there are
Others the queen does not have lovers she obeys
Her mother once told her your ancestry is your only
Support then is what she gets in the bathtub she floats
Never holds her nose and goes under not because
She might sink but because she knows to keep her ears
Above water she smiles at the circle of courtiers below
Her feet are kicking against walls which cannot give
Satisfaction at best is to manage to stay clean

Pity the bathtub its forced embrace of the whims of
One man loves but is not loved in return by the object
Of his affection there is little to tell of his profession
There is more for it is because he works with glass
That he thinks things are clear (he loves) and adjustable
(she does not love) he knows how to take something
Small and hard and hot and make room for
His breath quickens at night as he dreams of her he wants
To create a present unlike any other and because he cannot
Hold her he designs something that can a bathtub of
Glass shimmers red when it is hot he pours it into the mold
In a rush of passion only as it begins to cool does it reflect
His foolishness enrages him he throws off his clothes meaning
To jump in and lie there but it is still too hot and his feet propel
Him forward he runs from one end to the other then falls
To the floor blisters begin to swell on his soft feet he watches
His pain harden into a pretty pattern on the bottom of the bath

Pity the bathtub its forced embrace of the human
Form may define external appearance but there is room
For improvement within try a soapdish that allows for
Slippage is inevitable as is difference in the size of
The subject may hoard his or her bubbles at different
End of the bathtub may grasp the sponge tightly or
Loosely it may be assumed that eventually everyone gets in
The bath has a place in our lives and our place is
Within it we have control of how much hot how much cold
What to pour in how long we want to stay when to
Return is inevitable because we need something
To define ourselves agaisnt even if we know that
Whenever we want we can pull the plug and get out
Which is not the case with our own tighter confinement
Inside the body oh pity the bathtub but pity us too

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy February!!!

Remember the box with the slit in the top? Remember the lumpy little white envelopes that you knew meant there was candy inside? Remember counting counting, counting your cards?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Poetry Friday!!!

I've never participated in Poetry Friday before. In part, I think, because I didn't quite understand what it was-- being new to the kidlitosphere and all. And also because poetry is my "other life" and in my head, I talk about it too much already.

But today I got the reminder for poetry friday, and found I wanted to play too!

Today, two offerings--

First, a link to a litmag that might be of interest to kidlitters: The Fairy Tale Review. This is very much a magazine of contemporary adult work, but all of it is in some way involved with the fairy tale as form/ idea/ fodder. take a look!

And second, the Yeats poem my father read me every night when I was little:

The Song of a Wandering Aengus

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I often hate sequels, but I just finished the third Olivia Kidney book, and I gotta say-- that Ellen Potter is smart!

I too have longed to write about the old pneumatic train tunnel beneath New York, full of chandeliers and mosaics... about the mole people and the spooks. Damn you, Ellen Potter, for beating me to it!

I loved the William James references! I loved that Olivia was allowed to grow older, but just a little bit.

I did NOT love the lack of illustrations. What's UP WITH THAT? And WHY did they switch cover artists, and WHY did they go back and retitle the second book?

I will never ever understand publishing.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Oh! Oh! Oh!!!

I've known for a bit that galley copies (ARCs) of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains had gone out, and I even saw a photo a friend took, of one on the Random House table at ALA.

But this morning I saw this tidbit (from the lovely Sara Lewis Holmes) and now I am rejoicing to see that the ARC is actually in the hands of a real live reader, (besides my mom), none other than Anamaria Anderson of Books Together!

This may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but it is. Because here's the thing-- I didn't write the book to be published, I wrote the book to be READ. So far, I've had all manner of interesting experiences, but it has not been read.

This, the idea that I wrote a story, and now people will read it, and hopefully be entertained... THAT is the big brass ring for me.

Thank you Sara, and Anamaria!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Blue Valentine....

Does anyone else remember this book?

I remember loving it, but cannot find a copy around here.

Today we went to a Valentine making party (all of us in red and pink. I wore red plaid pants. Wowza!) and as I smeared glitter-glue around, I suddenly, with a massive flash of recall, thought of this book...