Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weather report

Six degrees this morning. No wind. Not enough snow to make a decent snowball, but the skaters are happy.

Anita Silvey gave a wonderful presentation yesterday on picture books from Wanda Gag to Lane Smith's new Grandpa Green. She began by saying she could feel the enthusiasm and energy (perhaps also cameraderie) in our lecture hall. I agree, though there is a sprinkling of fatigue in the mix.

She also told us she has been detecting signs that the pendulum is swinging back toward picture books (strength to your sword arms, picture book writers!) And she mentioned three that she is especially fond of this year--A Nation's Hope by Matt de la Pena (illustrated by Kadir Nelson), Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, and Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell. Anita also reminded us of her website-- where she posts about a different children's book every day of the year. Her posts are bouquets to books and writers. No brickbats allowed.

We wanted more and we get it this morning with her presentation on historical fiction.

But back to yesterday. Claire Rudolf Murphy gave a funny and brave talk on finding our own true tessitura. In the world of vocal music tessitura is the best range for each person's singing voice. I am going to share just a couple of nuggets from her presentation:

*at Mothshop Community Program (, a story telling project with homeless people, researchers have learned that when people tell a personal story or a story close to their hearts detectable changes occur in their brains. Such stories also change the brains of their listeners. Amazing!

*fear (our own fears about writing) are just clouds in the huge sky of our fearlessness.

Claire said, "Trust your writing because you've learned to trust yourself. Remember you don't have to be perfect. You can't be perfect. But you can go deeper. You can find your tessitura that allows you to go deeper, to do your very best work."

She ended her presentation with this poem, also printed below in Claire's post. I like it so much I want to include it again.

"It is so clear that it takes so long to see.
You must know that the fire which
you are seeking
Is the fire in your own lantern,
And your rice has been cooked from
the very beginning.


  1. Claire delivered her lecture at the best time. The residency will end tomorrow. Another chapter will end. Another will begin. And then another. We're all pretty lucky to commune, laugh, and rowdy up the place. But that's what we do when we're home...:0)

  2. Last night we celebrated Mel and all the grads. It was a beautiful, beautiful afternoon and evening. The grads will make us proud and will be profoundly missed. Thank you, Mel, for being a delightful and perceptive blogger.