I rarely attend Workshops or Conferences for Writers, even when I am not broke. For some reason I was inspired to attend the Writers’ Ink Conference held yesterday. The price was reasonable and the guest speakers included poets and authors in addition to a couple of marketing experts.

Although I had to leave before the end, each speaker that I saw provided more than one nugget for me. In addition to the formal sessions each attendee was invited to sit at a table with one of the speakers for lunch; each table had seating for no more than eight. After his great opening talk, I knew I wanted to share lunch-time with J. Patrick Lewis.

Mr. Lewis is the 2011-2013 Children’s Poet Laureate (sad to say I didn’t know we had one). Although children’s poetry is not my specialty, Pat’s talk was incredibly useful; inspirational and informative. I don’t know Shorthand so I can’t transcribe the entire talk, but here are some notes I made:

Mr. Lewis started writing poetry only after a 30 year career as a Economics Professor. Even then he spent a few years reading poetry and preparing for his new career. It took him only seven years of submissions to have his first manuscript accepted. He now has over 50 titles in print, with more in the works. Although most are children’s poetry, many titles, such as Please Bury Me in the Library appeal to a wider audience. He read a few excerpts from that title; including “bury me with a dozen long-stem proses” – regular readers can imagine how strongly that resonates with me; roses, poetry and a library! Below are three quotations from his talk:

children will not gravitate
to poetry; it must be
taken to them,
poetry is the tunnel
at the end of the light,
I fail at least a dozen times a day; and that’s before lunch

The fun he brings to his children’s titles (such as Once Upon A Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses) also imbues his other work; such as preparing ‘concisions’ — summarizing well-known books in short poems.

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