After a long rest at home this winter, which featured DIY painting several rooms of my neglected house, I’m getting ready to hit the road with Burn Baby Burn. I won’t be in town for the official publication date, so I guess I’ll celebrate on the move this time.
On Wednesday, March 2, I’ll drive up to Bridgewater College to visit YA literature classes that have been reading Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, and then I’ll lecture that evening at their March convocation. (Details here.) My visit is made possible by the Alison Yowell Pazmino Memorial Fund, named for a young woman who had planned to dedicate her life to teaching children with challenges.
On Thursday night, March 3, I’ll drive up the road to James Madison University for the Mirrors and Windows Conference at the Furious Flower Center, which, if you don’t know, is our country’s first academic center devoted to African American poetry. It provides education, research, and publishing to JMU and the surrounding area of Harrisonburg. As a kid lit advocate, I like that it also offers summer poetry camp for kids and opportunities for slams – among much more.
When Dr. Joanne Gabbin, the FF’s executive director, invited me last year, I was sure she’d made a mistake. Me? I write novels and picture books, with only a few poems here and there. “You’re poetic,” she said to reassure me. “I hope you’ll come.” So, here I go – honored to be included in this powerhouse faculty.
Anyway, if you write for young people – and if you’re truly interested in developing your ear and mind around writing about diverse people, this is the conference for you. It’s inexpensive ($75 includes two poetry readings, hands-on writing workshops, and a banquet.) And more important, you’ll work closely with Newbery-award winner Kwame Alexander, Mahogany Browne, Tony Medina (no relation) and me.
Now I just have to figure out how to split myself so I can sit in on other people’s sessions. Hmmm…
See you on campus!