Avast, me hearties!

Posted by Laurel on 08/28/08

Today I’m pirating (I mean, guest-blogging) the lovely Old Hag.  In a brave and glorious act of self-promotion (though maybe if I do this often enough, I’ll also  inspire Lizzie to post more often again. We miss you, Old Hag!)

And because Lizzie is a clever fancypants (don’t even try to deny it!) and because I assume her readers are also clever, and wearers of pants that are fancy,  I thought I might take this opportunity to ask you all what you think of children’s books?

Because the entire (shameless pirate-hussy that I am) reason for my visit is that I’ve just published my first book for kids, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, and I’m finding I have a complicated relationship with becoming a children’s author.  As opposed to being a “writer” or a “poet” or a “waitress” for that matter.

Not because I don’t think it totally rocks to write for kids.  IT TOTALLY ROCKS! But because I feel these silly twinges when I head out into the world of  clever pants.

Maybe my issues stem from the fact that a lot of MFA programs won’t count children’s books toward tenure (and I am, for better or for worse, a product of that world). Maybe my problems arise from being told by Yaddo that they cannot fund the writing of children’s books, no matter how good or literary.  Maybe it’s the lack of children’s coverage in newspapers. Maybe it’s just that poets I know insist on referring to children’s books as “genre.”

But whatever the case, I’m steamed.

And I thought that maybe I could ask you what you think…

What say you?  Are children’s books literary?  If you meet someone at a party, and they tell you they are an author, and then you find out they write for kids, does that change the way you think about them as writers?

Tell me the truth?  Or spank me and send me to bed!

And maybe… either way… when your cousin’s kid has a birthday, or your friend-with-a-baby invites you over for dinner…

You’ll buy my book!

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Cri de Coeur, With Occasional Poesie

Posted by Lizzie on 08/05/08

My deeply talented friend Laurel, whose books I am unashamed to unabashedly plug, has a hilarious defense of children’s literature, buffered by this hilarious smack at serious “poetry”*:

I find this “genre” terminology  particularly distasteful in light of all the terribly formulaic “literary” writing in the world.  How many MFA writers have published bad midlist “literary” novels about young self-aware singles struggling against the urban landscape and their own ennui?  How many literary magazines have a published a poem that goes something like…

Daybreak at (insert old european building or decaying American industrial structure)

The (insert birds or small animals) aren’t here today,
but  as the (insert weather system) rolls in,
I glance at my (insert body part)
And remember you saying once
That (insert wise or spare comment),
On a day much like this one.
(Insert refection or question)
I notice for the first time that my
(insert phsyical attribute of aforementioned bodypart)
has grown (insert emotion or insightful  description)
And as I turn and walk back along the
worn path to the (insert name business or car)
I see that the (insert animal from line 1)
has finally come, bearing (insert something small).
And I feel (insert transformative and/or static emotion).
I notice my hands are empty.

Laurel will be coming to guest on the blog (i.e., POST on it for the first time in centuries) on her book tour for her new work, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountain, and I think I am going to ask her to CONTINUE the venerable category of saucy Old Hag poetry.

* She can smack on it, she’s also a serious poet.

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