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April 2021
Song Rising
Psalm 5                  
How often I cry
crushed by that day's evil 'til
You turn sighs to songs,
the journey my heart makes
riding the waves of Your love.
Nikki Grimes

Hello friends! By now you're thinking, "This woman has completely forgotten how to write a newsletter!" Well, you're wrong. I know it's been a while, but thanks to COVID, my sense of the passage of time has been skewed. I'm guessing that's true for most of you.

Since last October, I've continued to write quarantine poems, protest poems, and get-me-through-the-day poems. Poetry is how I process what's going on in the world, especially when it's hard, hurtful, rage-inducing, and makes no sense. Thank God for poetry!

Speaking of poetry, in January, my second collection of Golden Shovel Poetry, Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance hit bookstore shelves, followed by my bath time book, Off to See the Sea. That's two books released a week apart—a first for me!

Legacy has earned five starred reviews thus far, and Off to See the Sea picked up one from Booklist. Meanwhile, Bedtime for Sweet Creatures continues to soar. It was a Barnes & Noble, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year. Southwest Sunrise was an ALA Notable Book, and a CCBC Choices title. Then, there's Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice, an IMAGE Award Nominee that made the New York Times Bestseller list twice! I'm positively giddy.

Legacy   Off to See the Sea   Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
Southwest Sunrise   Kamala Harris   Garvey's Choice

COVID effectively got me off the road, but not off the hamster's wheel. My weeks and months have been jam-packed with virtual events. I've lost count of how many, but they included Poetry Foundation Reading, Eat & Read at Melba's in New Orleans, Perma Bound feature presentation, California Readers Association Keynote, Follett Keynote, National African American Read-in Day, Holt Public Schools Author Assembly with Kwame Alexander, and Silicon Valley Reads. This year, their region's featured title is Garvey's Choice!

I enjoyed multiple bookstore events, including Books of Wonder, Brave & Kind Books, Blue Bunny Bookstore, Charis Books & More. Technology allowed for some great virtual conversations with Renee Watson, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Marilyn Nelson. And, of course, NCTE was chock-a-block with panels where I got to connect with poet and author friends across a wide spectrum.

New Orleans Po-Boy Shop photo op
Eat & Read at Melba's, a unique book giveaway event at this New Orleans Po-Boy sandwich shop—complete with virtual photo op!
New Orleans Po-Boy Shop photo op

And then there was ALAN! I was honored to be this year's ALAN Award Winner for contributions to young adult literature, and accepted the award in a speech during the virtual ALAN Breakfast. No shared meal, of course, but the gorgeous crystal sculpture made up for it!

One Last Word
Honored to receive the ALAN Award. Isn't this beautiful?

And guess who turned into the podcast queen? Well, that's a slight exaggeration, but I went from never having done a podcast to doing several. As I write, I'm preparing for a new one tomorrow! Among those in the can: The Children's Book Podcast with Matthew Winner, MYVOS Talks, Kids Ask Authors, Nikki Spilling the Tea, and the Poetry Magazine Podcast. I think I could get used to this! (You'll find links to those podcasts here.)

For someone who's been off the road since mid-March 2020, my voice and image have certainly been all over the map. My most recent virtual jaunt was up to Quebec! I was pleased to do a keynote for the Association of Teachers of English Quebec. Can't wait until I get to visit in person. That goes for traveling here at home, as well. I miss seeing all the good friends I connect with on the road.

Spring is here, and I'm ready for a new season—in nature, and in life. I'm ready to hop off the proverbial treadmill and luxuriate in some quiet time devoted to reading, writing, and dreaming. For me, the best writing flows from all three. During the last few weeks, I've started practicing a new, slower rhythm. I've been creating more space for stillness, and I like it.

I'm celebrating National Poetry Month, as always. But this year is different. This year, I'm getting excited about May. That's when I will begin a much-needed sabbatical! I'm counting down the days, and looking forward to an extended period of uninterrupted writing. I can't wait!

Don't worry. I won't vanish completely. I'll be in touch, just not as much. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy. And go for that COVID vaccination first chance you get! I'm so glad I got mine.

Until next time.

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Nikki Grimes

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