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May 2019

National Poetry Month always makes April a favorite month for me, but this year it was as much a celebration of art as poetry. I was honored to attend the Bologna Children's Book Fair, a foreign rights book fair that especially highlights illustration. I was there to speak as an author on a panel titled "Black Books Matter" in connection with the 50th Anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Awards. The Fair itself includes wide ranging exhibits of illustration art from all around the world. I was pleased to enjoy a special exhibit of children's book illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award Winners, including a piece from my book, Something On My Mind, for which artist Tom Feelings won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for 1979! So cool.

Tom Feelings art for Something on My Mind

The Fair ran for four days, but my presentation was on the first day, so on the third day, I was free to hop a train to Venice, a city I've longed to visit. It did not disappoint! Ah, Venice! But, back to poetry.

Several of my books were much on display during National Poetry Month. Mr. Schu celebrated the month by featuring some of his favorite poetry books which included One Last Word, Between the Lines, and Poems in the Attic! That made me happy. Between the Lines and Garvey's Choice were featured in MG/YA verse novels for National Poetry Month by Lesley Roessing. Sound good? It gets better! Garvey's Choice made the list of "50 Best Middle Grade Novels of the 21st Century!" Wow.

April was full of highlights. I was interviewed for Publishing Perspectives, an international publishing trade journal. ARCs of Ordinary Hazards, my memoir, were snapped up by eager librarians at the Texas Library Association conference. And, lastly, I enjoyed young poets in Chicago reading their work at the annual "Word is Rhythm" poetry festival. After listening to their poems, I read a few of my own, then took questions from the audience.  Two great days of celebrating poetry was the perfect way to end the month.

As spring sets in, I'm looking forward to early May when I get to meet some of my readers at the Hudson Children's Book Festival in Hudson Valley, NY! For now, though, I'll leave you with a poem inspired by—where else—Venice.

Venice is
its own kind of poetry,
the rhyme and rhythm of bridges
lacing curving canals
and narrow streets,
waters lapping at the edge
of yesterday,
while gondoliers on break
chat about
plying their trade.
San Marcos Piazza
remembers the footsteps
of Shakespeare,
and the Bridge of Sighs
is its own metaphor.
Corner after corner I turn,
willing to lose myself
in the magic
of this ancient city
and its nearby island of Murano,
where the alchemy of hand-blown glass
has been perfected for centuries.
I peer into the depth
of even a single bead
and know this:
I must visit Venice

Murano glass
Artists from all over the world travel to Murano to study the fine art of glass making. This is one sample.
Venice neighborhood

My Venice neighborhood.  Isn't it beautiful?

Venice neighborhood
Venice is famous for its gondoliers, but they all have to take a break sometime!
Venice is a city of canals, which means there are bridges everywhere!
poppy field

Me in St. Mark's Square (San Marcos Piazza)


I forgot to mention: the bridges are primarily foot bridges.  Very few cars are allowed in Venice.

Below: Wandering the back streets of Venice.  Getting lost on purpose. (I did a lot of that!)

Until next time.

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Nikki Grimes

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Garvey's Choice One Last Word Poems in the Attic Between the Lines