We did it, we did it, we did it!
We made it mid-way through National Poetry Month. For me, this means I've written at least a poem a day for over half a month. Woot! You?
Writing is my favorite form of mindfulness. It has helped this time of ongoing physical distancing.
Today's Poetry Friday Round-up is hosted by Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone. Stop by and see lots of poetry goodness there. Thank you, Molly!
I have the pleasure of sharing thoughts on a new poetry collection, A Hatful of Dragons: And 13.8 Billion Other Poems (Wordsong 2020) by Vikram Madan.
The publisher asked if I would be interested in reviewing this poetry collection. I'm glad I said yes. Truly, this collection is delightful...more than that...my middle school students are going to love it!
Why do I think these poems suit my students?
They are fun and funny! There are graphic novel style poems, interactive mad-lib type poems. And, the poems are beautifully illustrated by the poet...perfectly for middle schoolers who have been asking me for funny books.
|A Hatful of Dragons: And More Than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems by Vikram Madan (Wordsong 2020)|
I asked poet, Vikram Madan if he would answer questions for readers and questions for writers These questions are similar to those I posted last week for all of us.
Please enjoy getting to know this poet/illustrator.
QUESTIONS FOR READERS
(putting on my 6th grader hat)
Q: Do you read graphic novels? Some of your poems look like a graphic novel page. Where did you get that idea from? It's so cool!
Vikram Madan: My other childhood passion was cartooning. I loved comics and once tried to make cartooning my career. (It didn't work out). When I'm creating a poem, I let the words and images evolve together and if they decide to take on a comic format, well who am I to stop them?!
|A Hatful of Dragons by Vikram Mandan. Wordsong 2020|
Q: Are you silly in real life? These poems are funny and silly. Tell me about a time that shows your silliness.
Vikram Madan: In order to hoard all the whimsy for my work, I go about wearing a very serious demeanor in real life, so much so that absolutely no one would say "silly" is my middle name :) That said, as a young adult (before I had to grow up, get a job, raise a family, turn into a grump, etc.) I was every kid's favorite uncle: juggling, magic tricks, physical comedy, other funny things. The poem, Our Favorite Uncle is a nostalgic ode to my younger self...
Vikram Madan: I have an early reader graphic novel series, Bobo & Pup-Pup, illustrated by Nicola Slater, coming out in 2021. I spend more time painting than writing (my day job is visual artist) and post my new paintings regularly on my social media accounts.
QUESTIONS FOR WRITERS
(putting on my poet hat)
Q: What is the first poem you wrote in the collection? How long ago?
Vikram Madan: Most of the poems were written back in 2015 so I no longer remember which was first. However, I can tell you which one was last. We had been struggling to find a title for the book and when my proposed title, A Hatful of Dragons was approved, I had to then go write a matching poem that would be worthy of the title and find ways to tie it into the rest of the book.
Q: Who decided the order of the poems...did you have lots of editing and then re-writing?
Vikram Madan: We (with editor Rebecca Heard) started with a 100 poems and wrangled them down to 30. I then created a book dummy outline on a whiteboard and used sticky notes to represent the poems, arranging and rearranging the sticky notes till I found a sequence that made sense, factoring in the page-turn punchlines, the sequence of recurring subplots, and not have emotionally-similar poems too close together. It was a lot like playing Tetris.
Q: What does your writer's space look like?
Vikram Madan: My favorite writing spots are in the large libraries at the University of Washington in Seattle. They have quiet corners, are filled with inspiring books, and since I can't access the internet there, I have zero distractions.
My other writing space looks just like the inside of my head -- one big mess
Q: What is the best writing advice you've gotten and/or can give?
Vikram Madan: As a kid I never understood how people produced finished art or books - the gap between what I made and what I admired seemed insurmountable. Then I read Leonardo Da Vinci's advice to young artists - and I'm paraphrasing freely here: If you like what you produce and take pride in it, that's a bad sign because you will stop trying to learn, stagnate, and start fearing the making of mistakes; whereas if you don't like what you produce that's a very good sign because then you will keep trying to learn and keep trying to improve." So anytime you are frustrated with what you're producing, just remember how good a sign it is - Leonardo said so!
Our poet/illustrator actually answered more questions that I posed to him. I will post those tomorrow in a part II for Poetry Friday friends that want to know more. And, there are additional blog interviews to enjoy!