Thursday, April 16, 2020

A Hatful of Dragons Review

Hello Poetry Friday!

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...


Q: Are you writing more books? What can I read next from you?

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!






32 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to check out this book. (I keep chuckling about that hat full of babies!) Congratulations, Vikram.

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    1. Thank you! And you will appreciate, on the page not shown, there is a Hatful of Aunties... :)

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  2. A Hatful of Dragons does sound like a perfect book for middle schoolers. I love the idea of a Mad-Lib style poem. Thank you for sharing this terrific interview, Linda!

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    1. Thanks - I do hope that Fill-In-The-Blank poem will keep kids busy and show them how you might assemble a poem. It'll be a good lesson to have them do syllable counts on the lines and see where the stresses are and how they work across all the choices.

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  3. Thank you for highlighting Vikram's book and giving us a silly taste of the poems.

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  4. Thanks for the fun interview--and nothing better than silly poems right now! Looking forward to reading A Hatful of Dragons.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this book - it sounds perfect for kids - and adults too. Love the interview and getting to know Vikram.

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    1. It's a book suitable for poetry lovers of all ages from 3 to 103. :)

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  6. I've seen others share this delightful book by Vikram, Linda, but yours adds even more from him. I know the book will be a lot of fun. Thanks for a special interview.

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  7. This is the second interview I've read with Vikram and both times I've come away thinking what a charming man he seems to be and that his book sounds delightful. Thanks for another sneak peek!

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  8. Love learning more about Vikram and his work... and now I'm thinking: Vikram, next time we're to be on a panel, you bring the juggling balls and I'll bring the cello. Ha! Seriously I am applying Leonardo's great advice to my cello life today. Thank you! And thank you, Linda, for putting on your 6th grader hat. Congrats on the halfway mark! xo

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    1. I have only 2 juggling balls left so it'll be an easy show for me (I put the third inside a magic trick and it disappeared ... :/ )

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  9. I love that advice from Leonardo via Vikram -- I needed to hear that right now because I haven't been happy with anything I've written lately, so I will keep learning. I am loving learning more about Hatful of Dragons and Vikram and the rest of his work. I want this book! Way to go on writing every day so far. So far, I'm with you.

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    1. Thanks Kay. You can also follow my work on social media @ArtByVikram - I keep posting new stuff often :)

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  10. I am so happy to see this interview, Linda and Vikram and will be back tomorrow for part 2. I can tell this book is going to be a kid pleaser for sure. Off to order some (sshhh! do not tell my husband!) My granddaughter age 4 will enjoy it, she is into laughing and humor these days. And the vocabulary in some of the poems I saw at Paul Hankins today. Well, hooked am I. Janet Clare F.

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    1. I think both you and your granddaughter will enjoy the book :) If you message me (through my website or social media channels) and send me your address I will mail you a signed bookplate for your granddaughter.
      BTW That offer is for everyone - since we're not doing book signings, I am sending signed bookplates in the mail.

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    2. Thank you, Vikram. I saw the live look with Paul Hankins this morning. Loved hearing a couple of the poems. I will message you!

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  11. Such a delightful interview -- enjoyed learning more about Vikram and this new book. Great advice from Leonardo too. Thanks to both of you!

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  12. This was a delightful interview and I checked out the links, too, Linda. I also like da Vinci's thoughts on continuing the learning process. We all grow as learners if we choose to do this-a great practice.

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  13. I love that he wrote a poem to match his proposed (delightful) title. Thanks for sharing, Linda!

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    1. Writing the title poem after picking a title was definitely a high-pressure undertaking. :)

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  14. I visited Seattle a few summers ago and my sister-in-law took us on a tour of the UW library. I wish I had had a notebook and an hour to myself. I’m so excited this book is coming my way. I won a copy!

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  15. Hmmm... not sure why most of the photos in this post are not showing up for me this evening, Linda. I'll check back tomorrow to see if they're there. Maybe just a blip in Wifi reception or something. I'll be carrying that writing advice with me, though!

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  16. Your library hide-a-way sounds like a good spot! Fun to hear more about your creative process Vikram, and the tip from Leonardo too! Thanks for your probing questions Linda!

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  17. Fun interview and a must-read collection! :)

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  18. Well Dragons look delightful! What a fun collection! I second the 3 cheers for making it halfway through NPM. A poem a day is an accomplishment, but it is a challenge. We can do it! Stay safe! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

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Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!