Thursday, October 26, 2023

Giant Artist's Date

Friday Poets, I've missed you!

I've been elbow-deep in a gathering of school librarians from all 50 states and US Territories in Tampa, Florida for the American Association of School Librarians Conference. 

In addition to a tremendous amount of information related to how to library with kids these days, there were many encounters with art and creativity.

I started out at the Tampa Art Museum. If you ever have a chance to visit, do! It's not huge, you can cover a lot of amazing art throughout a wide span of history in a few hours. Of course, I was drawn to art that had words embedded in it.

In homage to his home
His signature, Love, is
stars, numbers, and stenciled letters.
Yield Brother,
his call for civility
recognized as a peace sign.
words found by Linda Mitchell Oct '23

Back at the conference center, illustrator Nikkolas Smith shared his inspirational message, 

"You can be an ally by making art with those that need an ally." 

Indeed, Mr. Smith is an ally of kids with books that bring children into a world of creativity and beauty.

Mr. Smith also shared an artivist prompt: Think about how you would complete this sentence: 

"When I was ten years old, I made art of...." 

Gosh, when I was ten...I arranged bookshelves in my room in all kinds of ways...which I am still doing. How about that?!

Finally, my favorite speaker was Nic Stone, author of many tremendous middle-grade books. Years ago, she submitted a manuscript. The editor at that time said that although they liked the manuscript, they couldn't sell it. Then asked, do you have anything else? Like a good author, she said, yes...and half a day of intense-writing later, submitted the first part of her debut novel. Dear Martin. 

Ember Press. 2018

Now, Stone is seeing that first manuscript coming out in 2024. It's about mental health...and I can't wait to read it. Her creative prompt to us all was to describe the difference between nonfiction and fiction with one, two-letter word, if

She sees nonfiction as what is. Fiction is what if? Stone went on to illustrate this difference with stories from her life and finished by asking her audience to think about our what if?  I'm still daydreaming about my if...what's yours?

For Nic Stone

This is a story of what is:

war, floods, fire, death.

What if


rewrite the words?
What if


write peace, health, life?

What if


Linda Mitchell

Truly, this is a thumbnail catch-up of AASL. There was much, much more. But, I wanted to share a little bit.

Look! I found our friend Buffy Silverman's book in the wild...OK, the exhibit hall. It's truly beautiful, Buffy. I'm proud of you.

Now, I'm preparing for my STATE conference starting November 1st. No rest for the weary! 

Thank you, Carol, for hosting our round-up this week at The Apples in My Orchard.


  1. That's some powerful rewriting in your poem, Linda! I love thinking of you enmeshed in art and all things library. I hope your travels and conferences offer some time for rejuvenating! Clearly they're offering up plenty of inspiration!

  2. Oh, Linda, conferences are so fun. And what a great thing to find art and then make it your own! I love Nic Stone's books & your poem, wishing, wishing for it to be true! Thanks for your inspiring post! What if?

  3. Linda, it looks like you are enjoying the conference! I love your found poem and the painting that was your inspiration. Yield Brother seems like such a non-confrontational way to say: slow down, we’re all in this together.

  4. You do SO much good in the world, both with your librarying (love that as a verb!) and your poetry. WE is one of the most powerful words, ever. It ranks right up there with IF.

  5. Linda, Thanks for sharing your conference fun and the work of Nic Stone. I think being around creativeness begets creativeness and you are proof of that! A lot of life is choice - choosing to slow down, be more tolerant, choosing happiness, love and peace over hate and war. I wish more would have the attitudes you share with your creativeness.

  6. Linda, you offer us so many thought-provoking opportunities as we roll into our weekend! Indiana's art to convert war to peace, our personal what if... Thank you for these prompts!

  7. Thanks for sharing tidbits from the conference, Linda. Need to read Nic Stone's book. Nice pic of you with Buffy's book :)!

  8. I attended the WIDA conference in Tampa years ago. A friend and I wandered into the art museum on a walk. What great memories! We had the best cup of coffee ever and a delicious meal at the restaurant Ulele. Our waitress was a lifelong resident of Tampa and told us such interesting stories about the area. Thanks for your post- I really enjoyed it!

  9. I can hear how inspired you are, Linda--and you are an inspiration, as well! Thanks for sharing these tidbits.

  10. I must look for Nic Stone's book. I can't wait to read it. Your poem touched my heart. Thank you!

  11. Linda, what a beautiful post. I love seeing your smile with Buffy's book. Look at you reading books, doing good, and being awesome. I love the poem about Nic Stone with the "What if's?" Yes, indeed, What if...?

    I think "Yield Brother" is a perfect title for an artwork calling for peace and civility. Your poem about Indiana's work shows that too. Nice post.

  12. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us! Artivist looks compelling. (Based on your post title, I thought maybe there were going to be some giants involved...I'm maybe TOO much in the Halloween spirit!)

  13. You're an amazing human, Linda - thanks for sharing the goodness you sought while so busy in Tampa! I met a media specialist this week who had just returned. Great found poem, and our souls need your second poem - much to ponder with the is/if possibilities.

  14. Linda, I always love to hear news from conferences. Your what if poem is, strong as is your first one! Thanks for sharing both.


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