Children's Literature New England: Secrets Told and Untold

It was a couple weeks ago, but I still have my hand-scrawled notes from the CLNE colloquy sitting right on my desk. I gave a talk on non-fiction, and helped roast our wonderful new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Katherine Patterson. My part was easy -- I did a riff off the outgoing Ambassador's recent open letter in the Hornbook to the new Ambassador. The roast was fun, and she was a very good sport about it. Here's a great interview with Patterson by Roger Sutton from several years ago.

Here's Peter Sis at dinner one night: not exactly shy. And I love a guy who'll wear checks. And a striped hoodie.

All the speakers at CLNE were terrific. But my notes are still humming and vibrating next to me because I want to share how amazing Ashley Bryan's presentation was. It was in the evening, and all the lights were turned down low, except at the podium. He recited, by heart, a group of poems. He'd put on his glasses, check the title of the next poem, whisk off his glasses, and sing/shout/whisper a poem. We heard the voices of wise old grannies, gleeful children and sad, gravelly-voiced old men. Ashlely's whole body was part of the poem as he reached and spun and swayed. Sometimes he'd ask us for "help" and draw us into being part of the poem as we recited refrains with him. He did more than forty poems, and what I remember is is love of the poetry, and his pleasure in making the poems fill the room and sweep us into their magic.

As we wrapped up the colloquy, Ashley put his love of poetry so eloquently: "When I read a poem," he said, "I am living it all again. The poems will make it of the moment again."

More photos from CLNE on facebook.com/elizabethpartridge