Friday, February 3, 2017

Poetry and More from SOME WRITER! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Penny at a penny and her jots for Roundup.

I am off adventuring today, but I want to share some poetry and other goodness!

First, THANK YOU to those poets who responded to the Myra Cohn Livingston challenge in last week's post! Looking at you, Linda M., Jan, Brenda, Linda B., and Heidi! Really good off-the-cuff writing, poets! It's a joy to read your words.

Now some links:

"How to Rise" - a poem I wrote for Spiritual Journey Thursday

an interview in which I was asked for 5 words to describe myself... I am still pondering the words I selected!

2 "Musts" for Writing Middle Grade Novels

And now, for a look at SOME WRITER! by Melissa Sweet! This is a fun-to-explore book, and I found much in E.B. White's life that I could relate to. Here are 11 things, in no particular order:

1. E.B. White was well-loved by his parents.

There's a letter from his father written to his son on the occasion of his 12 birthday, and it is full of joy and support and love! I loved reading it, and I feel so fortunate to have similar letters from each of my parents.

2. E.B. White wrote love poems.

Here's one he wrote for his wife, Katharine Sergeant Angell:

Natural History

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of his devising:
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all the journey down through space,
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
He builds a ladder to the place
From which he started.

Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning.

The poem was later read at Katharine's funeral... though E.B. White was too distraught to attend. (Letters of E.B. White, 1929)

3. E.B. White knew how to snatch time.

“The best writing,” he said “is often done by persons who are snatching time from something else.”

4. E.B. White believed in keeping it simple.

In an article about the great Depression, Andy wrote, “The hope I see for the world... is to simplify life.”

5. E.B. White embraced revision.

"Do not be afraid to seize whatever you have written and cut it to ribbons; it can always be restored to its original condition in the morning... Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common occurrence in all writing, and among the best writers."

6. E.B. White wrote from a place of love.

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world. I guess you can find that in there, if you dig around.”

7. E.B. White loved the words, not the writer.

Melissa Sweet writes that "E.B. White never believed that writers were celebrities. He wrote that when he was a child, an author 'was a mythical being... The book was the thing, not the man behind the book.' He did not seek literary approval and never considered himself a great reader- he preferred reading farm journals and boating magazines."

8. E.B. White trusted children and gave them credit for their intellectual and emotional capacities.

"Children are game for anything. I throw the hard words, and they backhand them over the net."

9. E.B. White had fun (writing for children): 

John Updike, who worked with Andy at The New Yorker (Katharine White was his editor) remembered “how much more fun” Andy seemed to have than the rest of the younger staff. “Not loud or obvious fun, but contained, inturning fun.”

10. E.B. White believed in the goodness of humans:

"Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society – things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time, waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man's curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out."

11. E.B. White reminds me a lot of my father.

"Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day." (Letters of E.B. White, 1973)


  1. This is a lovely way to share this marvelous book, Irene. I enjoyed reviewing each part again, and have that last quote hanging here by my desk. I've read the book more than once, a joyful celebration of E.B. White who gave us good words in so many ways. Thanks!

  2. This is one of my favorite books, Irene - I keep dipping into its lovely pages, so soul nourishing.

  3. Love this post and this book (was very surprised and disappointed it didn't win any major awards recently). Thanks for sharing your thoughts -- #11 might be my favorite. :)

  4. I ordered this book when I first learned about it - such a treasure. As are your selections and comments!

    And, boy am I a bit behind on all the bloggie goodness over here. Glad you've been blissfully busy. Happy adventuring!

  5. I haven't seen this book yet, but now I want to read it. Thank you for sharing what you learned about White. I'm hanging on to the thought that the weather--and society--can be a great bluffer.

  6. Oh, how wonderful. I've always loved the works, and now I love the author, as well! Children are resilient and resourceful, they can handle the big words and the tough subjects, as White knew so well!

  7. This blog post is a keeper for sure. What a great list! Have fun, be ready to rip something to shreds and rebuild, trust kids, have faith in humans to be curious and change for the good. What a guy. I feel better about life just reading this.

  8. Love your list! Fingers crossed on that non-fiction proposal.

  9. I loved this book and also captured the quote about snatching time! I was so disappointed that it did not received any ALA awards. Such learning wrapped up in goodness and creativity!

  10. What an inspiring post, Irene. Makes me want to buy the book immediately.

  11. I love these ways you relate to E.B. White. I first fell in love with middle grade books reading aloud Charlotte's Web to my students. I read it year after year and cried every time. Such a gifted writer and such an inspiring person!

  12. E.B. White sounds delightful -- someone to have over for dinner, for sure.

  13. A wonderful, uplifting post! I love the "wind the clock" quote!

  14. I love this book...and love the way you wrote about it!

  15. I love Melissa Sweet's Some Writer! I listened to Charlotte's Web read by E.B. White on Audible and then read Some Writer. I loved the whole experience. Thanks for the list of 11 things :D


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