Thursday, September 14, 2017

READ! READ! READ!-ing with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit lovely Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for Roundup.

Things have been hopping in these parts... thanks to Irma, the first part of the week, and currently I am in Port St. Joe, FL for the "Blessing of the Rocker" event in memory of my father. More on this next week!

Today it is my great pleasure and honor to welcome poet/teacher/dear friend/lovely human Amy Ludwig VanDerwater to talk about her newest book of poems READ! READ! READ!, brought to us by the fine folks at WordSong/Boyds Mills Press, with illustrations by Ryan O'Rourke. Big congratulations to Amy and the whole team on the release of a beautiful new book!! To help celebrate, I've asked Amy to respond to some simple prompts.

But before we get to that, I have just a few links for you:

Last week I issued my latest Adventures in Writing newsletter, titled "What September is For." I invite you to read, and if you like, please subscribe!

My poem "Cave Cricket's Lament" appears in the newly-released Balloons Lit Journal (Issue 6). Gratitude to Peter and the crew!

Have you played Ruin a Book with One Letter? See what happened to Leaving Gee's Bend. And propose your own altered book titles!


And now, let's talk about READ! READ! READ!-ing... take it away, Amy!

The Difficult: Aw, writing is just difficult. And beautiful. It’s both. Waiting for ideas, revising, going back and forth with titles, worrying, trying to make myself concentrate…all of it. Like a thunderstorm, writing is gorgeous and harsh all at once. I struggle always to discipline myself; writing and revising this book was no exception.

"Word Collection"
The Delicious
: I love poring over Ryan’s joyous and whimsical art, remembering the people and moments and stories that inspired each poem. The words Cinderella and mozzarella, in “Word Collection” for example, have long sat in my notebook, just jottings from a normal day. I smile to remember that long-ago evening when our toddler Hope (now an adult) called out at dinner, “I have a rhyme! Cinderella! Mozzarella!” I find it magical that a moment from years ago can live on between the covers of a book.

Word Collection

Jumping Jack
Wind sock
Wolf pack
Belly button

- Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

(note from Irene: try saying that poem super-fast! :) Who else has a word collection waiting to be worked into a poem?? Care to share a favorite word? )

The Unexpected: In these early days of old friends and new friends reading READ! READ! READ!, I have been grateful to hear folks share their favorite poems from the collection. I expected there would be one overall favorite, but it is beautiful to learn that there is not one favorite. Rather, people have shared many different connections. My hope is that our poems and pictures will open secret doors and memories for readers, that children will say, “I remember when I….” perhaps writing reader poems of their own. (It would be my pleasure to share any of these at The Poem Farm, by the way…)
Amy and her books!

Anything Else: I am thankful to have been paired with talented illustrator Ryan O’Rourke and thankful for the brilliance of my editor Rebecca Davis. It is important for readers to always know that behind every new book is a great team.

Thank you, Irene, for inviting me to LIVE YOUR POEM. It feels like I’m at the house of a dear friend…because I am! xoxo, Amy
Thank YOU, Amy! 

What a gift Amy is to the world with her warm, loving poems and that happy place called The Poem Farm... Amy also shared the book she is currently reading:
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
I'll put it on my list! And also, because I've just finished it, and because it's full of so much book-love and library-love and makes the perfect pairing with READ! READ! READ!, here's what I've been reading:
The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey, illus. by Victoria Jamieson
It's a middle grade novel about a green-shelled book-loving bug named Eddie who saves the day with a little blueberry ink and sticky notes. :) It's also a magical romp through some beloved classics, like STUART LITTLE and THE BORROWERS and other titles featuring "littles." Super-fun -- check it out!

Wishing each and every one of you a glorious day. xo


  1. Thank you, Irene. Lucky me to be here at your ever-welcoming Live Your Poem. I am excited to read about Eddie. Big hug and smooch from New York to Alabama. xxoo

  2. I could relate to so much of this, Amy and Irene, especially the difficult - and the delicious. And I spy the Aussie platypus! (I wrote a poem about a platypus, last week. :) ) Thanks for sharing, lovely ladies.

  3. I am late sharing my own post today, about Amy's book! I'm late because yesterday was filled with reading, talking with customers at the books store, then hosting my book group last night! All reading joy, like Amy's book! How wonderful it is, so many connections for all of us, but especially for children. Thanks, Irene and Amy! It's a special post today!

  4. Thinking about you in Port St. Joe this weekend, Irene. If you feel a warm breeze brush by, that's my heart saying hello. Congrats on your poem in Balloons! And finally, what a fun interview with Amy today. I'm looking forward to reading READ! READ! READ!

  5. Loved hearing from Amy today, and can't wait to see the new book. Her word collection is especially wonderful. :)

  6. Glad you are safe from the winds and rain of hurricanes this week. Amy's book looks so joyous and so much fun. I can't wait to read it.

  7. Glad you are safe and well, Irene. Thank you for your lovely peek in on Amy and Read! Read! Read! My post today focuses the spotlight on one of my favorite Amy poems in the book -- Reading. Best, Christie @

  8. I'm so happy to see another book by Amy. Thanks for the advance review. I like your favorite words collection. I have a collection of words for snow. I pull it out in the winter, and it makes me smile.

  9. Two of my favorite people in this post, you and Amy. I can't wait to get this exciting new book. I have a journal page full of a word collection that I must unearth. I'm sure higgledy-piggledy is on it.

  10. My day IS more glorious for this post, Irene and Amy! Two of my favorite people in the world as well. Congrats to the whole TEAM behind this terrific new book. Those poem words are all delicious, by the way, and I love the Hope backstory, come to life all these years later in this new work. :0) (The One Word Ruined link is hilarious, Irene, and the TINY HERO book looks terrific. Thanks for sharing all!) XO

  11. Thank you both for an interview that was equal parts chat between good and longtime friends and introduction to a new poetry collection. I can't wait to get my hands on it!

  12. Wonderful interview--thanks to you and Amy! And congrats on your cave cricket.
    p.s. I loved A Man Called Ove. Will have to put Britt-Marie Was Here on the to-read list!

  13. Irene, your posts always inspire me. I loved hearing Amy's thoughts about her gorgeous new book, and that "Word Collection" includes Hope's first rhymes. Congratulations on "Cave Cricket's Lament". I never knew there was such a creature! Thank you for the book recommendations, too!

  14. Many congrats, Amy! VANDERWATER POWER will not be denied!

  15. The decorated word list from Read!Read!Read! packs the fun of a
    roller coaster
    a favorite word, since you asked, Irene.
    Appreciations for this visit with The Poem Farm's chief harvester.
    And also, thanks for putting the bug in my ear about this Ferny Park Library wee hero.
    By now, welcome back from the heartfelt event over west in Florida's Panhandle. I know they loved hosting you!


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