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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Reading poetry manuscripts

book stairs

I’ve been reading a LOT of poetry lately. Of course as a teacher and editor I firmly believe that any decent poet or one who aspires to become skillful needs to constantly read quality poetry. For the first Michael Macklin Prize book contest, two other poets and I read 31 manuscripts and narrowed them down to three finalists. Baron Wormser, former Maine poet laureate, will choose the winner. We hope to keep this contest going every two years. There was a lot of good poetry in that pile. I’ve also been reading a lot of animal poems submitted for the second animal poetry anthology I am compiling this summer. I hope to publish it in September. All the proceeds, as with the first volume, will go to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA), a nonprofit funded by donations and grants, based in Windham, Maine. This is the largest horse rescue in New England and the oldest. They do wonderful work in rehabilitating neglected and abused horses and other animals. Their website is at http://www.msspa.org. I am shamelessly plugging the organization partly because I volunteer for it. Go visit the farm (free) and see what extraordinary care is taken of the animals. Donate money or needed items such as hay, sponsor a stall, volunteer!

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Children’s books and the worlds they open to us

boy reading on buffalo photo

I was a lucky child because I learned to read young (about 4) and it came easily to me. My sister, three years older, had learned to read, and my parents are both readers, and I could not stand it that they got to read and I didn’t. So I got hooked on the magic of reading (and libraries) at an early age, before school. In retrospect I was also fortunate that my family didn’t have a TV until I was maybe 10 years old. I know, hard to imagine; so don’t draft me for one of those trivia games about TV shows in the early sixties. Some of the books that captivated me as a child:

Treasure Island
The Wizard of Oz
The Wind in the Willows
the Dr. Seuss books
The Secret Garden
The Little House On the Prairie series
Anne of Green Gables
Black Beauty
White Fang
Lad, A Dog
Born Free
Tarzan
Kipling’s Just So Stories
Nancy Drew mysteries
fairy tales from all over the world
Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, the Booth Tarkington books

I’ll stop with this selection, which of course is a bit heavy on the animal-themed side, and rather old-fashioned.
It’s a bit of a cliché to say so, but staring into a screen, playing video games or reading graphic novels just doesn’t exercise the imagination (at least for me) like good old immersion in a book. Just as when I was a child, does it get any better than a sunny day, a new book and a few cookies? Oh, and add a beloved animal.