Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm the Squeak Upon the Stair... - a spooky poem

Greg Pincus

I’m the squeak upon the stair...
Yet when you look, there’s no one there.
I’m howling winds, groaning floors,
Extinguished lights, slamming doors.
I’m flitting shadows, darkening skies,
Piercing screams, distant cries.
I’m all your fears – heard, felt, or seen.
I’m in your head. I’m Halloween.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Random Noodling this week. Check it out, if you dare. Spooooooky. And remember, if you end up with any extra of those little Reese's cups this Halloween, I'll gladly help you out with them.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Advocating for Poetry

If you're a regular GottaBook reader, then I know something about you: you like poetry, at least a little. With that in mind, I wanna send you over to the blog of PACYA - Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults.

As you can figger from the name alone, this is a group that wants to make some poetic noise, and, I think, is well positioned to do so behind the leadership of founder Steven Withrow.

Why not check out their goals for 2011-12 and take note of various volunteer opportunities. If you love poetry, and love spreading it to kids (ages 1-99, I'd say!), then check it out and see if you want to get involved. Advocate! You know you want to....

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Father's Hair - a family poem; a hair poem

Greg Pincus

My father hasn’t cut his hair in thirty-seven years.
So part of him’s a mystery:
I’ve never seen his ears.

My mother claims he used to be
Clean cut and oh-so-cute.
Yet now there's no denying it:
My dad's become hirsute.

You try and comb his tangles out,
You end up glassy-eyed.
An hour after Dad goes out
His hair is still inside.

When we need string to fly a kite,
We use dad’s hair instead.
There’s lots of oddball uses
For that stuff up on his head.

Still, let me share a secret here,
I hope you’re not appalled...
But I can say without a doubt
I wish my dad was bald.

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at the always-delicious Jama's Alphabet Soup. Go on and check it out.

If you want to get all my poems emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Personal Thanks to the National Book Foundation

Perhaps you've seen the fiasco that was the National Book Award announcement in the Young Readers (YA) category wherein Lauren Myracle's Shine was announced as one of five finalists but, it turns out, it was supposed to have been Franny Billingsley's Chime on the list. Ugh. I like Libba Bray's encapsulation of the mess (as she is funny, smart, and quite a fine and opinionated writer, indeed). It's a good read to get up to date. That said, personally, I have another reaction, too. THANKS, NBF!

I mean I've always figured this type of mistake exists, and now I have proof! Sure, the NBF tried to rectify things before the award came out, but what if they hadn't? I bet that happens all the time.

This explains why in 1994, I didn't get an Oscar screenplay nomination for my work on Little Big League - clearly, there was a transcription error (probably with Bullets over Broadway as they BOTH HAVE Bs IN THEIR TITLE (not to mention some L sounds!!!)). Or maybe it's the fact that both Quentin Tarantino and I had worked at video stores. Yes. It's all clear now.

Similarly, I had suspected THIS VERY YEAR when I didn't receive a MacArthur Genius Grant that there had been a mistake. My guess is that it was U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan - a POET!!!! YOU SEE??!!! - who got on the list instead of me due to a miscommunication.

I am so relieved to know that all this time, my suspicions had basis in reality. I feel better about myself now, and I hope you feel better about yourself, too. And don't even get me started on the Nobel.... "Collected Works"? Hey, I've collected lots of work here, ya know?

SERIOUSLY, though - I feel horrible for the authors involved in this mess (and I am not equating the above to the situation Lauren Myracle is in, as her work measures up to the award standards in ways that my above examples do not). I cannot even imagine the roller coaster of emotions involved here, and I'm impressed at the grace and positivity from Ms. Myracle.

I feel lousy for the person who made the transcription error confusing Chime and Shine and later discovered the error most publicly and had the realization that there were NO safeguards in place. (If it wasn't an error but was done with intent, well, that'd be a different though intriguing story!)

It's a miserable set of events, no question. The thing is, mistakes happen... and it's how folks handle them that has the lasting impact. This situation keeps getting worse for the NBF, it seems. It's a shame.

That said, I disagree with folks who say this destroys the integrity of the NBA award itself. I say that because I've looked at the list of judges - Marc Aronson, Ann Brashares, Matt de la Pena, Nikki Grimes, and Will Weaver - and I know that they are going to give tremendous care and consideration to the books handed over to them. And I know that the judges in the earlier round worked their butts off to make their choices of the five books to advance here.

We might not like their choices, but having been a Cybils judge and talked to Newbery, Caldecott and Printz judges, I would guarantee they put a lot of thought and effort into their choices.

When the final award is announced, I hope we as a community celebrate the winner. It is, dare I say, a moment to shine. I hope we don't compound the errors already committed by tarring the nominees and winners with collateral taint. Mind you, they'll experience that anyway to some extent, and I have not seen anyone in our community writing about this and implying the nominees aren't worthy or deserving. Still, our reaction is important and on announcement day, with this mess a little behind us, I hope we can celebrate talent well.

As for the NBF and the integrity and worthiness of their policies and practices... that is a different issue entirely.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Thoughts During My Spelling Test - a spelling poem

Thoughts During My Spelling Test
Greg Pincus

Yacht, February, aisle, cologne?
I've got to think. Leave me alogne.
Isthmus, Wednesday, queue, colonel?
I give up. This test's infolonel!

The Poetry Friday roundup
is over at Great Kid Books (where you'll also get a lot of kid app talk). Head on over and check it out.

If you want to get all my poems (and only the poems) emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

All My Macs are Sad

My poor old Mac Plus is sad about the passing of Steve Jobs. The above shot was taken this summer when my 26 year old Mac booted back to life (before its external hard drive died!) to enthrall us with Pipedream and Tetris. Macs have been a part of my whole adult life - all my scripts and poems and novels written on a series of whiz-bang beautiful machines. This shall continue, no doubt with new ooooohable technology. Still, it's a sad moment for the tech and me. Quite a legacy Steve Jobs leaves behind - a world of technology. And I hope we all do that tech proud in how we use it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

It's Cybils Time!

Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards 2011
The Cybils (that's the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards) are baaaack!

There are new eligibility rules this year that you should read before nominating books for the award. There are new categories (book apps! "born digital" eBooks!) to join the continuing ones, so be sure to check them out. And then...

Nominate! Nominate! Nominate!

I'm a huge fan of the Cybils. It's a chance for our voices to be heard... for surprise winners... for categories to get extra attention (graphic novels and poetry jump to mind as two under-recognized areas in our field). I've served as a judge every year up until now, though I'm taking this year off. That's not because my enthusiasm has dimmed at all, though. In fact, I love the addition of the new categories and am more enthused then ever. So get out there and NOMINATE! You only have until October 15th, so make sure you take action. I think you'll be glad you did....