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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Building Bridges Real and Imagined - Building Bridges Real and Imagined

        Last night I attended a talk given by Katherine Paterson, a remarkably prolific writer, primarily for children, whose work you are surely familiar with, and was fortunate to be invited to a more intimate reception for the author before the lecture, because of my work with Connections (described in the link above).
      I didn't expect much of the reception, figured it would be the usual rather boring mix-up of a group of people reflecting a lack of diversity listening to obligatory remarks and noshing on crudite' and cheeses. Instead, though I didn't get to meet the author, I had a very interesting time.  The setting was stunning to me, a law firm with a beautifully designed sky-lit atrium punctuated at one end with a massive spiral staircase. The other end, where we were milling about, held the only non-modern object in the space; a Revere bell that had once hung in The Stark Mill in downtown Manchester pealing people to work with a 4:30 AM ringing. I was rather impressed with all of that but what I loved the most was the diversity of people in attendance. From a NH supreme court justice and assorted political protege' to young refugee participants in the Connections program, everyone coming together to celebrate promoting literacy in the state of New Hampshire. Then, a surprise, I had a chat with my freshman high school English teacher. A first for me. We reminisced a bit about The Lottery, a story she had us enact in the ninth grade, (when I was the age my daughter is now) and I remembered rudely raising my hand and saying "I want to get stoned!", and that one day during silent reading time while I perused a magazine she had left out for us, I came across an article exploring Springsteen's lyrics, and I became enthralled with the poetic power of words right there in my plastic chair, and haven't been the same since. I told her that, and she told me that she was 21 then and it was her first year of teaching. I hope it was a nice moment for her too.
     Then we all made our way over to the beautiful Palace Theater, where I saw my first Shakespearean play at about the same time that I discovered Bruce's lyrics. (The latter would remain my bard of choice.)  The talk given by Mrs. Paterson was quite interesting. She made me laugh and frown, which I think is the mark of a well-rounded speech. She got those reactions from me because she is a truth teller which I guess is what all writers are.
     She said that the best advice she had ever received as a writer was to rewrite if you don't see any of yourself in your villain until you do, otherwise s/he won't be a complete character. Here are the books I bought at the event, there are many more I still want to get to. And I have never seen the film version of Bridge to Terabithia which I am now intrigued with.

     I was interested in the subject matter of Lyddie and started it as soon as I got home. I bought Flip-flop Girl for my daughter but will probably read it too. The picture book of her interpretation of Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures was just an irresistible purchase. It is everything a picture book should be. I bought the last one, The Spying Heart: More Thoughts on Reading and Writing for Children for obvious reasons, I want more guidance from Mrs. Paterson who, though she begs to differ, certainly does know what she is doing.

1 comment:

  1. KP is one of my favorite writers... for many of the reasons you cite. Heard a great interview with her on NPR ahead of the palace appearance. I haven't read the St. Francis, but I love her "King's Equal", a picture book I have shared with more groups of kids than I can count. In fact, I'm going to check it out from the library today so I can enjoy it again!


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