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Letters About Literature

Being part of the Maryland Humanities Council's Letters About Literature recognition ceremony at the CityLit Festival this weekend was a highlight of my spring. I met so many curious, bright young writers. To learn more about the Letters About Literature program and how to get your students or children involved, go to the Library of Congress website. (Even the envelope designs are cool!)

There's a podcast of Saturday's festivities here, at the website of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, which hosted the program and the festival at its Central Branch.

Here's the window I always have to stop and admire when I'm fortunate enough to be in that building.


Fueling the Writing Life

For a career day at West Towson Elementary this week, I created this Fueling the Writing Life chart. I drew old-fashioned gas pumps (which, on second glance, look kind of like thumbs). School, reading, life, arts, and traits were fairly obvious fuel categories to include. But the sixth category was maybe a bit unusual: income.

It's odd to be at a career day fair talking about a job that may not be very lucrative--or even provide a living wage. I wasn't like the engineer at the other end of the gym, or the physician beside him. I wanted the students to know that most people can't support themselves just by writing fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction--that writers depend on other income streams, from teaching or working at a bookstore or editing or programming or doing technical writing or whatever.

This news won't discourage really committed young writers--I'm sure of that. But it will, I hope, help them plan more realistically. 



Writer, friend, and beautiful pregnant lady Betsy Boyd and I went to NYC this weekend and visited with our agent, the lovely Alice Tasman. Here we all are, near the cool book display at the entrance to the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency's offices.


World Read Aloud Day

In belated celebration of World Read Aloud Day, I wanted to share an image from one of the many posters that my great-aunt Nancy Kirk created decades ago for the Maryland Academy of Sciences' weekly lecture series. All her graphic work was done by hand, before the days of Illustrator, Photoshop, and TrueType fonts. Three of these posters hang right behind my desk, reminding me of one of my earliest and most profound influences. Today, she would have turned 105.

On World Read Aloud Day itself, I had a great time Skyping with a class in Pennysylvania and sharing some thoughts on picture books with Bon Bon Break. Sharing books--good for penguins, good for us.


Shaving-Cream Snow

Today, after way too many days of chill, Baltimore hit a high temperature of 50 degrees. It came as a relief. I'd been starting to almost look forward to more frigid weather, which seems in retrospect to have been a meteorological version of Stockholm Syndrome. Baltimore's not Montreal, or Oslo. We are not built for this.

The old snow still lies on the ground, looking puckered and almost fake, as if someone tilted a can of shaving cream onto lawns and roadsides and hit Spray.

But the frigid winter days have been a good time for reading, and binge watching television. I've been catching up on lots of things. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, for one. Girls, for another. My whole household is falling into the weird dream that is True Detective. But mostly we're just waiting for spring.

In the meantime, here's one photo from a school visit last week at my own alma mater, Roland Park Country. The girls were just so cute--much cuter than I ever remember being.