I write, edit, and review literature for adults and for kids. After earning an MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans, I served as the poetry editor for Literary Mama and as a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews. My publications include Calyx, The Oxford American, Rattle, Women’s Review of Books, and the Louisiana Poetry Project, as well as the anthology Birth Writes: A Collection of Real Life Birth Stories. (Please see my Published work for a more complete listing.) Recent work has appeared in Stinkwaves and Hypertext, with more forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press. I live in New Orleans with my family.
Ever since I was a kid in Wisconsin, I knew what I wanted to be.
I wrote my first novel at 9 years old, and my wonderful 5th grade teacher, Ms. Wilson, “published” it. I’m working on the remake now.
Poetry has always been a special friend, and I wrote lots of it through elementary, middle, and high school. I remember one performance poetry class when I read my work while Skinny Puppy played on cassette behind me. Everybody looked a little freaked out. Which was my intention. (Did I mention I also did a lot of theater?)
As a freshman at Northwestern University, my writing workshops were brutal. Students seemed to revel in tearing each other to pieces. Even a professor told me, about my own poem, “You’ll never understand what’s good about this.”
I switched my focus from writing to reading, studying literature from around the world. Books have carried me through many challenging times. Generous writers appeal to me, especially those able to share stories as a way to connect with other people.
After moving to San Francisco, I found supportive, enthusiastic (though still challenging) writers and teachers and graduated with a BA in poetry from San Francisco State University. Although proud of my degree, there wasn’t much of a market for poets. I worried I’d be a barista forever.
So I studied copyediting through Media Alliance, which I built into a fun and lucrative career. For almost 10 years, I enjoyed editing magazines, websites, newspapers, and tech manuals both in-house (CNET) and freelance (SF Weekly, Microsoft, KID smART).
But what I really wanted to do was write.
I moved cross-country again, this time landing in New Orleans. I earned an MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans among supportive-yet-challenging colleagues. At the same time, I gave birth to my first child while in exile from Hurricane Katrina (the subject of my essay in Birth Writes: A Collection of Real Life Birth Stories).
As I continued to write, edit, and publish poetry and book reviews, I rediscovered the world of children’s books with my own kids. Old favorites still felt fresh, and new titles amazed me with their lyrical texts and exquisite artwork.
When I volunteered to work with beginning readers at my children’s school, I found many of the early-reading books depressingly dull. The kids felt the same way. Where was the joy? The fun? Teachers and other parents seemed similarly frustrated. How could we excite kids about reading?
“Aren’t you a writer?” a teacher asked me. And I thought, well, am I?
In all my years at three different universities (and various post-school workshops), I never encountered a children’s literature class. It wasn’t considered “real” literature by many. But I think that’s changing. Writers, artists, editors, and publishers are redefining the genre, broadening its definitions, and producing works of art designed to be loved. The way I felt about books when I was a kid. (OK, still do.)
Now I’m exploring reading and writing all categories of children’s literature, delighted to sink into books of artistry and conscience. I write and review, critique and edit, finding and sharing inspiration. I’m working on a few titles of my own, while sharing great books I come across. Welcome, and enjoy!
(Oh yeah, and sometimes I dance in the streets in a wig and tutu.)