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  • Writer's picturePenny Harter

The Beastie Book Readings & Workshops

It’s been such a busy time that I’m way behind on posting news. So I’ll start with last week:

A week ago today I drove up to Summit in North Jersey, and first met for lunch with four teachers in Lincoln-Hubbard School, the elementary school I’ve been the resident poet in for the past four springs. This year makes five residencies in a row, and I very much enjoy working with both the staff and students there. As we ate, we planned my mid-May residency. Then I did some business in downtown Summit, the town Bill and I used to live in, and it felt both strange and sad to be there. In some ways I felt like I’d never left. Remembering, I kept imagining I’d see Bill striding toward me up the street. In other ways, I felt quite distant from our former life. On Wednesday morning, driving south on the Garden State Parkway, I felt happy to be going home. So I’ve been here long enough, now, that it does feel like home—and that’s very good.

After lunch and errand time, I was graciously hosted overnight at the Summit home of  Sasha (Alexandra) Miller, the wonderful artist of The Beastie Book, and her husband and twin fifth grade daughters. I will be working with the girls in Lincoln-Hubbard.  I mainly drove up north to collaborate with Sasha in presenting an early evening reading and workshop for a group of elementary teachers, during an “Education Seminar” at the Springfield, NJ, Barnes and Noble store. It was a wonderful event! We presented the same lesson we’d done with the K-2 students in the Gillette School (see the previous post “Travel and Beasties”) and I enjoyed turning about 30 tired K-5  teachers into kids again. Our impromptu “class” came up with a number of new Beastie names, and the group contributed to two new Beastie poems—while Sasha drew them on the spot. Some of our children of all ages were busy scribbling their very own poems, too. (If I can figure out how to do it from an e-mail attachment, I’ll insert a photo of me in front of a book display.)

As a result of that visit, two different school districts have already expressed interest in bringing Sasha and me in for a similar presentation with their students, and Sasha has booked us into the big Barnes & Noble store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for October 3rd. I think the book is starting to take off—by word of mouth so far. Hopefully, some reviews will come our way soon, too.

Finally, I will be reading and signing The Beastie Book for “Storybook Time” at the Mays Landing / Atlantic County Library this coming Thursday, April 22nd, at 10:30 a.m. And I’ll be doing the same at the Mays Landing Borders store on Saturday morning, April 24th, between 10 and 11 a.m. At that event, I’ll also workshop a bit, and the store will have materials for kids (of all ages) to create their own Beasties. Such fun!

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