April 12, 2016

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

30 Habits of Highly Effective Poets #10: Melanie Hope Greenberg on Inspiration + Drive

I met children's author and illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg several years ago at a local writing conference. Though we have stayed in touch through Facebook, I've never told Melanie this: at that writing conference, I wrote down something she said. The quote has been posted above my desk for years.

I love the idea that reading is an escape hatch for children. It was true for me. But books can also be a ladder out of rough circumstances for some. A City Is was the first book of poetry for urban kids I'd come across.

Melanie calls her own writing habit "Inspiration Meets Drive to Manifest." With her permission, I am sharing an excerpt from Melanie's post about the long journey it took to publish A City Is.  You can find the full post on Melanie's blog.

Pablo Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." Inspiration is just an initial thought. As we saw yesterday with Lisa Vihos, it takes the drive of regular creative practice, of working, to manifest results from initial inspiration. In some ways, Melanie was in the right place at the right time to become a successful children's author/illustrator. But she was in the right place because of her drive and desire to create books for children.

Here is Melanie: I feel so fortunate to have met and worked with so many talented people along my life's path. Brooklyn Poet Laureate Norman Rosten was one of these wonderful people.

I was just breaking into children's books in 1987 and Cousin Arthur's was the local children's bookstore in Brooklyn Heights. The owners, Bob and Barbara Tramonte, were poets. In 1987, the idea for the Children's Book Illustrators Group (CBIG- New York City) was born at this bookstore. I became its first President.

Local author, playwright and poet, Norman Rosten, was a frequent visitor to Cousin Arthur's. Norman and I became friends during the time I designed a book of his poems, 'Songs for Patricia'. The Tramonte’s poetry press reissued it in 1988. When my second children’s book, MY FATHER'S LUNCHEONETTE, was released in 1991, Norman asked if I would read some of his children’s poems for possible publication. Being new in children's books that offer was incredibly generous and encouraging.

A CITY IS had many detours on its journey to publication. It was rejected a few times before Norman passed away in 1995. It finally sold to Henry Holt, one of his original publishers. His poem are simple and timeless. Memories of Norman always stay with me. 
Your Tuesday Prompt:

Melanie Hope Greenberg said, "We have a responsibility to teach children that they have an escape hatch in their minds." Your response can go in a few directions:

  1. write about an early reading experience -- the moment you sensed that escape hatch opening,
  2. an open meditation on the phrase "escape hatch in their minds" -- this can be realistic, surreal, whatever bubbles up for you.
Melanie Hope Greenberg has illustrated 16 trade published children’s picture books; six of them she wrote. Greenberg was recently an artist in residence for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art's National Endowment for the Arts grant titled "Picture This! Bridging Arts and Literacy". Her original picture book illustrations were part of the "Drawn in Brooklyn" group exhibition curated by John Bemelmans Marciano at Brooklyn Central Library-Grand Army Plaza. Greenberg was also the selected artist for the Texas Library Association conference's Disaster Relief Fund raffle. 

1 comment:

Robyn Hood Black said...

Yay, Melanie Hope Greenberg! I keep a picture of the two of us handy in my office (from an SCBWI Southern Breeze conference years ago, when I was Melanie's "angel.") What a generous, talented force in the children's book world. Thanks for this post and the backstory of A CITY IS.