Isn’t this a great name, Renee La Tulippe? So joyful and makes me think of tulips which are currently blooming in my front yard. Renee and I “met” over the Poetry Postcard project for National Poetry Month. She is presenting a variety of poets via video at No Water River and they are reading their poetry. How cool is that? Today she features Laura Purdie Salas.
Your Reading Life
MsMac: What books are on your night stand?
Renee: Harold Underdown’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton (the twins’ current bedtime pick)
A stack of a dozen or so other picture books – I’m doing research!
MsMac: What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen? As an adult? What particular genre stands out?
Renee: As a child, I had a gigantic 1000+ page, water-damaged collection of fairy tales with a red- and gold-embossed cover and warped pages that I read and read and read. I also devoured all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and was quite the expert on Walnut Grove.
As a teen, I read the requisite Judy Blume, scared myself silly with Stephen King, and pored over my collections of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton poetry. I practically know Jane Eyre by heart.
As an adult, I can’t say I have a favorite book or writer, though I do re-read some books quite often – so I guess I do have favorites! Those would be the complete works of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and anything by David Sedaris.
For genres, I gravitate toward literary and historical biography and memoir, particularly of women, history in general, novels/memoirs set in the south, strong characters/family sagas, “old stuff,” plays, and poetry. And I love anthologies!
MsMac: Where’s your favorite reading spot?
Renee: On a chaise under an umbrella on the beach.
MsMac: There are rapid changes in the world of publishing now that tablets/ereaders and such are in the market in a big way? What are your thoughts about ereaders versus a book? Do you have an ereader?
Renee: I do not have an e-reader and I’m not so interested in getting one. Besides the fact that I stare at a computer all day, I just love books and paper and printed words too much to give up. I love browsing in bookstores or stepping back to admire my bookshelves – I can’t run my fingers over the spines of books on an e-reader!
Your Writing Life
MsMac: What does a day of work look like for you? What is your favorite time of day to write?
Renee: Most of my day is spent editing and/or writing educational materials for All About Learning Press. My own writing fits in the nooks and crannies, though I am at my most creative in the dead of night.
MsMac: Writing the first draft or revising? Which is your favorite?
Renee: First draft, hands down. Revising is WORK, and I don’t find it easy. I procrastinate a lot.
MsMac: What does your writing space look like?
Rene: Right now, a big mess. Once I’m finally moved into my new digs, I will have a cozy corner for writing, with a window facing the Mediterranean and the island of Elba in the distance. I see this view every day and always find it sigh-inducing.
MsMac: What are your current projects?
Renee: I am currently revising stories and writing new stories and poems for the early readers I co-author with Marie Rippel at All About Learning Press. We are on Level 3 of an eight-level homeschool reading curriculum, so there’s a lot to do. For my personal writing, I am taking part in Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge in which we are charged with writing one PB draft each month of 2012. I am also always working on poems for my blog and for submission to magazines and anthologies.
MsMac: What advice do you have for poets of any age?
Renee: My first advice is always to chill out and just let the words wash over and flow out of you. Just let ‘em go, no self-editing, no thinking too hard. Then say them out loud – and I mean really get into it! I write with my whole body. If anyone watched me tinkering with a line or a stanza, they’d think I was conducting an invisible orchestra or doing some bizarre dance. But getting on my feet and “conducting” or “dancing” the poem as I write it helps me understand how it comes alive – or doesn’t, as the case may be – and shows me where to revise. I highly recommend getting out of the chair.
MsMac: What might readers find you doing when you’re not writing?
Renee: I have two-year-old twin boys, so we go to the woods or the beach a lot to wear their batteries out a bit. My personal hobbies are baking, sewing elaborate costumes, organizing small “arts nights” with local writers and artists, and singing in the town chorus, which is currently rehearsing for an operetta.
About Your Poetry Project
MsMac: Tell me a bit about the poetry video project you have embarked upon.
Renee: When I was an English teacher, my big thing was getting students to experience the text, not just to read it and analyze it for symbols – boring! Maybe it has to do with my theater background, but I savor spoken language and feel that the meaning and emotion of any text can be best understood when it is “set free” orally and physically.
The poetry video project is an extension of that idea. Poetry is alive and meant to be heard, and who better to bring it to life than the people who wrote it! You’ll also note that the videos are shot outside, and that’s because I like the idea of setting a poem free in the wild, unfettered by walls and ceilings.
Besides the appreciation factor, I hope that the video library eventually becomes a means of getting poetry in front of more computer-savvy kids at a younger age, and a resource for parents and teachers to introduce poems and poets to their students. That’s why I also include lots of links to extension activities across the curriculum.
MsMac: You said in your blog that you “coerced the poets”? Was it hard to get them to participate?
Renee: Not at all! I was just being silly. On the contrary, I was amazed and delighted by the positive responses I got from the poets, including from those who were not able to participate this time around. Sure, some were a little leery of the video aspect at first, but they all threw themselves into the project and did a great job. It just reinforced what I already knew: the kidlit community is generous and encouraging and supportive.
MsMac:What do you hope readers/viewers take away?
Renee: Joy. An appreciation of language. Inspiration to write, read, or teach more poetry, and to share it with others. Confidence in their own ability to “set a poem free” by saying it out loud. A sense that poetry (and the poet!) is an approachable and friendly thing, not something to be feared. Knowledge about the published and unpublished poets featured on the site, and about poetry in general. Useful activities that parents and teachers can share with students. A smile.
Just for Fun
MsMac: Chocolate: Dark or milk?
MsMac: Coffee or tea?
Renee: Black tea, milk and sugar.
MsMac: Dance: funky chicken or the tango?
Renee: Tango! In costume, of course, with feathers (though I guess you could use those for the funky chicken, too).
MsMac: Favorite Quote
Renee: Tutto fa brodo. (Italian saying: Everything makes soup.)
As you can see Renee is a busy woman with two year old twins, editing adult books, sewing costumes, and writing children’s poetry. Please stop by on Friday when I feature one of Renee’s poems.
Interview Wednesday is at Teaching Authors today. Stop by there for more interviews.