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May 2017
  Huntington Garden
  Thanks to an abundance of rain this winter, the Desert Gardens at the Huntington Garden and Museums were all a-bloom with amazing colors!
  Naomi Shihab Nye's mom, Miriam
  I fell in love with Naomi Shihab Nye's mom, Miriam. Who wouldn't?
  San Xavier Mission, Tucson, AZ
Local missions in San Antonio were a treat to visit. (above and below)
 

San Antonio missions

  The Watcher, copyright Bryan Collier
The Colorado setting of my last writing retreat could not be beat.
  Nikki Grimes and Sarah Aronson
  Loved hanging out with Sarah Aronson during my Unworkshop writing retreat at Highlights. Sarah, meanwhile, was busy teaching.
  Highlights word rock garden
  I could not get enough of the word rock garden at Highlights. So cool!

April was a mix of serenity, sorrow, and celebration. Life is like that, but here, I usually only focus on the good. Not this time. I have to mark the passing of two very special people in my world.

The first passing of note is Kathy Pugh Pickering, a personal friend and fierce fighter who lost her cancer battle in April. I've never known a more inspiring woman warrior, or a bigger nut. Throughout many rounds of chemo and various forms of therapy, she made her friends laugh out loud often. I will miss her deep dimples, and her deeper laughter, not to mention the best hugs on the planet. Kathy was loved by everyone who knew her, from her husband Randy, to her children, to every one of us lucky enough to call her friend—and we were legion. I was honored to read a poem I wrote about her at the memorial.

The second loss of note was author Patricia McKissack, a beloved member of the children's book community. A friend and colleague, Pat was always gracious and kind, with a ready wit. She was never without a word of encouragement to any who needed it, as I sometimes did. And, by the way, while many discussed the need for diversity in children's lit, Pat simply wrote books that filled the bill! What a rich legacy of literature she left behind.

There were other losses in April. Too, too many, I'm afraid. But Kathy and Pat, especially, touched my heart.

Now, on to serenity and celebration!

The votes are in: National Poetry Month is the sweetest idea since apple pie and ice cream! I loved reading the poems many posted on Facebook and on their blogs, each day, and enjoyed posting poems of my own.

Aside from reading poems, I was happy to see poetry featured across the media: New York Times Book Review recommended 11 books for National Poetry Month, including One Last Word, which was also featured on the NYT Bookshelf.

First Chapter Friday began with a spine poem that included both One Last Word and Words With Wings, which as also highlighted on World Book Day by Imagi-reading.

Winding Oak shared a series of poetry readings called Poetry Mosaic, for which I read a selection from One Last Word.

And last, but not least, All the Wonders Podcast gave me a chance to discuss Words With Wings, Garvey's Choice and One Last Word with librarian extraordinaire, Matthew Winner. If you check out Episode #347, you'll hear me reading a poem or two.

I spent a bit of time on the road in April, as well. I enjoyed an Unworkshop writing retreat at Highlights Foundation, where I got to hang out with Emma Dryden and Sarah Aronson, among others. Next, I flew to Texas for the San Antonio Book Festival where I took part in a pair of panels. While in town, I spent a day with good friend, Naomi Shihab Nye and her lovely mom, Miriam. A tour of local missions was a special treat!

I returned home to record my Wilder acceptance speech for ALA (it will be here soon!), then headed to Colorado for a second, much-needed writing retreat. This time, I was in a cabin in the foothills above Denver, joined by friend and mentee, Amy Wevodau Malskeit. We both had novels to work on. Amy is starting hers and I'm trying to finish mine. We both made great progress. Yay!

A trip to the Huntington Gardens in April added fragrance and color to the month, as did more good book news. Garvey's Choice made Bank Street's list of Best Books of 2017 as well as Yalsa's Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Garvey's Choice was also announced as a finalist for the California Book Awards. The ILA Reviews list of books that "beg to be spoken" included One Last Word. Finally, Donalyn Miller's Bookaday Donation chose At Jerusalem's Gate for one of its giveaways during the Easter season! How cool is that?

Not everything was about poetry in April. I was happy to receive new paperback copies of Dyamonde Daniel chapter books Rich and Almost Zero.

Oh, yeah! I critiqued at least one novel-in-verse by one of the writers I mentor, too. Did I mention that?

Whew!

My spring sure started off with a bang. How about yours?

Make the most of each day, whatever you do. The present is precious. It's all we truly have, for certain.

Until next time,
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Nikki Grimes

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