Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Blast with Nikki Grimes

I took my handy dandy FlipCam with me to the 8th annual ALSC Poetry Blast and made short one minute (more or less) movies of the poets reading their works to share with you. Next: Nikki Grimes.

Here's the short, lovely intro written and presented by host and poet Marilyn Singer and used with permission.

Nikki Grimes believes that poetry has “a magical element to it in terms of slipping past the intellect...There is surprise in poetry with the image, or with the last line that you're not looking for... There's always the ‘Aha!’ There's a catching of the breath that happens, and I hear it all the time from audiences when I read. They're constantly caught off-guard, and poetry does that. Before you've had a chance to think about it, you're weeping, or you're taken back to that moment in your own childhood that you didn't even know was so close to the surface. That doesn't happen very much in prose, but it happens all the time with poetry.”

A foster child who grew up in various parts of New York, Nikki Grimes found that reading and writing were her survival tools. When she had no one else to talk to, she wrote poems and stories about the things that troubled her. As an adult, she became a world traveler, speaking in international schools in such countries as Russia, China, and Tanzania . She once sang on the stage of the Stockholm Philharmonic in Sweden (where magazines refer to her as a singer who also writes!). 

A prolific award-winning author and California resident, Nikki has penned such titles Bronx Masquerade, winner of the 2003 Coretta Scott King Author Award; Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, Jazmin's Notebook, Meet Danitra Brown, and Talkin’ about Bessie, all Coretta Scott King honor books. In 2005, she received the Golden Dolphin Award by the Southern California Children's Book Association, recognizing her body of work, and in 2006, the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

She says, “Poetry is just natural for children... From the ABC’s to Mother Goose to patty cake to jump rope rhymes, poetry is already a part of their lives, so you’re just building on that foundation. It’s already there.”

Here Nikki reads the title poem from her new work, Planet Middle School.

Image credit: Sylvia Vardell

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2011. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Hello, Sylvia!

Thanks for all of these--you and your handy Flip make it possible for everyone to attend the Poetry Blast.

I'm taking time this summer to get organized for doing a better job as a Follower, and looking forward to your always informative and enjoyifying posts!