Workshop Friday/MLK Jr. Weekend

I prowl around for prompts.

And so I found inspiration in HEART TO HEART, edited by Jan Greenberg.

This collection of visual art features  poems created by writers who feel a connection to a work of art.   When I paged to  Faith Ringgold’s art and  Angela Johnson’s poem, “From Above” I felt a tingle. Angela’s poem is inspired by Faith Ringgold picture book, TAR BEACH, a favorite I pulled right off my shelf. I turned  to the starry night, rooftop image in the poem, and  luxuriated in reading both the poet’s words and the artist’s words, seeing the artist’s images, and then I reread the whole story.

Next I pulled from my shelves other titles, centering on the theme of honoring good stories featuring African-Americans, both in fiction and non-fiction genres.

Thus arrived my recent Friday workshop for writers I collect with regularly.

We each selected a  book rich with images. Then we each selected a work of art within that picture book. And then we started a  poem, with the artwork as catalyst.

The title that pulled me to it centers on a theme involving slavery and emancipation that I haven’t seen much about.  The story is WALKING HOME TO ROSIE LEE by A. LaFaye, an author whose historical fiction is a valued staple on my shelves. And we are colleagues, through the Hollins University MFA Children’s Lit. program.  This picture book is illustrated by Keith D. Shepherd. I selected a ROSIE LEE scene where the child character finds his mother. This unfolds in the confusion following Emancipation, when many families searched tirelessly to re-create as whole as possible, their families that had been harshly separated by slavery.

“A Pie So Sweet” by A LaFaye

I remember the exact smell when I found Mama

Walking for days and days, I didn’t find much sweetness in that air

until a lady set a pie out on a window

but the breeze must have decided to carry the scent of those fresh hot blueberries the other way

because I didn’t smell anything

Still, I came down that big hill, closer to  the bottom and that big hotel

until I saw her eyes still sweet gray like a kitten

and a scarf at her neck still covering something not sweet –

the scar from when she tried to run for Freedom and they brought her back by dragging her

but she survived that

Now came this day

It’s Freedom Day

The end of my walking to find Mama, baker of sweet pies

It was the pie that found me my Mama

A pie so sweet

Workshop Friday books:

Mama Miti  Donna Jo Napoli/Kadir Nelson

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky    Faith Ringgold

Planting The Trees of Kenya Claire A. Nivola

Tar Beach  Faith Ringgold

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice  Philip Hoose

Walking Home to Rosie Lee     A LaFaye/ Keith D. Shepherd

Martin’s Big Words           Doreen Rappaport/Bryan Collier

Always My Dad    Sharon Dennis Wyeth/Raul Colon

SIT-IN   Andrea Davis Pinkney/Brian Pinkney

The Story of Ruby Bridges  Robert Coles/George Ford

The catalytic book is HEART TO HEART, edited by Jan Greenberg.

Update: Bookseedstudio is proud to direct you to the



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