When a Writing Community Gathers

Last Tuesday night, I attended the Minnesota Book Awards event. Finding Family was a Finalist in the Children’s Literature category–so exciting! Here are some pics.

It was such an honor to be grouped with these titles–you should read every one of them! Cori Doerrfeld’s Beneath took the prize–a gorgeous intergenerational story about how we are all more than we appear to be on the surface.

Finding Family didn’t win, but the evening was such a delight. It was a pure celebration of reading, writing, the power of words, creativity, and community. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Rodney Rowe (Secretary of Education Minnesota) and his rousing talk about the freedom to read and fighting book banning.
  • Emcee Nur-D’s warm and funny presence and improv.
  • Bao Phi’s blazing acceptance speech/spoken word for the Kay Sexton Award.
  • The great variety of remarks by winning authors–from scholarly to funny to heartbreaking.
  • The whooping and applause at every single winner announcement.
  • Saying hi to the editors of both Finding Family (Carol Hinz) and Oskar’s Voyage (Shannon Pennefeather).
  • Meeting/seeing other folks from both Lerner and Minnesota Historical Society Press.
  • Chatting with writer and educator friends, like Yvonne Pearson, Molly Beth Griffin, Lisa Bolt Simons, Ty Chapman, Junauda Petrus, Cori Doerrfeld, Colleen Kelly, and more.
  • Having my husband and daughters there to cheer me on!
  • The feeling of community.

That last one is probably the one that will stick with me the most.Thank you, Minnesota Book Awards and the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, for setting the stage for all this to happen.

As an introvert, I often avoid big events. But there is a filling of the well that only happens around other people who are as deeply passionate about writing and creating as I am. I thought I’d share this poem that I wrote about a Zoom group I was in exploring Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way (again, after having done it 25 years ago). And thank you, Irene Latham, for leading that group. I feel like this poem draft captures how I feel about our Minnesota kidlit community. I’ve been in classrooms where you can feel the community vibe–how the kids and teacher support and encourage each other.

 

Is it worth thinking about how you can create this same kind of community in your classroom? Is there applause for good news? Support when a writer struggles? An overwhelming sense that your students stick together and stand up for each other? All of that (none of which is in the standards, I realize) is what builds a true writing community.

[My Classroom Connections posts share a way to connect one of my books or poems to a classroom topic–often something timely that you might be covering in the next month or so. Please share this post if you have educator friends who might be interested–thanks!]

4 Responses

  1. Lovely to see you in that milieu, Laura, where you belong! Congrats on being a finalist, too.

  2. Many Congrats for “Finding Family” Laura, and for this gorgeously fulfilling posts oozing over with the goodness of community connectivity—Yay for all!!! Beautiful ending poem too, thanks for sharing!

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