Been super busy lately, travelling to Texas and NYC in the last couple weeks, but I’ve finally found the time write up something about my time in Austin. In short, it was fabulous. The Texas Library Association is one of the largest in the US and their annual conference is a big deal. I took it as quite an honour to be invited.
More importantly, I met all kinds of superstar writers, ones you don’t often see up here in Toronto—even less so in a posh hotel overlooking the Colorado River. The very prolific David Levithan was there; this year’s Newberry winner, Rebecca Stead, who was lovely; Richard Peck; Margo Rabb, Ally Condie, Tim Wynne-Jones, and many others (okay, well, you do see Tim Wynne-Jones in Toronto, but he’s the exception).
Gayle Forman and I did a meet-and-greet thing with a bunch of teenagers who were given free-range of the conference hall on “teen day.” (Big thanks to Gayle, by the way; it was a great fun working with you and hope we get a chance to do it again!)
Finally, on the last day of the conference, I sat on the “Poetry Round-Up” panel, along with some of the best children’s poets around: Calef Brown, Julia Durango, Margarita Engle, Helen Frost, Kristine O’Connell George, Marilyn Singer, and Lisa Wheeler.
I was a little intimidated at first—I walked into the Poetry Round-Up room and found it had been laid out to seat 400 people! The poetic forms and approaches to poetry were extremely varied and showed the depth of what’s going on between the pages of children’s poetry books of late. Afterwards, we had lunch and I had my first ever chicken-fried steak, which I’d describe as one of those foods that is always nostalgic—even if you’ve never tried it before.
Thanks to the TLA, the city of Austin, Sylvia Vardell, who organized the Poetry Round-Up, and the amazing folks at Penguin USA—Scottie, RasShahn and Christina—for all the organization that went into all the events. Thanks!