Sometimes I Teach

A little over ten years ago I was employed in one of my favorite jobs to date- school library manager.

Through my position, I was able to encourage more young readers, and on occasion, worked on collaborative story creation with them.  We created shared worlds inspired by what they were learning in class, and after school, I led a small shared world writing workshop (as well as a kids’ NaNoWriMo and other book-connected events, but that’s a story for another time).

It’s the collaborative and shared writing times that I enjoy most.  Working with the group on a shared theme, or simply writing at the same time, modelling the practice of writing- including stumbling blocks and changing my mind (or is it the story leading me elsewhere?) gives me great joy, and sometimes leads to stronger writing.

In the last few years, I have been able to bring that love of writing to a new group of kids through after school workshops at our local school (my own pay-it-forward project, I never charge a fee for this group).  I dubbed the most recent incarnation “Stone Soup Storytellers”, and we created an All-School play with adapted folktales, including Stone Soup, of course.

Most recently, I brought back the theme of Stone Soup and adaptation for a POV workshop with our Uppers students (grade 4-6, some of whom happened to have originally worked on the Stone Soup adaptation), and with our school adaptation of Into the Woods coming up, we’ve been focusing on fairy tales as our inspiration.  With our Middles (grade 2-3) I simply chose randomizers- but since this is me, my writing took a bit of a folktale path.

I present below *my* stories- may they entertain and inspire your own words.

(Feel free to use the images and links in this post as inspiration and share your own tales in the comments!)

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There is a beautiful tradition at my son’s school involving the gift of a stone that everyone has held and put their loving thoughts into. This is my Stone, gifted to me after our production of Stone Soup Stranger. I carry it with me always, and I always shall.

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Grandfather…

Just because…

…I miss you, Grampa Leo…

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GRANDFATHER

Grandfather, why are there no tales of you?
Of Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers
Even of your wife,
There are plenty.
I know you’ve seen the fairies, too.
I can tell when I see that sparkle in your eye as you talk to your friend,
The one with the candy-gas-station, as we called it,
Who trusts me to count out a dollar worth of candy.
You told me tales of falling skies, of girls with roses,
Of two little sisters- one red haired, one brown.
Those Irish eyes always smiled, handsomer than a prince’s toothy grin.
Walks to that candy stand were like entering the treasury,
choosing only some treasure to take on the journey in our small sacks.
But the store has been emptied,
no more tales to be heard,
no more your words with new meanings (like beerd, not bird).
You made us laugh, a true bard, indeed,
but no tales to be told of you—

until now…

(c) 2000, Twisting the Glass, by Kerrie Colantonio (McNay)

“Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale”

One more for today… I wrote this poem days before the release of Ever After, and had no idea how close I was to the last line of the film.  The first of a series of three I’ve written so far, this originally untitled poem speaks to me lately, as I live vicariously through the art of others, calling it “seeking inspiration”, instead of making my own.  A bit about the series:

S.I.F.T. Series (Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale)
These poems were actually written in pieces, months apart. The first I wrote days before the premiere of Ever After- I freaked out when I heard the end of the movie, as it was similar to the end of “Self-Inflicted Fairy Tale” and I was afraid people would think I stole it. I’ve even kept the email I sent to my then boyfriend (now husband) in for the date-stamp! The second one I wrote summer 2000, frustrated with computers and their place in my life. I think I actually drew a picture first, then wrote the poem. The last one I wrote in February 2001, at work, just after reading one of the essays in Kate Bernheimer’s book * Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales,* the one on Fitcher’s Bird and Bluebeard, then I realized the sifting is in Cinderella too, and then it’s the initials of my poem series. Weird!

All of them are about my life- the first and last have heavily to do with my work life at the time I wrote them and the dissatisfaction I had with it. I grew up with a heavy interest in fairy tales, to the point I tried to live them. If I had to do chores, I was Cinderella. If I needed to get to sleep, I became Sleeping Beauty. If I felt imprisoned, Rapunzel was my company. In college, I was called Cinderella because I would wear a kerchief on my head and, after I finished washing the floor in my quad, ask my dorm mates if they wanted theirs washed. I was that into it. As I’ve become more interested in adaptations, read the more PC versions, the adult versions, etc., I’ve been trying to find my own identity outside the fairy tales, but cannot associate or write without them. I find writing about real life difficult, or less satisfactory, unless there’s a bit of them there.

Hopefully the words will flow again soon.

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“Page fright, Dancer’s block…”

I’ve had a lot of “writer’s block” lately (not for lack of ideas- I have too many to complete in my lifetime!), so I thought I would share with you a few of my poems about writing.  They will be included in Cracking the Nut, a collection of poems inspired by ballet stories and dance in general, as well as a revised edition of my first self-published chapbook, Twisting the Glass.  May these hands of silver move across the page again soon.

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A pantheon of muses…

From one of my many works-in-progress, Hallowing / Hollowing the Ash.*

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So much to inspire,

    song,

        poetry,

            dance,

                portraiture,

to personify it all would create

        a pantheon

    of muses.

    Their essence,

            the minutae,

when does the inspiration end,

    and the art begin?

© Kerrie McNay, 5/25/08

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I haven’t yet decided which to use- it’s a collection of poems inspired by myths, legends, and various sacred texts, so either could work.

What brought me here, what is my interest…

Note:  This is my “response” I wrote in my morning pages to a question posed to me recently.  Enjoy…
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What brought me here…
What is my interest…

What Are Little Girls Made Of? Or Arts and Sciences Make the Muse

(This was an article I wrote as part of a series of con-reports for 201mass.com after attending Boskone 40.  I wrote it mostly in response to Jim Patrick Kelly’s article “Kid Stuff”.  I wrote about how I found my way to sci-fi-fantasy, and I’d like to both update & revisit my views- updating with where my sci-fi/fantasy interests have led since I wrote this, and then revisit with my latest blending/adaptation of fairy tales & folklore with regards to homesteading and sustainability.  Some of the links may still work- I’ll update what I can- but this is more to give you an idea of where I was back in 2003.   Sadly, I did not get to work on youth programming with Boskone, but did go on to work in a school library where I used some of my ideas.)

What Are Little Girls Made Of? Or Arts and Sciences Make the Muse
By Kerrie A. Colantonio

(Please note: some names have been withheld to protect… me.)

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