Moments – It’s a bit of a flash. NPR Interview with Cynthia Rylant


Cynthia Rylant is the prolific author of over 100 children’s books. When asked about her writing process, she simply  believes it is a gift, the gift of language, she’s been blessed with…

“I really can’t explain it. When I first started writing, you know, I tried picture books. And, you know, I soon discovered that when I write, it’s a bit of a flash. It’s all of a sudden and kind of inspiration. And that’s true for all of the picture books. The poetry books, I’ll write a book of poetry in a day, and I’ll be done with it.”

In a “moment” an idea for a poem or book comes to her, which she sets to writing. If a short piece, the storytelling process may take only a day to complete.

The following is an excerpt from her November 10, 2013 interview with NPR host Arun Rath, How Cynthia Rylant Discovered The Poetry Of Storytelling”:

NPR -Cynthia Rylant is a renowned author who has written for all age groups and been honored with both Caldecott and Newbery prizes for her work.

Her latest book, God Got a Dog, is a collection of poems that only took her one day to write.

“One poem … just came out of the blue, and I sat down and I wrote it. And then after I finished writing it, I got an idea for another God poem, and so I wrote that one. And so it started in the morning and then by the end of the day, I was finished writing the book,” she tells All Things Considered host Arun Rath.

Driven by these bursts of inspiration, Rylant says her talent was “bestowed” rather than learned, and shares how her modest and isolated childhood shaped her work.

Here is the audio recording in full (6 mins 38 secs): NPR’s Arun Rath Interviews Cynthia Rylant.

Give it Away

AndyMackieI heard about an amazing man, known as The Harmonica or Music Man, beloved by many. His name is Andy Mackie. His story is such a celebration of life it needs to be shared over and over again through the years.

I never met Andy, as he passed away within a month of our moving to the Quimper Peninsula, at the age of 72. He survived multiple heart attacks and surgeries long past the life expectancy doctors predicted. He credits his length of days to spending them giving of himself and what he enjoys doing most to others. Andy Mackie eventually passed away from a final heart attack and stroke on November 5, 2011. But not without leaving a remarkable legacy that was not only one of music, but one of kindness and generosity. Mackie chose to take the $600 he received each month for medications and invest it in bringing music to young children, providing them with lessons, giving out 20,000 harmonicas and 5,000 hand-crafted strumsticks to play. In 2005, Mackie set a Guinness World Record leading 1,706 harmonica players simultaneously playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at the Seattle Folklife Festival. Andy Mackie continues to teach basic harmonica and how to build a strumstick posthumously  via videos posted on the Andy Mackie Music Foundation website.

The Andy Mackie Music Foundation, since 1996, continues his legacy to provide music for every child on the Olympic Peninsula. Facebook.

Tributes to Andy Mackie – PT LeaderPeninsula Daily NewsKing5NewsWorld of Harmonica – Andy Mackie, Jesse Joshua Watson

Moments – Who he really is.

“After spending an adventurous day all over Whidbey Island and the surrounding areas, that evening we came across a restaurant ‘Flyers Restaurant and Brewery’, which looked appealing to both Coulter and I to stop at and fuel up our bellies.

Coulter and JuliePart way though our meal, I see Coulter’s eyes continue to focus on something behind me.  So finally I asked him what he was looking at.  Coulter told me to turn around and see that “famous guy” with the hat on.  Trying not to be too obvious, I slowly turn and the only person I see wearing a hat is an elderly gentleman; he is clearly a Veteran with a WWII baseball cap as well as a jacket that represents the same.  Turning back to Coulter, I asked him if the “famous” person he was referring to is the elderly man with the WWII cap.  Coulter confirms this and goes on to ask me if it was okay if he talked to him and ask for his autograph.  I told Coulter that OF COURSE he could talk with this man, shake his hand, etc.

After our meal we slowly made our way to his table, apologized for interrupting his meal but making clear that we just wanted to thank him for his service.  This gentleman stood up, his voice barely audible, and thanked Coulter and I for taking the time to greet him. He not only told us but showed us what he wore proudly… his WWII Medal of Honor that he received for his duty and action in France.  He went on to look directly at Coulter, take his hand, and thank him deeply for being brave and coming over to talk with him. He also went on to tell Coulter that he could come and talk with him anytime, and that  it was HIS honor to meet Coulter!!

Of course, I was moved by this entire exchange of conversation but felt that something much deeper was being said between this gentleman and my son, something that will stay with and in Coulter for a very long time to come.

As we were both walking away slowly there was no conversation between Coulter and I, just feelings, then Coulter spoke what was already on my mind, “Mom, can we pay his food?”  All I could softly say was, “Of course we can.”   My eyes and heart were equally overflowing with amazement of who my son REALLY is!  I am so in love with this young man and so honored to be his mother!

As we made our way over to our waitress, giving her cash in abundance of what I felt his meal would cost, her eyes now filled with tears as she told us that she and couple of other servers watched Coulter and this elderly gentleman talk together.  She went on to say that they were all moved by the conversation, which they watched from afar, and told us that a lot of people nod to the frail gentleman that visits the restaurant periodically, or they just look, but that very few actually approach him or take the time to talk with him.

Not only can we can learn so much from our elders and Veterans but also the pure innocence of children.   I am so proud of Coulter –  his heart, his bravery, his innocence!!  So many today are wrapped up in what “famous” looks like, but Coulter recognized “famous” for what it REALLY is!”

Moments Contributor – Julie Burdick