My first book of poetry, When Green Becomes Tomatoes, is out today!
And in honor of the big day, I will make a confession-
I never meant to write poetry.
It’s not something written by people like me.
Poets are supposed to be brilliant and intense,
thoughtful, sensitive and a little mysterious.
I’m not any of those things.
I’m just sort of normal and a little too shy.
I don’t have deep, important thoughts.
But, everyday, I look out the window and write things.
Tiny quiet things
about trees and squirrels
flowers and clouds
snowflakes and raindrops.
I never even considered writing poetry.
It scares me.
I write children’s books
and I like it that way.
But, one day, after sharing a bunch of my tiny quiet things with my editor, Neal Porter,
he said “You have the start of a poetry collection here.”
and horrified I said, “No thank you. I don’t write poetry.”
and he laughed and said “Call it what you want, this is poetry.”
And so, When Green Becomes Tomatoes was born,
with the promise that the “P” word would never be mentioned again.
And it wasn’t really.
We called them thoughts
and then notes.
We tried out non-poems, but that was just weirdness,
nothing sounded right.
Then, about a year ago, Neal broke the news
the dreaded word would appear on the cover!
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: POEMS for all Seasons
My first instinct was to run and hide under the bed
and then in a panic, I sent the manuscript to my cousin.
She has a PhD in poetry.
I was sure she would confirm that they were certainly NOT poems
and I would be off the hook.
She is an expert after all.
“IS THIS POETRY????” I asked.
(fingers and toes crossed.)
“For me,” she said “poetry is economy and beauty. Your work has both, in abundance.”
I read that 100 times.
economy and beauty.
My tiny quiet things were definitely economical.
Aside from putting words together, my next favorite thing is taking words away
and away and away and away
until only the most essential words are left.
And finding beauty in small everyday things and writing about it,
that’s what I love best of all.
So, going by my cousin’s definition, I guess poetry isn’t such a stretch
and it certainly isn’t half as scary.
Economy and beauty...
I can do that.
But, When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Economy and Beauty For All Seasons
doesn’t really work so well
So, poetry it is, I guess.
Julie Fogliano has spent her entire life reading children's books. Now she stays up way too late writing her own books while eating cereal. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and their three children. They make her very tired, but give her lots of good ideas. This is her third book.
Borrow When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.