Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Speaking at the CLA Annual Conference

I find that various things which happened just before the election have tended to get swept under the rug and forgotten about. But here's one worth pulling back out. Earlier this month I had the distinct honor of speaking on a panel about the state of nonfiction with distinguished librarians Vanessa Walden and Jennifer Lawson at the California Library Association's annual conference in Sacramento (full disclosure: Vanessa is also one of my very best pals in the world -- when we were done panel-izing we took our kids to the train museum and it was super fun).

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


If, like me, you are looking for concrete actions to take in this new world we find ourselves living in, here is the very best article I have found on the subject:

Where We Go From Here from the Rumpus

This one is also useful:

What To Do by Lindy West

And, if you want, this site will send you a weekly email of four actions to take:

There's also this page which lists copious other resources. I haven't had a chance to go through them all in detail yet, but from what I've dipped into so far it looks very fruitful:

"Stay outraged" image source is alas unknown, but I'm on the hunt for it, if anyone has any clues please send them along!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Art for Right Now

Here is some of the best, most sanity preserving, art, design, illustration, and photography to come across my radar in the past week.

Above: Lula Hyers

Micah Player

Nook Gallery

Nathaniel Russell

Christopher David Ryan

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Poem #17

April 1990

how I got into theater
in the first place was
by starring in the
eighth grade play

which we wrote ourselves
adapting scenes from old
archie comics I was betty my
brunette friend was veronica

I loved everything about it the
memorizing lines and evening
play practices the backstage
hubbub of putting on makeup

even the singing and dancing
since of course it was a musical
I was hooked and would remain
so for the next half dozen years

image source is here

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Letter from We Need Diverse Books

I reprint in its entirety this letter from Ellen Oh, president of We Need Diverse Books, because it is so excellent:

A Letter From Our President to the WNDB Family

Dear WNDB team members, Advisory Board and liaisons,
Many of us are hurting deeply this morning. Feeling betrayed, lost, hopeless. We have just been told in the most devastating manner that our lives, our communities do not matter. 
Now more than ever We Need Diverse Books. We must stay strong. We must be willing to continue to work hard and fight for all of our rights. There will be immediate dangers for many in our communities, in particular the immigrant, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities. We must support them and stand by their side. And we must continue to do everything we can to diversify children’s literature with own voices. For there is no doubt in my mind that the lack of good representation in children’s books that could be good windows into other lives, is a key reason for the complete lack of empathy in much of the populace. Imagine if these same people had read Last Stop on Market Street or Brown Girl Dreaming or Better Nate than Ever or American Born Chinese. What if they’d read All American Boy? I can’t help but think that some of them might have made a different decision had they only been exposed to diversity at a young age. 
What this proves more than anything is that representation is not only important for marginalized children, but they are equally, if not more important for white, straight, cis-gendered, able bodied kids to read. The lack of diverse books in children’s books has a direct correlation to what we have seen happen this week. And while it is too late to fix what has already happened, we can and must do better for our future generations. We must work harder to diversify the publishing industry. We must work harder to mentor new marginalized voices, we must work harder to promote and distribute diverse books by own voices authors. 
As Jacqueline Woodson said this morning on facebook - “We’ve lived through harder times, y'all. We can do this, too.”
We can do this. But we can also work harder for a better future for our future generations. For as Walter Dean Myers said in his last NYT op ed in March of 2014 “There is work to be done.”
And I believe that we can do it.
All my best,

Monday, November 14, 2016

With Mini Suzette The New Kitty

I am ever-increasingly deeply nostalgic for those baby days spent lying around on a blanket on the rug.

Louise Bourgeois at the Tate Modern

The Louise Bourgeois "artist room" at the Tate Modern is a thing of staggering beauty. A large gallery packed full of her large works, a small gallery packed full of small works, and a small spider hanging hanging in an anteroom above the door that you only see on your way out. So insanely insanely insanely good. And a timely reminder that "Art is a guaranty of sanity."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Poem #16

1984, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2001, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2016

i was not alive when 
kennedy or king was shot
when whole cities burned
when myriad wars were started 
or dragged on interminably 
the very bad days i will 
always remember are 

when the whole map turned red and we did not get the first female vice president

when the rocket blew up and we trooped down to the church in our plaid jumpers

when the earth shook and the bridge fell

when the war started

when the hills burned and the sky turned a sickly grayish orange

when they stopped counting in florida

when the towers fell again and again and again and again and again

when the next war started

when the next war started

when they said people who love one another cannot marry


image source is here

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Melanie Kobayashi

Melanie Kobayashi is my new fashion muse. Those clothes! That hair! The poses she strikes and the panache with which she strikes them on her utterly bewitching Instagram feed Bag and Beret! I just can't get over it. She is exactly who I want to be when I grow up.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

Four Astonishing London Art Things

Some of the best art I saw in London could not be photographed. That's the case with three of the four things here, all four of which were mind-blowing and you'll mostly just have to take my word for it.

The above Rothko was from the Abstract Expressionism show at the Royal Academy. Funny to go all the way to London to see a show about mid-century American painting, but this show was drop-dead, stunningly, gorgeously, amazing. Room after room of enormous beautiful canvases. It pained me not to be allowed to take pictures, but perhaps that did force me to just look more intently.

I saw the Bjork Digital exhibition at Somerset House. Holy crap. You're in a three-sixty immersive virtual reality landscape in which Bjork is standing two feet in front of you singing to you. And that's just the beginning. Utterly transcendent.

Everyone said I should go to Sir John Soane's Museum but no one explained to me what it was going to be--so imagine my surprise when the pleasant but unexceptional historical rooms of this house gave way to a vast treasure archive of ancient sculptures and renaissance paintings and much more, all obsessively collected and displayed in surprising ways by this nineteenth century collector.

I was allowed to take pictures of the Richard Serra show at Gagosian Gallery, but photos do not do it justice. This piece seemed to be a near cousin of the enormous one at SFMOMA and walking through it was an equally moving experience--at once soothing and awe-inspiring and giddy.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Poem #15


there was an outfit I wore in
the sixth grade that I thought
was the coolest thing ever and
in retrospect I still think might be

an oversized dropped-waist
scooped-neck yellow and
black buffalo-plaid flannel
jumper over a red leotard

a white button-up shirt on top
open and knotted at the waist
and tied around my neck a
narrow piece of black lace

image source is here

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Danielle Krysa

My awesome author Danielle Krysa was in town last week promoting her new book Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk. She visited us at the Chronicle Books offices (pausing to take her own utterly charming version of the obligatory author photo in our Book Nook) and gave us a little talk about creative perseverance in the face of inner critics. And we had snacks. It was great. Later that evening she spoke at Minted Local and taught a collage workshop there as well (see bottom photo -- so fun!). She was only here for a few days but managed to also squeeze in appearances at the Battery, CCA, and Creative Live. Even though I've read the book time and again, I still found I learned new things from listening to Danielle explain some of the concepts inside. Watch out world, she is on fire!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Here is Mabel in all her glory as a purple fairy princess. Also glimpsed below is the classic black cat getup she put together for our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. And, at the bottom of this post, a special surprise--I realized that I somehow never blogged her Halloween costume last year (as she would say in the latest locution to sweep the first grade: "What the?!") so it's tucked down there: a fearsome dinosaur.