by Julie Larios
Copyright © 2008 Julie Larios. From the book Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures. Harcourt Children’s Books. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Several years ago my family and I went to Paris and stayed in a small hotel near Notre Dame Cathedral. Out our window we could see the towers of the church, and on the corners of those towers sat the great stone gargoyles that are supposed to chase away evil spirits and demons. They act also as rainspouts, with water pouring from their mouths whenever it rains! This poem is from my book Imaginary Menagerie, which is filled with poems about curious creatures that never existed in real life – like mermaids, centaurs, goblins and sea serpents. They all sprang from people’s imaginations!
Since these creatures all sprang up from people’s imaginations, I think we could use our own imaginations to dream up creatures that no one has thought of yet. Why not write a poem about your creature. What would it look like? What would it be able to do? What questions would you ask it?
I taught for several years on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts in their MFA Writing for Children program, but just this year I returned to writing full-time: Hooray! Creating poems and books for kids is so satisfying, and I’m proud of my four books of poetry: On the Stairs (illustrated by my sister, Mary Cornish), Have You Ever Done That? (illustrated by Anne Hunter), Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary (a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book), and Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures (both of those last two illustrated by Julie Paschkis.) I’ve contributed poems to many anthologies, most recently to The National Geographic Book of Poetry (edited by J. Patrick Lewis) and the Poetry Friday anthologies (edited by the completely wonderful team of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell.) I also write poetry for adults, and that work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and been selected twice for The Best American Poetry series. Recently, I’ve been enjoying a more collaborative approach to poetry, writing the libretto for a pocket opera composed by Dag Gabrielson and performed by the New York City Opera for their Vox Series, and writing a poem set to music, choreographed, danced, filmed and chosen for screening at the International Screendance Festival. Poetry can go many direction!
I live in Seattle, Washington with my husband and a squawky, cranky cockatiel named Peaches, both of whom inspire poems. My kids are all grown up, but I’m hoping they’ll give me lots of grandkids to inspire even more poems!
Though I don’t maintain a website for kids, I do have my own blog for creative writers and teachers. It’s called The Drift Record because I like to drift around and find curious things to write about. I contribute to two other blogs about writing and the writing life: Books Around the Table, written collaboratively by fellow writers and illustrators, and Write at Your Own Risk, the unofficial blog of my brilliant, kind, hilarious colleagues in the Writing for Children and Young Adults program of the Vermont College of Fine Arts.