Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #17:
The Wild Blue Rose, Elaine Magliaro

h1 April 2nd, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

How’s this for coincidence?

Last week we emailed the Blue Rose Girls, asking if they’d be interested in being interviewed.  We had no idea at the time that Elaine Magliaro was already planning to launch her very own blog, the Wild Rose Reader, this very week.  What perfect timing!  We’re so thrilled for Elaine, and honored to be able to allow our readers to get to know this charming, classy, brilliant blogger a little better.

In case you’re not familiar with the Blue Rose Girls (for the record, our goal is to interview each and every one of them), it’s a blog about children’s literature — the writing, editing, illustrating, teaching, and pondering of it — that is shared by seven women (Alvina, Anna, Elaine, Grace, Libby, Linda, and Meghan). And here’s how their story goes: Three of them (all illustrators — Grace Lin, Anna Alter, and Linda Wingerter) forged a bond online through the Internet, and after their children’s book careers began to take off, they named themselves “The Blue Rose Girls” (in a tribute to the Red Rose Girls who came before them). Eventually, the others — including Elaine — joined the online presence, and, as their site states, “{w}hile we don’t all live together in a shared studio space, we do, like the Red Rose Girls, depend and feed off each other for inspiration and support.” (We feel like we’re glossing too quickly over these talented women, and we’re obviously not linking to the blog and/or site of each individual Blue Rose Girl; however, you can read all about them at their site, not to mention wait for our future thrilling interviews, as we’d eventually like to chat with each one of them anyway) . . . Here’s Elaine’s inaugural post as the Blue Rose Girls’ “first guest blogger,” back in October of ’06.

Since then, Elaine’s Poetry Friday posts on the Blue Rose Girls have become the stuff of legend.  She’s so passionate and knowledgable about children’s poetry, and puts together such thoughtful and detailed posts, with booklists, interviews, and ideas for classroom activities based around the books and poems.  Like this one, a review of Twist: Yoga Poems by Janet Wong, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, including a fabulous double-interview with the author and artist.  Or this and this, an excellent two-part post about Joyce Sidman, winner of the 2006 Cybils Poetry award for Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow.  Eisha truly enjoyed serving on the Cybils poetry nominating panel with Elaine, because she always brought the same level of enthusiasm and insight to the panel discussions that she expresses in her blog posts.

In her very first Wild Rose Reader post, Elaine has laid out her “High Hopes” for her new blog, with an ambitious list of regular features:

Interviews with Children’s Poets: Two of my favorite poets have already consented to be interviewed!

What Do You Do with a Book Like This?: In these posts, I will give suggestions for activities that can be used as creative extensions for children’s books.

Great Read-alouds for Little Listeners: I’ll talk about some of the picture books—many which are rhythmic and rhyming—that I think are perfect for reading aloud to very young children.

Book Bunch: I love making thematic lists of books—just like Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. I did it all the time when I was an elementary classroom teacher. I’d like to continue to do that here at Wild Rose Reader.

A Perfect Pair: I will discuss two books with a common storyline or theme.

Picture Book Imports: I will review picture books originally published in other countries.

I Am Looking for a Poem About…: When I put up a post with this title, readers can ask for help in finding a poem on a particular topic. (I may have to limit the number of requests I can fulfill.)

Good stuff!  Oh, and of course, she promises to continue posting on Poetry Fridays, and occasionally drop in on the Blue Rose Girls, too. She even told us yesterday here at 7-Imp that she’ll be taking the lead from Gregory K. at GottaBook and will be posting an original poem every day during the month of April at her new site. Woo hoo! We wish her the best of luck, and look forward to the contributions this Wild Rose will make to the kidlitosphere.

* * * * * * *

7-Imp:  What do you do for a living?

Elaine:  I was an elementary classroom teacher for more than three decades and an elementary school librarian for three years. I retired in 2004. Since 2002, I have taught a children’s literature course at a large University.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

logoelainespicks.gifElaine: I have been a contributor to the Blue Rose Girls blog since October of 2006.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Elaine: Grace Lin asked if I’d like to write some guest blogs for Blue Rose Girls. At first, I was just going to post articles occasionally. Then the Cybils came along—and I really wanted to serve on the poetry-nominating panel so the Blue Rose Girls made me a regular contributor. We thought it would be great to have BRG participate in Poetry Fridays… so I became the Friday blogger. I have since become addicted to the kidlitosphere. It’s a great place to hang out. I have the opportunity to write about the kids’ books I love and to share my thoughts with other adults who are equally passionate about children’s literature.

CybilsI work diligently on my articles for the blog—constantly revising—and found that writing for the BRG has helped me to hone my prose. I used to spend all my time just working on my poetry.

7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Elaine: I love the variety of voices in the kidlitosphere. MotherReader is snarky and sassy and makes me laugh out loud. I loved her Tulane’s Readers Theatre post! Bruce at wordswimmer has a more contemplative blog about the writing process. A Fuse #8 Production, Big A little a, Book Buds, and Chicken Spaghetti are four of the blogs I first became addicted to reading…and their authors are always there to keep us informed. There are always interesting discussions brewing at Read Roger. I’m not just saying this to make you ladies feel good: I enjoy 7-Imp. I like your book reviews, your interviews, and the banter between the two of you—and, of course, your new weekend feature. You often take the time to respond to people who comment on your blog.

I love poetry—so I always follow Gregory K’s GottaBook. Love his Oddaptations and Fibbery. I am also impressed with Cloudscome’s haiku and photo postings at A Wrung Sponge. I am a fan of Sylvia Vardell’s blog, Poetry for Children. Sylvia served with me on the poetry-nominating panel—as did Bruce of wordswimmer.

There are just too many other blogs I read daily to mention them all—but there is one more I must speak of. I think I have found a kindred spirit in Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. We both have a background in education and science. We have both been classroom teachers who now teach young people in college who are studying to become educators. And we both LOVE making thematic lists of books that teachers can use across the curriculum. I’d take Tricia to the prom—but I wouldn’t wear a tux.

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

mra_hdr_blue_296.gifElaine: I have really enjoyed being involved with the PAS North Shore Council, a local affiliate of the Massachusetts Reading Association and IRA. This is my second year serving as president—and my third year making arrangements for our council speakers. It’s been a pleasure getting to know the great authors and illustrators I have invited the last few years: Paul Janeczko, Robert San Souci, Grace Lin, Don Brown, Wendell Minor, David McPhail, and Joseph Bruchac.

I also attend children’s literature conferences/festivals/institutes. The <strong>Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival is always wonderful…and affordable. I began serving as a member of the Festival Advisory Board last fall.

I write children’s poetry—have for many, many years. Maybe…someday…someone will publish one of my collections.

I am addicted to a few television shows: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and Gilmore Girls. I love the Iron Chef, too.

My husband and I think C-Span provides a great service to the public. We watch it a lot on the weekends…and on weekday mornings. One of our favorite programs is Washington Journal. Thank you, Brian Lamb.

Both my husband and I enjoy cooking. I like being inventive with food and creating new dishes and desserts—poetry for the palate, if you will.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/ipod lately?

Elaine: I’m sixty…remember? I don’t have an ipod! I listen to WBUR in Boston. I enjoy Fresh Air, On Point, Here and Now, Talk of the Nation, and All Things Considered. On Saturdays, I often listen to Car Talk… and my absolute favorite is Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me—it’s the best!!!

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Jon ScieszkaElaine: I already spent time a few weeks ago with Joseph Bruchac, one of the authors I would have included on my list. Let’s see…since I’m two or three decades older than most of you kidlit bloggers, I’m going to pull elder rank and pick six authors! I think I’d invite Jon Scieszka over for some homemade pierogi. I’d love to find out if he is as funny and wacky as his books. I’d also tip a glass of wine with Billy Collins. I like his attitude about poetry and think Poetry 180, the website he created when he was Poet Laureate of the United States, is an excellent resource. I’d love to have a long chat with Naomi Shihab Nye. Her poemNaomi Shihab Nye Valentine for Ernest Mann” is one of my favorites. The other three authors I’d invite would be Wislawa Szymborska, the Nobel Prize winning poet from Poland; Chet Raymo, a retired physics professor who used to write a wonderful Science Musings column for the Boston Globe; and David McCullough. You can bet Stephen Jay Gould would be on my list if he were still alive.

7-Imp: What’s one thing not many people know about you?

Elaine: My friends and family know this—but bloggers don’t: I am a silly, sarcastic, wisecracking punster who enjoys laughing and making other people laugh. I was voted “most humorous” girl in my high school class. At the school where I taught, I was known as the teacher who sang opera and danced on her desk. I was zany—but strict—and my students and I had a lot of fun together.

* * * * * * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * * * * * *

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Elaine: I love the word “poetry.” I also loved to hear my daughter say “Mommy” when she was little. There was so much meaning and feeling embedded in that two-syllable word the way she said it.

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Elaine: It’s a four-letter word that begins with “C” and ends with “T” and it makes me cringe.

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Elaine: Poetry! Intelligent, stimulating conversation. My family and good friends. The coast of Maine. I sometimes get good ideas for poems when I’m cooking or going for a walk.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Elaine: I am truly turned off by the current craze for high stakes testing of children. Raising test scores has become the major focus of the educational process in our country. Teachers and schools are being straitjacketed. Some great programs are being cut and many creative educators feel frustrated and restricted. It’s the reason I left the classroom.

I am turned off to what is happening in our country today—the terrible chasm between “blue” people and “red” people—and to people who think a pre-emptive war is a good idea. I’m turned off to politicians who are afraid to speak their minds and have to get advice from ten different consultants before they express “their” opinion on something. I’m turned off to “news” people who are more interested in getting attention-grabbing sound bites rather than in-depth news—and “gotcha” journalism! Ann Coulter! Bill O’Reilly! Rush Limbaugh! Celebrity authors! Help! Somebody stop me! I could on forever.

Just one more thing: I think lima beans are gross.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word?

Elaine: “IDIOT!” I know it’s not technically a curse word—but if you heard the way I say it when I’m listening to certain political figures spouting off about the state of U.S. and world affairs on TV or radio, you’d think it was a curse word. If I lived in England, I am positive it would be the word “bollocks”!

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Elaine: I love the sounds of children laughing, babies babbling, ocean waves lapping against the rocks, a soft breeze whishing through leaves in summer.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Elaine: The sound of an ambulance siren…and the sound of angry people yelling at each other.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Elaine: I want to be a children’s poet in my second career. I also wish I could draw because I’d love to be a political cartoonist. I have had some nifty nasty ideas for cartoons. But I think my life—or at least my financial resources—might be put in jeopardy if I got into that line of work. The objects of my astute political insight and artful mockery might start leaving messages on my answering machine—you know, messages like: “Lady, we know where you live! You can’t run. You can’t hide. We’re going to sic the IRS on you! Just wait till you get audited!” So, maybe, it’s better that I have no artistic talent.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Elaine: I couldn’t work construction on tall buildings or be a coal miner, a nurse, or a doctor—especially a proctologist.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Elaine: First, God would be a multi-racial female with a great sense of humor who reads poetry and is an astronomy and geology buff. Second, God would chuckle: “Fooled everyone…didn’t I?” Then she’d look at me and say: “It’s never humid here. Don’t worry about your hair—everybody’s grows thick and has body up at these heights. ‘Breaker Morant’ is the movie of the week—and we get broadcasts of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. All your books have been shipped and will arrive next week. Ursula Nordstrom recently informed me that your children’s poetry collections will be published posthumously. Chocolate deliveries are made on the first day of every month. We serve lobster and champagne for dinner on Saturdays. Your daughter is healthy and happy down on Earth and sends her love. Your husband’s out back with your mother and father—and he’s making his heavenly homemade pizza to celebrate your arrival.”

What? So I have high expectations for Heaven! I just want my celestial afterlife to be at least as good as the one I lived on the third rock from the sun.

14 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #17:
The Wild Blue Rose, Elaine Magliaro”

  1. Very nice, y’all! I enjoyed the interview, and Elaine, what a great splashy debut for your blog!

  2. Great interview, ladies. I am so excited about Elaine’s solo blog that I can’t stand it. I’m sure there are great things to come!

  3. Great interview, gals!

  4. Eisha and Jules,

    Thanks for the interview and all your kind words. You had better be careful–I might start believing I’m brilliant!

    Thanks to Susan and Tricia who have been two of my biggest blogging supporters.

    And thanks, Alvina, it’s been fun being associated with the Blue Rose Girls!

  5. It’s great to have a chance to get to know Elaine better. Thanks! I especially liked the detail of Elaine’s “heaven” answer. Very specific, and very witty, as we’ve come to expect from her blog posts and comments.

  6. Love the heaven answer, Elaine! It’s just great.

    Another great interview, girls. I love learning more about all the bloggers. I wouldn’t have guessed from your photo, Elaine, that you’re a prankster!

  7. yippee! nice photo, elaine & great job, 7imp ladies!

  8. Thanks for another great interview.

  9. Jen and Kelly,

    I’m not so sure about Heaven–but if it exists, that’s pretty much the way I’d want it to be. Of course, I would also hope that I could continue to blog!

    Kelly, I may look a bit stern in the photo–that’s because I take humor so seriously!

  10. Wow, Elaine, I really admire your “High Hopes” for your blog! Sounds like some top-quality stuff.

    And I love your answer to what turns you off. High five.

    E & J, fab as always!

  11. Robin, I love your blog! I just hope my “high hopes” aren’t set too high to be achievable.

  12. Hey I am late to the party but I love this interview! Congrats to Elaine for the wonderful new solo blog and thanks for the shout out!

  13. Elaine, you will definitely get your poetry published or the world is truly an unjust place. What a great interview with a great wordsmith.

  14. Thanks, Cloudscome, I love your original haiku poems and photographs at A Wrung Sponge!

    Anne, thanks for your words of support…and I think Cloudscome should have her poetry published.

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