Wednesday, October 27, 2010

KidLitCon -- Real or Imagined?

It's not like the people in my everyday world don't know I'm a blogger. It's just that the ones who don't blog (ie: most of them) don't understand what it's like to belong to an online community. Oh, they have their FaceBook, but that's where they keep track of people they mostly know or have known in person. The whole idea of being friends online with people you've never met in real life still seems a little creepy to most of them -- their Stranger Danger shields go up.

So, lots of the people in my real live everyday world have no idea I went to KidLitCon. They weren't aware that when I first emailed a big group of Poetry Friday regulars, back in June, to see if they would be interested in presenting about Poetry Friday at KidLitCon, a DOZEN bloggers said yes. (The final panel wound up being myself, along with Laura Purdie Salas, Mary Ann Scheuer, Toby Speed, and Amy Van Derwater.)

They weren't aware that for the two weeks prior to KidLitCon, I was tucking collaborative work on a GoogleDocs presentation between grading papers, designing lessons and digging through data.

And how do I explain the giddy joy of meeting a good friend in person for the first time? How do I explain what it's like in that instant when a good friend goes from being two-dimensional, to three-dimensional? (...and then four-dimensional -- the fourth dimension being the POETRY dimension!!) How do I explain the joy and ease of meeting someone who looks like a stranger, but who comes front-loaded with glimpses of personality through blog posts and comments, and hours of conversation and collaborative work around a common project?

On the other side of the coin, my new/old friends at KidLitCon (some of whom I've "known" since we started blogging in 2006 -- Jen Robinson, Pam Coughlan, Melissa Wiley, Kelly Herold, Liz Burns, Sarah Stevenson) don't know what an island of calm the weekend provided from the raging river that is my teaching life right now.

Said raging river is what has delayed this recap/reflection, and made it linkless and photoless. It's all I can manage right now.


This is just to say

I have traveled
to Minneapolis
and met blogger friends
new and old

and who
you were probably
unaware even

Forgive me
for keeping these
sweet friendships to

Okay, two links: Our Poetry Friday presentation is here:, and a recap of recaps is here.


  1. Hehe--It's like you're leading a double life, Mary Lee! When you accept some huge award someday, there will be two groups of people, and each side will be saying, "No, WE'RE her family. Who the heck are you!?"

  2. That's totally how I feel, Laura, only it's more like a TRIPLE life, because my fly fishing self doesn't usually ever intersect with my school self OR my blogging self!!

  3. Like your poem, Mary Lee!

  4. Ah, yes, we live in a time of compartmentalized communities and have to learn all over again how to navigate and erase the boundaries. Was it the same process when the postal service, the telephone, the car, the airplane were invented? You might have to have a fly-fishing party and bring everyone together!

  5. I'm happy to be part of one of your communities, Mary Lee. And I love what you said about "How do I explain what it's like in that instant when a good friend goes from being two-dimensional, to three-dimensional", etc. So perfect! It was wonderful seeing you.

  6. Love your adaptation of "This is just to say"

    It's so true about the different worlds we communicate, and live in, during this technologically connected time.

    Balancing them all, is a beautiful thing.

  7. Hi, Mary Lee, I am a book blogger, new to your blog. I truly enjoyed your post. Although I haven't met any fellow book bloggers yet, I know I will at some point. :)

  8. Oh Mary Lee, that poem gave me goosebumps. The original is a favorite of mine, but you know, I think I like your version even better!

    It was wonderful to finally meet you in person this weekend. Here's to many more such encounters in the future!

  9. What a lovely post!

  10. Mary Lee, You describe this "quadruple life" your prose and poem! It's just how I feel, and too, that secret life part is fascinating. Your poem just made me smile and smile. Forgive me, too. A.

  11. Mary Lee, I love this - and yes, I do feel so much like that as well. People ask how my weekend was - I just glow inwardly, and yet find it hard to explain how much the supportive community of the Kidlit world means to me. I feel so grateful.

    So, on this late Friday night, after a full week of work and school and family, thank you for bringing a bit of poetry - and a lot of friendship and community - into my life.

  12. Oh Mary Lee, you have said it all so very well. It is the richness of your post that reminds me what I have missed when I fell out of the kidlitsphere for a time. I'm so glad to have finally met you and hope to have more of a chance to talk in Seattle next year.

  13. Susan, amen to that. I fell out for a time, too, and Mary Lee expresses perfectly what it's like to be here, be back, be collaborating within a community. The idea that new friends we meet come front-loaded with personality...yes.


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