tv [untitled] October 9, 2010 1:00am-1:30am PST
>> patricia leanne caldwell born in tennessee. daughter of robert and irma. at age of 3 moved to missouri and returned when she was 12 years old. patricia grew up with segregation and injustices which she writes about. she spent many countless hours in the nashville public library. it was her family life that was bountiful and flowing with tales told by her story telling
grandfather. raised with love of reading and oral tradition. graduated from tennessee state and degree in english in 1964. she married her childhood friend on december 12. they are the parents of fredrick and twins robert and john. her education continued with a master's degree in early childhood literature, and programming in 1975 from webster university. patricia has a successful career as a teacher and children's book editor. she changed careers to become a full time writer of children and young adult books. her goal is to create books for and about african-americans. i write because there is a need to have books for, by and about the african-american experience and how we helped to develop
this country. i present to you patricia makinsik heart of literacy. >> i am from st. louis, missouri. a lot of you think i have said it in correctly when i said missouri. you think i got it slid into my southern dialect, right? no. i was not born in st. louis. i was born in nashville, tennessee, a little town side of nashville. that is where i grew up, went to high school, met and married my husband. moved back to st. louis where i lived part of my life. i heard people saying missouri and missouri. what is the correct
pronunciation of our new home? the best place to go when you want information is where? >> [inaudible]. >> of course, we all know that. i went to the library and the librarian gave me a wonderful book and began a life long friendship with the librarian. missouri is the native american pronunciation. in their language it is the people of the big boats. one word means all of that. missouri. frenchman who came up the mississippi river. they said that would be a great place to have a trading post. they set up a trading post and
called it st. louis. missouri became missouri. now i ask you which is correct? missouri or missouri? >> missouri. okay. neither one. [laughter]. you can't say the native americans were wrong for saying missouri. you can't say the french were wrong for pronouncing it in their language, just different ways of pronouncing the same word. that is where we have the problem with the word different. different isn't a synonym of the word wrong. we have to be careful how we use it and our children. it answers the question, why do you write that?
i write to tell the story. one that has fallen through the cracks, one marginalized by main stream history. either misrepresented or represented to the way in which it is a stereo typical, write to take those stereotypes, reshape them and give them back to you dressed in a new dress. i mean when i say different is not a synonym for wrong, it means that we should celebrate those things. everyone in this room is different in some way. but you should not feel bad about that. your uniqueness, as my grandson
who loves to make up words, that is your wonderment. [laughter]. it answers that question that we get asked most often is why do you write? you can say pat is write to tell that different story and different is not a synonym for wrong. before i was a writer, however, i was a listener. i grew up listening to stories. listening to language. come with me to nashville, tennessee to an old farmhouse set back off the road, a little house, window here, window here and doorway that looked like a face. the windows, door, and front
porch kind of sag so it looked like a smiling face. [laughter]. then there was a long sidewalk that led up to the house. when you turn and started toward it, you felt like you were going to a warm and happy place. my grandparents loved to in the evening sit on the front porch. there was a radio that set in the window, my grandfather would listen to the ball game. i remember when marion anderson would sing, my grandmother made us be quiet and respectful before greatness. every once in a while a neighbor would come by and would excuse herself and come
out with a pitcher of lemonade or ice tea. she had those tea cakes that i loved. most of the time children would say go on and play. you wouldn't listen to grown up's conversation. at that point we were all welcome. the stories were layered. seniors got something that the young parents and fathers learned, then teenagers and little ones. we all got something out of the story. they were layered. i try to do that in my writing. i try to layer so that the reader who is sharing the story with the young person will get something out of it or see something they can learn from
as well. my mother loved to do poetry. i would sit in the hallow of her arm and begin resiting dunbar poetry. [inaudible] you as dirty as me. look at that mouth. him being so sweet and sticky, goodness. i would say momma, do it again, please. i would beg her to do it again, she would say, no, go to bed, now. i grew up listening to dunbar who wrote in dialect, little brown baby. he wrote beautiful things in standard english.
an angel robed in spotless white. the spirit was gone, men saw the blush and called it [inaudible]. i fell in love with that beautiful black angel. i could visualize it the way my mother would resite it. i know why the cage bird sings, it would be free. it is not a carol of joy or pray upward to heaven he fling. i know why the cage bird sings. mia angelou knew of it.
i like dunbar, my grandfather used words the way he described him. good morning mr. james, how are you feeling this morning. he would say i am stepping, but not high. isn't that wonderful? okay. okay. i go play down by the creek. he would say yes, tkarlg, but be particular. that meant be careful because i love you and don't want anything to happen to you. it was coded in the be protected. he often said be careful now. that meant one thing, be
particular, there was stuff down by the creek and he wanted me to be careful and watch because he didn't want anything to happen to me. be particular did it all. when he would say when you go over there, i want you to walk and hold your head up like you belong to somebody. that meant you were representing your family. i want you to carry yourself in a way that you represent your family well with. he didn't have to go through all of that. hold your head up and act like you belong to somebody. if you didn't, you were growing up like a weed. i love dunbar for that reason. fast forward many years later, i am a teacher of 8th grade english. i want to give my students
dunbar. there is nothing for young readers. so i complained. it is a shame they don't have a book about dunbar in the library. somebody ought to write a book about it. then it hit me, instead of whining and complaining why i haven't gotten something i need, write it yourself. but i had never written a book before, how do you start? well, i went to the library again, found a book, how to write a children's book, not a very imaginative title, but it told me what i needed. wrote a book from cover to cover, researched it. i knew ever detail.
even went to his home in dayton, ohio and visited his house, shared it with my students and they said who wrote this? it is awful. [laughter]. it is so boring. i said mercifully, i did not put my name on it. it was dreadful because i had simply paid attention to detail. i had not bothered to give the young reader a story to hang on. they didn't know dunbar, they new the skeleton, but didn't know him. they didn't know the world he lived in. they didn't