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tv   [untitled]    November 12, 2010 4:00am-4:30am PST

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[applause] thank you very much.
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>> 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
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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
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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,
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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 know his friends. they didn't know anything about him that he was born in 1872 in
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dayton, ohio, graduated. so the learned the first lesson every write er must learn, you'll learn it the hard way or start from the beginning. don't be with afraid, tear it up, start over again. or go in and say i have got to move this, i have got to change this. the formal word gets revision. you'll revise and revise until you figure, i can't revise anymore and send it to the editor, we have lots of revision with this. revising is 90 percent of writing. i wrote that very first book in 1971.
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it didn't get published until 1982. no i don't have to work on books that long anymore. but that first one, learn how to rewrite, restructure, move things. i have written many more biographies. i have learned the most important thing, you must tell a good story, character, setting, action, and idea. you have it in fiction as well as non fiction. some where along the line we were taught that non fiction is simply facts. it is not truth. facts wrapped around a story. facts put in a story.
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let's go back to that porch again, this time my mother in that soft tone of hers. she would tell hair raising ghost stories. she would start at the hour of the dark:30. that is 30 minutes before it gets all the way dark and the monsters come out. and i can hear her say, you used to be a woman who appeared under that street light over there and our heads would all go as one with the street light. it was though we were looking for the lady who walked in front of our house and didn't have a head. when she got to this street light she vanished. then in the same breath she would say, now would you go
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into the house and get me a drink of water? i would have to go into that creeky old house all by myself. it wasn't so bad in the living room because the lights from the front porch, but she had a table that had claw feet and i knew it was going to snatch me by the ankles and never be heard from again. i scaled along the wall carefully. when i got to the kitchen, it was pitch dark, couldn't see your hand before you. why didn't you just switch on the light? we didn't have a wall switch in that old country house. there was a light in the center of the room with a cord that hung down and had to go all the way into that dark, dark kitchen, like going into a
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mouth. you go in and feeling around for the pull switch. meanwhile my brother would slip around the side of the house. he was really my uncle, but grew up like siblings. my uncle brother. but leon would come in the back door and stand by the refrigerator. when i would switch on the light he would jump out snarling like she was changing into wolfman. i would know it was him. he would -- i would start running and hop passed the table and out through the living room and my grandmother would say don't slam, bam, the screen door. i loved being deliciously frightened by my grandmother's
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stories. i loved being frightened as most young people love to be frightened. fast forward again, i decided i know, i am going to tell my grandmother's stories, so i wrote the dark:30, southern tales of the supernatural. i had never written anything longer. these are short stories, a collection of 10. based on southern stories, my stories but based on stories that i heard. they were like stories i heard. one in particular comes from my
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growing up. we managed our monsters. i was the founder and first president of monster watches of america. i ate 6 boxes of crinkle cereal and in the mail i received 6 glow in the dark id badges, oh yes. and i invited 5 friends to join me. the most prized possession was the monster book, you know the monster rules, you know them. module no. 10, monsters cannot come within the circle of light. if you have light, they can't come in that circle