This month we're delighted to have Sherrill S. Cannon as our featured poet. Learn about Sherrill's poetry writing influences and her future writing plans. Enjoy!
LF: I know you have published many children's poetry books and have been granted awards for your work. Where did you find the inspiration to begin writing and publishing? SC: I’ve been writing poetry since I was 4 years old when my mother would write them all down in a little notebook, which has since been lost…(sigh.) My first published children’s book, Peter and the Whimper-Whineys, was a story told to me and my brother by our mother when we were little, and then shared with the grandchildren when they were growing up. I wanted to preserve the story, so I wrote it out and put it into rhyme (since I loved writing poetry!) It is still one of my best-selling books… All of my books have subliminal messages for children about being kind, disguised as fun stories! Most of them were written long before I retired and had the time to try to get them published, and I was so happy to find a publisher who provided me with such an awesome illustrator!
LF: Do you remember writing your first poem? What was it about? SC: I really can’t remember… I know one of them from grade 5 was included in the school's yearbook!
LF: What are some of your creative influences? SC: My poetry is all about trying to put feelings into words, and as a high school teacher I was also able to use my poetry to help counsel many troubled teens and friends along the way.
LF: Do you have a writing routine or creative process that you follow? SC: No - Many times poetry comes to me at night, and I have to quickly write it down so I can work on it in the morning! I love rhyme and meter, and also enjoy the challenge of sonnets with the required 14 lines of specifically rhyming words.
LF: What are your future writing plans? SC: I am under contract for another children’s book, David’s ADHD, to be released this fall. Most of my children’s books have what one reviewer dubbed my “classroom of kids” (thanks to having the same illustrator for all of them) so although the stories are different, many of the characters are the same. (Fun to go to an elementary school reading and have a child point out, “Oh…There’s Gimme-Jimmy!”) So this book will include a child with ADHD – who is an illustration in many of the previous books - and help show how he learns to cope in the classroom and life.
LF: Why is poetry important in the world? SC: I love the music of the words, and the painting in the mind…It’s been gratifying to find out that structured poetry is still appreciated, and that many readers have been able to relate! I actually let the poem determine the structure, and sometimes craft acrostic poems for special people or occasions as well. Poetry gives pleasure and sometimes helps ease pain with empathy.
LF: What do you hope readers take away from your poetry? SC: A love for words…their meanings and sounds…and the feelings evoked.