Another residency has come and gone, and those of us who were present at it are exhausted, exhilarated, enriched, and most of all changed. Changed in our understanding of story, of principles and tools of writing, of who can (and should) tell which stories, of how we read and respond to each other’s work, of who we are as writers and who we are in community. Our bodies may feel rusty, our joints in need of oiling. But our brains are full to bursting with the pins and needles of new thoughts.  We’ve been to the emerald city, we’ve paid attention to the man behind the curtain, and (to murder a bit of grammar) we know that he is us.

I’m glad to have been with you all, and I’m glad to be home again. When July comes around, I’ll be eager to see you all, to hear how your lives and semesters have been, to find out, in Elizabeth Bishop’s words, “where are you going and what are you doing.” But on this first morning, post-residency as I write this post, I’m also content to be home, and I’ve scribbled a poem about it.

Sleeping with cats

The morning after residency
I revise my life.
No one talks of point of view
or psychic distance.
No one asks about
meaning or motivation,
voice or plot or theme.
All I hear this morning,
stretched out in my own bed,
is two cats


Phyllis Root is the author of over forty books, almost all of them picture books, both fiction and non-fiction. Her middle grade novel, Lilly and the Pirates, is currently under contract. Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble won the Minnesota Book Award, and Big Momma Makes the World won the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Root was awarded a 2006 McKnight Fellowship for her book, Lucia and the Light

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