A final post before I head out to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota tomorrow for our winter residency. Excuse my comments on other posts to those not in the Hamline crowd, but we all get rather excited as writing camp time approaches.

Our focus this time is point of view and voice and I will be giving a talk on uncovering our inner voice. It’s been an insightful journey these past few months and I am looking forward to the risk of giving a more personal talk this time around. I will be sharing this poem below that I first read at age twenty-one when my older brother wrote it to me in a card as I headed off to Europe. I have kept it all these years because I think our writing voice is the fire within, the cooked rice that sustains us, but that we can’t always hear or appreciate the fullness of.

I tried to locate the poet’s name to no avail. But it’s certainly popular on the Internet.

It is so clear that it takes so long to see.
You must know that the fire which
you are seeking
Is the fire in your own lantern,
And your rice has been cooked from
the very beginning.
Old Chinese poem

I have enjoyed blogging with my fellow Hamliners. We will be celebrating Mellissa and her fellow grads. I will try to post a couple of times from residency before I sign off for a while.

I am celebrating my publication news for a project that I first read and the audience sang along as a work in progress at the winter residency two years ago. My Country Tis of Thee: Song Of Patriotism, Song of Protest will be published by Henry Holt with Caldecott Honor illustrator Bryan Collier doing the artwork. I will toast my agent Kendra Marcus for her help as she will be presenting at the residency this weekend.