I began creating and reciting poetry, and playing with words, rhythms, and sounds before Kindergarten. Prior to school, my grandmother would jot down my rhymes or poems as I would come up with them. One of my first poems back then was a lament about the seemingly long afternoon hours I had during the day, waiting for my father to come home from work so that I could have some play time with him!
I also loved writing little skits or plays, and began song writing from the moment I sat down at the piano during my elementary school years. What better way to express my feelings than putting them down into words and adding the right melody on top to match the mood!
In school, I excelled in Creative Writing, always enjoying the freedom of language in poetry and its various forms. I went on to work at graphic arts firms and a couple of independent and major record labels in NYC.
Years later, when my own children were toddlers, I transitioned my focus from song writing to writing poetry for greeting cards. Not knowing a lot about the business, I delved into it whole-heartedly, and had much success! This delighted me, and I was inspired to become serious about a career in children's poetry.
Today I'm busy with several new upcoming book releases and continue to write and even do some illustrations for magazines such as Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Cricket, and Fun for Kidz. Writing for magazines has been so much fun over the years! The work varies -each publication having its own style, target audience, and needs, both in print and on line- it keeps me on my toes!
In the past several years, my poems have been published in anthologies, in DVD and CD format, in educational material, and home schooling programs.
My first poetry collection, called Dozy Poems, Cozy Days, inspired being voted "top hottest poet" in 2015.
My second release, Spinning Circles: Action Poems, motivates family bonds through health, activity and creativity. I'm very grateful that a series of proceeds from Spinning Circles' sales benefits a great kids' organization, KaBoom!
Reader Views review (4/16):
"This is a wonderful collection of poems based on all the activities surrounding a kid's daily routine, like playing, sharing with grandpa, finger painting, hide and seek, bath time, and ultimately answers a question that kids always have - “What should we do today?"
"It's truly a fun and lovely rhyming book of poems!"
Presently I'm happily focused on my latest release called Gibber, Animal Acrostics, a poetry form sorely missed in the current children's poetry landscape, and anticipating the completion of artwork for my first release on Spork Books, Shimmer (Songs of Night).
I enjoy being involved with charity work, joining donations with my book sales. I present poetry workshops for elementary classes, and have been a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the International Literary Association for many years.
I live in New York's Hudson Valley with my family, which includes our sweet dog, Elsie, and Ragamuffin cat called Lilac. They get along pretty well...most of the time! I love the fresh air, beach walking, music, reading, cheering for Kristaps Porzingis from the NY Knicks, spring flowers, the first snowfall, and warm butterscotch chip cookies!
I often get asked who inspires me....
I love reading many contemporary poets’ work. Lee Bennett Hopkins always releases the best anthologies. I’ve learned a lot from Aileen Fisher’s style and her writing is dear to my poet’s heart. The most influential person in my life though is my own father! He’s a successful poet in his own right and has released a few compilations over the years. He’s taught me cadence, authenticity, translating poems to spoken word, and more:
“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.”
- William Blake
"The Poet" photo
photography: V. Mednis
Maris Howell is Dozy Poems, Cozy Days' illustrator. He's also my oldest son! Here's an excerpt from an interview he gave:
"I'm an accounting major at UMD, but art is a favorite creative outlet for me. In fact, I've brought it into a college club I'm involved in heading up."
"I was very happy to illustrate the poetry my Mom wrote! The poems themselves informed me what to draw since they're full of images and have lots of description. I find my best work is when I just focus on the subject and let my hand do the rest!"
SPINNING CIRCLES ' PHOTOGRAPHER'S CORNER