Poetry Month 2012: Greg Pincus

April 16, 2012 37 Comments by Renee M. LaTulippe


Poetry Month 2012: EPISODE 5

A giveaway? Really?

But of course! It’s right here, silly.

Tie your aprons on, people, because today we’re harvesting pasta and cooking up an Italian feast with a poet known for his boyish charm and devotion to carbohydrates!

Please give a saucy “Ciao!” to

Greg Pincus

A multitalented poet, novelist, and screenwriter, Greg has penned hundreds of poems for children, almost 200 of which you can find on his blog GottaBook. As a screenwriter with a focus on family fare, he has writing credits on films, TV movies, and animated scripts that include the feature film Little Big League, Disney Channel’s Alley Cats Strike, and ABC’s Picture Perfect (no relation to Kevin Bacon). And if that’s not enough, he’s working on a middle grade novel called The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K., to be published by Arthur A. Levine Books.

But there’s even more exciting news! Just in time for Poetry Month, Greg has published an e-book for Kindle of his children’s poems called The Late Bird. And just look at this wonderfully sunny cover with its quirky birdie, illustrated by Bonnie Adamson.

The Late Bird by Greg Pincus

The collection features 54 poems — and if you’ve ever been to Greg’s blog to read his poetry, you know you’re in for an imaginative, silly, fun-filled adventure.

…and now, from sunny Los Angeles, here’s the man himself: Greg Pincus starring in…

“I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown”

I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown

I went to the farm where spaghetti is grown
In rows of long vines in a field of its own.
It grows in the shade of the great ziti trees,
Right next to the bushes that grow mac-and-cheese.

Lasagna plants bloom alongside manicotti,
And orchards of angel hair grow long and knotty.
I watched as a tractor plowed rows of linguini,
And cheered at the harvest of fresh tortellini.

I helped as the farmer cleared fields full of weeds
Then planted a crop using orzo as seeds.
We watered his land that was miles across
Then fertilized amply with meatballs and sauce.

When I left that farm where spaghetti is grown
In rows of long vines in a field of its own,
I thought it the greatest place under the sky…
‘Til I saw the farm where they only grow pie!

 
Guest Poet Snickerview™ ~ Greg Pincus

Greg Pincus

What’s Up with Greg

Greg: who are you, where are you, and how long have you been a rhyming fool?
My name’s Greg Pincus, and I’m sitting at my desk. My desk is in Los Angeles, California, where I’ve been desking for the last 25 years or so. I’ve been rhyming for longer than that, though. In fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t love rhyming. My high school literary magazine has my first published rhymes, I believe – two comedic epitaphs! – so let’s say since at least 11th grade (though it was earlier, I tell ya!).  I never really set out to write for kids specifically, but the stories I gravitate toward tend to be from a child’s perspective. So, when I broke into the movie biz, everything I did there was a “family film” in one way or another.  Same is true for me with novels. Of course, that means that they should appeal to everyone, not just kids… and that’s kinda how I view my poetry, too. Some would argue that I’ve never entirely grown up, so I really can’t write for adults, and that might be true and be a better explanation. But I like to think it’s a choice!!

Now, I live in Italy, and so far these spaghetti farms have eluded me, though I have seen a couple of gnocchi shrubs. Are you Italian, or did the idea for this poem come to you while watching Lady and the Tramp?
Oh, Renée – it’s just down the road from you. Turn left at the place that looks like the thing in that picture that you barely remember, then follow the long and winding road past those buildings and the old trees. You can’t miss it! Truth be told, I’ve never actually been there. Instead, I was inspired to write the poem after a visit to the pie farm. I saw the rows of apple pie there, and I took poetic license to imagine what the spaghetti farm would be like.

This is actually how I get most of my inspiration – from things I see or phrases I hear. Then I enjoy pushing and twisting and molding those things until they become something else. I tend to see the world in a quirky way (actually, I think I see it in a normal way and the rest of the world is quirky), and I have always used poems as a way to share that. Or to get things out of my head, at least.

Your first poetry e-book, The Late Bird, just came out while the water was boiling. Are there more odes to pasta in that book? And how long did it take you to noodle your way to publication?
It wasn’t until early this year that I thought about putting together e-books of my poetry. Of course, I’ve been writing and posting poems at my blog since 2006. So you could either say it took a month or two, OR it took six years on the road to publication. I think both are accurate. For me with poems, publication wasn’t the goal: I write these poems because doing so makes me happy. Being able to publish my work (whether in an e-book or printed book) makes me happy, too. Mind you, I’d love the poems to find an audience, and to me, that’s the goal more than publication is or was. In the case of The Late Bird, I’m sorry to say there are no other pasta odes, but there are doughnuts, veggies, desserts of many ilks, and a totally edible brother among the fooderiffic poems.

Other than flinging meatballs into fields, what is your favorite part about being a children’s writer? 
For me, the best thing of all is to be working and sharing with kids. I do Skype visits and in-school visits, too, and nothing beats the fun of the shared excitement that’s created. I always learn something myself, and I get the pleasure of seeing kids enjoying poetry — whether that’s writing it, listening to it, or reading it. I love going to conferences and hanging out (virtually or in person) with other poetry-loving compatriots, too, but the best part really is the classroom. Well, and not having to shave every day, but I think that goes without saying! I am hopeful that after the release of my novel (The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K.), I’ll still be able to avoid shaving… and also be able to get into even more classrooms for even more fun.

I’m not saying this is likely to happen, but what would you do if the moon hit your eye like a big pizza pie?
I’d go to the opthamologist pronto! That thing is BIG, ya know? Afterwards, I’d really analyze the experience to see if it was, in fact, like an eel. I’ve never understood why it would be like a moray, personally, but at least I’d get the chance to find out for sure.

Do you have formal training in writing poetry?
I actually have a creative writing degree and took poetry classes back in college. I don’t tend to draw on the formal training directly very often, but I’m very glad I have it.

What’s your best advice for kids who want to write poetry?
Write! Write some more! Read! Read some more! Write! Write! Write! Don’t spend your time in pursuit of perfection – you’ll learn and grow by writing, reading, and practicing. Oh, yeah… it’s supposed to be fun, too. Make sure it is!

What’s your best advice for poets who want to get their poetry published (other than “don’t bother”)?
If you want to be published, you have to submit your poetry, of course. I think starting with magazines is a good way to go. There are still a lot of places that will take individual poems, so you don’t have to have a whole manuscript ready, just excellent, polished pieces.

If you could recommend that children read one book of children’s poetry or one children’s poet in particular (besides your own/you), which or whom would it be? Why?
One??? Yikes. Well, I guess I’d recommend that they find a Lee Bennett Hopkins edited anthology on a subject that interests them. They’d read great poetry by different voices, and they’d be predisposed to liking it based on subject matter, too.

Finally, can we come visit you and peruse your wares? (Online, of course, not at your house! Oh, wait…you know where the pie farm is, too. Please provide your complete address and hire a limo.) 
I am sorry to say that the pie farm is closed to visitors. I have gotten a lead about a cookie farm, however…. In the meantime, folks can always find me (and often other poets) at my blog, GottaBook. If I’m not there, I might be at my social media related blog, The Happy Accident, where I look at tools and ideas for writers and illustrators plying the social media waters. I’m also on Twitter a lot, particularly every Tuesday night for #kidlitchat. My e-book The Late Bird is up on Amazon, and it’ll be available elsewhere soon, too. And for all other inquiries – from school visits to random compliments or complaints to your tremendous desire to share winning lottery numbers in advance – folks can find my email address at any of my sites and get in touch directly. But not if they want directions to the pie farm. I’m just saying…

Here are my stats:

Poetry blog: GottaBook
Social media blog: The Happy Accident
Twitter: @GregPincus

Thanks for stopping by, Greg, and for adding “I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown” to No Water River’s growing video poetry library!
Thanks for having me here, Renée. And Happy Poetry Month!

More Stuff About Greg

  • Read about how Greg invented the “Fib” — a form of poetry based on the Fibonacci sequence — at his original Fib post, and in The New York Times and at Poetry Foundation.
  • Every April for the past four years, Greg has hosted 30Poets/30Days featuring previously unpublished poems by some of the biggest names in children’s poetry. Poets from all four years are listed in his sidebar with links to the more than 100 poems they’ve collectively contributed to the event. What a great resource!
  • See Greg’s filmography at IMDB.

Extension Activities:
“I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown”

The Late Bird by Greg Pincus

Thanks for perching!

Coming Up Next!

CHARLES WATERS
wanders in on Wednesday with a poem that will give you paws.

Here’s the whole schedule:

April 2 ~ Kenn Nesbitt 
April 6 ~ Amy Ludwig VanDerwater 
April 9 ~ Laura Purdie Salas
April 13 ~ Deborah Diesen
April 16 ~ Greg Pincus
April 18 ~ Charles Waters
April 20 ~ Irene Latham
April 23 ~ Julie Larios
April 27 ~ Lee Wardlaw
April 30 ~ J. Patrick Lewis

Video Location: Hollywoodland, where dreams are only a meatball away.

See more poems in my poetry video library. 

“I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown” copyright © Greg Pincus. All rights reserved

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31 Comments

  1. Joanna
    857 days ago

    I follow Greg on both his blog and twitter and find him entertaining, insightful, funny and welcoming….. I am pretty sure I have passed one of those spaghetti farms along the Ligurian coast! I confess to liking the mac n cheese bushes myself… I love the way the cheese on top melts under the Italian sun! Wonderful interview and activities, and good luck, Greg, with the The Late Bird!

    Reply

  2. Natalie
    857 days ago

    Well, someone pass the plates around, cause I swear I just heard, “PIE!” :)

    Now that’s what I call a children’s poem–full of playfulness, whimsy and FUN. Very, very nice, Greg!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      857 days ago

      Yup! I agree, Natalie – this poem’s got everything going for it!

      Reply

  3. Catherine Johnson
    857 days ago

    Fantastic! I love that Spaghetti poem, Greg. I look forward to reading your book, congrats!

    Reply

  4. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
    857 days ago

    I’ve been enjoying Greg’s poems for two years at his blog and to hear him read one…and such a funny one…is a real treat. Greg has such a playful spirit with his topics and his wordplay, and it’s fun to imagine what little Greg must have been like! Thank you, Greg and Renee, for starting my day with this tasty post. a.

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      857 days ago

      So true, Amy! I just love his delivery and the obvious fun he’s having with the words.

      Reply

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill
    857 days ago

    Thanks for another great interview, Renee! it was great to learn more about Greg! Wonderful whimsical poem! :)

    Reply

  6. Julie Hedlund
    857 days ago

    I’ve followed Greg for a long time and love his poetry and his overall enthusiasm for kidlit.

    I loved the poem, but now I’m hungry for spaghetti! :-)

    Reply

  7. Linda Baie
    857 days ago

    I’ve followed Greg even before I was blogging myself, sharing his poems with my students often. What a great review, Renee. I was glad to see Greg read one of his hilarious poems. He does always twist & smoosh the topics into something no one has ever thought of, until that poem. Terrific! Thank you Greg and Renee!

    Reply

  8. Iza Trapani
    857 days ago

    Now that’s thinking outside the box- well, unless it’s a box of spaghetti :-) Imaginative poem and fun interview! Thanks, Greg and Renee.

    Reply

  9. Julie Larios
    857 days ago

    Lots of fun reading this! After hearing Greg speak out here in Seattle once, I’m not surprised to see the energy displayed in this video and interview – he’s a powerhouse. Thanks for posting it, Renee.

    Reply

  10. Genevieve
    857 days ago

    What a great poem. I’m hungry…..

    Reply

  11. Charles Waters
    857 days ago

    Greg is as nice a person as he is creative which is to say he’s a good dude! Thanks for featuring him Renee!

    Reply

  12. Hannah Holt
    857 days ago

    Spaghetti is my favorite word right now! What a wonderful poem and reading. Could I get directions to that pie farm?

    Reply

  13. Louise
    857 days ago

    Great post!

    Reply

  14. Greg Pincus
    857 days ago

    Thanks, y’all. You’re all very kind. But even so, I won’t share the pie farm address :-)

    Thanks again, Renee, for having me here!

    Reply

  15. Erik This Kid Reviews Books
    857 days ago

    I really like the poem! I’d like to visit the pie farn! ;)

    Reply

  16. Tina Cho
    856 days ago

    What a fun poem, and we love pasta! This was another wonderful interview, Renee & Greg. I’ll share this w/my daughter tomorrow!

    Reply

  17. Dana Carey
    856 days ago

    A really fun imaginative poem. It would be a blast to illustrate.
    Thanks, Greg & Renée.

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      856 days ago

      Thanks for coming by, everyone! I just love the whimsy in this poem, and am so glad you all do too!

      Reply

  18. jama
    856 days ago

    What a treat! Love the poem and Greg’s reading was perfection. I hope he never grows up and continues to write more funny, mouthwatering, playful poems.

    I must find that pie farm. Must! :)

    Thanks for another wonderful PM post, Renee!

    Reply

  19. Rena J. Traxel
    856 days ago

    I want to go that farm! Lol. Greg you were delight to listen to. No surprise there as your poems on your website are wonderful.

    Reply

  20. Robyn Hood Black
    856 days ago

    Thanks so much, Renee and Greg! I am LOVING these video features, What a yummy, fun and well-crafted poem, Greg. And, for the record, I had to read the Pizza Pie/Moray Eel Q-and -A part twice before sighing a big, “Ooohhhh…!” ;0) Thanks to both of you for all you do to celebrate great poetry for kids.

    Reply

    • Greg Pincus
      855 days ago

      Sometimes something pops into mind and, whether it really makes any sense or not (or whether it’ll make sense to anyone else!), I go with it. So it was with the eel!

      Reply

  21. Penny Klostermann
    855 days ago

    That was fun. I love the poem. The thought of a spaghetti farm had never even entered my noodle. I’m enjoying the poetry videos immensely. Thanks Greg and Renee.

    Reply

  22. Greg Pincus
    855 days ago

    And again, I say “thank you!” for all the kind words (and for the noodle laugh, Penny.).

    Reply

  23. Eric VanRaepenbusch
    854 days ago

    Greg – It was nice to see and hear you read your poem. I have visited your blog a few times before and have seen your picture numerous times around the kidlitosphere. Good luck with your poetry ebook!

    Renee – Another great interview, sorry I am so late!

    Reply

  24. Mary Lee
    852 days ago

    I’m still shaking my head at the moray eel.

    Greg is one funny guy.

    Reply

6 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Greg Pincus of GottaBook added his line and passed the baton to me. Since there are only four people left after [...]

  2. [...] Were you asleep during Poetry Month and by chance missed Greg’s appearance at No Water River? Love his reading of “I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti is Grown” and his [...]

  3. By Joe Mohr reads his poem for children "Flybrows" on June 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    [...] the one with the unibrow?), Ryan Bliss (aka Mooseclumps), Alvaro Salinas, Jr. (aka M. M. Socks), Greg Pincus, Ed DeCaria, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and many [...]

  4. [...] 6 ~ Amy Ludwig VanDerwater  April 9 ~ Laura Purdie Salas April 13 ~ Deborah Diesen April 16 ~ Greg Pincus April 18 ~ Charles Waters April 20 ~ Irene Latham April 23 ~ Julie Larios April 27 ~ Lee Wardlaw [...]

  5. [...] 6 ~ Amy Ludwig VanDerwater  April 9 ~ Laura Purdie Salas April 13 ~ Deborah Diesen April 16 ~ Greg Pincus April 18 ~ Charles Waters April 20 ~ Irene Latham April 23 ~ Julie Larios April 27 ~ Lee Wardlaw [...]

  6. [...] you, Poets with a capital P! Thank you, Kenn, Amy, Laura, Debbie, Greg, Charles, Irene, Julie, Lee, and Pat. I’m honored to know you, one and [...]

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