Author Spotlight: Renee LaTulippe


Today KIDLIT 411 is very lucky to interview children’s poet/writer Renée LaTulippe. Hi, Renée. Thank you for agreeing to this interview and for being our very first featured AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Where do your ideas come from?

More often than not, my ideas for both poems and stories spring from one word. I write stories for vocabulary-controlled early readers, so I have to work from a list of words and use them in the story. To begin, I usually read all the words out loud. Then I pick the one that speaks to me the most and begin brainstorming (usually with my husband) the possibilities for that word by asking a lot of “what if” questions. Little by little, I construct a concept around the word and start writing. The same goes for poetry, though I also often begin with a title or phrase. Sometimes my husband and I will sit around and brainstorm titles (he’s the one who came up with the title No Water River!), and then I’ll lurch off to my cave to ponder the possibilities of each one.

I highly recommend this exercise, by the way. Just open the dictionary or a book, pick a word, and start asking questions. It’s amazing the places your brain will take you with something so simple as “bench” or “slurp” or “shrew.”


What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently writing a dozen vocab-controlled stories for the last two early readers in the All About Reading program for All About Learning Press. I’ve been writing and editing full time in the educational market since 2007 and really love it. However, it leaves me little time for my own writing. I have a couple of picture book manuscripts in the works, though it’s very slow going, as well as a poetry collection – and ideas for twenty more! Must find time…

Oh, and I’m also developing an online poetry course to be launched very soon!


What draws you to poetry?

Brevity. I love wordplay and sound-play and the challenge of telling a story or conveying an emotion or a moment in time in just a few words. I love the search for just the right word, which can sometimes take forever. I like the puzzle aspect of poetry, especially rhyming poetry – the fitting together of really small pieces to construct a coherent whole. Writing stories brings me intense amounts of anguish, whereas writing poetry gives me energy and engages and delights my whole mind. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m torturing myself with picture books. I’ve been writing poetry since I was seven and it has always felt like “home” for me.


What are you currently reading?

I’m a second-round poetry judge for the Cybils Awards, so I am currently reading the books by the sevenfinalists, including What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings by Joyce Sidman and When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis. Go read them all! They are wonderful!

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite writer quote is Dorothy Parker’s “I hate writing. I love having written.” That pretty much sums up how I feel.

My favorite life quote is:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.

--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I found this quote as a teenager and remember painting it as a poster in Studio Art class. I have never read or seen The Lord of the Rings as it’s not my thing, but this bit of poetry speaks to me as much now as it did back then.

What I like about it is that it reverses the line from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which reads “All that glisters is not gold.” Both of the lines are true, but I was a quiet, rather shy girl and preferred Tolkien’s twist that good things do not necessarily sparkle, and those who seem lost to others may merely be traversing their own kind of world. These lines have always given me comfort.

Here’s the whole poem:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.


Where can we find you on the internet?

Website: No Water River.  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NoWaterRiver
Twitter: @ReneeMLaTulippe


Renée M. LaTulippe has co-authored nine early readers and a collection of poetry titled Lizard Lou: a Collection of Rhymes Old and  New for All About Learning Press, where she is also the editor, and has poems published in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School and the upcoming The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. A big fan of poetry performance, Renée creates children’s poetry videos at NoWaterRiver.com. Renée earned her BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College and her MA in English Education from NYU; worked and played in the theater for almost two decades; and taught English, theater arts, and public speaking in NYC. She lives in Italy with her husband and twin boys.




24 comments:

  1. Thank you for joining us, Renee. I love the Tolkien poem, and I can't wait for your poetry course.

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  2. Beautiful interview of a beautiful person! I love the LotR poem too, though, because I've not read the book either, I hadn't heard of it until now. So, thanks for sharing it. :)

    You have such a fascinating background, Renee. I can't think of a person better suited to write a poetry course!

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  3. Thanks so much for being our first featured author, Renee! You are a wonderful, talented person, that I am lucky enough to also call my friend. :)

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  4. That J.R.R. - he sure could write!
    I think it is interesting to recall how and when we stumble onto pieces of poetry that continue to resonate for us throughout our lifespan.
    Good luck with all your projects dear Renee!

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  5. Great interview! Renee, I love Dorothy Parker but I hadn't seen that quote before. I'm amazed at how much you get done with twin little ones! I hope you'll get time for your own writing soon.

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  6. Love those lines, thanks for reminding me of them, Renée. I also have to believe your little ones must be very good at keeping each other company for you to accomplish so much! Write on!

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  7. Hi Renee - I am excited to hear about your upcoming poetry course and plan to be among the first in line to sign up! I am a big fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and *The Lord of the Rings*, so I have always loved that poem. I even have a shirt that reads "Not all those who wander are lost" - it's kind of my life motto. I appreciate getting to know you and I look forward to learning from you in the future. :)

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  8. Great interview. Renee, I love your exercise suggestion on picking a word and asking a bunch of "what if" questions. When I find some spare time, I'm going to try it. If I don't find time, I will have the idea filed away for the 2014 PiBoIdMo challenge. Being a beta student in your poetry course, I want to share, it is awesome!

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  9. Thank you for the lovely comments, ladies! I'm honored to be on kidlit411 and thank Elaine and Sylvia for having me. This is such a wonderful community they're building!

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  10. What a wonderful interview! I like how one word can inspire poetry. The quotes are magnificent, and I love LOTR and that poem. I am looking forward to your course!

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  11. Great interview-love the one word inspiration.

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  12. Good interview! I don't see u online as often; I know you're busy. That's cool your husband helps you develop ideas.

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  13. Great interview, Renee! It's always fun to learn more about you. I love the quote you chose (The Dorothy Parker one and the Tolkien one :)) And I like the way you explain your love of poetry - it's one of the things that appeals to me too - that puzzle aspect - though I'm not nearly as good at it as you are! Can't wait til your course is up and running!

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  14. Terrific interview, Renée!! That's great how your hubby helps you with the developing stage of your writing. Mine ids like that too. Loved learning more about you.

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  15. Renee thanks for a wonderful interview! It's great to learn more about you and I can't wait to check out your poetry course!

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  16. Thank you, writers! Yes, my husband is a GREAT brainstormer with a suitably twisted/random sense of story. We come up with some doozies!

    Susanna - your poems are fabulous and you know it!

    Tina - SUPER BUSY! I haven't even been to my own blog in forever, haha!

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  17. Such a great interview with a lovely and talented lady. Thank you, Renee for sharing your work, your inspiration, and your wonderful personality! Loved reading about your theatre background as well!

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  18. Such a delightful interview! Renee - you are incredible...in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your gifts - and today your backstage world - with us.

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  19. Really nice interview! I always love hearing your thoughts, Renee! You know I a true fan! No Water River is such a gift. I love to visit your poetry video library and, of course, I can't even find words to express how much I am enjoying the Spotlight on NCTE Poets!

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  20. Wonderful interview, you and your work shine through.

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  21. Wonderful post, Renee! What a great way to kick off KidLit411! :)
    As a lover of rhyme, I need to pay more attention to what you are saying!
    And thank you, Sylvia...this is going to be a great go-to site for all of us.

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    1. Thanks, Vivian. This site was Elaine Kearns' brainchild and now we're working on it together. It's been great fun.

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    2. I'm so glad you're enjoying the site, Vivian! Renee is getting ready to offer a class really soon- and you won't want to miss it! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. :)

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  22. Thank you Renee for sharing with us. The poetry class is exciting, will be looking for that. And I know we'll see you in March Madness 2014 ?!?
    Sylvia and Elaine, this site is so rich and stock full of resources. Thanks so MUCH! Like a writer's library online! - Damon

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