Friday, January 27, 2012

YAK Fest - Part 3 [Colin Gilbert and Others]

Part 1 | Part 2

[Note: Part 3 is chronological within itself, but is not when compared to Part 2.]

Over the past few months I have mentioned here or there in comments that I would be going to my first author signing soon. Ellen Hopkins would be coming within three hours of me. On Saturday, January 16th, I went to meet her at the Young Adult Keller (YAK) Book Festival.


"I" is for "Indians."
After the first panel, it was time for lunch. They had food at the event, but we ended up at McDonald's (my father later informed me there was a Chick-fil-A a block in the other direction -.-). After eating, my parents and sister dropped us off and went to visit one of my father's friends.

We arrived a little early for the second panel, so lounged around in the school's cafeteria. There was live entertainment, courtesy of a few (I assumed) students and they announced some of the door prize winners. While sitting there, we made the glorious discovery you see to your left. We assumed Indians were the high school's mascot.

Finally, it was time. We decided to split up. Alisha and Jess went to the Slam Poetry Session. Lizzie and I proceeded to the Speculative Fiction Panel.


Back row from left: Random, Random, Me, Lizzie
Five authors (Samantha Cook, Krissi Dallas, Jeff Hirsch, Cory Putman Oakes, and J. M. Richardson) took part in this panel. Once again a moderator asked questions, then opened the Q&A afterward.

The authors had question after question shot at them: Did you write when they you were young? Ms. Dallas told of reading over her old journals. If you could choose, what world, what book, would you live in? Everyone agreed that The Eleventh Plague (Mr. Hirsch's book) was at the bottom of the list. How did you come up with your title? Who did your cover art? What is your favorite word? The panelists answered everything with honesty and a touch of humor.

When it was over, Lizzie and I checked on Alisha and Jess. Their session wasn't over yet so we headed to the station where they sold the books (courtesy of The Book Carriage). After much deliberation, I bought You by Charles Benoit and Girl Meets Boy edited by Kelly Milner Halls who also contributed. About this time, we noticed people exiting the Slam Poetry Session and headed that way.


Now, while the Poetry Session had sounded interesting, the program informed us actual poetry writing was involved and neither I nor Lizzie was really in the mood. However, when we went to collect Jess and Alisha, they convinced us to stay (turns out you didn't have to write). I am so unbelievably glad they did.

Colin Gilbert, the performance poet, was alone and, while there was a moderator, she was simply there to oversee the session. He performed a few poems (I've posted a video of one below) and recited a couple of his haikus. Here's my favorite (I don't think I got it exactly right. I'm missing a syllable.):
She always said love
was like flying so he pushed
her off a cliff
He also showed us a trick to write quick, random poems. You never really know what you'll end up with, and what kind of ideas will come of it. It doesn't work well for me, but it might for you.
  1. Think of five or six nouns. Set them to the side.
  2. Pick a general category (ie. animals) and come up with five or six nouns that fall under it.
  3. Match verbs to the second group of nouns.
  4. Now take those verbs and attach them to the first group of nouns.
Jess did several variations of one of these poems until she got the following. She says it's about me (she calls me her majestic pony because of my hair).
Scary laughs take chills to my back
Then randomly behind me comes a thwack
I turn and what to see?
But my majestic pony looking at me.
She gumms our shoulders
Sometimes bites
I'd save her from a boulder
Besides all this, Colin said a couple things that struck me. He told us we will get rejected. Nothing new in that. But then, he stated that he liked rejections, enjoyed getting them. I have never heard a writer of any kind say that, even though that's how I felt about my first rejection and how I feel when I think of future ones. The second thing? Everyone is a great writer until they reach the age of eight. Eight is when they start teaching you the boundaries of sentence structure, paragraphs, punctuation. And though I love those things, there was a simple beauty in that.

THE (first part of the) BOOK SIGNING

My favorite out of all seven.
We headed back to the cafeteria for the signing. The area where we sat previously was actually a sort of pit, closed in by a stage, a hallway, the area where their food was served, and another section that might have held tables for eating on a normal day. The tables sitting there on Saturday were for signing.

Though the authors hadn't arrived yet, people were already lining up. Jess and I left Lizzie and Alisha in the pit and went to join them. At first, we were going to get in Ellen Hopkins' line, but because it looped and other lines cut through it, it was very confusing and we couldn't find the end (hey, we're both blondes). We decided to start with the shortest line and work our way to the longest.

While everyone was waiting, they announced more door prize winners. And Lizzie won! Since Colin's line was right by the stairs, I left Jess and rushed to see what she got. She had chosen from the prizes a "bound object" called This Is Not a Book. I had just enough time to jump back in line before the authors showed up.

Colin was selling his book (The Mattress Parlor) at his table. I paid for mine and he signed it: "For a Brooklynn so great she got an extra "N." I loved this because everyone is always spelling my name wrong. Jess got her copy and we headed over to the next line.

Ms. Halls signed Girl Meets Boy and told me to enjoy.

Alisha came up to buy her copy of Colin's book and found that he had run out. He took her money, her address, and promised to send her one. We got in line for Charles Benoit. About this time, Jess wandered off (after leaving me with the two books I wanted Ms.Hopkins to sign, which later turned to four), and Lizzie showed up with my sister in tow, saying my mother had told her to watch her while she went to the restroom.

Mr. Benoit signed You, implementing the title into his signature, as he asked us what school we attended. We told him and moved on to the great adventure of finding the end of the Ellen Hopkins line, where my mother found us.


We got out of there around five and headed home, stopping in Decatur, Texas for dinner. We ate at a small Chinese buffet (I swear without them my family would starve). Unfortunately, about then, my sister, who had just recovered from a stomach bug, informed us that she thought she was going to throw up. And she did (don't worry she made it to the bathroom). The plus side to that is she no longer likes McDonald's.

We then drove the rest of the way home, all five of us kids half comatose. At my house, my friends gathered their things and my mom dropped Alisha at her grandmother's and Lizzie and Jess at Lizzie's townhouse. I cleaned up the living room where we'd slept, took care of a few things, and headed to sleep, tired but happy.

More On Colin Gilbert, Girl Meets Boy, and You:

Colin Gilbert

Tackling tough issues with a positive message, Colin Gilbert has established one of the most versatile performance poetry careers in the United States. The ninth-ranked performance poet in the world in 2009, Colin has performed at almost 400 universities, poetry venues and private engagements, including The Ballpark in Arlington (home of the Texas Rangers), music and film festivals, events for the Dallas Cowboys and even a few prisons (voluntarily, of course!). His high-energy poetry has even made its way into the modern dance programs and advertising campaigns. Offstage, Colin's writing can be found in dozens of literary journals, magazines and anthologies. He is the current Editor of Lamplighter Review and recipient of multiple honors, including the Hughes, Diop, Knight Literary Award, Colin's new, full-length poetry book, The Mattress Parlor, is currently available from Scribble Fire Press. Learn more about him and his work at

Girl Meets Boy edited by Kelly Milner Halls

What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of "he said/she said" stories-he tells it from the guy's point of view, she tells it from the girl's. These are stories of love and heartbreak. There's the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl, and the flipside, the toxic girl who never learned to be loved; the basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; the gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen. Each story in this unforgettable collection teaches us that relationships are complicated-because there are two sides to every story. -Goodreads 

You by Charles Benoit

This wasn't the way it was supposed to go. You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place? There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late? Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen? You is the riveting story of fifteen-year-old Kyle and the small choices he does and doesn't make that lead to his own destruction. -Goodreads 

Afterword coming soon.


  1. It sounds like you learned a lot. I had no idea who Colin was until you started talking about him here. Thanks for the videos.

    1. Colin is wonderful, not only as an artist but as a person. Smiles a lot, he does.

      I was hesitant about the videos, since they made the time for reading the post even longer. I'm glad to know you liked them. ^^