PHOTO: CJ Heck, famed children’s author, visited the students at Conesville Elementary on Friday, January 29, to promote her book, “Barking Spiders” which was published in 2000.
Famed Children’s Author Visits Conesville Elementary
January 29, 2010
Students at Conesville Elementary received a rare treat on Friday, January 29, when famed children’s author, C.J. Heck came for a poetry reading and a book signing. Heck was there the whole day entertaining the students with her brilliant poetry. Although she is an adult, Heck’s writing reflects that of a child’s to more accurately portray her own childhood memories and so that she may also better relate to her targeted audience.
Heck is a Coshocton native and grew up on Elm Street. She said that most of her children’s poetry is based on her own experiences when she was a child. Some poems are based on her siblings, her children, grandchildren, and even the students she meets when doing school readings.
Her first children’s poetry book is called “Barking Spiders”. But these aren’t your traditional eight-legged fiends she’s speaking of.
“We were all sitting on the floor playing chutes and ladders,” Heck said, “it was a wooden floor and all of a sudden, my sister passed gas. She said, ‘Oh I’m so embarrased’ and covered her face. But my brother stood up and yelled, ‘Hey Sue, you’d better get some Raid. We’ve got some barking spiders in here.’ We all cracked up laughing and my sister wasn’t embarrassed anymore. So I got the idea for the poem, ‘Barking Spiders’.”
Heck started each session by introducing herself to the kids and teaching them a little about poetry. She explained to the kids that poetry can be found in everyday life through greeting cards, songs, and even tongue twisters.
For the next ten minutes or so, the class giggled and laughed as they tried their best to master the tongue twisters Heck taught them. The class split up into two sections and tried to out-do each other in both speed and accuracy. By the end, the classes were pretty good with those tongue twisters. Even the teachers were expert tongue twisters!
After the class had untwisted their tongues, Heck began reading some of her poetry. Heck’s writing was amazing and her subject matter was something both children and adults could relate to. The children could relate more to Heck’s style of writing and the adults sat back listening, remembering their own childhood.
At the end of the hour, Heck left time for questions. She really has a gift with children, because those students were actively engaged for the whole hour. Even the ones who admitted to not liking poetry were asking questions about writing and Heck’s childhood in the end. She also answered other very important questions when asked such as, “What’s your favorite poem?” and “What’s your favorite animal?” and “Do you have any poems about dirtbikes?”
“My inspiration comes from anyone,” said Heck, “It started out with being just a part of my life and my childhood, and when my kids were born, I started writing funny things they did. Now I have grandchildren. I’ll call them up on the phone and read a poem to them and they’ll tell me if it’s good or not. If it’s not, I’ll rip it up and start on another one, or put it in a drawer somewhere. They’re my greatest critics.”
Heck does readings throughout the state of Ohio and has travelled to many other states as well sharing her gift of writing with others. She also has written some adult poetry, which can be viewed at www.authorsden.com and includes the poem she wrote for her first husband, who was killed in the Vietnam War. She is still debating whether or not to publish her adult poetry in book form.
Most poems Heck writes has a subtle message in them, such as “The Quarter”. It’s about a little boy who finds a quarter and is wondering what to buy with it. As he and his father are walking downtown, they see a blind man in a wagon with a cup. The little boy decides to give his only quarter, all the money he has, to this blind man. Thinking his daddy will be mad at him for giving away all his money, the little boy is shocked when his daddy says he’s proud of him.
“There’s no money in books,” said Heck, “but if you’re not shy and can go out and visit these students, that’s where all the fun is. I get a high every time I talk to these kids.”
C.J. Heck has eight books that are ready to be published. She is also planning on publishing a new book of children’s poetry sometime next month. To learn more about Coshocton native author, C.J. Heck, visit her web site at http://www.barkingspiderspoetry.com/. There, you can read some of her children’s poetry, high school poetry, view information about her school and public visits, tongue twisters, and her biography.
Article submitted by the courtesy of: Mark D. Fortune, Owner
The Coshocton County Beacon (February 3, 2010 Edition, p.7)