Friday, February 11, 2011

School Visit Article: THE DAILY PRESS

'Barking Spiders' Author, CJ Heck, Shares Poetry with Students
The Daily Press, St. Mary's, PA
by Amy Cherry

Poet and children's author,
C.J. Heck, of DuBois, PA,
recently met with Fox Twp.
Elementary School students
during a series of presentations,
sharing her children's poetry
with K thru 5th grade students.

Fox Township Elementary School students recently enjoyed a visit by children's poet, C.J Heck, of DuBois.  As the author of the children's poetry book, "Barking Spiders and Other Such Stuff," Heck was invited to speak to students about her work.  Christine Kuhar, Fox Twp. Elementary principal, said the book is very popular among the school's students.

During her interactive presentations, Heck read from her book of poems, as well as selections from the soon-to-be published "Barking Spiders, Too" and "Me, Too, Preschool Poetry" books.  In addition, CJ discussed the background for some of the poems and told some of the classes where her inspiration for the poems comes from and why she writes from a child's point of view.

She also taught the students a tongue twister, which she learned from her mother at a young age.  Students were very entertained as they attempted a difficult tongue twister -- here is only one part from it: "Could ya, would ya, honey please, will ya, won't ya, can't ya, don't ya wanna? Gee ya said ya would ..."

In concluding her presentations, Heck always leaves time for questions from inquisitive students. According to Heck's answers to some of the questions, she wrote her first poem in the fourth grade, stating that her teacher made the experience very exciting. She has been actively writing since 1975.  Much of the content of her work was inspired by things her siblings said or did while they were growing up in Coshocton, Ohio, and later, her three daughters inspired her further. Now at 61 (I know, because one of the students asked her how old she is), Heck gets her inspiration from her nine grandchildren, and she told the students she even tests her newest poems out on them.

When one student questioned Heck as to why she wanted to become an author, Heck replied that she didn't start out wanting to be an author.  "I just liked writing poems. My middle daughter encouraged me to do something with all the poems I had written," Heck said.  She also encouraged the students: "You can all be authors. Just work at it and don't ever give up.  If it's what you want, be persistent.  When you have an idea, write it down right away. I have written ideas on napkins, menus, church bulletins and even on my hand."

Heck interacts with youth of all ages during her numerous school visits with preschool up to eighth grade students. She also conducts poetry workshops and participates in book fairs, library visits and programs for adult audiences.

This year, Heck hopes to get two or three more books published, including a preschool poetry book entitled, "Me Too, Preschool Poetry" and the aforementioned "Barking Spiders, Too."  Her current book was published by SterlingHouse in 2000, and it's still available at all of the major online retailers, her website store,  and The Book Nook in Punxsutawney, PA. People interested in her work or having her visit their school may also visit her website Barking Spiders Poetry for Children.

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