While Ken Waldman can come solo, he'll often bring a musician, or two, or more, for his children's programs. The photo above is from a three-day residency at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado, where Ken Waldman was joined for his theater shows by Michael Woods, a guitarist and banjo player from Boulder. Most of the videos below are from a two-day residency in Frostburg, Maryland, where Ken was joined by multi-instrumentalist, Mark Tamsula, from Pittsburgh. The bottom two are from a library show in Rapid City, South Dakota, a family show in conjunction with Ken's appearance at the South Dakota Book Festival, which was in nearby Deadwood. Here he's accompanied by banjo player, Rosalind Gnatt. This show was immediately followed by a writing workshop for children.
At all shows, Ken passes along poetry bookmarks and cards. For his school shows, he'll also write a poem for the school or community, which he'll also pass along to students. Invariably these are acrostic poems, like those in his children's book, D is for Dog Team, and the poems model what students can write.
To view Ken Waldman's study guides: go here for younger grades in elementary schools, here for older grades in elementary schools, here for middle schools, and here for high schools.
In October 2012, Ken spent a full week in Slidell, Louisiana, where he visited three elementary schools, a school for at-risk middle-schoolers and high-schoolers, a senior center, an assisted living home, and the local parish library where one evening he led a writing workshop for a general audience and did a solo show. Another evening he played a show with two accompanists, again for a general audience.
For the elementary schools, he wrote four poems for Slidell, three acrostic poems, and a list poem. The first is a simple acrostic that spells "Slidell" down the left side of the poem. The second is an acrostic that spells "Slidell" on the right side of the poem, which is why it's special. The third spells "Slidell" on both sides of the poem, which makes it extra-special. The fourth is a Slidell list poem. (And though these are obviously poems for elementary school students, Ken Waldman also writes poems especially appropriate for middle school and high school students.)
In February 2015, Ken visited Slidell again, a week which inspired this video. He expects to return for another full week in autumn 2018.
Sometimes poems can be about
love. Sometimes about Halloween.
I write those and more. Cats,
dogs, pizza, tacos. Poems about
eating, about reading, about running
late, or running fast. I write
Louisiana poems too, like this.
An Extra-Special Slidell Poem
Such a warm, friendly town. Kids
laugh and tell good jokes. They'll
invite you over. They might say hi.
Don't worry if you don't get invited.
Everyone I know has some of those
long and unhappy days. Here, I'll
let you in on my secret. Be cool!
Okay, here's another about this
place. I'll write poems that fool
people and make them think, I
do it here, in Ohio, in Maryland.
The words are more than a riddle
or story. The poem shows you all
to look closely. And to do it well.
A Different Kind of Slidell Poem
Where highways meet,
where hurricanes hit,
where the heat is a blanket,
where yellowjackets sting,
where footballs and soccer balls appear,
where the air holds songs,
where you're among friends.