• Aruna Kenyi – a writer of grace and hard work

    I hear about Aruna Kenyi before I meet him.
    I’m at the Telling Room in Portland, Maine,  a large upstairs room on Commercial Street facing the busy waterfront, where teenagers come to write with the support of professional writers. Patty Hagge is one teacher, a striking woman with pure white hair. She tells me about two writers who came to Portland and changed Kenyi’s life:  Valentino Achak Deng and Dave Eggers. They spoke to young writers there and read from What is the What, Eggers’ book based on Valentino’s memories of Sudan. Here is the audio of their talk. “From the time Kenyi met them,” Patty tells me, “he said he wanted to write his story and we said, we will help you.”


  • Children of War

    “In what language is this holy? ” Naomi Shihab Nye writes in her poem “All Things Not Considered.”  Children of War is my reading essay featured in School Library Journal  about novels, poems, and memoir for young people on war, including Nye’s 19 Varieties of Gazelle.