Talking with Barbara Kerley (page 4)
Talking with Barbara Kerley
page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4
  What are you working on now?
 

Walt Whitman: The Complete Poems

I have several things going.
     One is another nonfiction picture book with Scholastic, coming out in 2004, about the poet Walt Whitman and his years as a volunteer in the Civil War hospitals in Washington, D.C. It’s a very moving story. Walt wasn’t trained formally as a nurse, but he had great compassion and he was very dedicated. He came to the hospitals almost daily, bringing gifts such as fruit, newspapers, paper and envelopes. He wrote letters home for men too ill to do so. He fed men too weak to eat. Mostly, however, he just sat and kept them company. Many of the patients ended up spending months and months in the hospital, often without family nearby. Considering the state of medicine in general and the strained circumstances brought on by the war, it was a true act of selflessness on Walt’s part. Though he never fought as a soldier, he risked his life through constant exposure to diseases such as typhoid fever. Years later, however, when Walt looked back, he called his Civil War years “the greatest privilege and satisfaction” of his life.
     I’m also working with National Geographic on a follow-up to A Cool Drink of Water called Here We Are, Together. It’s a similar format to Water in that the text is actually a poem and the illustrations will be photographs from all over. The subject of the book is parents and children around the world. I think it’s going to be a really beautiful book. It looks like it’ll be out in 2005.
     Finally, I’ve just started work on a children’s novel that deals with two of the biggest events during my childhood years — man’s exploration of space, and the Vietnam War. I’m at the very beginning of this and expect to spend at least the next year on it. But it’s very interesting as an adult to research events I experienced as a kid. And, well, besides that, there’s my banjo playing!
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