April 21, 2018 - Michael Salinger

ABYDOS Literacy Conference – Dallas, Texas

It’s truly amazing that things work out as well as they do sometimes.


Photo credit Jason Weingart Photography: http://www.jasonrweingart.com/blog/2017-texas-bluebonnet-forecast-and-best-locations

The bluebonnets were blooming on the side of the road on our way from DFW to the Abydos Literacy Learning conference hotel. Alise and Emily were navigating us, darting back and forth with the assuredness of veterans of Dallas traffic wrangling. There is nothing more welcoming than a friendly face with your name on a placard waiting for you at an airport away from home.

Three days or so after returning from our Eastern Bloc adventure we were in Texas where I was scheduled to do a break out and Sara was the closing Keynote based on her viral Washington Post article – Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems.


Sara helping me organize my session on writing by reading images.

Of course, this being “Spring” up here on the North Coast we started our journey by receiving weather alerts for snow and pestilence. Fortuitously, we made it through Chicago and boarded for the Lone Star State with no complications. This excursion is the one that is going to put Sara in the million-mile club with United. I’m about 250,000 behind her having started this whole itinerant poet thing a little later than her.

So, Emily and Alise deposit us safely at the Dallas Renaissance – we’ve got a day to chill then Sara has a lunch appearance the next afternoon, the following day I have a breakout session to share some of the Frameworks out of our new Scholastic teacher resource (co-authored with Steph Harvey coming out this Summer) – and Sara does that closing keynote.


Sara’s title slide for her keynote – much to Joyce’s delight she did not just read from slides!

First night everything is fine. We meet the head honchos of Abydos Literacy Learning – Joyce and Eddie – and we learn a bit about the organization. It’s born of The Writing Project – a great organization that Sara and I have worked with all over the country. This particular group is an offshoot of the Writing Project of New Jersey. The basic tenant of TWP is that in order to teach writing – teachers should BE writers. For years this Texas crew had been known as The Writing Project of New Jersey in Texas – but Joyce and Eddie finally decided that this was a little too confusing and settled on the name Abydos.  Abydos: Named after the ancient city in Egypt whose history begins in the late prehistoric age. The city was used from the first dynasty to the 30th dynasty. The ancients believed the city “opened the way” to all who entered.” From their website.


So, the next day – Sara has her luncheon and I have a day off to attend sessions and generally hang out. Tactlessly, my stomach had different, more menacing, plans. I spent the whole day cow punched under the covers with chills, a headache, and recycling abdomen pains. Absolutely not fair.


Some of the crew in the breakout.

Fortunately, my symptoms had cleared up enough the next day so that I could lead the break out session – which went great. “Interactive!” warned Joyce – “We don’t want folks droning on reading PowerPoint slides – these teachers are used to working.” And they were, the conference was a week ago and we’re already getting samples of our Frameworks in action in their classrooms.

Sara’s keynote went great – garnering her a standing ovation and then it was back into the SUV with Alise and Emily (albeit a bit more crowded this time due to a few emergency shopping excursions the ladies had participated in.)


Soon to filled with writing teachers who write.

The weather held out so that we were able to arrive on time, I fortunately had the day off while wrestling that gut virus, we both proved to be “interactive” enough to pass Joyce’s and Eddie’s muster and on the way home Sara hit her million miles.

Like I said – sometimes things just work out.


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“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
“Sara and Michael bring magic, and a contagious love of words to both students and teachers alike!” Georgia Heard - Author of Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School More testimonials...