A Great Nephew & A Great Aunt: Guests-David and Jeff Harrison

Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)
Ants may rule the hill, but they don’t rule here! Art by Landon (Click to Enlarge)

We’re back.

Just in case you haven’t visited our series before, let me tell you a little about A Great Nephew & A Great Aunt. My great nephew, Landon (a fifth-grader) and I (his great aunt) collaborate. I write a poem which he illustrates. We started this collaboration last fall and have had so much fun with it that we decided to invite others along. Landon and I will continue to have a new episode on the second Friday of each month. The other Fridays are filling up quickly with guests.

Today our guest collaborators are . . .
Father and Son
David and Jeff Harrison

You know that age-old question-Which came first—the chicken or the egg? A version of that applies to our series. Which came first—the poem or the picture? So far in our series the poem has come first and a poem-inspired drawing has followed. But today, it’s the opposite. Jeff sent David a photograph and a photograph-inspired poem followed. Let’s hear about this from David (paraphrased).

This beautiful photograph taken by our son Jeff Harrison. He was sitting alone on a dock on the Nehalem River along Oregon’s west coast. In his own words,

“I have a chair, a Volker with beer, and a bag of peanuts. A shaggy dog is staring at me intently, hoping he has better luck than the gulls at getting another peanut or two. There are seabirds chattering everywhere, fighting for scraps. It’s cool and grey, with a foggy mist around the mountains. My crab pot is tied off next to me. It sure reminds me of Crabbing in Pensacola off of the bridge. Why can even happy memories make you sad?”

I love this picture and was moved by Jeff’s description of the moment and how he was feeling. With his permission I wrote a poem to go with it.  Thanks, Son. I love you.

And since the photograph came first, that is where we will start today.

The Picture

On the dock on the bay pic

The Poem

text on background

Here are David and Jeff spending time together in Alaska.

Jeff, David, Alaska, 2008

Thank you for being our guests, David and Jeff. And thanks to our readers for following this series. You can learn more about David and Jeff below. See you next time!

David 2013 edited

Meet David: David L. Harrison has published eighty-nine books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers and educational books for teachers. He is poet laureate of Drury University and David Harrison Elementary School is named for him. His work has been anthologized in more than 120 books, translated into twelve languages, sandblasted in a library sidewalk, painted on a bookmobile, and presented on television, radio, podcast, and video stream. Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison is a 20-episode video program that brings writing tips into elementary classrooms and offers graduate college credit for teachers. David has given keynote talks, college commencement addresses, and been featured at hundreds of conferences, workshops, literature festivals, and schools across America. He holds degrees from Drury and Emory universities. Two universities have presented him with honorary doctorates of letters. His poetry collection, Pirates, represented Missouri at the 2013 National Book Fair in Washington, D.C.
You can find David here:
David’s Website
David’s Blog
David’s Facebook

I have created a page on my website to view all the episodes of A Great Nephew & A Great Aunt. Click HERE to visit the page and enjoy past episodes.

Liz Steinglass has the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

poetry friday button


68 thoughts on “A Great Nephew & A Great Aunt: Guests-David and Jeff Harrison

  1. Thank you for all of your warm comments. And of course thank you Dad. This picture and text, now a beautiful poem, have morphed from a moment in time to a powerful memory that I can enjoy forever. It has been great fun and I’m pleased that so many people have experienced and enjoyed my moment, too. The secret that I want to share is that my text was really about missing my Dad. He took me crabbing off that bridge in Pensacola when I was a young lad, and that day on the Nehalem I was really connecting those dots. Penny, thank you so much for having us on your blog today! Oh…and “Volker” should have been “cooler”. Darned auto-correct! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so impressed with this trio of words smiths. Thanks so much, Penny , for introducing David to me. I am going to his blog post haste to read more of his evocative poetry and to get to know him better. David? If you are reading this as it seems you might since with the other comments you replied, then; it is so so nice to meet you! I loved your poem and the photo your son took. It really spoke to me where I live in my heart.

    You are a true gift.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I’m reading and enjoying the opportunity to meet new friends. Thank you for your kind comment. I look forward to welcoming you to my blog if you decide to pay me a visit there.


    2. Hi Clar,
      Thanks for coming by. It’s fun how eventually those who love children’s books come to meet one another. I believe I met David via Renee LaTulippe and I am so happy to have introduced you to him. You will love his friendly, inspiring blog and will come to know what a gift he is to the world of children’s literature.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m late to this table, Penny, but so happy that I came. David, I always love seeing your son’s photographs of that beautiful place, & now hearing “his” words about it makes it more special. I love what you wrote, that “thin broth of wistful thoughts” is beautiful. Great to see you here for Penny’s collaborations!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Linda! What a pleasure to see you here at Penny’s place. I’m glad you share my admiration for Jeff’s photography. I appreciate your comments.


    2. Thanks for coming by, Linda. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the direction my series has taken. It happened organically. I wanted to add something to my blog and decided Landon and I could work together and create a fun series. Then after I saw the response, I decided we should broaden the series and have guests. I couldn’t be more pleased! Already two delightful guest episodes that are so different. I sure hope you’re considering your invitation and that we can find a date for you to join us on my blog.


    3. Thank you! I loved the photograph, too, of course, and I loved what Dad did with it even more. I’m glad so many others are enjoying the combination as well!


    1. Thank you, Michelle. Of all the thousands of pictures Jeff has taken, this is one of my all time favorites. I asked him if it would be okay for me to write a poem to go with it and he agreed.


    2. Thanks Michelle! And Dad, I agree…of the several thousand pics I have taken, this one is special…because of what you have done with it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, wow, wow! I love the photo…and the poem took my breath away. Oh dear, David, ’till sun returns with its golden eraser to wipe the slate clean for another day’…not only can I see the image in my mind…I can feel it in my heart. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your words with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks to all who commented today. Jeff is traveling but I know he’ll enjoy your kind remarks, too, when he gets a chance to check in. Penny, thank you again for featuring us today. I’ll look forward to future postings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so welcome, David. It was such a pleasure to have you and Jeff on the blog.

      As you can tell from the comments, your collaboration touched many readers. I’m lucky enough to read your words often, as I follow your blog. It doesn’t matter what the mood, your words always draw me in.

      Also, I am prone to revisit your video contribution to Renee LaTulippe’s No Water River Video Library featuring guest poets. Your reading of “In the School Band” is a favorite of mine! So entertaining. I’ll include the link just in case anyone reading this comment is curious.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Rebecca. Blue is my favorite color. But in this case the layering of blue on blue, plus Jeff’s own response to the scene, drew me into his thoughts in a way that produced this poem. I think it’s important to note how powerfully his words influenced mine. Had he not told me that his mood was tinged by sadness, I might have gone another direction.


    1. I felt the same way about this picture. I could hear those birds, sense the isolation of the moment. My job was to seek the right words to describe my own response.


  6. Rich, emotion-filled photo and poem. Love the comforting and hopeful hint of the golden sun eraser at the end. Thank you, David and Jeff!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, Patricia, one must always believe in that eraser! I think what Penny has done is introduce an element that might not always be present in other collaborative efforts. Jeff and I share a lifetime of memories, countless conversations, endless love. Surely that helped us move as one to explore the meanings of the picture, the moment, and his combination of pleasure mixed with sadness.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. David is a wordsmith deluxe. He can evoke feeling with his words. Many of his poems do make me laugh out loud. This one touched a place in my heart. I have those “Why can even happy memories make you sad?” moments as I think back to earlier times.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Renee. It’s a beautiful photograph well framed and executed. His words as well as the picture begged for the kind of poem I gave it. Now you have me sniffing too. Waw!


    2. Aw, shucks…thanks. I really had no idea what would come of this, of course. And because of that, I didn’t do any editing or multiple drafts…it was all in one take from my phone as I sat there and reminisced. It sure took on a life of it’s own…thanks Dad!

      Liked by 1 person

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