Wednesday, August 20, 2008
"He didn't look to me like a writer because he wasn't white," remembers Myers, now 70 years old.
The wonderful Walter Dean Myers interviewed at NPR. More on Myers' latest book, Sunrise Over Fallujah, soon. Meanwhile, here's a bit from the interview:
"The first time I dropped out of school, the counselors asked me what was wrong. ... I wasn't going to tell some teacher that my mom is an alcoholic — I wasn't going to do that," says Myers.
Myers understands that there must be a lot weighing on the minds of the kids at that Bronx detention facility. He shows them old photographs depicting various aspects of African-American life, which he uses to help flesh out the characters in his books. Myers started gathering photos while doing a writing workshop in Jersey City. Today, Myers has over 10,000 of them.
"The kids were writing such negative stuff about themselves that I began to collect photographs to show how beautiful they actually were," he says. "I used the photographs in a number of different books."
During his talk the at the detention center, the kids who slouched in the chairs when he first started speaking lean in to listen. One girl tells Myers that she regrets not being as "book smart" as she wants to be.
"One of the things you can do is start writing," he tells her. "What you're saying — other young people want to hear [it]. If you're interested, I am."