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Interview: Kathryn Sadakierski


A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue Four: Autumnatopoeia with a sneak peek of the poem "Apple of Your Eye" by Kathryn Sadakierski. A white page with black text and an image of an apple tree.

 

Kathryn Sadakierski is a creative writer whose work has been published in Blue Marble Review, Goldfish, Germs, and Galaxies: A Collection of Children’s Stories (Harvard College Children’s Stories), and elsewhere. Kathryn is from New England, where she loves to hike, bake banana bread, draw, read, and play ukulele (just not all at the same time!).

 

Little Thoughts Press: You write for both adults and children. Your poem in Autumnatopoeia, "Apple of My Eye" has such rich descriptions. For example:


More leaves trickle like swimming, shimmering fish

Through the sea of blue sky

As you peer up at the trees

It's a quality that is also present in the work you've published for adult readers. Do you draw a distinction between your writing for kids and your writing for adults, and if so, how does your approach to writing for these two audiences differ?


Kathryn Sadakierski: I love writing for both children and adults. I strive to convey my passion for the beauty of the written word, as well as for the poetry of life itself, in my work for both audiences, and in so doing, to inspire a sense of wonder. In this sense, I don’t draw a distinction between my writing for children and adults, as I aim to bring the same essence of joy to all my creative work, albeit in different ways. I ultimately let the spirit of the piece guide the shape it takes, but in writing for children, I am more likely to experiment with rhyme and common idiomatic expressions, turning language inside-out to investigate its many vibrant angles. Meanwhile, in my work for adults, I similarly enjoy exploring the musicality of poetic language, but tend to emphasize the intricacies of the subject matter through free verse rather than set patterns of perfect end-rhymes, letting the naturally cadent rhythms of language propel the narrative.



Little Thoughts Press: Issue 4: Autumnatopoeia celebrates the sounds of the fall season. What is your favorite onomatopoeia? And what is your favorite thing about autumn?


Kathryn Sadakierski: My favorite onomatopoeia is the crunch of leaves underfoot. It reminds me of school mornings when I’d walk to the bus stop. My favorite thing about autumn is the transcendent feeling of change in the air. I love the way light falls in autumn, how golden the whole world turns in the crisp evenings when the sun sets. It feels so otherworldly to me, that we’re on the cusp of such magnificence, seeing the leaves twirl so gracefully, promising similar metamorphosis and flight for us. Autumn reminds me to uplift my heart, too, to soar towards the light of the future, rather than staying rooted to the past.



Little Thoughts Press: What initially drew you to writing kid-lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?


Kathryn Sadakierski: I believe children’s literature is among the most sincere, imaginative, and powerful literature around, because it speaks to the young hearts in all of us. It has all of my favorite qualities in writing, namely, voice (looking at you, Junie B. Jones!). I was drawn to write literature for children, because I wanted to encourage children to pursue their dreams by sharing my love of writing, of the magic of the arts in general. Children have such amazing minds. I am a lifelong learner, and connect with the inquisitiveness of children. I gravitated towards writing for children with the hope of continuing to nurture their gifts of creativity and insight, and empower them to use their voices to make a positive impact, keeping their sense of wonder for the greatness within and without. What I find most challenging about writing for a young audience is creating work that is accessible, but deeply nuanced, without tending towards abstraction.



Little Thoughts Press: Which kid-lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Kathryn Sadakierski: Beverly Cleary comes to mind as my foremost favorite author as a child. Ramona was an engaging character I could relate to. I treasured her humor, realness, and the plucky way she navigated growth, but as an older sister myself, I saw quite a bit of me in Beezus, too! Other favorites were retellings of fairy tales and anything with fantastical worldbuilding to spark my imagination, like The Chronicles of Narnia, historical series like Little House on the Prairie, and every horse book by Marguerite Henry known to humankind (what can I say? I wanted a pony!). I also fancied mysteries, and must’ve read just about all of the installments in the “Nancy Drew” series (those familiar neon-yellow book spines still line my shelves), as well as in the Sherlock Holmes canon (even then, I had a range of literary tastes!). I still like sleuthing my way through life’s mysteries, mostly in verse.



Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid-lit writers you love and want to shout out?


Kathryn Sadakierski: I reread Cleary’s books with my own sister, and in all the times I’ve revisited her work since first reading it as a child, I still never tire of her writing. It’s so forthright, perfectly capturing childhood with such great sensitivity, never minimizing the experiences of children, but validating their emotions. In recent years, I’ve been reading Newbery classics I hadn’t gotten to as a child (almost inconceivable, considering what a voracious reader I was! I developed muscles from carrying such high stacks of library books). I really love everyday adventures written with a witty tone, including new-to-me favorites Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt, and The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. As I’ve focused greater attention on developing my drawing abilities over the years, I’ve come to more profoundly appreciate the impact of illustrations in complementing the text of picture books, or telling a story of their own. Lately, I’ve enjoyed Henry Cole’s poignant pencil sketches in works like the wordless picture book Unspoken, and returning to the whimsy of McCloskey’s Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, which I discovered when studying children’s literature as an education major in my undergrad.



Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Kathryn Sadakierski: My advice to young writers is to follow the dreams that illuminate your heart with happiness and hope. Write about what inspires you (and don’t forget to bring a notebook with you everywhere- you never know when inspiration will strike!). Be creative, express yourself, and never be afraid to share your beautiful voice, because what you have to say is valuable. Your contributions to our world matter greatly. You have the power to make a positive difference!











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