Frequently Asked Questions About Kalli
These questions were asked by Callie and Leslie at Hunters
Woods Elementary School in Fairfax County. We hope other students
and teachers will find answers to their questions here.
Where and when were you born?
I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on June 16, 1950. I lived in Canada until I was twenty-seven years old.
moved to the United States and have lived here ever since. Two
summers ago I bought a home in Ottawa, and now I split my time
between the country of my birth and my adopted country.
What college did you go to?
I attended four colleges:
Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
(Bachelor of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Education
The University of Nevada at Reno
Master of Arts Degree)
The University of Alberta at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Courses towards my Master of Arts Degree)
Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
Courses in Journalism and Writing
What were your main interests as a child?
I loved riding my bike, jumping rope, exploring the
woods near my home,
playing board games, building forts in the
snow, ice skating (a favorite), skiing, sliding, reading and writing,
and playing with my
sisters and friends. I had pen pals all over the
world, and loved to
"play school" as often as possible. I was always the teacher and my three
sisters were always the students. I directed plays and Christmas
shows, ran mini-summer camps, and organized activities for younger children in my
Can you explain about your family and what people played
important roles in your life?
My father was my first and best storyteller. He
would tell stories at every meal, whenever we drove in the car, and before we
went to bed. I
loved listening to them. Unfortunately, he died when I
was only twelve-years-old, but I never forgot his stories.
I had three younger sisters who were always my "students" when we
played school and I directed them in plays and
productions all the time. I also read them stories because I loved to read
My Aunt Irene had so many books in her bedroom
that she didn't have enough room for a bed, so she would turn a sofa into a
bed every evening. I loved her bedroom and her books, and
she inspired me to want to become a reader just like her.
When did you first try to get your writing published and how did
It was in 1979 that I began to work as a professional
writer. I read all kinds of books on "how to get stories and
articles published" and I started to send out my own stories to magazine editors.
beginning, I received many "rejection letters"
but finally my stories
began to be accepted for publication. I was also
writing for the local newspaper at the time and taking courses in journalism
Several years later I decided to submit my material to
book publishers. It took over five years and over one hundred
rejection letters to get my
first anthology of poetry, If You're Not Here,
Please Raise Your Hand,
For how many years have you been a writer and a teacher (and
which were you first)?
When I graduated from university, I began my career by
teaching fifth and sixth grades. I have been a teacher for
twenty-eight years and a professional writer for twenty-one years. I was both a writer and a
for many of these years, and even
though I don't have my own school
anymore, I continue to teach through workshops, school visits and
What did you major in and minor in in college?
My major was in English and elementary education, and
my minor was in psychology.
Did you have any other dreams that you did not pursue?
I have pursued many of my dreams, but I would like to
write a television or movie script one day and do stage
productions of my poems about school.
Did you have an interest in teaching children older than 6th
I love teaching at all levels, even at the college
level. For several
years I taught remedial reading and writing courses at
Northern Virginia Community College in Sterling and I just loved it.
But, I must admit that I enjoy working with children the best of all.
What is your favorite style of poetry to
I love poems with simple rhyme schemes, and lately I
have been working on poems that can be written in different
shapes. When I am writing very serious poems, I often write them in free
Where do you get your ideas for writing
All I have to do is open my eyes in a school and listen
very carefully to everything teachers and students say, and I have
more ideas than I will ever be able to write. I'm working on poems
about pencils and I have a whole book of poems about the funny things
that happen in elementary school bathrooms.
This evening I took a walk and it looked like there
were a million
diamonds sparkling on the snow. I had to come home
and write a poem.
The ideas are everywhere!!!!!!
Did you write poetry for kids before you had
your own children?
I have always loved to write poetry, but it took me
many years to see all the wonderful poetry ideas in my school. After my daughter
was born I took a few years to concentrate on my
writing. When I went back to teach again, it was as if I had on a pair
of "magic glasses" because I could see the poetry ideas everywhere in my
How many children do you have and are they
interested in writing like
I have one daughter who is presently at the University
of Toronto. She
is a wonderful writer, but will probably go into writing
movies and plays.
If you had to sum up your life in a couple of sentences, what would
My poetry reminds me to have fun, to celebrate life, to
take time in
nature, to listen carefully to children and teachers and to look
heart for the answers to important questions. I have
been fortunate to
travel all over the United States and Canada to
share my poems with teachers and students and to celebrate their school stories.
I love the
quote in Dead Poet's Society that says:
"One reads poetry because he is
a member of the human race, and the human race is filled
with passion. Medicine, law, banking -- these are necessary
to sustain life. But poetry, romance, love and beauty. These are what we are alive
Poetry has been one of the greatest gifts in my
Do you have questions for Kalli?
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