April Halprin Wayland’s “Immigrant”

It’s amazing how much can be communicated in a few short lines. Take this stanza from April Halprin Wayland’s poem, “Immigrant”:

When we finally ran, when we caught the train,
when the giant came,
when the rain rolled in.

We are thrilled to perform this piece on June 17 at Our Stories, Ourselves, our Third Thursday show hosted in partnership with the San Jose Museum of Art.

April Halprin Wayland, named UCLA Extension Writer’s Program Outstanding Instructor of the Year, is the author of an award-winning YA novel in poems, children’s poetry, and picture books, which have been praised by The New York Times, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly.

Her novel in poems for young teens, Girl Coming in for a Landing (Knopf) won the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Best Poetry Book, Penn State’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor Award for Poetry, was nominated by the American Library Association both as a Best Book for Young Adults, and as a Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers. It was selected for the California Collections by California Readers, and is a Junior Library Guild selection.

Her poetry has been published on the Poetry Foundation website and in over 50 anthologies for children, including over 50 poems in Cricket Magazine, which invited her to write a poem for their anniversary issue. She’s one of six children’s authors on the blog, TeachingAuthors.com, through which she connects to the vibrant universe of children’s poets in the Kidlitosphere, and Poetry Friday. For over ten years, she has written a poem a day. Her tagline? 1/2 author, 1/2 poet, 1/2 not good at fractions.

She was kind enough to answer a few questions before our June 17 show.

urselApril Halprin Wayland

How has your creative practice changed during the pandemic?

Geez! My practice has gone through many stages…waves. Wild riptides that nearly pulled me under, others that pulled me far, far away from who I wanted to be. Right now, my writing is a soothing bath. I write a poem every day and let it take as long as it needs.

What does “immigrant heritage” mean to you?

It means my DNA is a passport, permanently stamped in the Ural Mountains of Russia, in Galicia (a territory of the Austrian Empire that existed from 1772 to 1918), in Argentina, Canada, Ohio, New Jersey, Northern California and Southern California, and that I have an invisible number tattooed on my right shoulder. 

What else should we know about you?

I was hatched in a beautiful bird’s nest built by my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, who were deeply committed to making our world better. My sister and I, our spouses and children proudly make good trouble in their names.

Also that I have turned into the woman you remember from your childhood who had all those animals. My zoo includes 8 pond turtles (adult and babies), 3 tortoises (adult and babies), a box turtle, a goofy, galumphing dog and a hilarious kitty.

Take a class with April:

  • I’m teaching a 3-hour class on Writing Poetry for Children in UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program on July 17th noon-3pm PST. Register here.
  • I’m teaching a 10-week class on Writing Picture Books for Children in UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program beginning September 21st noon-3pm PST. (Registration opens July 26th)

check out more of her work:

join us june 17 to see us perform april’s work.