Joyce and I have known one another for many years. She led quite a life.
Born in Oklahoma on May 25, 1938, the state was the setting for many of her books. At the age of 10, her family moved to California where she learned the language of Spanish-speaking migrant wrokers who toiled with her during summers, picking tomatoes, cutting onions, gathering grapes.

Her first book of poetry, BROWN HONEY IN BROOMWHEAT TEA appeared in 1993 (HarperCollins), illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

“I did not know Floyd Cooper until the first copy of the book was presented to me while I sat at a podium with other writers and illustrators during a Florida book convention,” she said. “I looked at Floyd’s photo on the jacket cover, then I turned…He was sitting right next to me! At the same time, he turned and was looking at me. This was our first meeting.”

Reading jacket copy she learned Floyd was also born in Oklahoma.

In 2001, she penned a poem for me for a column I was doing for “Creative Classroom” magazine. The work, “Remembering Marian Anderson” was one I included in my collection, DAYS TO CELEBRATE (Greenwillow) illustrated by Stephen Alcorn.

I asked Joyce to define poetry. She told me “Poetry is cries and laughter from the heart.”

Laughter. We did that together. Cries. I do that alone.