MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

March 26, 2013

Book shows ex-teacher’s style

Cramer’s collection a writer’s how-to book

— Self-publishing is helping readers discover authors outside the realm of traditional publishing houses. This phenomenon has ushered in a new generation of American writers who are circumventing the usual 12-part rejection letter blues.

Janis Cramer, former consultant with the Oklahoma Writing Project, bypassed the rejection letter route with her book of short stories entitled “My Finest” in favor of self-publishing with www.createspace.com. Cramer, who graduated from Central High School and taught English and creative writing at Muskogee High School and in Mustang, left a legacy of writers in her wake. When she retired completely in 2011, she took to heart the instruction she had given so many of her students, namely, revise, reflect, and publish your work. What she produced was a book that models her teaching philosophy.

“For years, my students complained that I should be compiling my own writing portfolio, too,” Cramer said. “But I was always too busy grading their papers.”

Cramer’s new book could be used as a guide for anyone who teaches writing or desires to hone their craft. Stories in the collection chronicle her life experiences from growing up in Muskogee to climbing mountains in Rwanda where she observed gorillas in their natural habitat. For her audience, Cramer hopes to find long-lost family members; old classmates; teacher friends; and other Oklahoma Writing Project teacher consultants, or anyone who enjoys a good story.

“I’m hoping there will be a good chuckle in each story,” she said.

In “Bob Dylan and Me,” Cramer relates the experience of meeting her poetic hero, Bob Dylan. She finagled her way backstage at one of his concerts in 1989 and while he was signing her copy of his book, Dylan quizzed her about how to teach someone to write poetry. Her advice to the iconic poet was to make sure future poets read great poetry, discuss what is good in the poems, and then write daily to find their own voice. His inscription in her book, “To Janis and all the kid poets.”

Cramer will speak about her book, the writing process and self-publishing at 11:00 a.m. today for Friends of the Library at Muskogee Public Library. Following the author talk and book signing, there will be a public reception for Cramer at the Muskogee High School media center from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Now here are some recipes for all the kid poets among us.

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