Where do you live?
I live in a 1927 red brick English Tudor cottage in Homewood, Alabama. My writing studio is in the attic. I call it my "treehouse." I have been coming up here and writing poems and children's books for 45 years.
When and where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born August 25, 1946, in Bayside, Long Island, New York. (Yes! I'm 73.) My family moved to Fort Myers, Florida when I was five. I grew up in Fort Myers and lived there for 23 years. I moved to Alabama in 1974 when I was twenty-eight years old, 45 years ago. I enjoy traveling and sharing the joy of poetry with people all over the world. During my travels, I'm often asked, "Where do you live?" When I say "Alabama," people sometimes look confused and say, "Alabama? But you're an author. You can live anywhere you want." I always smile and say, "Yes. I know. That's why I live in Alabama."
Where did you go to college, high school, and elementary school?
I attended Florida State University (postgraduate studies in English and creative writing) and Florida Atlantic University (undergraduate and masters in English). High school: Fort Myers Senior High. Elementary: Tice Elementary, Orange River Elementary, Lee Junior High, and Fort Myers Junior High.
Where did you teach?
I taught English at Cypress Lake High School, Fort Myers, FL (1967-1973), creative writing at Edison College, Fort Myers, FL (1973) (now called Florida SouthWestern State College), creative writing at Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham, AL (1974-1993), creative writing at Samford University, Homewood, AL.
How did you become a children's author?
I began writing poems when I was a kid. Some of my poems began appearing in literary magazines when I was in college. My first books of poems were published by university presses and small presses. I began writing poems for children when my son was born. Some of those poems began appearing in children's magazines such as Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, Highlights for Children, Ranger Rick, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Children's Digest and other magazines. I submitted my first book manuscript to the Walt Disney Company in 1992. I signed a four-book contract with them and left teaching the next year (1993). I've been writing full-time ever since.
How did you become Father Goose?
When I first started visiting schools, students and teachers began calling me "Father Goose." The name stuck. It was a lot easier to say than "Mr. Ghigna" -- and a lot easier to spell. The Walt Disney Company suggested I use that moniker for one of my first books with them, TICKLE DAY: POEMS FROM FATHER GOOSE. Illustrator, Cyd Moore, created the first image of Father Goose. Other illustrators have continued the tradition, often including a goose or two in my new books. Now I'm called Father Goose more often than my real name!
How many poems have you written?
I have been writing poems all my life. Besides my books for children and adults, I also wrote a syndicated poetry feature that appeared daily in newspapers for many years. I have written more than 5,000 poems. That number continues to grow each week.
How many books have you written and which one is your favorite?
I have written more than 125 books. People tell me that DEAR POET: NOTES TO A YOUNG WRITER is one of their favorite books. Others like RETURNING TO EARTH best. Both of those are for YA and adults. One of my favorite children's books is a series of 64-page beginning chapter books titled TINY TALES. They feature my favorite characters: Lucy Goose, Cuddle Bunny, Bobby Bear and Adeline Porcupine. My favorite first book is TICKLE DAY: POEMS FROM FATHER GOOSE. The poems in that book were inspired by my son when he was a toddler. Another one of my favorites is CHRISTMAS IS COMING. I wrote that book with my wife. MICE ARE NICE, ONE HUNDRED SHOES, OH MY, PUMPKIN PIE!, SNOW WONDER, BARN STORM, and SEE THE YAK YAK are also my favorites. They help young readers learn how to read. ANIMAL TRUNK: SILLY POEMS TO READ ALOUD and ANIMAL TRACKS: WILD POEMS TO READ ALOUD are also two of my favorites. ANIMAL TRUNK was illustrated by a famous Belgian artist and ANIMAL TRACKS was illustrated by an artist from London. RIDDLE RHYMES is also one of my favorite books. Children ask me to read those poems out loud to them so they can guess the answers to the riddles. GOOD CATS/BAD CATS and GOOD DOGS/BAD DOGS are also two of my favorite books. They have funny illustrations by one of my favorite artists, David Catrow. Children tell me that HALLOWEEN NIGHT: TWENTY-ONE SPOOKTACULAR POEMS is one of their favorites and teachers and coaches tell me that SCORE! 50 POEMS TO MOTIVATE AND INSPIRE is their favorite. Kindergarten teachers tell me their favorite books of mine are the ones in my three new series of books I SEE THE SEASONS, MY LITTLE PLANET and MY LITTLE SCHOOL HOUSE. Older students tell me their very favorite nonfiction book of mine is STRANGE UNUSUAL GROSS & COOL ANIMALS. Some of my newest books include THE NIGHT THE FOREST CAME TO TOWN, ALABAMA: MY HOME SWEET HOME, A CARNIVAL OF CATS and A PARADE OF PUPPIES. One of my recent favorite books is one that my son, Chip Ghigna, illustrated. It's titled ILLUSIONS: POETRY AND ART FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART. My books are like children. They're ALL my favorites!
Is there a complete listing of your books and poems available?
Yes! For information right here on my website, you can visit these links: Books for Kids, Books for Adults, Anthologies, and Magazines. Also, the de Grummond Children's Literature Archive has a comprehensive listing of my works.
Do you like to visit schools and read your poems?
Yes! I love visiting schools and libraries! It's always fun sharing the wonder, excitement and joy of poetry with children. I've traveled around the world sharing poems with children, from Florida to Alaska, from New York to California, from South America to Europe and beyond. I always arrive back home more inspired than ever ready to write more poems to share.
What are your hobbies?
My favorite hobby is writing! Writing is my vocation -- and my avocation! I also love reading, hiking, exploring, playing rummy, solving crossword puzzles, and collecting old picture books, especially Mother Goose books. I also have a growing gaggle of geese collectibles (figurines, statues and miniatures) here in my tree house that children, teachers, librarians, friends and family send me. I have geese all over place! -- on my desk, shelves, filing cabinets, and on the top of my Victrola. At night when I turn out the lights and go downstairs they sneak around the room and visit each other. Sometimes I find them in different places other than where I left them. Sometimes I find more than I had the day before! Most of the time they are well-behaved.
Where do you get your ideas and what inspires you?
I'm inspired by little things, quiet moments. I listen and observe. I celebrate life. I practice gratitude. I take long walks. My inspiration and ideas come from Nature, children, pets, animals, family, friends, and from the real and imagined visions I see along my daily two-mile hike. Much of my inspiration comes from my beloved grandchildren, Charlotte Rose and Christopher. Their names are proudly displayed on the dedication page of many of my latest books. My son's art also inspires me. You can see samples of his paintings at ChipGhigna.com
What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Buy a notebook and write in it every day. Write about something that happened that day or about your special thoughts. Write just a few sentences about anything you want to write about. Write as though you're talking to your best friend. Do that for two weeks and then stop -- if you can. If you can't, you're a writer! And no one no matter how hard they may try will ever be able to stop you from following your writing dreams. Enjoy those dreams. Follow them. Make new ones. Share them. Write of your passions, your loves, your fears, your joys. Find your writer's voice by listening deep inside. It's that little voice that says in a low, soft whisper, "Listen to this..."
For more information on writing poetry, you can click on this link, "How To Write A Poem."
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
I'm probably the only person on the planet over twelve who doesn't carry a cell phone. I know. You must think I'm a dinosaur. I am. I still use a landline and a desktop computer. That's all I need. I'm here at my desk in the treehouse writing everyday, often late into the night. When I'm away from my desk traveling to schools and conferences, I'm completely unplugged. Completely disconnected. And free. And it's wonderful. It's heaven. When I'm out on my hikes, I pass people looking down at their phones. They rarely nod or say hello. I feel sad for them. They miss so much. They miss the hawks circling above. They miss the endless parade of glorious clouds. The whisper of the trees. The horizon. The sunrise. The sunset. I'm old school. Old goose. And I like that way.
For information, you can email Father Goose at PaGoose@aol.com