24 Aug

In which I give away Don Tate’s Poet — and a little behind-the-scenes info

One week from tomorrow, you can buy this beauty — the first book that my friend Don Tate has both written and illustrated:


In the meantime, you can get in the running for a copy of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree) that I’ll be giving away. More on that in a minute.

But first, Don and I thought you might like to know where he got the idea to write this true story about the enslaved North Carolinian who became the first African American to be published in the South.

At one meeting of the critique group that Don and I were in nearly a decade ago (the same crit group, by the way, where Don became one of the very first people to read The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch), I mentioned a story I’d heard on the radio.

I must have thought it sounded like a promising idea for a nonfiction book — one that might be right up Don’s alley — and I let him know that it was his for the taking.

“Well, give, give,” Don said. “I’m taking.”

So, a few days later, I sent him this email:

From: Chris Barton
To: Don Tate
Sent: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 12:14:20 (CDT)
Subject: “Well, give, give. I’m taking.”

OK, then — here’s that story I told you about last

All Things Considered, March 30, 2006 · The University
of North Carolina is naming a building after a slave
who worked nearby and used to come to campus to recite
poetry. Decades before the Civil War, George Moses
Horton was known on campus as a talented speaker and
poet, and students often paid him to create poems for


Barely an hour later, I got this reply:

From: Don Tate
To: Chris Barton
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 1:26 PM
Subject: Re: “Well, give, give. I’m taking.”

Ah very cool! Thanks. Just the lead I needed.


Apparently, it was just the lead he needed. But that was only the beginning, because Don then proceeded to pour into this book all the love and effort and patience that it warranted. It shows on the cover, and it shows throughout. Congratulations, Don!

And congratulations in advance to one of you Bartography readers on this fine book you’re soon soon going to win. If you want to have a shot at it, all you have to do is say so in the comments.

On publication day next Tuesday, I’ll pick a winner at random. Good luck!

11 thoughts on “In which I give away Don Tate’s Poet — and a little behind-the-scenes info

  1. Such an important story that needed to be told! And I adore the cover! Congrats, Don Tate!

  2. I would love to have this book to add to our school collection and to share with my students! Will be perfect to use during poetry month :)

  3. I gave a copy to my nieces and nephew, now I want one for their school library!
    They have a copy of John Roy Lynch to donate as well

  4. I would love to have a copy of this book for my classroom. I have recommended it for our whole school book. We have a day in Sept when the principal reads beginning couple pages of a book, thinks aloud and then teachers continue to read the book in our classrooms. Each class depending on grade levels uses the books for class discussions and as a mentor text. Such inspiration on so many levels from this book writing, poetry, nonfiction biography, social issues. Can’t wait!

  5. I would love a copy for the school library! I getso excited about sharing new books with the kids!

  6. We’ve got a winner! Congratulations, Sharron McElmeel, and thank you all for your interest in Don’s book. Make sure your nearest library knows that it should have a copy!

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