Charles Ghigna

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Charles Ghigna
Born Charles Ghigna
(1946-08-25) August 25, 1946 (age 69)
Bayside, New York, USA
Pen name Father Goose
Occupation Poet, children's author
Language English
Nationality American
Genre Poetry, children's literature
Spouse Debra Ghigna

Charles Ghigna (born August 25, 1946) is an American poet and author of more than 100 books from Random House, Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. He sometimes uses his trademark nickname Father Goose®.

The themes of his books and poetry reflect a celebration of childhood, as well as a reverence for nature and animals. His other subjects and themes include humor, holidays, riddles, seasons, school, sports, and the power of a positive attitude.[1]

Early life[edit]

Ghigna was born August 25, 1946 in Bayside, Queens. His parents Charles and Patricia relocated to Fort Myers, Florida when he was five. He attended Fort Myers Senior High School, where his talent for writing first got attention. While in the third grade, an essay about a talking freckle on a boy’s face got Ghigna a great deal of attention. Although he enjoyed writing, after some of this classmates began teasing him about writing he stopped and took up baseball. He developed a love for the game which he continued to play through high school, and even tried out with the Pittsburgh Pirates.[2]

While in his teens, Ghigna began to write again secretly in journals, a practice he continued. His love of writing developed early and became more apparent as he grew older. Upon entering college, writing, especially writing poetry, became a major focus for him. In college his passion for poetry continued to grow. It was through encounters in high school with an English teacher and the work of poet Archibald MacLeish, that this love for poetry was ignited. Until then he saw poetry as something one had to memorize, recite in front of the entire class and then have your teacher explain its meaning. Simply it was for sissies and grandmothers. Ghigna's perspective of poetry changed after his English teacher explained the maxim "Show, don't tell." Ghigna also learned something about poetry from Archibald MacLeish who said, "A poem should not mean, but be."[3]

Ghigna earned his Bachelor's degree from Florida Atlantic University in 1967 and his Masters in 1970.


He taught English and creative writing at Cypress Lake High School in Ft. Myers from 1967-1973.

In 1973, he left teaching high school and began teaching creative writing at Edison College before leaving to attend post-graduate courses in English and creative writing at Florida State University. While at FSU he served as poetry editor for English Journal published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

In 1974, Ghigna moved to Birmingham, Alabama where he was a poet-in-residence at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. He worked there until 1993. During his years in Alabama, he worked with Alabama Educational Television where he created, directed, and performed in the children’s television series, Cabbages and Kings (1976), was an instructor of creative writing at Samford University (1979), became a correspondent for Writer's Digest magazine (1989) and authorized a national syndicated feature Snickers for Tribune Media Services (1993–1998).[4]

By 1993, Ghigna's work had not only been published but also won him numerous awards and honors. He also acquired the nickname "Father Goose", an allusion to Mother Goose, given to him by teachers and librarians when he began to share his poetry at schools and libraries. The name was adopted as children found Father Goose was easier to say and remember than Ghigna.[5] He left teaching and began writing full-time after signing a four-book contract with Hyperion Books in 1992, in order to "reach more children by writing books of poetry to share with them during my visits."[6]

Writing poetry, especially for children, became his major focus, but he also writes for adults when the ideas presented themselves. Ghigna said “I hope my poems offer children an opportunity to explore and celebrate the joys of childhood and nature… humorous poems tickle the funny bone of their imagination.” (Charles Ghigna, 2005).


Ghigna's influences on his early writing attempts included his parents, especially his creative mother, poets Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Ogden Nash, John Updike, and James Dickey.[7]

Ideas for Ghigna's poems come while going through routine daily activities: talking to children or his son, mowing the lawn, driving down the road, his childhood. He writes every day.


The humor found in many of his literary works comes from viewing everyday objects, people, or situations through the eyes of a child. Simple everyday objects can become the focus of poems that develop into a book of poems as in Animal Tracks: Wild Poems to Read Aloud (2004). In this book, poems use puns to demonstrate connections between animals and people.

When writing A Fury of Motion: Poems for Boys (2003) Ghigna had a specific goal in mind. A friend reminded him of a statement once made by poet John Ciardi that he "wished he has written a book of poems for boys who hated poetry". This, along with his recollection of his own personal feelings as a young boy as well as having a son of his own, were the reasons for setting the goal for his particular book (Ghigna, 2003).

Ghigna's poetry ranges from his free-form adult works to his use of rhymes in children’s works.

Award-winning Tickle Day: Poems from Father Goose (1994), which was chosen Pick of the List by the American Booksellers Association, is a collection of 30 poems previously submitted to magazines.

Another Pick of the List, Riddle Rhymes (1995) takes riddles and gives them an added twist by putting them in verse form. This is just another example of Ghigna's ability to create a different yet unique presentation of an everyday form. The School Library Journal review found this book to be a "lighthearted guessing game" that children enjoyed while trying to answer the riddles (Charles Ghigna, 2005).

Score! 50 Poems to Motivate and Inspire (2008), teaches children develop character through short poems. Snow Wonder (2008), is an easy reader that gives two children's account of the day after waking to find snow on a wintry day.

Ghigna’s approach to writing is one of total abandonment since this tends to bring him the best ideas. This process allows his ideas to take him where they want to go and from these he takes the ones that "generate enough heat and excitement". Ghigna finds the element of "voice" by imagining himself "whispering a big secret to someone special", beginning with the magical words "Now listen to this ..." (Ghigna, Importance of Voice, p. 3).

Personal life[edit]

He lives in Homewood, Alabama with his author-wife, Debra Ghigna.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • Fellowship Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Mary Roberts Reinehart Foundation; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; and the Library of Congress (Laubenthal, 2007).
  • Writer’s Digest, National Poetry Writing Competition for "Divers" (first place)
  • International Sakira Haiku Writing Competition for "October" (first place)
  • Pulitzer Prize nomination for Returning to Earth
  • Helen Keller Literary Award
  • American Booksellers Association Pick of the List for Tickle Day: Poems from Father Goose and for Riddle Rhymes
  • Book-of-the-Month - Parents Club featured in Scholastic book
  • Choice Book Awards
  • SEBA Book Award
  • Alabama Library Association Book Award - Juvenile

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Charles Ghigna (Father Goose)" An explication and bio-bibliographical guide. The Contemporary Authors Series. (New Revision Series) Volume 137. Thomson-Gale, 2005.168-172.
  2. ^ Laubenthal, Penne. (2007) Interview with Charles Ghigna. Retrieved 2009-03-18.[full citation needed]
  3. ^ * Ghigna, Charles (2003). I Hate Poetry. Indie Bound. Retrieved 2009-03-18. [1].
  4. ^ Charles Ghigna, 2005.
  5. ^ Jesus & London, 2008
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "Charles Ghigna" 1946-. Something About the Author. Vol 153. Detroit: Thomson-Gale, 2005. pp. 89-92.
  • Teague, Christopher (2008). "The World's Shortest Poem (Kid's Lit): First it was fleas, but now it's personal". Inkwell Newswatch. Retrieved 2009-03-18 [3]
  • DeVillers, Julie. "Charles Ghigna: Interview by Julie DeVillers". [4]
  • Charles Ghigna: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) [5]
  • "Charles Ghigna" (2008). "This Goodly Land. Author Information of Charles Ghigna". Retrieved 2009-03-18 [6]
  • Ghigna, Charles (2008). "The Importance of Voice (Kid's Lit): Now listen to this ... tell your tells truthfully". Inkwell Newswatch Retrieved 2009-03-18 [7]
  • Jesus, D. & London, M. (January 2008). "Goose Cooking: And his gaggle grows gargantuan". Inkwell Newswatch. Retrieved 2009-03-18 [8]

External links[edit]