BETHEL, CONNECTICUT RESIDENT John O’Marra had a plan – to make his son Bonham laugh. So he started to write poems for Bonham, inspired by Bonham.
An expansive family project started to take shape after O’Marra completed the first couple of poems. “I just started writing goofy poems to my son and wife, and it stared to feel like a book,” O’Marra explained in an interview. On June 4, he launched a Kickstarter project to fund the publishing of Chocolate Chips & Rocket Ships, his book of 99 1/2 poems illustrated by 100 fine artists from around the world.
O’Marra has a background in creative careers, from helping Grolier with encyclopedia entries to putting together music festivals to selling toys for Melissa and Doug. At first, he presented Chocolate Chips to publishers and got back “some really encouraging rejections”, meaning they loved the work but didn’t have the market for children’s poetry.
In addition to the encouraging rejections, John also learned he would have no creative control over the pictures in his book with a publisher. “Some of my poems weren’t even a favorite until an illustrator brought them to life,” he said. Unwilling to compromise his vision, O’Marra turned to Kickstarter, the mecca of funding for myriad projects in the creative world. He is releasing an illustrated poem a day online for 100 days and is offering lots of rewards for project backers, including getting one’s name worked into a poem, access to secret poems, and limited edition prints of Chocolate Chips illustrations.
Ya’ picked the wrong lobster to mess with,
I’ll tear ya’ limb from limb!
I’ll mangle your mouth,
Pinch your neck
And bite ya’ in the chin!
I’m gonna wipe out the whole lotta’ ya’,
I’ll crush ya’ like a clam –
C’mere a minute,
And cut off these rubber bands!
-”The Pugnacious Crustacean” from Chocolate Chips & Rocket Ships
Using social media and an excess of emails, O’Marra reached out to artists all over the world to illustrate his poems, starting in his backyard of Connecticut. Many were eager to jump on board the playful and inspiring project. All O’Marra and his family need now is to reach their goal of $40,000 dollars by July 4. The best part is that no matter how big or small (starting at one dollar), funders will get something fun in exchange for their donation. For just $25, funders will get a hard copy of the book, full of magical illustrations and lyrical poems.
O’Marra’s Kickstarter video explains the project and also offers an intimate look at who the O’Marra clan is: John, his son Bonham (the star of the show), Ashley, John’s wife, and Redding, his daughter. Together, they are a complete picture of a wonderful world of poetry, books, art, and family.
A new reel should be making an appearance soon, starring Kerry Kenney Silver, of “Reno 911″, comedian Michael Ian Black, and Larry Kenney, the voice of Lion-O from ThunderCats and Count Chocula, the cereal vampire. With a bunch of celebrity backers and a tweet of support from Neil Gaiman, failure just doesn’t seem logical.