About Janice

A librarian who harbored a secret desire to write, in the mid-1990s Janice N. Harrington returned to an old dream of writing poetry. Every day before work, in the early hours of the morning (taking advantage of her chronic insomnia and the luxurious quiet), Janice wrote poem after poem, especially about her family and memories of the South. This attention to writing and reading poetry led to countless drafts and eventually to her first book of poems, Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone, winner of the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for Poetry.

Janice didn’t look back. She continued to write poetry and (after another sleepless night) she turned a poem recalling a childhood memory into her first children’s picture book, Going North, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award. That night’s bout of insomnia has since grown into a career as a children’s writer with many picture books, including two picture book biographies plus a popular verse novel.

She is currently working on a new collection of poetry about how African Americans have shaped a sense of place and belonging in the Midwest.

Janice lives in Champaign, Illinois where she regularly visits local prairies, Black history sites, and any place that celebrates books.

Articles, Interviews, and More


Video interview with Tim Green of Rattle

The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat” about Primitive

Interview with Smile Politely

Interview with Ploughshares about The Hands of Strangers

Interview with Kirkus about Busy-Busy Little Chick

Interview with West Branch about The Hands of Strangers

Interview with Poetry Society of America

Interview with the Brown Bookshelf


Poetry inspired by painting: “Domino Players, 1943”

At the Poetry Society of America on “Newly Discovered Portrait of America’s First Black President by Horace H. Pippin (1888-1946)”

In the New York Times, on children’s reading

On Robert Hayden


Listen to Janice Harrington read her poems

Janice Harrington