jill corcoran: dreaming of big things . . . and cupcakes!

#19 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012.

Jill Corcoran wears many hats in the world of children’s books — she’s an award-winning author, poet, literary agent and editor who’s creating a new series of poetry anthologies for Kane Miller Books.

You may already know that the first anthology, Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, will be released this Fall, and I’m especially happy because it includes the work of many previous Poetry Potluck noshers, like Jane Yolen, Joyce Sidman, J. Patrick Lewis, Marilyn Singer, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Elaine Magliaro, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Laura Purdie Salas, Kelly R. Fineman, and of course, Janet Wong, who was just here yesterday.  How can you go wrong with a line-up like that?

Since I first “met” Jill online years ago through Poetry Friday, when she shared a touching poem inspired by her sister, it’s nice that for her first visit to Alphabet Soup she’s sharing a poem that just happens to be the title poem from the new anthology, which is fully illustrated by J Beth Jepson. She’s also brought a special recipe that she enjoys making with her daughter. (Those who know me, know that I get a tad ecstatic at the mention of cupcakes.)  If you need me, I’ll be drooling over by the dessert table.

by Jill Corcoran

Dreams whisper
Grow, cell by cell
Thought by thought
Larger and larger
Louder and louder
Pounding, kicking, wrestling,
To be free
To be.

Copyright © 2012 Jill Corcoran. All rights reserved.


My inspiration for DARE TO DREAM…CHANGE THE WORLD came during a car ride, listening to NPR cover the uprising of the Egyptian people against their oppressive government. I have been to Egypt twice and remember the extreme riches, and poverty, as well as needing to be escorted by gunmen with assault rifles to keep safe. I was overcome by the courage of the Egyptian people and amazed by the role of social networking to bring their dreams and actions instantly to the rest of the world.

To me, the tweets were like poetry, capturing the essence of the people’s hopes, fears, strength and determination. The title of this collection sprung into being during that car ride as well as the dream of a collection of poems by the best children’s poets living today to share the spirit of dreaming + action = change and that each one of us can make the world just a little better.

Spread for Bruce Coville’s “Ripple” from Dare to Dream…Change the World © 2012 J Beth Jepson

Dare to Dream … Change the World pairs biographical and inspirational poems focusing on people who invented something, stood for something, said something, who defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.

The poets included were chosen not only for their talent, but because they too have informed, inspired and engaged young people throughout their careers with both their actions and their words.

Poets include: Ellen Hopkins, Jane Yolen, Joyce Sidman, J. Patrick Lewis, Marilyn Singer, Georgia Heard, Alice Schertle, Lisa Wheeler, Julia Durango, Lee Bennett Hopkins, David L. Harrison, Elaine Magliaro, Tracie Van Zimmer, Hope Anita Smith, Carol Tanzman, Joan Bransfield Graham, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Laura Purdie Salas. Curtis Crisler, Alan Katz, Rose Horowitz, Hope Vestergaard, Jacqui Robbins, Janet Wong, Stephanie Hemphill, Kelly Fineman, Denise Lewis Patrick, Joyce Lee Wong, Jill Corcoran & Bruce Coville.



My beautiful Carrot Cake Cupcake is a joint creation between my daughter and me. When my daughter accompanied me to Robin Mellom’s DITCHED launch at Diesel Books in LA, she bee-lined to HELLO, CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, and we have been baking cupcakes together ever since. The yummy cupcake pictured was a huge hit!


(makes 18)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1- 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 4)
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

3. In another medium bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, oil and milk until light and thick.

4. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, beating just until blending. Stir in vanilla, carrots, raisins, and walnuts until well blended.

5. Spoon half of the batter into a ziplock bag. Snip a 1/2 inch corner from the bag and fill the liners two-thirds full. Repeat with the remaining batter. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pan, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz pkg softened cream cheese
8oz softened unsalted butter
16oz confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

crushed walnuts for on top of frosting

1. Combine cream cheese and butter. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 min).

2. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and 2 tablespoons milk and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and remaining milk if mixture is too thick.

3. Roll cupcakes in crushed walnuts.



Jill is the editor of DARE TO DREAM…CHANGE THE WORLD (Kane Miller, 2012), and her poem PIRATES appears in Lee Bennett Hopkins’ I AM THE BOOK (Holiday House 2011).

Jill Corcoran is also an Agent with Herman Agency representing PB, CB, MG & YA. Her current interests include: high concept Young Adult and Middle Grade Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedies, and Adventure manuscripts. With an English degree from Stanford University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago, Jill has marketed everything from sneakers to cereal at Leo Burnett Advertising, LA Gear, Mattel, and at her own consulting company, LAUNCH! New Product Marketing.

Clients include Ralph Fletcher, Robin Mellom, Janet Gurtler, Martha Brockenbrough, Kelly Milner Halls, & Jen Arena.  Jill blogs at www.jillcorcoran.blogspot.com.


Previously: Menu/Giveaway/Door PrizesApril Pulley SayreMary QuattlebaumHelen FrostLinda AshmanGail Gerwin, Martha Calderaro, Kathi Appelt, Robyn Hood Black, Charles Waters, Adele Kenny, Linda Baie, Lesa Medley, Leslie Muir, Margarita Engle, Sondra Gash, Doraine Bennett, Janet Wong.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

28 thoughts on “jill corcoran: dreaming of big things . . . and cupcakes!

  1. This is a book I’ve looked forward to! I love the illustrations already, and I’m so excited that two of my Poetry Princess Peeps are in it – really, really excited about that!! Jill’s poem is beautiful. The addition of cupcakes makes this whole thing amazing!


  2. What a beautiful and inspiring post. It’s always very striking how sociocultural events (no matter how tragic and heart-tugging) find a distinct voice thru verse, and its power to inspire us to take ‘action’ and to be the change we need to make the world a bit brighter and somewhat sunnier. 🙂 Haven’t tried doing cupcakes yet, perhaps this is also something that my daughter and I can do – it sounded like a good bonding activity, the way Jill shared it. Thanks Jama and Jill! 🙂


    1. It’s a wonderful idea for an anthology and the pairing of biographical + inspirational poems is brilliant. I’m sure your daughter would enjoy making cupcakes with you :). Karen Tack has a couple of those cupcake books out full of fun ways to decorate.


  3. I love the beautiful cover of Dare to Dream. And Jill, your poem is just lovely! Looking forward to reading the whole collection!
    (and who doesn’t love cupcakes? YUM! 🙂


    1. Hi Kelly! It is a beautiful cover and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of Ms. Jepson’s illustrations, as well as reading all the poems, of course :).


  4. Each class at my school takes a class theme, & this year one of the classes took “saving the world, one step at a time” as their theme. This book will mean a lot to them, & even though it won’t be out in time this year, it’s a mixed grade class so some will enjoy it when it does come out. Meanwhile, thank you Jill for the beautiful poem that I can share while we wait for this exceptional book. And cupcakes are never refused, so thank you for the carrot cake recipe too. Jama, you’ve brought us another wonderful guest. I am grateful!


    1. Wow, this book sounds like a perfect fit for the “saving the world, one step at a time” theme! Glad it’ll be useful in the Fall for some of the students.


  5. I am thrilled that I’m one of the writers whose poems will be included in the “Dare to Dream” anthology. I can’t wait till the book is published.

    Great poem, Jill! The recipe looks great too. My daughter loves carrot cake. I’ll have to bake a batch of these cupcakes for her some day soon.


  6. …Grow, cell by cell
    Thought by thought

    That is lovely! Now to check the cupboard for cupcake ingredients…I fear I will have to attempt grating tiny baby carrots as there are no full-size ones in the fridge!


      1. I chose a KitchenAid mixer over the Cuisinart food processor…someday I’ll have both 😀


  7. Jill Corcoran must be a master multi-tasker – and/or very organized! I’ve always been amazed at how many things she does. And yet, she’s not too rushed to hear that still, small voice – I can’t wait to read this collection, and the art looks enchanting. LOVE Jill’s evocative poem featured here and the story behind the idea for this book.

    …and triple-yum on the cupcakes! Counts as a veggie serving, right?


    1. Love how your mind works, Robyn. Of course these cupcakes count as a veggie serving! Don’t forget to wear your bunny suit while you’re eating them.


  8. LOVE Jill’s poem, which I hadn’t seen yet. I’m so thrilled to be part of this collection, and I can’t wait for this anthology to be out in the world so I can read more of the poems in it!


  9. Fantastic poem (and picture)! I love that this whole anthology was inspired by social change and social media. The pair of poems Kelly Fineman and I contributed are heavily social-media-connected–they’re about YouTube! I can’t wait to read this entire book.

    And I’m not big on carrot cupcakes, but if anyone wants just the cake, I will be all over that frosting:>)


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