Brian P. Cleary

Photo by Mike Ormiston

Brian P. Cleary is an American humorist, poet, and author. He is best known for his books written for grade-school children that explore grammar, math and poetry in humorous ways. In his role in the digital division of American Greetings, he’s put words in the mouths of Dolly Parton, Christina Aguilera, William Shatner, Meghan Trainor and more. The multi-million selling author has performed poetry workshops in 500 elementary schools across the county. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

The title was Your Own Joke Book. I still have a copy. It was filled with funny riddles, jokes, poems and stories.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

It’s actually a little poem:
“Twas in a restaurant they met—
Romeo and Juliet.
He had no cash to pay the debt,
So Rome-owed what Julie-et.”

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

Several answers come to mind:
I get to write (sign my name) in the library books when I visit schools.
I have something that will live on after I’m not around anymore.
As an author you get to influence people from all over, nearly all of whom have never met you.
It really is fun and interesting work.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Read. Expose your self to lots of cool ideas. Don’t fall in love with the first thing you put on a page. A good paper, poem, or book isn’t written, it’s rewritten.