Due out by December is Dudley's 80-page personal anthology, Book of Poems and Short Stories for Young Children. A national poetry anthology, ``Treasured Poems of America and Poetic Voices of America,'' to be released about the same time, will feature two of Dudley's poems: ``American Children Cry Out,'' and ``How Does Your Garden Grow.''
The majority of Dudley's works, on subjects ranging from pets and nature to drugs and discrimination, have been written during the last five years.
She devotes about two hours every day to putting ideas to looseleaf paper, writing and rewriting, searching for the perfect words while at her dining room table, in the kitchen, the bedroom, wherever an idea strikes her.
The inspiration for her work, Dudley said, stems from life, in all its variety: inner-city youth hanging out on street corners, important African American figures, the beauty of nature, memories of the past and aspirations for the future.
She anticipates that her book's readership will be of elementary school age. ``I hope they receive a message - some message - that will help them out in life.''
But her poems are not only for the young, said the Rev. Joseph Yundt, pastor of Parkway Baptist Church, where Dudley is an active member and teaches Sunday school. ``She writes for church events and focuses on subjects that all ages can relate to,'' he said. ``I call her the poet laureate of the Parkway Baptist Church.''
Dudley grew up in the segregated South, in the small town of Enfield, N.C. Times were difficult then, she said; there was racism to confront. But, times were simpler. To a degree, people were happier. ``When drugs came into the picture it destroyed a lot of kids and a lot of families,'' she said.
After attending college at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, where Dudley met her husband, Benjamin, she went on to get a master's degree in language arts and certification as a reading specialist at Temple University in Philadelphia.
``My goal is to give kids a good self-image,'' Dudley said. ``No matter what you do, no matter your job, you should carry yourself high and project a good self-image.'' In one of her personal favorites, a 1990 poem, ``How Does Your Garden Grow?'' she asks:
Are your plants placed in a row?
Does your garden grow with patience and understanding and love in the seeds that you sow?
Your garden is an image of you,
The things that you say and do.
Your garden is always on display,
it should paint a picture of happiness everyday.