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Friday, June 1, 2012

Eating poetry...

Yum, poetry! :)

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

~ from Eating Poetry by Mark Strand

As I mentioned in a post last month, a writer won't get published if he or she is not writing and submitting said writing to publishers.  I've been doing a pretty good job of working toward my goals since typing up  that post.  I've already sent submissions to a couple of magazines, I've written several new poems, and I've been revamping some of my older work.  I also decided to issue a challenge to myself:  Write at least one poem every day in June.  Depending on how it goes, I may share some of those poems with you later in the month.  (If anyone wants to join me in this challenge, please let me know.  We could give each other encouragement and advice, and, if you're willing, I'd love to share my readers' poetry here on the blog!)

Not only do I love writing poetry, I also love reading it.  I've been reading a lot of poetry over the past few weeks.  Or, to borrow from the line in Strand's poem above, I've been eating poetry.  Devouring it, really, as only a poetry-loving BookWyrm can.  I've found some delightful new-to-me poetry books lately, and wanted to share them with you here:

Animal Poems
written by Valerie Worth
and illustrated by Steve Jenkins,  2007

This posthumous collection consists of twenty-three free verse poems about various creatures, from bears to whales to star-nosed moles.  Worth's animal poetry is accompanied by cut-paper illustrations by Jenkins.  I think I spent just as much time looking at these incredible pictures as I did savoring the words of the poems.


Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys,
written by Bob Raczka 
and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, 2010

You don't have to be a guy to appreciate this book -- I'm not one and I certainly do -- but it is a great way to introduce poetry to those boys who might otherwise be reluctant to read it.  These haiku (and the pictures paired with them) depict quick, fun, and often humorous glimpses into the life of a child, enjoying the great outdoors.


A Kick in the Head: 
An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms,
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
and illustrated by Chris Raschka, 2005

In April I wrote a post that mentioned two other Janeczko/Raschka collaborations, A Poke in the I and A Foot in the Mouth.  I'd been wanting to read this one for quite awhile, and placed a hold on it at the library (because it was always checked out whenever I looked for it there), and I finally got my chance to bring it home at the end of May.  This book explains and provides examples of twenty-nine different poetic forms, including clerihews, villanelles, and concrete poems.  Not only is it a helpful resource for writers (or anyone interested in the various forms of poetry), it is also, simply, a joy to look through and read.  This one is on my "to buy" list.


The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury,
selected by Jack Prelutsky
and illustrated by Meilo So, 1999

This anthology contains over 200 poems for children (and adults!) on a wide variety of subjects -- the seasons, nature, make believe, sports, family, and much more.  It features 137 poets of the 20th century, including e.e. cummings, Langston Hughes, J. Patrick Lewis, Aileen Fisher, and Myra Cohn Livingston.  It also showcases beautiful, vivid watercolor illustrations by So on every page. I came across this volume at the library, and after sitting down and reading through it, cover to cover, I knew I needed my own copy.  I bought one online just a few days later -- you should've seen the huge grin on my face when my package arrived.  This book makes me very happy!


Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young,
selected by Jack Prelutsky
and illustrated by Marc Brown, 1986

Another anthology compiled by Prelutsky, this one is also filled with over 200 poems.  These are all shorter poems, perfect for the youngest of listeners.  Prelutsky has included poets such as A. A. Milne, Bobbi Katz, Marchette Chute, and Dr. Seuss while Brown provides engaging pictures to go along with the words.  I first spotted this book in my son Ben's Kindergarten class, where I volunteered once a week during the school year.  When I purchased the Treasury shown above, I noticed that this book was also on sale at a reasonable price.  I ended up buying it as well. (Note: You don't have to be "very young" to enjoy these poems.  Though I certainly will share this book with my kids -- and even they aren't what I would call "very young" now -- I bought it for myself!  And I definitely don't fit in the "very young" category any more.)


Favorite Poems Old and New,
selected for boys and girls by Helen Ferris
and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, 1957
This book is filled to the brim with over 700 classic and more modern poems, covering a wide range of topics and featuring poets like William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, J. R. R. Tolkein, Lewis Carroll, and Robert Frost.  I bought this book when it was highly recommended by a friend, and I'm very glad that I did!

The Place My Words Are Looking For:
What Poets Say About and Through Their Work,
selected by Paul B. Janeczko, 1990
Thirty-nine poets (including X.J. Kennedy, Eve Merriam, Russell Hoban, and Karla Kuskin) share their poems and thoughts about their craft in this intriguing collection.  I liked this book so much, I read it front to back three different times before I had to return it to the library.  I also jotted down several quotes from the various poets inside -- look for them on the blog over the next few months!

How about you?  Do you devour poetry, too?  If so, I'd love to hear about your favorite poets, poems, and books of poetry....

(Psst... if you haven't read about the Big Blue Birthday Contest yet, please check out this post.)


  1. Janelle, I'm going to have to write down so book names for when we teach poetry in class- A Kick in the Head looks awesome! :)

  2. It really is an awesome book, Melissa! The other two, "A Poke in the I" and "A Foot in the Mouth" would also be great to use in a classroom.

  3. I'll have to check out guyku. My boys are not big fans of poetry, but this might be what they need to enjoy it.

  4. You'll have to let me know if they like the book, Vincenza. My Nick isn't a fan of poetry, either, but I heard him chuckling when he was flipping through Guyku the other day. :)