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Friday, November 13, 2015

Rhythm and Rhyme: Books for People Who Love Poetry

Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

I love poetry. For as long as I can remember, I've loved to read it and I've loved to write it. It's been awhile since I've written any (I need to change that!) but I have been lucky enough to read A LOT of poetry over the last several months. Below are the books of poetry that I enjoyed the most. There is something for everyone in this collection -- funny poetry, sad poetry, classic poetry, brand new poetry, a book about a poet, a book with ideas for writing poetry, and much more!

Picture book:

Enormous Smallness:
A Story of E. E. Cummings,
written by Matthew Burgess
and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, 2015

A biography of E. E. Cummings, this book tells the tale of a boy who loved words: "What words say and how they sound and look. He loved the way they hum, buzz, pop, and swish." Edward Estlin Cummings began composing poetry at the age of 3; his mother wrote the poems down for him and collected them in a little book. And then this little boy with the big imagination grew up to become one of America's best loved poets. The book includes a timeline of events in Cummings's life as well as several of his poems.

I have long been a fan of E. E. Cummings, but I didn't know much about his life before reading this book. I found the story fascinating! Burgess's playful text and Di Giacomo's sweet illustrations combine to give young readers this charming glimpse into the life of a poet. I liked this book so much that it is now on my "to buy" list!


Middle grade poetry:

Sing a Song of Popcorn:
Every Child's Book of Poems,
selected by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers,
Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, and Jan Moore,
and illustrated by Marcia Brown, Leo and Diane Dillon,
Richard Egielski, Trina Schart Hyman, Arnold Lobel,
Maurice Sendak, Marc Simont, and Margo Zemach, 1988

This collection for children contains over 100 poems from writers such as David McCord, A. A. Milne, and Christina G. Rossetti. The poems are organized by theme (for example, "Mostly Weather", "Mostly Nonsense", or "In a Few Words"), and each section is illustrated by a different Caldecott Medal Artist.


The Death of the Hat:
A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects,
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
and illustrated by Chris Raschka, 2015

The publisher says this about The Death of the Hat: "A celebrated duo reunites for a look at poems through history inspired by objects -- earthly and celestial -- reflecting the time in which each poet lived." The book includes poetry from Rumi, Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Billy Collins, William Wordsworth, and more. Raschka's colorful artwork pairs nicely with each poem.


Poetry for Young People:
Langston Hughes,
edited by David Roessel & Arnold Rampersad
and illustrated by Benny Andrews, 2006

"One of the central figures in the Harlem Renaissance—the flowering of black culture that took place in the 1920s and 30s—Langston Hughes captured the soul of his people, and gave voice to their concerns about race and social justice. His magnificent and powerful words still resonate today...." So begins the blurb on the inside front cover.

This book contains Hughes's best known and well-loved poems, such as "My People", "Words Like Freedom", and "I, Too".


Vile Verses,
written by Roald Dahl
and illustrated by many, 2005

In the mood for some silly poetry with a bit of dark humor on the side? If so, try this book! Most of the poems are from Dahl's novels and earlier poetry collections, but there are also a few previously unpublished ones. The fun illustrations really complement Dahl's words.


Poems to Learn by Heart,
selected by Caroline Kennedy
and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, 2013

Kennedy compiled over one hundred of her favorite poems for this volume. About the memorization of poems she says, "If we learn a poem by heart, it is ours forever - and better still, we can share it with others, yet not have to give it away." 

Writers featured in this book include Nikki Grimes, Ogden Nash, Linda Sue Park, and even Abraham Lincoln! In addition to the poetry, I also appreciated Muth's gorgeous artwork throughout.


Poem Depot:
Aisles of Smiles,
written and illustrated by Douglas Florian, 2014

Looking for a book of poetry to make you giggle? Florian delivers just that with his Poem Depot, which is jam-packed with 170 of his nonsense poems and amusing line drawings.


Understanding Poetry:
Rhyme, Meter, and Other Word Music,
written by Jennifer Fandel, 2005

In this educational book, Fandel offers definitions for various poetry-related terms and talks about the rhythm of poetry -- how it is achieved and why it is effective. She also includes several well-known poems as examples.


Young adult poetry:

Poetry Comics:
An Animated Anthology,
selected and illustrated by Dave Morice, 2003

In this book, Morice takes 37 different poems from famous writers, from Shakespeare to William Wordsworth to Emily Dickinson to Edgar Allan Poe, and turns them into comic strips. (He also includes a step-by-step guide to creating your own poetry comics.) I really liked several of the comic strips but my favorite had to be Morice's take on Poe's "The Raven"!


Navajo: Visions and Voices
Across the Mesa,
 written and illustrated by Shonto Begay, 1995

Accompanied by his beautiful paintings, Begay's poetry focuses on various subjects "from creation stories to childhood memories, reflections on tribal rituals to the profound effect, good and bad, of white people on Navajo land and culture". 


This Same Sky: A Collection
of Poems from around the World,
selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1996

Nye's anthology contains the work of 129 poets from 68 different countries. Each poem within celebrates the natural world, with its human and animal inhabitants. As a reviewer said on Goodreads, it is "a peek into poetry around the world". 


Quiet Storm:
Voices of Young Black Poets,
selected by Lydia Omolola Okutoro, 2002

For this book, Okutoro selected the work of forty-nine poets, ages 13 to 21, from around the globe. Each chapter begins with a well-known poet's verse and then continues with the writings of teens and young adults, about a wide variety of subjects: home and homelessness, falling in love, dreams of a brighter future, and more.


I Just HOPE It's Lethal:
Poems of Sadness, Madness, & Joy,
collected by Liz Rosenberg & Deena November, 2005

This collection includes poetry from Margaret Atwood, T. S. Eliot, Dorothy Parker, Rumi, Sylvia Plath, and many others. Each section centers around a specific emotion that teens (and other humans!) are familiar with.


Time You Let Me In:
25 Poets Under 25,
selected by Naomi Shihab Nye, 2010

In this, the second anthology I read that was compiled by Nye, she brings together the work from 26 (even though the title says 25) young adults, poets like Mary Selph, Gray Emerson, Amal Khan, Jonah Ogles, and Margaret Bashaar.


Postcard Poems:
A Collection of Poetry for Sharing,
edited by Paul B. Janeczko, 1979

This collection, the oldest book in today's post, includes poems from writers such as D.H. Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Carl Sandburg, and Eve Merriam.


I Am Writing a Poem About...:
A Game of Poetry,
edited by Myra Cohn Livingston, 1997

As a teacher of poetry at UCLA, Livingston gave an assignment to her class: write a poem with the word rabbit in it. Later, she asked her students to write another poem and include the words ring, drum, and blanket. Finally, the classmates were to write a poem with these six words: hole, friend, candle, ocean, snake, and either scarecrow or bucket. The resulting poems from these assignments were as varied as the people who wrote them! In this slim volume, Livingston shares 43 of the poems from her students -- many of whom went on to become well-known writers.


Please Excuse This Poem:
100 New Poets for the Next Generation,
edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer & Lynn Melnick, 2015

As the blurb on the inside cover says, "Here is a cross-section of American poetry as it is right now—full of grit and love, sparkling with humor, searing the heart, smashing through boundaries on every page. Please Excuse This Poem features one hundred acclaimed younger poets from truly diverse backgrounds and points of view, whose work has appeared everywhere from The New Yorker to Twitter, tackling a startling range of subjects in a startling range of poetic forms."


Have you read any of the books shown above? If so, what did you think of them? What are some of your favorite poetry collections?

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