"Because it's beautiful. The most important role of poetry in students' lives...is to bring the beauty of language to their attention." (Vida Zuljevic)
I, Joyce, began a novel in verse earlier this year but in the end I switched to prose because, well, my "poetry" wasn't actually beautiful. But hey, there are lots of fantastic novels in verse and also poetry picture books and anthologies out there.
In this issue we introduce you to some skilled poets and some beautiful writing. We also share an illustration from a poetry picture book, and a teens' reviews of three novels in verse.
BLOOMS AND BOOMS AND SECRET ROOMS
by Allan Wolf
Allan Wolf presenting poetry
Blooms. Poems are everywhere. The poet’s job is to “spot them.” To see them for what they are. The poet watches for poetic moments like a bee seeks out a bloom. In fact, the bee and the poet have a lot in common. The bee seeks out a bloom and transforms it into honey; the poet seeks out a moment and transforms it into a poem.
Booms. Author, Barry Lane, urges young writers to “explode the moment” in order to transform it into a poem. This is Lane’s way of urging poets to focus their attention on a single subject (the bloom) and then expand on it in a detailed way (the boom). You might say that most poems are simply blooms transformed by booms. The result is always poetry.
Secret Rooms. Every poet’s heart has a room with a view, an unobstructed view of the world. Some call it wisdom. Some call it intuition or empathy. I call it a room because it is a place that feels safe - a secret room, because no one can see it. It is something you feel inside. Call it whatever you want, but if you are a poet then you’ve got it. And that’s good, because while the art of poetry can be taught, the heart of poetry cannot.
Do you want to be a poet? A poet with a bloom in your eye? A poet with a boom in your mind? A poet watching the world from a secret room held inside your heart?
Well, then. Let’s start!
A Poet’s Life
A poem can be a rocket—Zoom!—
that poets ride beyond the sky.
A poem can be a secret room
where poets watch the world walk by.
A poem can be loud fireworks—Boom!—
all whoosh and zing and sparkling fun.
A poem can be a quiet bloom
that turns its face to see the sun.
A poem can be a bloom, a boom,
a room, a zoom, a zing!
But poems are only flightless words
‘till poets grant them wings.
It’s better to live a poet’s life
than live the life of Kings and Queens.
Allan Wolf is the author of numerous books in and about verse. In addition he is loved for his dramatic poetry performances.
See Allan in action on YouTube. And do visit his website for more info.
There are as many ways to include poetry in the classroom as New Year's resolutions. Here are a few shared by librarian, Vida Zuljevic, on Kirby Larson's blog.
- Read a poem that provokes memories or emotion. Ask students to interview their peers about something important to them. Write poems which elicit feelings or memories related to that event or person.
- Read a poem every day in the classroom. Ask students to choose poems to read.
- Hold a poetry contest.
- Create a classroom poetry book, calendar, or quilt.
- Invite students to find descriptive adjectives, vivid verbs, and figurative language in their reading and record them in a journal or daybook. Use these words in a poem. Put them up on your class blog or wiki.
- Pre-K students can enjoy the rhythm and beauty of nursery rhymes--even when the poems are read or sung in a foreign language!
A Teen's Take on 3 Verse Novels
by Melissa Birchfield
Fourteen-year-old Melissa Birchfield enjoys reading, swimming, crocheting, playing the piano and violin. Her short story, "Memories and Beginnings" will be published in the March/April issue of Stone Soup. It combines her love of writing and music.
Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown
For as long as she can remember, Rachel's mom is the one who sings, plays, and talks to her. Her dad is the hard, unfeeling rock. When Mom suddenly runs away, Rachel must accept the painful truth about her parents and her life. With simple words and heartfelt thoughts, Rachel poignantly describes her growing relationship with her father and how she puts her past behind her and learns to hug the rock.
Heartbeat by Sharon Creech
Twelve-year-old Annie loves the rhythm, freedom and familiar landscapes of running barefoot with her best friend Max. Then everything changes. Her mother is going to have a baby while Grandpa becomes increasingly forgetful. Worst of all, Max joins the school track team, and Annie is pressured to join. Does she really want to ruin her love of barefoot running – the only thing she can count on in the midst of her hectic life? In this complex yet simply told story, Annie sorts out the many facets of her life and realizes she can accept change and still be herself.
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
It has been four years since Lonnie's parents were killed in a fire, and he still struggles to adjust. With his little sister Lili living in a different home, he is lonely and confused. When his teacher, Ms. Marcus, introduces poetry, Lonnie finds a way to pour out his thoughts and feelings on paper. He tries to make sense of his jumbled life: his foster mother, the mean boy at school, and the girl he likes. With difficulty he trudges his way through the Bible Lili has given him with the promise that if he reads it, they will be together again. Lonnie matures through this story and learns to view the world with more understanding.
We Welcome Teen Reviewers!
Do you have a middle school or high school teen who loves to read? We'd love to hear from you with his or her name and contact information. We ask reviewers to read three books and write brief reviews; often soliciting their input on titles. This is a great opportunity for your son, daughter, or student to get experience writing. Please email us if you know someone who would be interested! Thanks.
Want to explore a
Writer-in Residence Workshop or Author Visit?
We'd love to hear from you!
We each offer our own author visits or we'll conduct writer residencies together. Contact us and we will design a program that meets your students' needs.
For best results,
"View as Webpage"
(on pale yellow bar at the top.)
Once again, we have several giveaways.
You can enter even if you've won previously.
by January 19.
The authors and publishers will appreciate you sharing your win via social media, etc.
Joyce and Carol
As promised in our last issue we sent several boxes of books to hurricane damaged Quinnipiac Elementary School in New Haven Connecticut.
Thanks to all who helped with this effort.
Zane's Trace by Allan Wolf (Candlewick Press, 2007). Read a review of this poetic novel on Carol's blog. (LINK)
by David L. Harrison
Joy Acey, is the self-proclaimed Princess of Poetry.
On her blog,
Poetry for Kids, she posts a new poem daily and challenges writers of all ages to follow her example.
Sign up for her blog and you'll always have a poetry activity for your class.
Anthonie and Harmina Jansen won A Book is Just Like You.
Beth Ann Hartford won Fun-Brarian.
Becky Levine won My Librarian is a Camel.
Linda Phillips, one of our faithful followers, is proud to announce that CRAZY, her debut novel in verse will be available from Eerdmans in 2014.
To Maupin House, Boyds Mills Press, Allan Wolf, Dan Burr, Melissa Birchfield, and Joanne Hunsberger for their generous donations of books, writing, photos, illustration, and proofreading.
Consider creating a "Talking Story" folder where you file old issues. That way you'll have them handy when you've got time to read, and you'll always be able to view past issues. This works for us!
Our next issue is on The Holocaust.