by Francine Puckly
National Poetry Month is in full swing! Poetry month reminds me that way back in the day, oh, somewhere between grade school and junior high school, I loved poetry. I had this funky journal with blue skies and clouds with Feelings in rainbow lettering across the front. The very nature of the journal invited soppy writing and poetry. And I delivered—sing-songy rhyme and free verse that attempted to romanticize my awkward experiences and emotions. I loved it! It didn’t matter that what I wrote wasn’t “good.” I embraced the process of writing and how completely liberated I felt after putting those feelings down on paper. But somewhere between puberty, the over-dissecting of literary poetry in high school, and the real (or imagined) fear that someone would find and read my words, I lost my love for poetry. So this April I have gone searching for ways to bring poetry back into my life.
Three books on poetry made their way across my desk recently.
The first book is H is for Haiku (Penny Candy Books, 2018) by Sydell Rosenberg, illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi. This whimsical book, with its less formal typography, has great appeal for young poets and writers and would be a great teacher's resource for grades 5-8. The author Sydell Rosenberg and her daughter Amy Losak do a good job defining what Haiku are traditionally, as well as explaining the focus for this book. While Haiku are traditionally nature inspired, H is for Haiku is inspired by nature in New York City! Finding the beauty in everyday life in the city is a new and different angle. I was even inspired to write my very first ever Haiku.
The second book is Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (Candlewick, 2017) by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, illustrated by the fabulous Ekua Holmes (who--attention New Englanders!--will be keynoting at the 2019 New England SCBWI Conference this May). This book is a fun romp through some of the world's most well-known poets, their styles, and new poems written in "the style of" these influential poets. This book would also be a great teacher's resource for grades 5-8.
The third book, An Assortment of Animals: A Children’s Poetry Anthology (The Writers’ Loft Press, 2018) is an inspirational collection of writing in a myriad of styles and poetry forms—all in one book! Seeing how my friends and writing colleagues at The Writers’ Loft flexed their poetry writing muscles—especially Dog Gone by Pam Vaughan—had me doodling around with other whimsical ideas. This collection could be used as a wonderful mentor text to help writers rediscover the joy of poetry.
As I’ve gone back to what I loved about poetry, I realized that poetry doesn’t have to be heavy and deep. It is joyful to read (and write!) silly, playful poems. So this month, remember that while poetry can be deep and thought-provoking, it can also be a lot of fun. Take your inner poet out to play this week.
Happy National Poetry Month!
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