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<<August 2015>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Poetry, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 3,977
1. ‘Worst Day Ever?’ Poem Goes Viral

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2. Poems New and Collected

One of only 13 women to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature (out of 111 total laureates), Polish poet Wisława Szymborska (pronounced vees-WAH-vah shim-BOR-ska) was awarded the world's highest literary honor in 1996. A career-spanning work that features poems from eight separate collections, Poems New and Collected offers some four decades of the poet's finest [...]

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3. Good Night, Paresky Room

With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, a recap of Homecoming inspired by the homiest book of them all.

In the Paresky room,
Bird-Window-Chil-Institute.ashxthere were tweeting phones
and thought balloons
with pictures of
the places we’ve dwelt, and with whom.
There were dogs and bears,1 and familiar chairs,
and pulses2 that quicken at art, not at chickens.
Home, and publishing house,3
and a pig and his spouse,4
and a book-signing rush, and the impulse to gush,
and a dean in her teacher voice begging us, “Hush.”
Thank you room
with hallowed aura.
Thank you silent, dancing Flora.5
Thank you artists who fuss and fuss.6
Thank you authors who board the bus.7
Thank you Rita
and thank you Rita.8
Thank you fashion
and thank you passion.9
Thank you shelves
that locate selves.10
Thank you Jack, who kept to theme.11
Thank you Tobin’s Delaware dream.12
The stories of Simmons could fill quite a tome.13
We’re clicking our heels, for there’s no place like home.


1. and Laura Vaccaro Seeger
2. like Bryan Collier’s
3. such as Neal Porter Books
4. David Hyde Costello’s example of casual porcine diversity
5. created by the delightfully talkative Molly Idle
6. including but not limited to Hyewon Yum
7. led by Kwame Alexander
8. Rita Williams-Garcia, age 33, and Rita Williams-Garcia, age 58, who held an enlightening conversation
9. and thank you Elaine Dimopoulos, who has both
10. because, as Emily Jenkins put it, “Home is where you keep your books”
11. Jack Gantos brings home the record for use of the word “home.”
12. M. T. Anderson’s version of Delaware may have involved some imagination
13. Or a three-act play performed by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire


The post Good Night, Paresky Room appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. Gabriel Green Poetry Video Goes Viral

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5. New Winter Book

We have just completed the final edits on our new winter story told in verse.  We are now beginning the illustration process.  We are so excited about this next story and can’t wait to hear your feedback.  Here’s a few hints about what our next story will be about.  Aren’t they just beautiful?  What other animal reminds you of winter?

Red Fox 3



Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) on snow at sunset, Kamchatka, Russia

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) on snow at sunset, Kamchatka, Russia

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6. enormous SMALLNESS

enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E.E. Cummings  by Matthew Burgess illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo Enchanted Lion Books, 2015 Grades 2-5 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her local library. I've heard from several public librarians that picture book biographies rarely circulate from their biography collections. I'm fortunate that in the school library where I work my K-5 students

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7. Enchantment: Playing with Words and Pictures

SCBWI-New Mexico’s second annual Enchantment Show took place earlier this month. The show celebrates the work between the illustrator and the author by flip-flopping the traditional creation process. Instead of the illustrator responding to an author’s words, authors are assigned an illustration and produce a page of writing in response.


I’ve talked here before about the importance of writing bits and pieces not meant for publication. Giving voice to a poem I would have never cooked up on my own was especially satisfying.


This year’s theme was Play. A jpeg of Alan F. Stacy’s “Moonlight Serenade” arrived in my inbox, a picture capturing southwestern animals making music under the light of the moon. I didn’t know who the illustrator was or what he’d called it. I wasn’t even sure about the animals he included. Was that a coyote or a wolf? A Skunk or a badger?

20150711_135755(See Alan reflected in the glass?)

An idea came to me. What if the animals played the stars into the sky each night, led by Badger on his violin? Here’s where things get fun. I called My poem “Starlight Serenade,” almost exactly what Alan named his picture.

When night is hush, the world below
takes upon moon’s silver glow,
awaits the magic that begins
as Badger lifts his violin.

A sparkling song trembles and swells
enchants the heavens with its spell,
invites the first star to join in
when Badger plays his violin.

The orchestra now
takes its place —
Wolf on his sax,
Bear thrumming bass.
The music builds,
calls stars to sing
as Rabbit grabs
his set of strings.
Clear notes pour
from one lone flute,
echo across the arid butte.

The night sky blooms, a burnished shine,
music and starlight intertwined.

Whispering to the sky’s deep hue,
a hint of light slips into view.
Note by note the music fades
as darkness shifts to azure day.

Across the firmament sun roams
and shadows stretch to evening gloam.
These foretell what’s always been
when Badger lifts his violin.

What a great collaborative experience the creative process can be!




The post Enchantment: Playing with Words and Pictures appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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8. #716 – Painting for Peace in Ferguson by Carol Swartout Klein

Painting for Peace in Ferguson
Written by Carol Swartout Klein
Treehouse Publishing Group      2/21/2015
52 pages       Age 6+

“Painting for Peace in Ferguson is the story of a community coming together, hundreds of artists and volunteers, black and white, young and old, to bring hope and healing to their community using the simplest of all tools—a paintbrush. Written in child-friendly verse, the actual artwork painted on hundreds of boarded up windows in Ferguson, South Grand and surrounding areas illustrates the story. The art ranges from simple, childlike drawings of love and peace to challenging and compelling calls for social change. The effect on the town’s landscape and its people was remarkable: turning fear into hope, frustration into inspiration, and destruction into creation. . . . when people reach out to each other across lines that divide us and work together, remarkable things happen. A single paintbrush can paint one picture but thousands working together can transform a community.” [back cover]

Painting for Peace - 2nd ed. - low res_page31_image8

The paintbrush became a tool of hope in Ferguson. Artists young and old, amateur and professional, armed with a paintbrush came together to transform the boarded up windows of a community that had imploded upon itself in grief and anger. Painting for Peace in Ferguson captures those mostly now gone images inside a children’s book that is not, and should not be just for children.


The images range from simple black and white messages of hope to murals compelling a need for social change. From single boarded up windows to complete storefronts, (and the broken windows and doors of City Hall), told the story of Ferguson, Missouri uniting behind strong ideals: loving one another and coexisting in peace.


With over 140 artworks painted over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the images in Painting for Peace in Ferguson are powerful testaments to the human spirit and resiliency. Children likely find the events of Ferguson confusing. Painting for Peace in Ferguson possesses the wonderful ability to help foster understanding and discussion, not just with children but also with adults, many of whom are also struggling to comprehend the events that disrupted their lives and communities.


300 artists and volunteers created paintings in the City of St. Louis’s communities of Ferguson, Dellwood and South Grand. Such a gargantuan effort showers inspirations of hope, peace, and love among those communities and all who read Painting for Peace in Ferguson.


If there is any drawback to Painting for Peace in Ferguson it is the text, with inconsistent rhyme patterns and the occasional slanted rhyme. The attempt to rhyme may be based on a false belief that children’s books need to rhyme to attract and hold a child’s attention. The Ferguson story would have been better served in simple and straightforward prose. Still, the message of Ferguson is clear and not easily forgotten, nor should it be.

“In the small town of Ferguson
In 2014
Some people did things that
Were meaner than mean

“Some people were mad
Some people were sad
But everyone, everywhere
Felt pretty bad :(

“But when morning came
Folks took one look around
And said we don’t like
The looks of our town”


Painting for Peace in Ferguson has the power to ignite many a discussion from those with elementary children to those between adults. The symbol of hope and peace is one children should learn and embrace, but it began with the hundreds of artists who descended upon Ferguson in a united belief that Ferguson—and the country as a whole—can heal and grow.


In this regard, Painting for Peace in Ferguson is a picture book like no other and belongs on the collective landscape for years to come as a reminder that communities need not implode in anger and grief—though greatly justified—when there is a better, more productive and satisfying option of healing in hope and peace—as in South Carolina these past few weeks. Author Carol Swartout Klein is a native of Ferguson.

PAINTING FOR PEACE IN FERGUSON. Text copyright (C) 2015 by Carol Swartout Klein. Illustrations copyright (C) 2015 by Rachel Abbinanti, et al. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Treehouse Publishing Group, St. Louis, MO.

Purchase Painting for Peace in Ferguson at AmazonBook DepositoryBook’s Website.  (Available in paperback 8/04/2015) **Proceeds from the sale of Painting for Peace in Ferguson are donated to youth arts and small business recovery in North St. Louis County.

Learn more about Painting for Peace in Ferguson HERE.
Resources for Parents & Teachers can be found HERE and HERE.
Coloring Pages for Kids can be found HERE.

Meet the author, Carol Swartout Klein, with her biography HERE.
Painting for Peace in Ferguson Website:  http://www.paintingforpeacebook.com/
Painting for Peace in Ferguson Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/paintingforpeacebook
Find more picture books at the Treehouse Publishing Group website:  http://www.amphoraepublishing.com/treehouse-publishing-group/

Treehouse Publishing Group is an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group

2015 IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year—Peacemaker

     The riots following the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case left storefronts along the main streets of Ferguson and the South Grand neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri with broken windows. When the businesses were boarded up the next day, they appeared closed and unsafe, furthering the economic hardship and community despair.
     Hundreds of local artists responded almost immediately by volunteering their time to help the businesses and beautify the affected blocks. Hundreds of gallons of paint were donated by individuals and businesses as far away as Massachusetts, and an online fund drive quickly raised nearly $1300.
     Tom Halaska, who grew up in North St. Louis and now owns the Art Bar at 2732 Cherokee Street on the Southside of St. Louis City, is the driving force behind the effort known as Paint for Peace StL. He maintains all the donated supplies in storage at the Art Bar and continues to be a matchmaker between boarded businesses anywhere in the region and volunteer artists. (© http://paintforpeacestl.org/)

     Painting for Peace - 2nd ed. - low res_page31_image202Carol Swartout Klein grew up in Ferguson, got her first set of jacks from the Ferguson Woolworths store (now the Ace Hardware store), got her first driver’s license at what was the Ferguson Department store (now BMI Fitness), graduated from McCluer High School and got married at Ferguson Presbyterian Church.
     She was so inspired by witnessing the spirit of hundreds of volunteers coming together to bring hope to a community in shock, she wanted to capture the story. Painting for Peace in Ferguson is the result. A journalist and marketing professional by training, she saw how healing the process of creating the artwork was for all those involved. As the community came together to help others, the artists, business owners and volunteers helped themselves, creating new connections she hopes will continue to create a positive environment of hope and peace. (©Peregrine Book Company)

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Painting for Peace in Ferguson, by Carol Swartout Klien, and received from Treehouse Publishing Group, (an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Poetry Tagged: artists for peace, Carol Swartout Klien, communities transformed, Ferguson Missouri, Painting for Peace in Ferguson, peace initiatives, racial divides, racism, Treehouse Publishing Group

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9. Review of Salsa

argueta_salsaSalsa: Un poema para cocinar / A Cooking Poem
by Jorge Argueta; illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh; trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado
Primary     Groundwood     32 pp.
3/15     978-1-55498-442-8     $18.95
e-book ed. 978-1-55498-443-5     $16.95

In this latest addition to his series of bilingual cooking poems (Arroz con leche / Rice Pudding; Guacamole), Argueta plays on the multiple meanings of salsa to create a mouth-watering musical recipe. The poem begins with a young boy telling the history of the molcajete and tejolote, the mortar and pestle traditionally made from the volcanic rock that forms from cooled lava and used to grind vegetables and spices. As the boy and his family prepare their weekly salsa roja, the child’s imagination runs wild. Ingredients become instruments — an onion is a maraca, tomatoes are bongos and kettledrums. Argueta’s use of onomatopoeia (prac-presh-rrick-rrick is the sound of the ingredients being ground in the molcajete) and detailed description of ingredients play on the various senses to convey the sounds, flavors, and feelings coming together as the boy’s family dances, sings, and cooks. Tonatiuh’s illustrations, rendered primarily in greens and reds, complement the two types of salsa mentioned in the poem. The earthy tones and Mesoamerican-inspired drawings suit the poem’s combination of the traditional elements of salsa-making with the modern scenes of a family cooking and celebrating. The lack of measurements may leave some readers perplexed (exactly how many tomatoes are needed?), but the more important message of love and family gathering to create something special shines through.

From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The post Review of Salsa appeared first on The Horn Book.

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10. Victoria Morgan Poetry Video Goes Viral

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11. Over The Hills and Far Away

Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. Edited by Elizabeth Hammill. 2015. Candlewick. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Over The Hills And Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes is a diverse collection of nursery rhymes for parents to share with their little ones. The collection includes traditional rhymes from many countries and cultures. Yes, there are plenty of familiar rhymes from the English and American traditions. But there are plenty of poems--rhymes--that may be unfamiliar to readers. These poems celebrate a universal: young ones all over the world find rhymes fun and appealing.

Yes, the book celebrates the fact that we have a rich tradition of poetry, that there is something right, something good, about sharing rhymes with young children. But the book also celebrates art. Over 70 illustrators were involved in creating this book. Some illustrators are very famous, others are new to the field. The illustrations vary page by page. Chances are, some illustrations you will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and others you decidedly won't personally appreciate. There truly is something for everyone.

My favorites?
Polly Dunbar illustrated "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and "I Had A Little Nut Tree."
Jane Ray illustrated "The Queen of Hearts" and "Pussy cat, Pussy Cat, Where Have You Been?"
Emily Gravett illustrated "A was an Apple Pie."
Ashley Bryan illustrated "Little Sally Water."
Lydia Monks illustrated "Little Bo-peep" and "Little Boy Blue."

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Music and metaphysics: HowTheLightGetsIn 2015

How The Light Gets In (named, aptly, in honour of a Leonard Cohen song) has taken the festival world by storm with its yearly celebration of philosophy and music. We spoke to founder and festival organiser Hilary Lawson, who is a full-time philosopher, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, and someone with lots to say about keepings things equal and organising a great party.

The post Music and metaphysics: HowTheLightGetsIn 2015 appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Poetry Friday: "In Just---" Echoes of ee cummings

The assignment for the Poetry Seven this month was to write a poem in the style of ee cummings, taking one of his works as inspiration. Although cummings is one of my favorite poets, and I've blogged about him before (in relation to Frank Cottrell Boyce's fabulous novel, Cosmic) I did a little research anyway. And discovered this:

Between the ages of eight and twenty-two, cummings wrote a poem a day.

Yeah. That.

And here I am, trying to follow in his pen strokes.

First of all, I had a hard time naming what I was attempting to do. What did "in the style of" mean?


Then one of the Poetry Seven used a word I liked: echoing. Perhaps I could do that. (thanks, Andi!)

in Just-
dusk when the world is shadow-
mossed the one-winged lightningbug

blinks, incan/descent

and pillbugandmoth come
floating from screenshanks and 
scatterall and it’s

when the world is wing-wonderful

the lop-flighted
lighteningbug blinks
and beetleandroach come scalltering

from rot-hopping and stank-rope and

it’s dusk
lightningbug stutters



---Sara Lewis Holmes, inspired by "in Just-" by ee cummings

One more thing: we also decided to record these poems, as ee often did. Click on the sound file below to hear me read my work aloud.

Other echoes of ee cummings can be found at each of the Poetry Seven's blogs today:

Liz, echoing "i like my body when it is"
Tricia, echoing "silence.is a looking"
Tanita, echoing "the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls"
Laura,  echoing "Spring is like a perhaps hand"
Kelly,  echoing "maggie and milly and molly and may"
Andi, echoing "a wind has blown the rain away"

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Katie at the Logonauts.

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14. Joseph Coelho on Failure – The Ultimate Writer’s Tip

It was just less than a year ago that my then 9 year old did something I felt was especially meaningful and beautiful in her development as a reader. For the first time in her life she found a poem which she loved so very much, she copied it out and stuck it by her bed.


In case you can’t read the fading words, the title of the poem is “If all the world were paper” and it is by Joseph Coelho:

If all the world were paper – By Joseph Coelho from Joseph Coelho on Vimeo.

M found it in an anthology with the exciting title “Werewolf Club Rules” – a whole book of poems by Joseph Coehlo – which earlier this year was shortlisted for the 2015 CLPE Children’s Poetry Award (CLiPPA). The winners of this award get announced next week, but because all shortlisted volumes deserve celebrating, today I’m part of a blog tour highlighting this wide ranging selection of fantastic poetry.


I’m really very pleased (as is M) to have Joseph Coehlo stop by today and share a piece he’s written for us, about “The Ultimate Writers’ Tip”. Over now to Joseph:

joe“I’m a sucker for writers’ tips – in fact I have Lester Dents Plot Map for writing pulp fiction nailed to the wall by my desk. I’ve read and re-read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and I’ve been thoroughly depressed by Murakami’s discipline. I continually dip into various Youtube videos and blog posts and yes good old fashioned books on the subject. So when pondering this blog I found myself thinking…

 “What can I add that hasn’t been said before?” 

it turns out… quite a lot actually. So there. Why do we writers/wannabe writers/should be writers seek out “Writers’ Tips” I think it’s because we’re looking for that elusive secret, trick, way-in that will make it easy for us. Neil Gaiman summed this up beautifully in this post.

Basically there is no easy way out – you have to “turn up for work” as Jeanette Winterson says, you have to sit with the intention of writing and keep doing that until something comes and it is hard and it doesn’t always flow and now with this wonderful thing we call the internet it is that much harder.  I’ve spent many a day: writing a sentence – checking Facebook – writing a sentence – researching frogs on Pinterest for half-an-hour! – writing a sentence – watching funnies on Youtube – writing a sentence – watching a film and so on but by hook or crook I stay in that seat and by the end of the day I’ll have 500-1000 words added to the story or play or poem. So what can I add to this conversation other than WORK… WORK HARDER!!!! Well my partner recently entered the murky world of writing and we started chatting about process and I related this… 

The hardest thing any writer has to deal with is their own inner critic we can all destroy our work by judging it as it is being birthed into the world, you wouldn’t do that to a child! And you shouldn’t do it to your work. You should treat your work like a child, be proud of it, show it off, believe in it and nurture it. If you expected a newborn to score a hat-trick straight out of the womb then you’re never going to have a football star daughter! But if you believe in her, encourage her and take her to the park with a ball… well then… Beckham WATCH OUT! 

What I realised whilst chatting to my better-half was this… I think I find it easier to write than others might thanks largely to a background in physical theatre and improvisation. Bear with me… I was performing from 11 at Putney Theatre (then Group 64) and then went on to be part of BAC’s Youth Theatre working with wonderful directors and companies like Blind Summit and Gecko learning to express myself and to simply not hold back. This really is a state of mind and it took me time to realise that my expression, in whatever form, had value. That realisation in turn bled into my writing and whilst taking part in Performance Poetry courses with Apples and Snakes I wrote poems that didn’t hold back and did not apologise. As my life as a poet continued I had the pleasure of running creative projects in schools for Creative Partnerships who were big on the idea that you are allowed to fail! This blew my mind and seamlessly intertwined with all I had learnt through physical theatre and improv. The right to fail is every artists right and once you give yourself that gift you allow yourself to find the gold rather than quitting the dig because all you’re turning up is earth. That’s not to say you have a right to be lazy – but simply that you have the right to give it your best shot and to not always hit home.

The right to fail is particularly pertinent when working with young people I’ve seen amazing young writers in schools clam up out of fear of doing something “wrong” or berating themselves because what they have written is not “good enough” it took me a while to realise that these children were enacting the same fears and thought processes of adults! Society teaches us from a young age to judge ourselves and so we learn to clam up and deny ourselves the opportunity to become great artists. My poem ‘An A* from Miss Coo’ is on this very subject as the poems protagonist is constantly told “That can’t be right!/Do it again and do it right!”

My partner seemed to think these were words of worth so I lay them here for you, I hope they’re useful but if not… so be it… I’m a writer…. I’m allowed to fail”. 


Joseph Coelho’s ‘Werewolf Club Rules and other poems’ is published by Frances Lincoln. Joseph Is currently touring Pop-Up Flashback – a theatre show for 5+ featuring poetry and giant pop-ups created by John O’leary. Learn more about the show here.

You can find out more about Joseph on his website, www.joseph-coelho.com and you can follow him on Twitter @Poetryjoe.

You can find out more about all the other shortlisted titles and poets by going back through this week’s CLiPPA – Poets’ blog tour or searching for links on Twitter using #CLiPPA2015:

Monday 6th July
Reading Zone http://www.readingzone.com
Hilda Offen’s poetry writing tips

Tuesday 7th July
The Federation of Children’s Book Groups blog http://www.fcbg.org.uk/blog/
Morag Styles on compiling the Caribbean Poetry Anthology Give the Ball to the Poet

Wednesday 8th July
Young Writers blog https://www.youngwriters.co.uk/blog/
Rachel Rooney: Where I Write

Thursday 9th July
Manchester Children’s Book Festival blog http://m-cbf.blogspot.co.uk
Mandy Coe and the story of Let in the Stars

Friday 10th July
Playing by the Book blog http://www.playingbythebook.net/
Joseph Coelho: The Ultimate Writing Tip

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15. The Art of Daring

cover artWhy is it the books I love the most are the hardest to write about? It can’t be only because I want you to love them too. I was going to say that maybe it is because they are the rich ones filled with lots of good things to talk about but that isn’t always the case, sometimes a simple book can blow me away. Likely it’s some combination of factors I would have to think long and hard about. Whatever the reasons, I loved The Art of Daring by Carl Phillips so much I have put off writing about it for two weeks hoping that in that time I would be able to figure out what to say about it, how to explain the reasons it is so very good and why I loved it so much. But I am coming up empty. If I leave it any longer I won’t write about it at all and that won’t do. So I just have to tell you about it as best I can and hope you can make sense of it.

The Art of Daring is a small book of several essays. I wrote about the first one already in which Phillips discusses resonance and restlessness. He carries these two ideas into the rest of the essays and adds to them thoughts on desire, resistance, loss, love, mercy, and, of course, daring. Phillips is a poet and his writing tends to the lyrical. I know, lyrical nonfiction, not a common thing. He is meditative and circles round and round an idea, looking at it from different angles and in different lights. And then he layers them up and then he digs back down. He does this across the essays so that while each one can be read separately, they are so intertwined it would be difficult to break them apart.

This is a book of literary criticism but it is unlike nearly all you have ever read. Not entirely unique, but definitely not run-of-the-mill. It is not at all academic. It is meant for the thoughtful, general reader. And while Phillips demonstrates and advances his arguments with analysis of poems, what he says can be expanded out to include more than poetry.

And now I want to give you a sample, a quote, but something short won’t convey the full sense of this book. Something longer then, which means I can’t give you several quotes because your eyes will glaze over or you will just skip them. So one quote, but which one? One about uncertainty? Or maybe one about our fragmented selves? A beautiful one about how a poem is a form and act of love? No, while these all tie into the title they seem unhinged without context, so I give you something that reflects the purpose of the book but does not require context:

The deeper one gets into what eventually amounts to a career, the harder it becomes to incorporate daring and risk into it. As in life, if we’re lucky, we grow more comfortable, successful, and accordingly more aware that there is more to lose. So there’s a resistance to changing what’s in place already. Meanwhile, we’re aware also of there being daily less time left, which can bring fear. This issue of time, it seems to me, should spur us on to live even more adventurously — if not now, then when? — but mostly it doesn’t, or so it seems when I look around me. Why risk what it’s taken all our lives to at last get hold of? Or if we haven’t gotten it by now, why try, why bother? And yet for the artist I think an appetite for a certain recklessness is crucial, if the work is not only to extend itself, but also deepen, and meaningfully complicate itself.

Even though I said this is a book of literary criticism, it struck me a number of times while I was reading that it was also a kind of self-help book as you can pick out from the quote. It’s not the kind that tells you how to get ahead or organize your life or lose ten pounds or find your soulmate, it’s much more subtle than that. Because really, when you exam closely the ideas Phillips discusses and how he talks about them, you start to realize that it is about more than reading poetry and literature, it’s about life and how one might go about it. With Phillips it is definitely an examined life but not the kind of examination that keeps one in place. Instead it is one that creates a restless curiosity, a desire to know, a space for uncertainty, a willingness to dare — dare to be vulnerable, to try something new, to reach out past one’s carefully tended and comfortable borders.

I finished the book not only appreciating a particular aspect of poetry and art and literature in general, but also wanting to be more daring in my own life. Because we all are writing our own stories and when it comes to the end, I want to be able to say Wow! That was good!

Filed under: Books, Essays, Nonfiction, Poetry, Reviews Tagged: Carl Phillips, The Art of Series from Graywolf Press

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16. How the Grinch stole the show

Every classroom teacher has a special tradition that gets pulled out each holiday season. In devising my own tradition, I fell back on what I know: Dr. Seuss. I spent my senior year of college becoming a Seuss-ologist (a term coined by my now-fiancé) while working on a research project that explored the language use in Dr. Seuss books. One of the primary take-aways from that project was that poetry has a special power to captivate kids, especially when it is shared orally.

And so, for my holiday tradition, I decided to memorize the entirety of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and then recite it to my students to kick off a day of Grinch-related literacy events.

When the Grinch-Day arrived last year, I was nervous that all of those rhymes I’d spent months memorizing would jumble together in my head. Instead, what happened was that my worries evaporated as my students and I reveled in the wonder of word play and language together. Even my most fidgety kids sat still while I shared the story; they hung on every word, despite the fact that most of them already knew the story quite well. No one interrupted, no one turned to talk to a neighbor – it was one of the most engaged moments we experienced in my classroom all year.

And, I don’t think it had much to do with the fact that I had worked so hard to memorize the story. If I had to sum up their captivation, it was 10% “Wow, my teacher is pretty cool!” and 90% “What’s that Grinch up to now?” or “That’s really fun to say!”

Kids seem to have an intrinsic interest in language and words – that’s one reason why I think the Dr. Seuss stories, which epitomize language play, continue to be so popular with readers of all ages. My students always love when our read-aloud is a Dr. Seuss tale, but their reaction to this recitation experience was on a completely different level than their typical responses.

With no pictures to take some of their attention off the words, I believe that my students could focus on the sheer delight of rhythm, alliteration, and all of those other literary devices poets so aptly incorporate into their work. It also allowed them a chance to use their own imaginations to picture the story unfolding, rather than having an illustration present them with “the way the story looks.”

And was it a fluke what happened in my classroom that day? / Well, I repeated the exercise this year in the same way, / to an audience of students who all sat bolt upright, / with expressions on their faces nothing short of sheer delight.

So teachers and parents, here’s a New Year’s challenge for you: memorize a piece of poetry (it doesn’t matter how long) and then recite it to a child you know. Be sure to share your results. As for me? I’ve started memorizing The Lorax.

Grinch stole Christmas



The post How the Grinch stole the show appeared first on The Horn Book.

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17. Nora Cooper Poetry Video Goes Viral

How do you deal with difficult moments? Writer Nora Cooper has crafted a poem called I Won’t Write Your Obituary.

The video embedded above features Cooper’s performance at the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Thus far, this emotional piece has drawn more than 63,000 views on YouTube.

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18. illustrated rants from the Kingdom of Stupid

Lately, many of my pictures are kind of illustrated rants, which don’t feel appropriate for this blog full of children’s illustrations and stories. So…ahem…welcome to my other place, where I can rant freely, offensively and obnoxiously about some of the glaringly obvious ridiculousnesses (a new word) in this brave new world. To visit, just click on the pretty queen…


Filed under: pigeons, poetry

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19. I Know A Story (1938)

I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]

This is a decades-old reading textbook featuring folk tales! It includes these stories:
  • The Gingerbread Boy
  • The Three Bears
  • Billy Goats Gruff
  • Mr. Vinegar
  • The Straw Ox
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Boy Who Went to the North Wind
It also includes these poems:
  • The Rabbit
  • Mice
  • In The Fashion
  • Chipmunk
  • Mother Goose Rhymes
  • Indian Children
  • The Woodpecker
  • The Animal Store
  • A Visit From St. Nicholas
I was familiar with many of these stories, you probably are as well. But a few were new-to-me. For example, I'd never heard "Mr. Vinegar," "The Straw Ox," or "The Boy Who Went to the North Wind."
"Mr. Vinegar" was a strange story of a foolish man. The ending made no sense either! But despite its strangeness, there were some elements I found myself liking.

Overall, I liked the stories much better than the poetry. My favorite story was probably "The Boy Who Went to the North Wind."

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. 5 Questions for YA Author Joshua Pantalleresco…

Welcome to Part Two of my crossover interview with young adult author Joshua Pantalleresco! If you didn’t get a chance to read Part One of Joshua’s interrogation, er I mean interview, you can find it HERE. I’m still smarting over his infamous ‘unicorn’ trick he did to me on Facebook, but for the sake of my reputation (if I still have any shred left), I’m willing to channel my inner Elsa, and just let it go.

One thing I’ve learned about Joshua (besides his warped sense of humor) is that he’s a pretty damn fine poet! His epic poem The Watcher, makes you see poetry in a whole new way, and hopefully will reach a younger audience. Joshua also writes comics, which is one of the things on my bucket list. Bravo, Joshua! So let’s get these 5 paybackquestions rolling…

Welcome, Joshua! What are you working on right now?

I am working on catching up on a bunch of things.  I just posted an interview with an author.  Some lady that likes time travel. 

Hmm…I wonder who that could be? What are you working on specifically?

I got a list of five things to do this week on the literary scale.  I have a bunch of columns to get ahead on.  I write a wrestling column for Wrestling Glory where I focus on the storytelling involved in the rivalries of wrestling.  I am doing a female rivalry that defined a generation and I'm trying to do two or three more columns before it starts posting again.

I am also transcribing two other interviews.  One of them is ready to go and will be up next week.  The other involves a certain publisher you and I are familiar with.  

I'm putting together a comic script for Twyla April, my collaborator on Paradigm.  She is finally ready for the third issue and I plan to oblige.

Finally, I'm acquiring video software to finally finish a trailer that's long overdue.  It will be awesome.  I think it will change how book trailers are done.

I’m sweating just reading what you’ve got in the pipeline! What influenced you?

I was 8 years old and my parents had just been separated.  My dad took me to Fanshawe park in London Ontario.  There was this hill at the bottom by the stream.  My dad just barreled up it like it was nothing.  I struggled.  My dad said to me, "Come on Josh you can do it!"  I denied it and tumbled down it.  I got up and asked for help.  "You can do it!" My dad said.  I didn't believe it but tried to climb the thing anyway.  I said I couldn't do it the whole time I was on it.  Yet, step by step I got closer to the top, and before I know it, I was there.  "I - I did it!" I said, in disbelief.

My dad is the biggest influence in my life.  He told me I could even when many others told me I couldn't.  And I've never forgotten that lesson with whatever I chose to undertake.  I can do it, and if it wasn't for him, I don't think I would be able to say that.

Your father sounds amazing! What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I am making my dream a reality.  I dreamed of being able to write stuff and making a living doing it.  Bit by bit it is happening.  Beyond that, I'm proud that on this journey I've learned so much.  I didn't just learn how to write, I've shot videos, made movies, have had the chance to work with great people all across life.  I've travelled, worked with my heroes, and have been on this incredible journey.  I may not have the zillions of dollars, but I've become someone I wanted to be.

Wow, Joshua, sounds like you’ve lived a full life and are still rearing to go! What is your favorite thing about the changing face of publishing?

Like you said in your interview, the barriers are down.  I can interact with people I never imagined I would meet.  I am interviewing someone from Germany because of twitter.  I got this super cool card from an artist named Asia Alfasi.  She sent it as a place holder for me sending her a book.  It's still one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  It's opened up the world and has forced me to be more than the shy artist type.

It’s a small world, after all! Cheers for stopping by and going head-to-head with me on my blog, Joshua!

If you love poetry, and want to be swept away into a world of imagery, please give Joshua’s book a read. You won’t be disappointed!

Buy Links:

Connect with Joshua:
@Jpantalleresco (twitter and wattpad)

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21. Crystal Valentine Poetry Video Goes Viral

Writer Crystal Valentine has crafted a poem called “Black Privilege.” The video embedded above showcases Valentine reciting her piece at the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.

Thus far, the video has drawn more than 78,000 views on YouTube. Click on these links to listen to two more of Valentine’s works: “Tempest” and “A Voter’s Problem.”

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22. Whooooo Loves Poetry?

Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

By Vern Kousky


“To be an individual in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is an accomplishment,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. And it’s probably one of the hardest truisms for young ones to learn. 

If they can somehow come to an understanding of it early in their lives, so much the better, or else they might spend a good deal of their young lives unlearning how to be a people pleaser.

This is an example of where a picture book is worth more than a thousand words, explanations, examples or prompts from parents.

In his debut picture book, Vern Kousky introduces young readers to a young owl named Otto who loves odes and other forms of poetry. He adores Keats, Dickinson and T.S. Eliot, with a smattering of Christina Rossetti, Joyce Kilmer and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Instead of hunting, hooting and roosting in the hollows of trees, this owl is declaiming poetry from its branches. He is not in what is considered the normal arc of young owl activity – and he feels it; painfully.

While others of his breed are out roosting, he is reading. And while they are out hunting for prey, he’s out making friends with the prey. Hmmm.

This is not your average owl, and thank goodness he isn’t. He can recite poetry from a branch at night in clear tones that ring out into the night sky:


              “Let us go then, you and I,

             When the evening is spread out

             against the sky……”


Eliot would have reveled to hear this young Otto the owlet speak those words trippingly from his young tongue.

But alas, his peer group is not of the same mind, and takes to calling him, “Blotto the Bard.”

Otto asks the same generally phrased question of the universe that kids have asked since time began, and the torment of teasing arose with it. “Why do all the owls tease me?” What could be wrong with poetry.”

Seeking approval of the peer group? Very bad. Solution? He decides to cut and run. Not a grand idea.

Yet, his rash decision does propel him into a sort of ode to the moon; his first poem! And he finds listeners among the forest folk that pelt him with cries of “More!” “More!”

He comes to the revelatory discovery that poetry is to be shared and enjoyed by the group, and so, when a trio of owls appears, he recites:


                “I’m nobody! Whooo are you?

               Are you nobody, too?……”


And soon this poetry thing is catching on like a woods afire. Another owl recites:


         “Whooo has seen the wind?

         Neither I nor you:

         But when the leaves hang trembling

         The wind is passing through…”


The young owl becomes a trend setter as poetic words fly through the night air when poetry becomes accepted by his former foes, and even, dare I say it, enjoyed!

Mr. Kousky has stumbled upon a sweetly unique tale of how to teach an important lesson to young readers: to remain an individual among ones peers by being an original.

For you see Otto now knows, as we all do, that originals are ALWAYS worth more than a copy!

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23. Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari, Author of Penny & Jelly The School Show

To follow on from my review of Penny & Jelly: The School Show last Friday, I am very happy to have the author, Maria Gianferrari on the blog today to share about the inspiration for her debut picture book and offer … Continue reading

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24. ‘Lost Voices’ Poetry Video Goes Viral

Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley collaborated on a poem called Lost Voices. The video embedded above features the two collaborators performing at the 2015 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.

Thus far, this moving piece has drawn more than 2 million views on YouTube. Click on this link to listen to another poem written by Simpson called “Questions.”

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25. Out and About (2015)

Out and About: A First Book of Poems. Shirley Hughes. 1988/2015. Candlewick Press. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I really enjoyed reading Shirley Hughes Out and About: A First Book of Poems. These poems reminded me that I do like poetry, good children's poetry, about subjects that are easy to relate to. These poems celebrating living life in all four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. These poems celebrate spending time outdoors. Best of all, these poems are kid-friendly.

For example, "Mudlarks"

I like mud.
The slippy, sloppy, squelchy kind,
The slap-it-into-pies kind.
Stir it up in puddles,
Slither and slide.
I do like mud.
and "Water"
I like water.
The shallow, splashy, paddly kind,
The hold-on-tight-it's-deep-kind.
Shlosh it out of buckets,
Spray it all around.
I do like water.
I like this poetry collection because it's joyful. These poems capture joyous moments. Well, for the most part! I suppose the poem about being stuck in bed SICK isn't capturing joy, it's capturing frustration. But still. These poems are easy to relate to. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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