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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Poetry, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 3,959
1. 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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2. ‘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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. Slam Poet Lee Mokobe Performs at TED

2015 TED fellow and slam poet Lee Mokobe recited a poem about “what it feels like to be transgender” at the TEDWomen 2015 conference.

The piece features mentions of body image, social issues, and TV personality Caitlyn Jenner. The video embedded above features Mokobe’s full performance. Have you ever written an autobiographical poem?

To learn more, the writers behind the TED blog have created a playlist called “7 talks on the transgender experience.” Follow this link to watch more videos showcasing poetry on the TED stage. Which writers do you nominate to speak at future TED conferences?

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9. Using Picture Books to Teach and Discuss Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera with Students

Congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera who has just been appointed the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (or PLOTUS for those in the know) by the Library of Congress!

To introduce students to Juan Felipe Herrera and his body of work, we have put together a collection of resources and activities for an author (and poet!) study. We’ve structured this Author Study Unit off of Reading Rockets’ Author Study Toolkit (available as a PDF and online).

Juan Felipe Herrera1. Set a purpose and goals for the author study

Have students read these books to find out:

  • who Juan Felipe Herrera is
  • how he uses his background, life, and experiences as inspiration for his stories and writing
  • what themes Herrera writes about in his stories and what themes these books share
  • which story (or moments in a story) the students connect to the most and why

2. Choose an author

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States and the first Latino poet.

3. Read and respond to the books

  • From where do you think Juan Felipe Herrera gets his inspiration for his stories and settings? What makes you think so? How does he include his culture and heritage in his works?
  • How would you describe Juan Felipe Herrera’s writing style?
  • What themes or topics are most meaningful to him? Why do you think that?
  • Compare two of his books. Use a Venn diagram to collect ideas on how these books are similar and unique. What is the central idea of each? Is the book written in verse or prose? Compare the topic, main figures, setting, and text structure of each.

4. Research the author

  • There are a ton of news articles celebrating and reporting the announcement of Juan Felipe Herrera as Poet Laureate. Build excitement and interest for students at the beginning of the unit with a couple of the articles, such as this one from the Los Angeles Times.
  • As a class, create a timeline of major events in his life and keep it posted in the classroom throughout the unit. Have students explore Herrera’s website, this curated Library of Congress collection of web resources, and bios from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and the Library of Congress.
  • Show students this YouTube collection of videos featuring interviews with Juan Felipe Herrera or the PBS clip of Herrera reading his poem, “Five Directions to My House.”

5. Culminating projects and reflection:

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Several previous Poet Laureates created projects to share poetry with the public. Have students read about the Past Poet Laureate Projects from the Library of Congress. Knowing what they now know about Juan Felipe Herrera, have students brainstorm and discuss what project Herrera might create while Poet Laureate. What topics and themes are meaningful to Herrera? What makes you think that?
  • The main figures in each of these stories draw a lot of strength from a special adult in their lives. Who in your life helps you when you are having trouble, feel scared or doubtful, or have a goal you want to achieve? What advice has this person shared with you? What actions and qualities do you admire most about this person?
  • A major focus for Juan Felipe Herrera in his writing is family or community. Encourage students to write a poem or paragraph about a big or small tradition that is important in their own family or community.
  • Juan Felipe Herrera has written a lot on his migrant background. Encourage students to interview their parents or guardians about their family’s migration or immigration history. When did you or our family come to this city/community? Why did you or our family come to this place (was it voluntary or forced)? From where did you or our family come?What traditions does our family have?
  • What does “home” mean to you? How might this word mean more than just the place where you live? What does “family” mean to you? How might this word mean more than just your mother and father? How might these words mean something different to various people?
  • Have students write a letter to Juan Felipe Herrera. In their letters, students may describe which story, poem, or moment in one of his books they connected to the most and why. Students can also include any questions they are curious about concerning Herrera’s life and work.

Picture book recommendations for the author study:

Calling the Doves / El canto de las palomas

Bilingual English/Spanish. Poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s bilingual memoir paints a vivid picture of his migrant farmworker childhood and his road to becoming a writer. Calling the Doves won the 1997 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for New Writing.

The Upside Down Boy / El niño de cabeza

Bilingual English/Spanish. Award-winning poet Juan Felipe Herrera’s engaging memoir of the year his migrant family settled down so that he could go to school for the first time. The Upside Down Boy captures the universal experience of children entering a new school feeling like strangers in a world that seems upside down at first.

Grandma and Me at the Flea / Los Meros Meros Remateros

Bilingual English/Spanish. Every Sunday Juanito helps his grandmother sell old clothes beneath the rainbow-colored tents at the remate, the flea market. Juanito learns firsthand what it means to be a true rematero, a fleamarketeer, and understands that the value of community can never be measured in dollars.

Featherless / Desplumado

Bilingual English/Spanish. At his new school or on the soccer field, all everyone wants to know is why Tomasito is in a wheelchair. His Papi gives Tomasito a new pet to make him smile, but this bird is a little bit different from the rest. Juan Felipe Herrera scores again with this sparkling bilingual story of self-empowerment and friendship. Featherless won the 2005 Independent Publisher Book Award for Multicultural Fiction.

What are your recommendations for a successful author study? Share with us!

Jill Eisenberg, our Senior Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. In her weekly column at The Open Book, she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

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10. Lauren Zuniga Poetry Video Goes Viral

Writer Lauren Zuniga has crafted a poem called \"Things That Happened to Me in High School…\" The video embedded above showcases Zuniga reciting her piece at the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

Thus far, the video has drawn more than 43,000 views on YouTube. Click on these links to listen to two more of Zuniga’s works: “Personhood” and “Submissive.”

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11. Cover Revealed for The Hollow of the Hand

The Hollow of the Hand Cover (GalleyCat)

The cover has been unveiled for The Hollow of the Hand. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?

Writer PJ Harvey and photographer Seamus Murphy collaborated on this poetry collection. Bloomsbury Publishing has set the publication date for October 20th.

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12. What Gifted Writers Need

These young students come to me ready to write. They just need permission.

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13. Writing Odes this past month

My Poetry Sisters and I have been scribbling down Odes all through the past month. Every month this year we are working on writing different forms of poetry in a group challenge. It's been both fun and frustrating at times! But Odes are pure fun. We agreed to take a light-hearted look at things this month, and some of these are downright funny! Check out my compatriot's Odes at these links:

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14. Poetry Friday: An ode to...well, you'll see---I think

The Poetry Seven has a list: an agreed upon schedule of poetic forms we will attempt this year. And in which order.

But then, we get fancy. Throw around themes or a common word or two.

This month, we were due to tackle odes.  Free-verse odes, so no one had to wrestle with rhyme if they didn't want to.  The topic? Anything at all. The words? Up to us.

The only catch? They were supposed to be humorous.


It turns out that a funny ode---praising and pranking, both at once, you might say---is jolly hard.

An Ode to---well, you’ll see---I think

One wintry morn, waking to find
my snow shovel absconded with—
brazenly taken from under the front stairs
—and replaced by one with a cracked acrylic blade—
why oh why would you steal my shovel
and leave me your TRASH instead?—
I will make, to re-boot (re-foot? re-shoe?) the day
Frito waffles with mascarpone
and warm strawberry compote (!!!)
but today—having found this recipe
now am deeply depressed
for who can ode-alate
corn chips better than such a dish—certainly not
this poem, which is why
it is not about Fritos—

although, in a way, the first stanza touches
on but does not intersect
with the subject of this ode—
or should I say, the object of this ode—
for we use the term “object of my undying devotion”—
or perhaps the word is yet to be coined
 —the ode-ulatee? the ode-ified?—
or perhaps it is —like an old cell phone—in the clutches
of a different owner, and dialing it would yield
a word like odoriferous— which has nothing
to do with odes—

—still, there was this Danish mathematician—I know!
I know! the Danes don’t stink, but they are often confused
with the Finns, so I rather think it’s nearly as confusing
as odiferous—so, this Dane—
he thought nothing of writing
a book called Geomietriae Rotundi,
which might be funny if there were a photo
of him, jolly and circular, eating waffles,
but the year was 1585 and it was Denmark,
so perhaps he was wan and thin, and mope-y
in a Hamlet sort of no-snow-shovel way and really
would’ve annoyed you
with his tons and tons of friends, despite his lack
of social graces—or waffles—
and this is when— it occurs to you,
that he is a mathematician—

not a writer—and yet, he has introduced—
as you wish to—although not for the
first time, as he did, but soon! yes, soon!
the term you are gallantly ode-ifying
if only you could stop thinking
about Fritos—an idea which should be by now
all but parenthetical (which means enclosed)
while the term you are praising is entirely
uncaged— like one of those European
vacays, where you ricochet off borders
like you were being Googled
by a middle-schooler who must—in twelve minutes—
crib an ethnic costume indicative
of her illustrious ancestors
or else forfeit the extra credit needed
to crawl across the
finish (Ha! the Finns, again!) line
of World History and yet—

you cannot believe that in all this—
not once—perhaps because you are certain
that this mathematician, this Thomas Fincke—-
does that name sound Danish to you?— that he
had a snow shovel AND friends, and—despite having
a son-in-law named Ole Worm—perhaps he had
a loving, round-ish wife who made him waffles
—so maybe you should’ve praised
geometry, with all its useful
angles—but instead…
Sorry, I’ve lost my train
of thought. What was I saying?

This is an ode to tangents.
I like them.

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Buffy at Buffy's Blog.

Other humorous odes by the Poetry Seven can be found here:  Tricia, Liz, Kelly, Laura, Andi, Tanita.

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15. Interview: Nikki Grimes on Writing Poetry

nikki grimesComing this month, Poems in the Attic is a collection of poetry that creates a tender intergenerational story that speaks to every child’s need to hold onto special memories of home, no matter where that place might be. We interviewed master poet Nikki Grimes on her process for writing poetry and if she has any tips to share.

In Poems in the Attic, the reader is introduced to free verse and tanka styles of poetry. Why were you drawn to the tanka form?

Poetry, for me, has always been about telling a story or painting a picture using as few words  as possible.  Haiku and tabla are forms that epitomize that.  I’d previously played with an introduction to haiku in A Pocketful of Poems, and I have long since been intrigued with the idea of incorporating tanka in a story.  Poems in the Attic provided such an opportunity, so I jumped on it.

Many readers are intimidated by poetry or think it is not for them. For people who find poetry difficult, where would you recommend they start?

Start with word play.  I sometimes like to take a word and study it through the lens of my senses.  Take the word “lemon”, for instance.  What is its shape, its scent,  its color?  Does it make a sound?  Does it have a taste?  How would you describe that sound, that taste?  Where is a lemon to be found?  What does it do or what can you do with it?  In answering such questions, in a line or two in response to each question, one ends up either with a poem or the makings of a poem.

poems in the atticIs there something people can do to be “good” at writing poetry? Where do you find inspiration when you get stuck?

There are a few answers to that question.

  1. Read poetry voraciously.  If you aspire to write good poetry, you must first know what that looks like.
  2. Practice, practice, practice.  Writing is a muscle that must be exercises, no matter the genre.
  3. Play.  Build your vocabulary.  Experiment with a variety of forms.  For too many trying poetry, rhyme is their default.  But rhyme is bot synonymous with poetry.  It is merely one element of it.  Explore metaphor, simile, alliteration, assonance, and all the other elements of poetry.  Think interns of telling a story and painting a picture with words.  These practices will lead you somewhere wonderful.

What’s one of your favorite lines from a poem?

I love lines from my poem “Chinese Painting” in Tai Chi Morning: Snapshots of China.  In seeking to describe the magic of a master painter, I wrote

“a few strokes

And a bird is born

A few more,

And it sings.”

Do you prefer poetry on the page or poetry read aloud? Who is your favorite poet to hear or read?

I especially love poetry on the page, in part because not all poets read their work well.  I do love to hear Naomi Shihabe Nye, though, and I especially loved to hear the exquisite Lucille Clifton.

Learn more about Poems in the Attic on our website or Nikki Grime’s website.


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16. Jacqueline Woodson Named Young People’s Poet Laureate

jacquelinewoodsonNational Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson has been named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

The award is given every two years to a poet who is recognized for writing “exceptional poetry for young readers.” The honor includes a $25,000 prize. The laureate’s role is to advise the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people’s literature. In addition, Woodson is responsible for promoting poetry to children, families, teachers, and librarians.

“Jacqueline Woodson is an elegant, daring, and restlessly innovative writer,” explained Robert Polito, president of the Poetry Foundation in a statement.”So many writers settle on a style and a repertoire of gestures and subjects, but Woodson, like her characters, is always in motion and always discovering something fresh. As she once told an interviewer, ‘If you have no road map, you have to create your own.’ Her gifts, adventurousness and generosity, suggest she will be a terrific young people’s poet laureate.”

Woodson shared writing tips with GalleyCat the 2014 National Book Awards. Follow this link to check out her advice on writing.

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17. Olivia Gatwood Poetry Video Goes Viral

Writer Olivia Gatwood has crafted a poem called “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” The video embedded above showcases Gatwood reciting her piece at the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

Thus far, the video has drawn more than 30,000 views on YouTube. Click on these links to listen to two more of Gatwood’s works: “Directives” and “At the Owl.”

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18. More inky beginnings! #studio #bookart #Sketch #drawing #ink...

0 Comments on More inky beginnings! #studio #bookart #Sketch #drawing #ink... as of 5/29/2015 11:17:00 PM
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19. All the Wild Wonders – an interview about poetry with Wendy Cooling

wildwondersAll the Wild Wonders – Poems of our Earth, edited by Wendy Cooling and illustrated by Piet Grobler is a collection of poetry which poses interesting questions about the world we live in. The poems encourage reflection on the wonders and beauty around us on our planet, and provoke thought about what the future holds given the impact humans have on the natural environment. There are poems in many different styles from Benjamin Zephaniah to William Blake, via Ogden Nash and John Milton, each juxtaposed in ways that draw out new and sometimes surprising comparisons.

Rich and colourful watercolour illustrations throughout make this look more like a picture book than many a poetry anthology whilst the embossed, textured cover and luxuriously thick paper that have been used for this new edition make this book simply delightful to hold in your hands as well as to read silently or aloud.

To celebrate publication of All the Wild Wonders in its new and exceptionally beautiful format earlier this spring I put some questions to Wendy Cooling, the editor of the anthology, about the way she works, the state of children’s poetry and what we could look for in the library or bookshop if we wanted to offer more great poems to the kids in our lives.

Playing by the book: When I look at the poetry books you’ve worked on sometimes they are described as being “written” by you, other times “edited” or “selected”. So what is a poetry editor? I see you almost more as a curator – you choose poems to present and juxtapose, rather than (I imagine) editing their actual words or structure?

Wendy Cooling: Yes, a poetry editor is really more like a curator than a book editor as he/she cannot change the words in a poem, or amend in any way without the poet’s consent. Sometimes an extract from a poem is agreed to but otherwise the poem is as the poet wrote it. The editor chooses and arranges the poems to present a theme or an idea in a coherent way.

An excerpt from All the Wild Wonders, illustrated by Piet Grobler

An excerpt from All the Wild Wonders, illustrated by Piet Grobler

Playing by the book: Where and how do you start when you’ve a new anthology to curate? With lots of books on the table? Innumerable post-it notes?….

Wendy Cooling: The beginnings of an anthology are pure joy to me. I sit somewhere comfortable, often under a tree in the garden, surrounded by mountains of poetry collections and anthologies I just read and read and read… and use lots of post-it notes. I visit the Poetry Library in London’s Festival Hall and indulge in more poetry reading and lots of photocopying. I have of course far more poems that I can ever use.

An area specially for families and children in the Poetry Library.

An area specially for families and children in the Poetry Library.

The next bit is the hard bit, weeding out poems I love but don’t quite work for the age-group or within the overall developing theme. I look for a mixture of forms as I want to move children away from the idea that poems must rhyme. I look for writing from many cultures to give a sense of the universality of poetry.

I have a budget to consider too as of course poets are paid for the inclusion of a poem. There are always one or two very eminent poets we just can’t afford.

Playing by the book: So just with the words, there are plenty of different considerations. What about when an anthology is accompanied by illustrations, as many of yours are. When you are working on an anthology to what extent do you liaise with the illustrator?

Wendy Cooling: It is quite unusual for editor and illustrator to liaise, often the two never meet. Luckily I do get to see and comment on Piet Grobler‘s very earliest roughs. We don’t always quite agree on the meaning of a poem and can talk this through, quite a fascinating process. I think I’m very fortunate and do hope to work with Piet in the future.

Playing by the book: I’d love to be able to eavesdrop on those conversations where it turns out your two interpretations don’t quite match. I bet they are very rich and interesting!

What sort of anthology would you like to curate next if you could have an entirely free say in it? Is there a theme you’d especially like to explore which you haven’t yet?

Wendy Cooling: I have three ideas that I’m working on at the moment but won’t reveal them here!

Playing by the book: Fair enough – but I will be keeping my eyes peeled for future collections!

What about this then: Is there something that poetry does better or differently than other genres in your opinion?

Wendy Cooling: Poetry is very special as it helps children to really taste words and to experiment with their own writing. To children who struggle as readers, a poetry book is very liberating – poems are quite short and there’s no rule that says you must read them all. Poetry well-introduced can be perfect to get some children into reading – they all love the ‘no rules’ bit.

Poetry is wonderful at expressing a very deep thought in few words and with great immediacy. Children don’t become good readers until they are able to hear words sing in their heads, poetry helps them to experience this magic. Too often children are asked to find similes, metaphors, examples of alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc and they couldn’t care less what the poem is about. Let’s leave all the analysis for later on and introduce poems as pleasure, fun and excitement, things to make you laugh, feel and think.

An excerpt from All the Wild Wonders, illustrated by Piet Grobler

An excerpt from All the Wild Wonders, illustrated by Piet Grobler

Playing by the book: What’s your opinion about the state of children’s poetry in the UK? Who are the up and coming children’s poets we should be looking out for?

Wendy Cooling: Children’s poetry is very strong at the moment but few publishers will publish it as they’re nervous of achieving the necessary sales. We need to be brave and to celebrate poetry. I’m very keen on James Carter and Rachel Rooney as well as more established poets like Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard, Carol Ann Duffy, Roger McGough, Valerie Bloom, Judith Nicholls and many many more.

Playing by the book: This seems like an opportune moment to congratulate Rachel Rooney on making this year’s CLPE Poetry Award shortlist which was recently announced. And what about you? Do you write poetry yourself?

Wendy Cooling: I write myself but not for publication! It’s a great pleasure perhaps a personal indulgence in my case.

Playing by the book: Apart from All the Wild Wonders, what three other children’s poetry anthologies would you encourage us to seek out if we were looking at starting a home poetry library?

Wendy Cooling: There are many terrific anthologies to look at, one of my favourites is Adrian Mitchell‘s A Poem a Day, it’s a delight to dip into and perfect for families to look at together. A Caribbean Dozen edited by John Agard and Grace Nichols is special too. If you can’t go to the Caribbean this is the next best thing as it invites you to experience the rhythms and atmosphere of another land.

There’s nothing like a live poet though, listening to them read, or perform their own poems can be a great experience. Children love to perform their poems too but should only be encouraged to learn by heart poems they really want to remember for ever.

Playing by the book: I couldn’t agree more with you Wendy. Thank you.

An excerpt from All the Wild Wonders, illustrated by Piet Grobler

An excerpt from All the Wild Wonders, illustrated by Piet Grobler

3 Comments on All the Wild Wonders – an interview about poetry with Wendy Cooling, last added: 5/11/2015
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20. Keeping a Green Tree in your Heart: A Selection of Tree Poetry Books

Tree-Themed Multicultural Children's Poetry Books

To give the Chinese proverb in its entirety, ‘Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come’ – and to extend the metaphor (or revert it … Continue reading ...

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21. Seeing Myself Through My Daughter’s Eyes

dreamstimefree_269702smMother’s Day was a couple weeks ago. Since that day also happens to correspond with my end of the semester grading frenzy, I didn’t get a chance before now to post this lovely poem that my 12-year-old daughter wrote for me:

a business teacher
a pitch perfect singer
a writer of astonishing books that I love to read
a cook of marvelous foods
AND she cleans like a pro

a helper with homework
a stay up late worker
She is head shopper for birthdays, Christmas presents and other stuff

is patient (ish)
and cool (ish)

But the best thing about my mom is that she loves me
that’s the best
I could get.


Yeah, I cried.

Photograph © Mamz

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22. Melissa Lozada-Oliva Poetry Video Goes Viral

How do you respond in a name calling situation? Poet Melissa Lozada-Oliva has crafted a response message (complete with NSFW language).

The video embedded above features Lozada-Oliva’s performance at the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Follow this link to listen to another one of her pieces.

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23. A Rock Can be – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: A Rock Can Be Written by: Laura Purdie Salas Illustrated by: Violeta Dabija Published by: Millbrook Press, 2015 Themes/Topics: rocks, nonfiction, poetry, rhyme Suitable for ages: 5-8 Opening: A rock is a rock.                       … Continue reading

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24. New York Poetry Festival Featured On Kickstarter

The Poetry Society of New York, the producers behind the 5th annual New York City Poetry Festival, have raised more than $12,000 on Kickstarter.

The funds will be used to cover the costs of hosting this year’s event. We’ve embedded a video about the project above.

Here’s more from the Kickstarter page: “This year we will welcome back more than 75 New York City poetry groups, including venerable institutions, upstarts, small presses, local reading series, literary journals, high school poetry teams, and more to The Festival’s three stages. If year’s past are any indication, over 250 poets will present, and we’ve already booked some incredible headliners: Nick Flynn, Patricia Spears Jones, David Matlin, and Fran Quinn!”

Welcome to our Kickstarter Publishing Project of the Week, a feature exploring how authors and publishers are using the fundraising site to raise money for book projects. If you want to start your own project, check out How To Use Kickstarter to Fund Your Publishing Project.

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25. New Neil Hilborn Poetry Video Goes Viral

Writer Neil Hilborn became an internet sensation for his poem, OCD. The video embedded above showcases Hilborn reciting a new piece called Joey.

Thus far, the video has drawn more than 30,000 views on YouTube. “Joey” can be found in Hilborn’s new book Our Numbered Days; the full collection features 45 poems.

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