Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poetry in the Classroom - Quiet, Little Books

It is the last day of April, the last in a series of posts for National Poetry Month. When I began this project, I never dreamed I would make it to the end. On day six I wondered, "What have I gotten myself into?" I didn't think I would have enough to write about for a full month, but as the last days approached, I realized there was much I still had not written about. I never posted about poetry books on the seasons (there are many!), Joyce Sidman (shame on me), Steven Schnur and his acrostic books of poetry (cross-reference with seasons), Mary Ann Hoberman, Bobbi Katz, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and so much more. The up side to this realization is that I now know I have material for many more posts on poetry in the classroom.

I wanted to go out with a bang, but decided instead to go out quietly with two slim volumes of beautifully crafted poems.

Flights of Fancy: And Other Poems, by Myra Cohn Livingston, is a collection of 40 poems that cover a wide range of topics, all made immediate by the writer's keen sense of observation. There are poems here about birds, airplane seat belts, clouds, checkers, popcorn and many other everyday topics. Here is one of my favorites.
Letter to a Pen Pal
I have
just cut out all
the states from Arizona
to Pennsylvania and thrown them

Now that
and New York are so close
we can get together most of
the time

and play
over at your
house or play here at mine
and talk whenever we want to
and ride

our bikes
and we won't need
to stay on the phone for so long
and I can stop writing all these
My pen pal growing up was in Japan. I remember wanting desperately to meet her, to erase the distance between us. This poem conveys those feelings remarkably well. All the poems in the book are like this--quietly capturing moments in ways readers can understand.

A Crack in the Clouds And Other Poems, written by Constance Levy and illustrated by Robin Bell Corfield, is a collection of 38 poems that celebrate everything from ballet, to herb gardens, to jack-o-lanterns. The writing here also conveys an attention to the world around, ocusing on the smallest, often unnoticed thing. As someone who spent a lot of time exploring the woods and fields around my childhood home, this poem brings back fond, albeit prickly memories.
I picked off
a bur,
a sticky
that clutched my shirt,

a pod
of seeds
with an urge
to travel
but no wings to fly
that hitchhiked
a ride,

hopping on board
from the weeds
near the road
as my sleeve
brushed by.

Well, seeds in need
do have to try!
The poems in this volume are largely written in free verse. When read aloud you'll find they have such wonderful cadences and rhythms. This is another quiet book of verse that packs a punch in the way it reflects the way kids often look at the world.

As they say in Hollywood, "That's a wrap!" I hope you have enjoyed reading this series on poetry in the classroom as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

No comments:

Post a Comment