Friday, March 06, 2009

Poetry Friday - Heart to Heart

I'm reading lots and lots of poetry in preparation for National Poetry Month and my super secret poetry project. This week I fell in love with many of the pieces in Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth Century American Art (2001). Edited by Jan Greenberg, the art selected includes works by Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollack, Grandma Moses, Jacob Lawrence, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Georgia O'Keeffe and others. Pieces include paintings, photographs, sculptures and more. An illustration from Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach is even included. Each piece of art is accompanied by a poem it inspired.

One of my favorites is a pantoum by Bobbi Katz. Here is how it begins.
Lessons from a Painting by Rothko
How would you paint a poem?
Prepare the canvas carefully
With tiers of misty rectangles
Stacked secrets waiting to be told.

Prepare the canvas carefully
With shallow pools of color
Stacked secrets waiting to be told
Messages from some unknown place
Some of the poems in the book tell stories, while others speak from the artwork itself as the voice of the object or a person depicted within. Some describe the elements of the artwork, while others still explore the nature of art and the artist.

Here is an excerpt of a poem written by Jane Yolen. Can you guess which well-known painting it accompanies? (The title has been excluded for obvious reasons!)
Do not dwell on the fork,
the brooch at the throat,
the gothic angel wing
of window pointing toward
a well-tended heaven.

Read the entire poem. (Scroll down the page to poetry sampler.)
The ekphrastic poetry in this book is moving and lovely. In addition to those mentioned above, you'll find pieces by Kristine O'Connell George, X. J. Kennedy, J. Patrick Lewis, Naomi Shihab Nye, Carole Boston Weatherford and many other wonderful poets. If you haven't yet seen and savored this book, I highly recommend it.

The round up is being hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day. Do stop by to take in all the great poetry being shared. Before you go, be sure to check out the personal ad poetry written for this week's poetry stretch.


  1. I own this book, and I love it.

    Anxious awaiting your Super-Secret Project! :)

  2. I have the Book Tar Beach and its autographed. I found it in the attice of the house I bought a year ago. Cool huh.

  3. I am so completely stoked for your secret project to launch! Love the American Gothic poem, and I'm a sucker for pantoums. Must get myself a copy of this book!

  4. This looks like a fabulous book! I always love Jane Yolen's work, like her American Gothic poem! I love the coupling of great art with poetry!

  5. Wow, this book looks fabulous. I, too, am sitting on edge for your Super Secret Poetry Project to begin!

  6. Shall we just fast-forward to April???

  7. I didn't know about this book...and I am with you on celebrating POETRY big time on of my favorite moments of the school year. Thanks for the review!

  8. art and poetry: gotta get me this book. May even rekindle my music composition fire.

  9. Have you seen Jan Greenberg's newest (2008) book of poetry and art: SIDE BY SIDE. It has poems from around the world (in the original language and translated to English) side by side with art from around the world. Gorgeous. Thought-provoking.

  10. This looks like a really must have book for our library. I'm adding it to our list. Thanks!

  11. Jan has also published an amazing companion to the book entitled SIDE BY SIDE: NEW POEMS INSPIRED BY ART FROM AROUND THE WORLD. I hope you have a chance to check it out too.

    All the best,

    Jason M. Wells, Marketing Director
    Abrams Books for Young Readers