Sunday, October 04, 2009

Broadening Horizons with Poetry

I've been watching the poetry nominations for this year's Cybils and regretting (just a bit) jumping in so soon with a nomination of my own. I've read a great deal of poetry this year, much of it outstanding. I worked particularly hard to see that my reading broke boundaries and included authors of color, as well as subjects of diversity.

Here are a few of the diverse titles I particularly enjoyed.
Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown, written by Malathi Michelle Iyengar and illustrated by Jamel Akib - Akin to the way that Joyce Carol Thomas celebrated the skin shades of African Americans in The Blacker the Berry, Iyengar's poems celebrate brown skin in all its varieties. (You can read more about this book at PaperTigers.)

Mother Poems, written and illustrated by Hope Anita Smith - I was completely undone by this collection of poems revolving around the loss of a beloved mother. The poems are poignant, loving and pack quite an emotional punch. (You can read more about this book at A Year of Reading.)

Partly Cloudy: Poems of Love and Longing, written by Gary Soto - Soto has accurately captured the thoughts and voices of young teens in love in this collection of 100 poems. Told from the point of view of both genders, the book is divided into two sections, A Girl’s Tears, Her Songs and A Boy’s Body, His Words. (You can read more about this book at Lithography 101.)

Rhymes 'Round the World, collected and illustrated by Kay Chorao - This collection of 40 poems and songs, particularly appealing for the preschool set, is composed of many short selections and nursery rhymes. The attraction here is the diversity of offerings paired with bright and cheerful illustrations.

My People, written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by Charles R. Smith - Hughes familiar poem that begins "The night is beautiful/So the faces of my people" is brilliantly illustrated in sepia-toned photos. Though only 33-words in length, the poem is brought vibrantly to life in a series of double-page spreads containing only 2 or 3 words each. (You can read more about this book at a wrung sponge.)

The Negro Speaks of Rivers, written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by E.B. Lewis - Gorgeous illustrations breathe new life into Hughes' poem. Each line of the poem is paired with a watercolor illustration that highlights water as a source of life and sorrow in the lives of black people. (You can read more about this book at Kids Lit.)

Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems
, written by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist - The bonds between family members are highlighted in this volume of 25 poems. You'll find poems that describe the range of emotions that exist in family life, from anger to fun and laughter, and of course, deepest love. (You can read more about this book at Poetry for Children.)
How about you? Have you read any diverse titles in poetry that broke some boundaries? If so, please share. I'd love to know what you've been reading.

Don't forget that nominations for the Cybils are open until 11:59 pm on October 15th. If you haven't done so, please do stop by and nominate your favorites in a range of categories.


  1. Feeling left out here. I had GREAT reviews for A MIRROR TO NATURE (Boyds Mills) but. . .


  2. No! I didn't leave you out. That's for another post. This one is just on diversity in poetry. Your book is in my nature round up.