My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, is a collection of 50 poems grouped by geographic region. It includes the northeast states, Capital, southeast states, Great Lakes states, plains states, mountain states, southwest states, and Pacific coast states. The section for each region is prefaced with a map and facts about each state, including capital, nickname, motto, bird, flower, tree, area, and one "great fact."
Zion National Park - Utah
by Fran Haraway
Canyon walls remain unchanged by days
Standing as they did when earth began.
Massive rock, passive to nature's ways
Unmoved by inquisitiveness of man.
Yet each evening brings a constant change.
Shadows quilt each hill and canyon wall.
Pastel patchworks gently rearrange
Antique patterns, then night covers all.
Poem © Fran Haraway. All rights reserved.
Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Ar (2006), written by Diane Siebert and illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson, is a collection of 26 poems of varying length about a range of places and things around the United States. In her author's note, Siebert explains how a summer motorcycle trip across the U.S. turned into a 10-year journey around the country. In TOUR AMERICA she wrote about some of her favorite sights, including the Everglades, gargoyles, Lucy the Elephant, Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful, The Golden Gate bridge, and more. The book opens with a map of the U.S. with dots and illustrated captions highlighting the sights.
A distant dream, a complex plan,
A work in granite carved by man,
A piece of art, its presence fills
This corner of the great Black hills.
Four faces on a mountainside,
It speaks of patriotic pride--
A tribute, silent and immense,
To four distinguished presidents.
Recall their names and what they've done--
The leadership of Washington;
The insights Jefferson revealed;
Abe Lincoln's Union, torn, then healed;
The lands preserved by Roosevelt--
The impact of their lives still felt
By each of us who celebrates
Our life in these United States.
Each poem in this collection is accompanied by a brief bit of informational text. Here's the text for this poem.
MOUNT RUSHMORE - The 60-foot-high faces of four U.S. presidents were carved by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his team beginning in 1927. Approximately 500,000 tons of rock were dynamited to expose the softer granite into which the images were chiseled. Borglum dies 14 years later, just a few months before the memorial was finished. His son supervised the project's completion, and the national monument was dedicated in 1941.Poem and Text © Diane Siebert, 2006. All rights reserved.
The illustrations beautifully complement the poems. In the artist's note Johnson says "And so, in keeping with the forms, contents, and moods of Diane's poems, my artwork, in a variety of mediums--acrylic, charcoal, colored pencils, collage, gouache, graphite, ink, oils, pastel, photography and watercolors--celebrates the colors, diversity, and rich textures of America."
Here's one more poem from this collection.
Far beneath the quiet soil
Where molten rock lies glowing,
A cache of water starts to boil,
And then, with pressure growing,
The steam and water start to rise
Up through the age-old routing
As people lift astonished eyes
To watch Old Faithful spouting.
Poem © Diane Siebert, 2006. All rights reserved.
Amazing Places (2015), with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrations by Chris Soentpiet and Christy Hale, is a collection of 14 poems that highlights landscapes, historical sites, and cultures across the United States. The poem below is actually a shape poem that was hard to reproduce here, so be sure to click the image above to see what it's meant to look like.
S A N D Y H O O K L I G H T H O U S E
storms rage, lightning
duty in this
more than two
of the sea,
shoals . . .
to protect you,
welcome you to
New York Harbor,
keep you SAFE.
S A N D Y H O O K
L I G H T H O U S E
National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth.
Fossil Beds at the Badlands
Badlands National Park, South Dakota, U.S.A.
Pass the RUSH-NO-MORE CAMPGROUND,
Saber-toothed cats sleeping,
wild horse dreams pressed into rock.
No quiet bigger than theirs.
Step gently, touch nothing,
does anyone remember?
Once they roamed the land of shining grasses,
owning sky. Tonight there's a bighorn sheep,
his back to the sunset, prairie dogs huddling
underground. How does so much disappear?
This kingdom holds lost hopes.
They are orange now. Some look like
fingers pointing to the sky.
Drop your own pain, no one will know.
Navigate soft sediment, whispering Rhino.
Everyone's emptiness made elegant,
even the bison and black-footed ferret,
even the woman, even the man.
Poem © Naomi Shihab Nye. All rights reserved.
Monday on the Mississippi, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Frané Lessac, is a poetic trip down the Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana. Each day of the week celebrates a new location on the river.
Saturday on the Mississippi
The guide is telling a tale dark as the gathering clouds:
"1863. North and South. Whoever held this river
was sure to win the war."
Thunder booms like cannonfire.
The visitors jump, then watch wide-eye
as the wind grabs the guide's favorite hat
and tosses it into the water.
The Mississippi waves it once like a tattered flag,
then swallows it whole.
If you are interested in the National Parks highlighted in these poems, you'll find them at the links below.
- Zion National Park
- Mount Rushmore
- Old Faithful - Yellowstone National Park
- Sandy Hook National Lighthouse
- Badlands National Park
- Vicksburg National Military Park
That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.
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