Tag Archives: poetry

Nikki Grimes’ Golden Shovel

6 Aug

Poet Terrance Hayes is credited with inventing Golden Shovel poetry. When you write a Golden shovel poem, you take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire, and, maintaining their order, use each word as an end word in your poem.

Poet Nikki Grimes has taken this strategy and written a beautiful homage to the Harlem Renaissance in One Last Word. 

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Publisher’s Summary: In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.

This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African-American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

A foreword, an introduction to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, author’s note, poet biographies, and index makes this not only a book to cherish, but a wonderful resource and reference as well.

Books of poetry rarely win Newbery medals, but this one is certainly in the running, although I wonder of the presence of the Harlem Renaissance poems disqualifies it. regardless, Grimes’ book bring artists and writers of the period to a new audience and addresses tough issues that persist.

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Lucy’s Guardian Angel

5 Mar

There is a rumor in the basset hound world that every basset has a heart-shaped spot somewhere on their body. Basset slaves proudly post pictures of these hearts on the Daily Drool Facebook page and get lots of reactions.

I set out one day to find Lucy’s heart. For those of you who haven’t met her yet, this is Lucy:

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She is now 10 and I have had her for 7 years. In fact, we just celebrated her 7th Gotcha Day on January 16th. (A Gotcha Day, in case you didn’t know, is the day a rescue dog is adopted.)

In any case, I set out to find her heart, but was having no luck. I was feeling rather glum and took a seat on the sofa to contemplate the deeper meaning of her lack of a heart-shaped spot, when I saw it. it wasn’t a heart. It was something even better.

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Lucy had an angel!

Billy Collins wrote a poem entitled “Questions About Angels“. Here is a poem, inspired by that poem, about Lucy’s angel

Lucy’s Angel (with apologies to Billy Colllins) 

Of all the questions you might want to ask
an angel, the only one you ever hear
a basset ask is about his furever home.
Like babies, dogs see angels
and know better than to rush in
where angels fear to tread.
God might have made man
a little lower than the angels
but Lucy’s angel hovers at her side.
Human metaphysics might question
the existence of angels, and philosophers
debate how many dance on the head of a pin,
But Lucy knows her angel is with her
both now and forever,
and to the ages of ages. Arooo!

The 2016 Cybils Awards

15 Feb

Well my term as a Round 2 Audiobooks judge for the 2016 Cybils Award is over. It was great fun doing something new, and listening to Audiobooks is a different way. The award winners were announced yesterday on the Cybils blog. But I wan to tell you about our winner and my nominee that won.

As a committee, we chose The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, for the Audiobooks award.

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Read by Vikas Adam, Mark Bramhall, Jonathan Cowley, Kimberly Farr, Adam Gidwitz, Ann Marie Lee, Bruce Mann, John H. Mayer, and Arthur Morey.
Listening Library

Nominated by: Katy Kramp

In a 13th century French inn, travelers including a nun, troubadour, and brewer, exchange stories of their encounters with three miraculous children who are set to be brought before the king for treason. Jeanne is a peasant girl who has visions; William, a teenage monk with incredible strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy who has healing powers. They are accompanied in their adventures by Gwenforte, Jeanne’s faithful greyhound, who has returned from the dead.

Using a style reminiscent of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and the oral story telling traditions of the past,The Inquisitor’s Tale is narrated by a full cast of characters, each of whom adds a new layer to the story, building to a satisfying conclusion. The variety of voices and accents makes the unfamiliar setting come to life for middle grade readers, who will also appreciate the slightly off-color humor, a dragon quest, and courage of the young heroes. Along the way, listeners get to know the three children and the multiple narrators, one of whom is the author, Adam Gidwitz.

The book I nominated in the poetry category, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, by Laura Shovan, was that category winner! This is the first time one of my nominees has won, so I am rather excited about this award.

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When this school year ends,
I will have spent
one thousand days
in this building.
I want a thousand more
so I’ll never have to say
goodbye to friends.

From “First Day” by Rachel Chieko Stein

Eighteen narrators, from diverse backgrounds and experiences, tell the story of their final year at elementary school before moving up to middle school.  Their final year also corresponds to the last year of Emerson Elementary itself. The school is scheduled to be demolished to build a supermarket in their food insecure neighborhood.

The fifth grade has been asked by their teacher, Ms. Hill, to write poems for a time capsule to be incorporated into the new building project. The poems in various forms reveal the distinctly personal stories of each student and the classroom dynamics. As the year unfolds, students find their voices by organizing and protesting the demolition of their beloved school.

Of all the candidates for this year’s award for poetry, the committee found The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary to be the most appealing in its diversity, its capturing of the emotional lives of children on the brink of adolescence, and its poetic acrobatics.  Laura Shovan’s writing is masterful.  Readers will find themselves reflected in the experiences of the fifth graders.  A thumbnail illustration of each character accompanies the poem helping the reader further identify the character.  An introduction to poetry and poetic forms at the end completes the package.

Visit the Cybils blog to see the  annotated list of winners.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Poetry

14 Oct

I’m still basking in the joy of yesterday’s Nobel Prize for Literature announcement. Although the Nobel committee awarded it “”for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, I think it was because it was his for the inspiration his poetry inspired in others.

Which gets me to today’s book, Patricia MacLachlan’s The Poet’s Dog.

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Publisher’s Summary:From Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan comes a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help one another survive loss and recapture love.

Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

This is a short book, a mere 96 pages, but it speaks to the power of poetry.

 

Readathon 2016

22 May

I found out early yesterday morning that it was National Readathon Day, a day dedicated to the joy of reading and giving, when readers everywhere can join together in their local library, school, bookstore, and on social media (#Readathon2016) to read and raise funds in support of literacy. I was too late in the game to do anything other than read, but I am filing away the info for next year. But I can share some of the cool graphics I found

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and tell you about the binge read I went on yesterday.

Because it is due back at the library soon, I started and finished Sarah Dooley’s Free Verse.

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Publisher’s Summary:

A Year in Poems

2 May

There are many seasonal poetry books, but When Green Becomes Tomatoes written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad is well worth your while.

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It opens in Spring, on March 20 to be precise, “balancing gently/ on the tip of spring”.  This

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opening poem sets the tone for a book of poems that is introspective and wondering in a way that children can be. The book also has poems that are whimsically funny.

The book closes with Winter.

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The final poem is also set on March 20 at the end of Winter, “balancing gently/ on the tip of spring”. The language of these poems, combined with Morstad’s illustrations, makes this a must read. And it might even become the inspiration for tiny writers to begin writing their own collection of seasonal poems.

Pangur Bán

11 Apr

Sometime in or around the 9th century, a monk wrote a poem, in Irish, in the margins of a manuscript in the Monastery of St Paul in Lananttal, Austria. The poem, entitled “Pangur Bán”, compares the life of the monk to the life of his white (bán) cat, Pangur. There have been many translations and Jo Ellen Bogart explains in the author’s note at the end of The White Cat and the Monk, that she has drawn on several of these for the text she uses in the book.

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The simple text is elegant, distilling the poem’s ideas to language young readers can appreciate and enjoy. The book opens wordlessly as we follow the white cat into the monastery and the cell of the monk, to whom we are then introduced

“I, monk and scholar,

share my room

with my white cat, Pangur.

 By candle’s light, late into the night

we work, each at a special trade.

The monk goes on to compare and contrast his life and scholarly pursuits to the cat’s life and feline pursuits. And yet, in the end they are not so different. The final pages show the monk and cat, together at a window.

In our tiny home,

Pangur finds his mouse…

and I find light

in the darkness.

The illustrations are beautiful, modern, yet evoking a time and place long ago.

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This is a quiet book, contemplative even, but I think  many young readers would enjoy it. I think it would make an excellent bedtime read aloud for people of all ages. You can hear the poem, read it is original Irish in the clip below, from Seamus Heaney’s Memorial Service.

 

 

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