Thursday, 30 January 2020
Jone Rush MacCulloch is hosting Poetry Friday this week at Deo Writer. Stop by for links to poetry hijinks!

About a week ago, my poet friend Michael Rothenberg messaged me. The message was this:

This looked to me like a monster in need of a poem. So…

Monster Poem #1
After artwork by Michael Rothenberg

A monster bought the house next door.
When it moved in, I wasn’t sure
just how this creature, tall and wide,
would squeeze its blobby form inside.
Its lips went first, then purple hair,
then six pink feet climbed up the stair.
It wore a jumpsuit, denim blue.
I called out, “That looks great on you!”
The monster turned, gave me a nod,
and blew green bubbles – which was odd.
But maybe that’s how monsters say,
“Hello, new friend! I’d like to play.”

Laura Shovan

And then this cutie arrived in my in-box:

Art by Michael Rothenberg. Shared with permission.

How could I resist?

Monster Poem #2
After artwork by Michael Rothenberg

Monsters don’t have birthdays.
I think that is unfair!
And so I planned a party
for our friends in Monster’s lair.
I made him a tiara and
a necklace strung with flags.
All our friends brought tasty food
and gifts in bright pink bags.
Surprise! the guests all shouted
but Monster wasn’t scared.
He laughed and hugged each friend
and said, “I never knew you cared.”

Laura Shovan

Michael and I are both getting a kick out of this collaboration. I hope there will be more monsters and monster poems in our future.

Michael Rothenberg is a poet, artist, and activist. He is founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change and the Read a Poem to a Child initiative. He’s also my buddy! Read Michael’s bio here.

You can see more of Michael’s (non-monstrous) artwork at the online magazine Otoliths.

33 responses to “Poetry Friday: Michael’s Monsters”

  1. Lisa says:

    I. Love. This, More monsters! More poems! You guys make a great team!!!

  2. Nancy says:

    Cheering – and refreshing. when real monsters are at bay in our politics- I’ll look for your friends and rhymes to bring needed respite -“believe in magic-a good phrase for the collaboration.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thank you, Nancy. You make a good point. With all of the dark news, I’m finding that creative play is the healing energy I need — especially with a friend for inspiration.

  3. Linda Baie says:

    Empathy and kindness shown for the ‘other’, Laura. You and Michael need to write a book! Very fun!

  4. Virgil F Suarez says:

    I am loving this collaboration and look forward to more monsters and their poetry.

  5. Your poems are as fun and colorful as Michael’s pictures. Thanks for sharing his bio and work.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Janice. Michael is an amazing community activist. When he invites me to join in a reading, event, creative project, I know something good will happen.

  6. As I read your poems and carefully went back to look deeply at Michael’s artwork, I realized how much in sync you both are. What a great collaborative effort. A book of monster poems would be a book small children would gravitate, too. Maybe even adding how the interchange grew into a book. I think children will love this and adults reading the poems aloud.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Carol, that’s such a kind thing to say. I went to visit Michael and his partner Terri earlier this month, and that time together definitely feeds the collaboration.

  7. jama says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!! You and Michael make a great team. MORE monster art and poems, please!

  8. Kay Jernigan McGriff says:

    I love, love, love the monster art and poems! I hope to see more!

  9. Wow! These are fun and fabulous, Laura! Love this spontaneous colalboration!

  10. Linda Mitchell says:

    How wonderful and playful and fun. Thank you for the pick-me-up! I want to feel as playful as these poems.

  11. Love the monsters and the poems–great wedding of both, and I agree with your comments above, “creative play” sure helps the darkness of our days…Thanks for sharing Michael’s art and your poetry Laura.

  12. Karen Eastlund says:

    Smiling and enjoying your poems… and his monsters! Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Mary Lee says:

    So. Much. Fun. All of it! The arrival of monsters in your inbox, the poems, the collaboration, the PLAY.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Love your monster poems! And Michael’s illustrations are great!

  15. Hooray for monsters! Love the collaboration. Thank you, Michael and Laura. And thank you for organizing the February pormts!

  16. […] Michael is a poet, founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and art-collaborator with me on the monster poems I’ve shared in the […]

  17. […] Back in January, my friend Michael Rothenberg was drawing and sharing abstract illustrations. One day, he posted what looked to me like a monster! I decided to write a monster poem to go with it. I shared that poem and Michael’s illustration at this post. […]

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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