Happy Poetry Friday! Congratulations to Linda Baie. I pulled Linda’s name at random from last week’s comments. Linda, I’ll be sending you a signed copy of Welcome to Monsterville!
This week, I am celebrating the publication of Welcome to Monsterville with a wonderful read-alike book of poems.
But first, a big thank you.
Every year, I run a program for Nerdy Book Club called “It’s National Poetry Month – Let’s Teach Poetry!” This Tuesday evening, a group of Poetry Friday friends joined me for a live chat about how educators can use Poetry Friday as a classroom resource. What an incredible conversation we had!
I’m grateful to Matt Forrest Esenwine, Mary Lee Hahn, Irene Latham, Heidi Mordhorst, Margaret Simon, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Sylvia Vardell, and Janet Wong for their time, expertise, and focus on encouraging teachers to make poetry part of their students’ lives.
Now, onto the read alike.
I love the intersection between poetry and the imagination. Yes—our everyday imaginations (I wonder who is living in that hole underneath the azalea bush) but also our fantastical imaginations.
This is what Michael Rothenberg and I explored with our book, Welcome to Monsterville. Michael’s illustrations for the book were exercises in letting his imagination loose. My poems are something like an interpretation or translation of his art.
Published in 2008, this richly illustrated book has fourteen poems. Each one is about—or in the voice of—a mythical creature. The creatures span a variety of cultures. In these pages, you’ll meet a firebird and a thunderbird, hobgoblins from Glasgow and a naga from the Mekong river.
Some of these creatures are deliciously scary yet—through Larios’ poetic portraits—many of them are also deserving of the readers empathy.
Try reading Julie’s poems “Cockatrice” (on page 14) alongside “Freedom” from Welcome to Monsterville. “Cockatrice” begins, “I’m a snake-tailed rooster, / I’m a rooster-headed snake.”
And here is Michael Rothenberg’s rooster-like monster.
Freedom from Welcome to Monsterville Poems by Laura Shovan, Illustrated by Michael Rothenberg A strange new breed of rooster lives in our chicken coop. The birds wear collared shirts and gel their feathers in a swoop. The ties around their necks are hissing snakes. It’s disconcerting. They run around and peck the ground and scare the hens by blurting… Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee! We’re not roosters. Set us free! A weird new breed of rooster lives in our chicken coop. They find a shady spot and gather huddled in a group. Their almost-human eyes are watching me. I’m petrified. They point their wings and whisper things. That’s when I run inside. Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee! We are monsters. Set us free! We have an empty yard now. There’s no more chicken coop, no sign of feathered monsters when I sit on the back stoop. They picked the lock, opened the gate, and fled one moonless night. But not without a final shout, which gave me quite a fright. Dockaboodlecoo! Bockadoodlekee! Let’s go, Monsters. We are free!