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National Poetry Month 2019

Poetry Friday is being hosted by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater this week! Stop by the Poem Farm for some farm-fresh poems.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

From “The Waste Land” by T. S. Eliot
(Read the poem at the Poetry Foundation)

Ever wondered why we celebrate National Poetry Month in April? It is the cruellest month, according to T. S. Eliot.  Despite the dead land and dull roots, there is hope in the lilacs and the spring rain.

I’ve been away from blogging while Saadia Faruqi and I revise our upcoming middle grade novel, A Place at the Table. But I can’t let National Poetry Month pass without joining in on the fun.

More importantly, it is my mission to encourage educators to share poetry with students. That’s why I took a break from the revision tunnel to talk poetry with:

Jed Doherty at Reading with Your Kids

Are you a fan of podcasts? At his podcast, “Reading with Your Kids,” children’s author Jedlie and I talked about the power of sharing poetry with children. You can listen to the episode here.

Resources I mentioned during the podcast include:

Billy Collins’ poem “Introduction to Poetry” at the Poetry Foundation

Poetry 180 — a poem for every day of the high school year.

The Poetry Foundation

Poetry Friday blogging community overview from Renee LaTulippe: https://www.nowaterriver.com/what-is-poetry-friday/

Sarah Tregay’s list of verse novels 

Poetry Out Loud national recitation competition

United States’ Young People’s Poet Laureate

Educators at Nerdy Book Club

This was my second time doing a special Facebook Live/National Poetry Month video for Nerdy Book Club, a grass roots organization founded by educators to support teachers and promote reading and literacy. This 40 minute video focuses on poetic forms and why it’s important to include them in your students’ poetry toolbox. I model a lesson on Fibonacci poems and share a writing technique called “cross-out” poetry. Watch here.

Resources mentioned in this video include:

*Traditional poetic forms:

Haiku Hike. Scholastic, Inc. 2005.

Hirsch, Robin. FEG: Ridiculous Poems for Intelligent Children. Illustrated by Ha. Little, Brown and Company, 2002.

Janeczko, Paul B. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Candlewick Press, 2005.

Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till. Illustrated by Philippe Lardy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005. (Form – a crown of sonnets. Viewer Nicole Mancini suggests pairing this book with Jewell Parker Rhodes Ghost Boys.)

Padgett, Ron, editor. The Teachers & Writers Handbook of Poetic Forms. Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 1987.

Reibstein, Mark. Wabi Sabi. Illustrated by Ed Young. Little, Brown and Company, 2008. (Form – haiku.)

Soto, Gary. Neighborhood Odes. Illustrated by David Diaz. Harcourt, Inc. 1992. (Form – odes.)

*Recently invented forms:

Golden Shovel poems, invented by Terrance Hayes – in tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool.”

Gwendolyn Brooks reading “We Real Cool”

Article on Golden Shovels

Mentor text: Grimes, Nikki. One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomsbury, 2017.

Reverso poems, invented by Marilyn Singer. 

Article on Reverso poems

Mentor text: Singer, Marilyn. Mirror, Mirror. Illustrated by Josée Masse. Dutton Children’s Books, 2010.

*Fibonacci sequence:

Campbell, Sarah C. Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature. Boyds Mill Press, 2010.

Lichtman, Wendy. “Nature’s Spirals.” National Geographic Explorer, March, 2009.

Also check out poet Joyce Sidman’s book Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. (Suggested by viewer Jessica Bigi.)

*Fibonacci poems:

You will find my classroom handouts and Fibonacci poem writing frame at the bottom of this post.

Lesson description and student responses: http://authoramok.blogspot.com/2012/05/we-got-beat-fibonacci-poems-part-1.html

http://authoramok.blogspot.com/2012/05/we-got-beat-fibonacci-poems-part-2.html

*Cross-out poems:

Shihab Nye, Naomi. “Words in My Pillow.” Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems. Ed. Georgia Heard. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2009. 26.

Medina, Tony. “Harlem Is the Capital of My World.” Love to Langston. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Lee & Low Books Inc. 2010.

Lesson description and student responses: https://laurashovan.com/2018/05/poetry-friday-list-poem-lesson/

FIBONACCI POEM HANDOUTS

Fibonacci poem writing frame

Fibonacci poem hand-out

Model Fibonacci poems (thanks to Karren Alenier for sharing)

Guest Post Alert: A Long Way to Go on Gun Violence

A week ago today, we woke up to news of another mass shooting — this time at a California bar where it had been college night. It had only been eleven days since eleven people were shot and killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Photo credit: Yassine El Mansouri

In a rush of emotion, I wrote about my experience seeing a staged production of Jason Reynolds’ YA verse novel LONG WAY DOWN. I am grateful for this book and others — like David Barclay Moore’s THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET — which look not only at violence, but at the underlying culture that celebrates and inculcates it, especially among boys. Especially among boys of color.

I’m grateful to Nerdy Book Club for giving me the space to process what I saw on stage and share it with you. And to my friend Susan Hobby for coming with me to see the production. And to Jason Reynolds, of course, for this book, which everyone should read.

You will find my guest post, “A Long Way to Go on Gun Violence,” here.

It’s National Poetry Month: Let’s Teach Poetry

Thanks to everyone who joined me at the Nerdy Book Club last night. What began as an idea to encourage people to teach poetry during National Poetry Month grew into a full-on event when my Nerdy friends invited me to post the live video on their Facebook page. Wow!

In case you missed it, I’ll try to embed the video at the bottom of this post.

As promised, here is a list of some of the books I recommended in the video. Plus a few extras. These are all poetry books, except where noted.

Find this deliciously creepy book at Indiebound.

Extending Your Onomatopoeia Lesson:

The Song Shoots Out of My Mouth: A Celebration of Music, Jaime Adoff
The Louds Move in!, Carolyn Crimi (non-poetry picture book)
Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat, ed. Nikki Giovanni
The Raven, illus. Ryan Price
Forest Has a Song, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, Muriel Harris Weinstein

Also Mentioned:

Once Upon a Poem: Favorite Poems that Tell Stories (Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” is in this anthology)
Poe: Stories and Poems, adapted by graphic novelist Gareth Hinds
Love to Langston, Tony Medina
I and I Bob Marley, Tony Medina
Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks, by wordplay master Calef Brown
Mirror Mirror, Marilyn Singer
Echo Echo, Marilyn Singer

Books with Poetry Writing Prompts:

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary (you’ll find the sound riddle prompt that goes with last night’s lesson on page 240).
Gone Fishing, Tamera Will Wissinger
The Poetry Friday anthology series, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

What Else Was on My Shelf?:
Some of the books I use for my poetry residencies…

Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems, ed. Georgia Heard
Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building, Christy Hale (great example of concrete poetry)
Sports Pages, Arnold Adoff
Love that Dog, Sharon Creech (verse novel)
Neighborhood Odes, Gary Soto
Poetry Speaks Who I Am, ed. Elise Paschen (my favorite anthology for middle schoolers)

A Limited List of Other Favorite Poetry Books:
(I’ll come back and add a screen shot of my bookshelves later)

I Am the Dog, I Am the Cat, Donald Hall (great for teaching opposite poems)
A Bad Case of the Giggles, ed. Bruce Lansky

Additional Resources:

March 31 Poetry Friday round-up at The Poem Farm
Laura’s Shoe Odes Workshop at Woven Tale Press
Laura’s Persona Poem Workshop at Today’s Little Ditty
and … in case you need to make a case for poetry at your school, here is my Baltimore Sun op-ed piece, “Does poetry have a place in the Common Core?”

NPM 2017 Feature: Verse Novelist Interviews

NPM 2017 poster by Maira Kalman. Request a free poster at this site.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! Are you ready to celebrate National Poetry Month 2017?

Like many Poetry Friday bloggers, I do an annual project for NPM. This year, my theme is novels-in-verse. I’ve got a great line-up of authors, ready to talk about the art and craft of the verse novel.

But, before the line-up, a big National Poetry Month announcement!

I’m very excited to be partnering with Nerdy Book Club on poetry outreach.

Tune into the Nerdy Book Club’s Facebook page this Sunday night, 9 pm EST. I will be live-streaming a poetry-lesson walk-through.

I continue to hear from educators who shy away from teaching poetry. Often it’s because they were taught (usually in high school) that analyzing a poem is more important than enjoying it.  Join me on Sunday as we discuss how teaching a poem can be fun, and help students learn analytical reading skills *at the same time*! This is a lesson/workshop that you can replicate in your classroom or home school.

You’ll find details and information about this event here. Wish me luck!

On Monday, April 3, my series of interviews with verse novelists kicks off with Jeannine Atkins.

Here is the full list of posts:

4/3 Jeannine Atkins, STONE MIRRORS: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis (Find the post here.)

4/6 Caroline Starr Rose, BLUE BIRDS (Find the post here.)

4/10 Leza Lowitz, UP FROM THE SEA (Find the post here.)

4/13 Shari Green, MACY McMILLAN AND THE RAINBOW GODDESS (Find the post here.)

4/17 Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, SOMEWHERE AMONG (Find the post here.)

4/20 Ellie Terry, FORGET ME NOT (Find the post here.)

4/24 Margarita Engle, MORNING STAR HORSE and FOREST WORLD (Find the post here.)

4/25 Tamera Will Wissinger, GONE CAMPING (Find the post here.)

4/27 Debut novelist Amanda Rawson-Hill (Find the post here.)

4/30 Holly Thompson, FALLING INTO THE DRAGON’S MOUTH (Find the post here.)

You can find a full list of National Poetry Month blog projects at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting Poetry Friday this week. See you over at the Poem Farm!