Tuesday, April 18, 2017



It is April.
National Poetry Month.

It is April
and we are reading
and writing poetry
of language
and images
to process
and paint our world
to infuse our words
with hidden layers
of meaning
and depths of understanding

It is April
and we are celebrating
who have
saved our lives
and taught us how
to write
our own poetry.

In celebration, I share two recent discoveries.

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth offers a marvelous collection of poems in which the authors honor 20 poets.

In the preface, Alexander shares the context of his collection:
I believe that by reading other poets we discover our wonder.  For me, poems have always been muses. The poems in this book pay tribute to the poets being celebrated by adopting their style, extending their ideas, and offering gratitude to their wisdom and inspiration. 
I was delighted to find the among the 20 poets Alexander has selected to honor  many of my own personal favorites (Nikki Giovanni, Pablo Neruda, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver,  and Naomi Shihab Nye to name just a few), I was also pleased to discover three new-to-me poets (Judith Wright, Chief Dan George and Okot p'Bitek) to enjoy and explore.

 Alexander further suggests that we:
... use (the poems) as stepping stones to wonder, leading ( us) to write, to read the works of the poets celebrated....to seek out more about their lives and their work, or to simply read and explore more poetry. At the very least, maybe (we) can memorize one or two.
The result is a collection of poems that delights our ears and our eyes, as well as our hearts and our minds.   I smiled as I recognized the styles of my favorite poets recreated skillfully by the authors. affording me an opportunity to intentionally consider style, form, and craft.  I lingered over  Ekua Holmes's lush mixed-media collages which illustrate each poem, seeming to visually capture the style of the poet.

 In The Death of the Hat: A Brief History in 50 Objects, Paul B Janeczko has gathered poems representing each period in history beginning with the early Middle Ages (from 400 AD) up through our current age of contemporary poets.

In summing up more than 1000 years of history through poems about objects, surrounded by Chris Raschka's easily recognized illustrations, we consider the actual objects that were important in each age, the styles of the poets in each period, and most importantly, how poetry developed and changed.

Like Kwame Alexander, Janeczko also hopes that this collection will lead us beyond the collection to more poets and poetry:

I hope that ..(the collection) gives you a better idea of how poetry has evolved. I hope, too, that you enjoy a handful of the poets enough that you decide to explore their work further.... Finally, I believe that poetry is meant to be shared--that's what anthologies are all about-- so I hope you share a couple of these poems with someone close to you.

It is April.
We are reading and writing poetry.
These beautiful, coffee table-quality, gift -worthy collections are two of the best places to start this year... and to return to often.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Select a favorite poet and reread several of her poems. If she has published new poems, seek out those also.

What is is that you admire about this poet and her writing?

Write a poem in the same style or form, intentionally echoing her ideas, topics, and thinking.


Select an object that has importance for you.   Find poems about that object. Can you locate poems about the object from several time periods?

How are they similar? different?

Write a poem about your chosen object incorporating elements suggesting our contemporary culture and time.