Poetry is like peace on earth, good will toward men. It’s something we should read and enjoy year-round, not just in spring and all, but for many of us, without the extra effort of a special day or month, it gets rather lost of the shuffle of daily living.
National Poetry Month is celebrated both in the US, under the auspices of the Academy of American Poets (whose page has oodles of links — some good ones are How to Read a Poem [often] and Tips for Booksellers), and in Canada, under the auspices of the League of Canadian Poets, where this year’s theme is “Poetry Planet”.
Of course, we wouldn’t need a special month if we lived on a Poetry Planet…
And if we did live on a Poetry Planet, I have no doubt I’d find there my old Poetry Friday and Fib Friend, Gregory K. who blogs at GottaBook and who is planning to announce, on Monday March 23, his monthlong Poetry Party, with new poetry every day of the month and much much more. For all sorts of wonderful original poetry by Greg, from his poems to his fibs to his very funny Oddaptations, check his sidebar. UPDATED March 23 to add: Greg’s monthlong poetry party is “30 Poets / 30 Days”, where he’ll be posting a “previously unpublished poem by a different poem” for each day of April. Check his blog, GottaBook, for details and the list of celebrated contemporary children’s poets.
Greg also has an update on what else is going on in the Kidlitosphere (which now has its own planet, er, website) to celebrate National Poetry Month:
* Sylvia Vardell at her Poetry For Children blog, which has a wealth of information year-round,will be reviewing a new children’s poetry each day for the entire month of April
* Elaine Magliaro at Wild Rose Reader has some plans up her sleeve for the month too (she’ll be offering some lovely books as prizes), as well as a new blog of political poetry and a long, rich post from early March featuring her updated Resources for National Poetry Month (including some tidbits for teachers and home schoolers).
* Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is featuring interviews with three dozen poets for her series, Poetry Makers.
* Anastasia Suen at the Pencil Talk blog will celebrate by the month with school poems written by children, posting one every day.
Former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will spend the month of April blogging about Poems Out Loud. You can sign up to join him. As Poet Laureate, Mr. Pinsky created the Favorite Poem Project to encourage Americans to read their favorite verses aloud. April will see the publication of Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud, a book and CD set edited by Mr. Pinsky. Also good to read: the 2007 Mother Jones article on Robert Pinsky the poetry popularizer; and Mr. Pinsky himself, “In Praise of Difficult Poetry”, and on “Poetry and American Memory”.
Poetry podcasts and other online audio poetry:
The Library of Congress’s guide to online poetry audio recordings
The Academy of American Poets “Poetcast”
The Poetry Foundation’s podcasts and audio selections
Cloudy Day Art podcasts
Houghton Mifflin’s “The Poetic Voice”
HarperAudio!, where you can hear Ossie Davis read Langston Hughes, Peter Ustinov read James Thurber, and Dylan Thomas read his own works
The UK Poetry Archive
BBC’s “Poetry Out Loud”
Learn Out Loud’s “Intro to Poetry” podcast
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer’s Poetry Series podcasts
Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac
First World War Digital Poetry Archive podcasts
Poetry at NPR
KCRW’s Bookworm podcast
Some wonderful new, newish and newer poetry books to share with your children:
The Cuckoo’s Haiku: and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows (Candlewick, March 2009)
A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka (Candlewick, March 2009), from the same pair who brought us A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms in 2005. And really, what better way to celebrate poetry every day of the year, not just in April, than to speak, sing, and shout poetry aloud?
A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. A Caldecott Honor picture book biography of the American poet and physician (1883-1963) who wrote “A Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say”
The Visions in Poetry series from Canadian publisher Kids Can Press, where classic poems are combined with new Canadian artists, sometimes in startling ways, especially on the cover of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, illustrated by Murray Kimber. Other volumes include Casey at the Bat by Ernest L. Thayer, illustrated by Joe Morse; Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch; The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, illustrated by Geneviève Côté; My Letter to the World and Other Poems by Emily Dickinson, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch; and The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, illustrated by Ryan Price. And not new but fabulous from Kids Can Press: their picture book editions of Robert Service’s poems, illustrated by Ted Harrison. Canadian classics.
Douglas Florian‘s brand new Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings (and his not new but entirely seasonally appropriate, his energetic exploration of the vernal equinox, Handsprings)
The lovely new picture book version, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, of The Negro Speaks of Rivers, written by a very young Langston Hughes (Hyperion, January 2009)
I haven’t yet seen Rabbie’s Rhymes: Burns for Wee Folk newly out for the Robbie Burns 250th anniversary, but think it looks adorable.
UPDATED to add: Indefatigable children’s poet J. Patrick Lewis, one of the participants in Greg at Gottabook’s April 30 Poets / 30 Days poetrypalooza, was kind enough to send me a very sweet note complete with ruffles and flourishes — rather than the plank walk at swordpoint I deserved for the omissions — to remind me of his many varied works coming out in 2009:
The Underwear Salesman, And Other Jobs for Better or Verse by J. Patrick Lewis, illusrated by Serge Bloch (Atheneum, March 2009)
Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Ethan Long (Little, Brown, July 2009)
Spot the Plot! A Riddle Book of Book Riddles by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger (Chronicle Books, September 2009)
The House by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger (Creative Editions, October 2009); I’m excited to hear about this one because I loved their previous collaboration, the beautiful, marvelous The Last Resort.
If you or your children aren’t familiar with the poetry of J. Patrick Lewis, I urge you to run to the library or your favorite bookstore. Pat has written so many illustrated books of verse on such a wide variety of subjects — art, biography, history, science, holidays, bible stories, animals, general silliness, general spookiness, arithmetic, geography, music, reading and libraries, folk tales, castles and pirate kings, and more — that I dare you not to find something appealing. Also his timely tome on Galileo for this year — it’s a pop-up too, great fun. Best of all, Pat has free printable bookmark poems (or poem bookmarks). If you’re going to carry a poem in your pocket (an idea sparked in New York City), I can’t think of a handier way to do it!
Coming out soon:
A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection by Jane Yolen, with photographs by Jason Stemple (Wordsong, April 2009)
Previous National Poetry Month celebrations and other Poetry Posts at Farm School (you can also click the green “Poetry” page link up above, second from the right over the carrot leaves):
Something different, a list of poetry books and other poetic resources
How I got my kids to like poetry and broccoli
More poetry aloud, with PennSound
Poetry Is Life, and some Great Books too
A monthlong celebration of delight and glory and oddity and light (National Poetry Month 2008)
Adding even more poetry to your life, just in time for National Poetry Month (NPM 2006)
“Feed the lambs”: On the difference between poems for children and children’s poetry, Part 1 and Part 2
Thoughts on The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems and classic poetry
An appreciation of John Updike and light verse
Langston Hughes, the “social poet”
Eugene Field, “the children’s poet”, and his plea for the classics, for ambitious boys and girls
Robert Browning, with another plea and an explanation of how children learn best
You can also use the “category” clicker on the sidebar at left to find all of the Farm School Poetry and Poetry Friday posts (and more on Poetry Friday, celebrated all year, every year, HERE!)
Filed under: Audiobooks, Books, Canadiana, Celebrations, Childhood, Children's Books, Commemorations, Literature, New Books, Onward & Upward, Poetry, Poetry Friday, Public Speaking | 6 Comments »