April 1st will mark the beginning of National Poetry Month. Past celebrations have included The Free Verse Project and the National Poetry Map (check out Georgia!). The celebration for 2011 will include a national Poem In Your Pocket day. The idea is that on April 14th, you will carry a poem that you love with you all day to share with friends, co-workers, and others.
What are your favorite poems. Who is your favorite poet? I’ve known people who have told me that they don’t read poetry because they think it’s “too serious,” but poetry can actually be quite entertaining. Not only that, poetry is written on a variety of unusual topics and themes.
Do you like oysters? Check out “Oysters” by Seamus Haney in Selected Poems, 1966-1987. Of course, you won’t soon forget about the giddy young oysters in “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll which is included in The Annotated Alice: Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Are you a horse lover? Don’t miss “The Name of Horses” by Donald Hall included in Old and New Poems, or any of the poems about horses included in Herds of Thunder, Manes of Gold compiled by Bruce Coville.
Do you experience the occasional sleepless night? Next time that happens, try reading “Insomnia” by Elizabeth Bishop which is included in The Complete Poems, 1927-1979. For the younger set (and those of us who think that way) , don’t miss “I’m Tortured by Insomnia” which is part of Jack Prelutsky’s fun collection It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles.
And finally there are poems about…pockets! These include “Pockets” by Howard Nemerov included in The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov and “A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes” by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon included in her collection by that same title.
So do something different, and fun, next month and pick up some poetry at DCPL!
April is National Poetry Month, and so for today’s post, I thought it would be appropriate to feature something poetry related: book spine poetry! I first encountered this idea a couple of years ago on the website of artist Nina Katchadourian, who had dubbed her titular wordplay The Sorted Books Project. The idea was the same though. Take a group of books, pull out select titles and place them in sequence so that a sentence or phrase is formed when the titles are read from top to bottom (or from left to right, if left standing vertically on a bookshelf). And voila! You’re a poet! The result range from silly to seemingly profound, but the process is always entertaining.
Many individuals, institutions, and websites have tried their hands at producing book spine poetry this year. One of the largest collections can be found at the website 100scopenotes.
Another good place to view book spine poetry is the image hosting/sharing website Flickr. Several libraries (such as Somers Library and Thomas Memorial Library) have set up Flickr accounts where you can view their submissions. Still want more? A simple search for “book spine poetry” reveals the creative efforts of a multitude of individual poets.
Try crafting your own!
I have a dear friend who loves poetry and can quote huge chunks of it anytime you ask. I envy her that because most of the time poetry doesn’t work for me. I had a brief flirtation with John Donne in college but that light burned bright and then died quietly and though I’ve tried, I haven’t been able to work up the will to take another ride on the Poetry Appreciation Train. I want to ride but I just don’t get most poetry. I’ve often wondered if this disability is tied up with my inability to appreciate jazz or the Three Stooges–it’s something that works for some but not all. I had grown accustomed to thinking that poetry, much like pro football, was never going to be for me. However, I stumbled across a collection of sijo poems in the children’s collection a while back and finally found a crack in my poetry defenses. My favorite from the book is called Wish and it so perfectly conveys how poetry should work on a person’s heart that it almost makes me weep (almost.) Thanks to this Korean form of poetry, which looks so innocent and non-threatening, I’ve been tempted into the poetry section–that’s 811 to the Dewey Decimal users among us. It’s still rocky going but I’ve now realized that Edna St. Vincent Millay is not as twee and ladylike as I thought and that has been a marvelous discovery for me. Maybe I’ll give John Donne a call.
The 2008 National Book Award Winners are:
Fiction: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen
Nonfiction: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed
Young People’s Literature: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Poetry: Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems by Mark Doty
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of including nursery rhymes when reading to young children. Along those same lines, introducing children to poetry at a young age can help foster a life-long love, not only of poetry, but also of words and reading. Incorporating poetry into your regular reading habits isn’t as daunting as it may sound. Many picture books are already written in rhyming verse, so chances are, your child already has some experience with it. Quite a few well-known poems have even been adapted into a picture book format. The Owl and the Pussycat and Casey at the Bat are two famous ones. Other popular adaptations include The Spider and the Fly, Wynken, Blynken and Nod and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
If you’re still unsure where to start, Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are perennial favorites. They’re smart, laugh-out-loud funny, and usually pretty short. Other well known authors and poets have books that have been written specifically for, or adapted for, children, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou.
Reading poetry should be fun and enjoyable for both you and your child. Browse the poetry section of your library for more books. Remember, the goal isn’t to analyze it. Listen to and enjoy the words and imagery. Then, if you or child wants to, discuss it as you would any story you’ve just read.
Love the Library’s eAudiobook service but have an iPod? Unfortunately, there are currently no vendors offering downloadable audiobooks to libraries using Apple’s digital rights management format, but there are a few free options available for you on the Internet.
LibriVox is a volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project. LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then “release” the audio files back onto the net.
Classic Poetry Aloud provides podcasts of, well, classic poetry. If it’s Shakespeare, Pope, Keats, and Shelley you’re looking for, this is the place.
Podiobooks Listeners to Podiobooks.com can choose to receive the episodes of their books via an RSS feed or by listening to episodes by directly downloading episodes from the site. The site is free, but donations are accepted to compensate authors, who permit their works to be available on the site.
openculture is a site that collects podcasts, videos, and online courses that are freely available on the web, and claims to “sift through all the media, highlight the good and jettison the bad, and centralize it in one place.” The link provided here takes you directly to their audiobook collection.