Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Learning | Poetry Month

It's April already! Time for asparagus, sunshine, flowers and poetry!

April is poetry month.  That means you have an especially good excuse for borrowing and reading poetry books, or writing your own poems.

One of the easiest forms of poetry to write is the haiku.  A traditional haiku does not even need to rhyme; all it needs is 17 syllables, divided into three lines, containing 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Here is an example I just made up: 

Sunshine through windshield
You could cook an egg in here
Where is that sun shade?

Let me tell you about a beautiful new picture book written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. It's called Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons, and it arrived just in time for Poetry Month! It's loaded with beautiful watercolor illustrations of a Panda bear named Koo, who apparently makes up poems as he experiences the four seasons.  

In the introduction to the book, we learn that many modern poets choose to follow the five-seven-five structure loosely. So I guess that means this poem I made up in fourth grade really could be a haiku:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Daisies are mixtures

I did a search for the subject "poetry" in our catalog. That search returned more than three thousand titles.  I've only read a small fraction of those, and I enjoy reading poetry!  

"Poetry Books" from chillihead's photostream on
  Some rights reserved.

Looking for poetry, but don't have a specific book in mind? You can browse the library shelves in the area with Dewey Decimal numbers that begin with 811. Or ask at your library's information desk--the reference staff can show you those areas, or even help you find picture books with poetry.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Flora and Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures One of the many charming aspects of this 2014 Newbery Award winner is Ulysses, the squirrel who types poetry.  If you haven't read it, do.

Anything by Jack Prelutsky. He writes hilarious poems for kids. His "As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed" poem actually made one of my sons laugh so hard that he, er, never mind....

The Poet Laureate Anthology is a collection of works from the American Poet Laureates since 1937 (although the title "Poet Laureate" has only been used since 1985, previous appointees were called the "Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.") Each poem is introduced by editor Elizabeth Hun Schmidt, giving us literary and historical contexts.

Caroline Kennedy's Poems to Learn by Heart is a fine collection, but it is greatly enhanced by more watercolor illustrations by Jon J. Muth, the author of the first book I mentioned in this post: Hi, Koo!

My mother would be disappointed if I forgot to mention Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, which we often read together during my childhood.  It's an oldie, but goodie.  

What are your favorite poems, poets, or poetry books? How do you celebrate Poetry Month?

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