Upon Reading A Book of Poetry
invite the pleasure
of their company - easily
with china cups
of sweetened tea
I settle in for
my word party
their lettered lines
Placemats are set
the way they should be
complete with words
Linda Baie© All Rights Reserved
I wrote last week that I have been finding poetry books nominated for this year’s Cybil’s award, to read ahead so I can be somewhat prepared for my work as a second round judge. It’s going to be a challenge to choose the finalists for those first round judges this year!
The poetry I’ve read this year is marvelous and creative. As a literacy coach, the writing has made my work a pleasure because I can share poems and poets that both show the possibility and the joy of poetry. I always find poems to copy and share with teachers and students from the youngest to the oldest, kindergarten through 8th grade. If you haven’t discovered the poetry published this year for children and teens, go to the Cybil’s blog here, and look at this wonderful list!
This week I’d like to share a new collection, What The Heart Knows, Chants, Charms &
Blessings, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. It is joyful and serious, heartfelt and heartbreaking. The poems will touch older kids and adults too. It’s divided into 4 sections: Chants & Charms, Spells & Invocations, Laments & Remembrances, and Praise Songs & Blessings. Each of the parts’ title pages offers brief definitions of the topics. For instance, the book shares that a charm is “A verse spoken aloud that acts as a talisman or protection.”
Joyce Sidman has found ancient words once believed to solve life’s problems, and she has now re-worked them into her own beautiful poems. The illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski make fine companions to each poem, sometimes filling the page as the poem tackles a more complex topic, and at other times, adding one small thing, the ‘heart’ of the poem. For example, in Praise Songs & Blessings, there is a poem titled “Teacher”, with a student telling how she (in this math class) loved her chair “next to the window,/which was there if I needed it.” The student goes on to show the love for the math teacher, and that she hated numbers “until she saw them sprout from your hands.” The illustration shows a chair, a window, and at the top, a hand spilling numbers down to the seat. Beautiful to see!
The “Song of Bravery” ends with “into the glare of the arena/to face the lions.” There are “Time Spells” which includes one for speeding up & one for slowing down. I imagine you can guess who would love each one. Another that will connect to teens is “Gift Spell” with the illustration showing the character seen often on the pages holding a box where, as we see inside, it's the outside, on wheels. If that seems complex, it is, like many of Pamela Zagarenski's illustrations. The poem talks of freedom and a wish for “metal teeth and a whiff of speed.” Magical!
I would love to share each page. You’ll need to find the book and read it. One of the final poems is “Silly Love Song”. Among many pairings, it reads, “If you are the Maserati,/then I am the oil change.” and “You are this, I am that./Just kiss me.”