Monday, July 24, 2006
Looking for fresh voices in poetry for young people? Multicultural poetry is experiencing a surge of publication in recent years and it’s about time! Although the works of Langston Hughes, for example, have appeared in many anthologies, poets like Angela Johnson, Pat Mora, Janet Wong, and Jaime Adoff are still new names to many readers. A quick survey of recent poetry titles will turn up at least 35 major poets of color writing for children today, representing most of the major micro-cultures within the United States. And more and more international poetry is even finding its way into libraries and classrooms in the U.S., as well. Seeking out the poetry of parallel cultures that reflects many diverse viewpoints enables us to show children firsthand both the sameness and the differences which make the human landscape so dynamic and fascinating. Poets of color are using the language, experiences, and images of their cultures in ways that are fresh and powerful. The special succinctness of poetry is also an appealing introduction into culture for young people. Sometimes powerful points about prejudice, identity, and cultural conflict can be made in a very few words. In addition, we can also rediscover our universality in the words and feelings of poems which often cross cultural boundaries. Look for the wonderful poetry of Nikki Grimes, Arnold Adoff, Eloise Greenfield, Gary Soto, Francisco Alarcon, Jose-Luis Orozco, Michio Mado, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, among many others!
For more info, check out my article in the ALA online journal, VERSED: