Friday, March 14, 2008

Preparing for National Poetry Month + National Library Week

Here at the mid-point of March, I thought I’d pause to begin preparations for National Poetry Month, right around the corner. In addition, I got an email from ALA reminding me that National Library Week is also coming up (April 13-19). As I’ve shared before, I love putting these two topics together, hunting for poetry ABOUT the library. In my resource book, Poetry Aloud Here (ALA, 2006), I share a list of 10 library-poems, but the hunt continues and I’ve been finding even more, including this gem by Kathi Appelt.

by Kathi Appelt

Javier, he was so cold that day
only a thin t-shirt and old jeans
to keep the icy air
from rubbing his ribs raw
only thin rubber soles
between his feet
and the cold concrete
with still an hour before the
bell rang

Mrs. Rivera, the librarian, she saw him
she couldn’t look directly
at his blue lips
or his naked arms
without shivering
but Mrs. Rivera, she could break the rules and
let him in
led him into that warm room
with its burnished tables
flame-stitched chairs
toasted books

Javier, he had a quick notion of heaven
and when he found that book
someone left opened to a
page of mustangs
wild and shaggy
ears back free
well Javier, he burned that page
into a place behind his sight
and kept it there all morning
all through the day

and now
when you see Javier
wild and shaggy
ears back free
look at that tall, proud boy
the icy air the cold concrete
lost their grip
Javier, he’s been to heaven
mustangs are there

From Appelt, Kathi. 1997. Just People and Paper/Pen/Poem: A Young Writer’s Way to Begin. Spring, TX: Absey & Co.

[Kathi also has a new novel just out, The Underneath, that is also quite amazing-- but that’s another topic!]

As you make plans to celebrate poetry month (and library week!), here are some creative ideas from our friends at Potato Hill Poetry, a wonderful Web resource with many unusual and innovative options for celebrating poetry, including:

1. Start each day with a poem read aloud by someone different (invite guest readers); 30 poems for 30 days
2. Leave a poem on your answering machine at home or school or as a cell phone message
3. Make a National Poetry Month Time Capsule. Students can submit favorite poems or their own original writing. Put them in the Time Capsule and have a ceremonial sealing, not to be opened until National Poetry Month next year.
4. Send a poem to your state or local representative or other government official.
5. Plan a poetry reading for a senior center, hospital, or local business

For more on poetry, join the Poetry Friday Round Up at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

Photo credit: The Beyond Words: Celebrating America's Libraries Photo Contest, which helped mark National Library Week 1999 and the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress.


Cloudscome said...

I love that poem. Thanks for sharing it! I think I'll try to do a haiku a day again for Poetry Month.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Awesome! I admire your stamina and look forward to your daily haiku (would that be daiku?!).