Thursday, July 09, 2009

ALA, Book Links & Poetry

I’m off to Chicago for the annual conference of the American Library Association. My daughter (a budding librarian herself) is joining me and I am excited to share the conference experience with her. Plus, the fabulous Poetry Blast is Monday night and I will be there with bells on. Look for a future post about that event featuring Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, David Harrison, Bobbi Katz, Laura Purdie Salas, Jon Scieszka, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, Hope Anita Smith, Susan Marie Swanson, and Joyce Carol Thomas. Won’t that be a treat?! (Are you a Blast fan on Facebook?)

In the mean time, I would also like to plug Book Links magazine and it’s final “stand alone” issue which is chockablock full of poetry goodies. (Beginning in October, Book Links will be bundled with Booklist, another ALA publication.) This July issue of Book Links includes:

A Poetry Book of their Own by Denise B. Geier (on making handmade poetry books)
Talking with Carole Boston Weatherford by KaaVonia Hinton
Talking with Ashley Bryan by Dean Schneider
Biographies of Poets by Barbara A. Ward and Terrell A. Young
Connecting Picture Books and Poems by Susan Stern
and of course Everyday Poetry: The Art of Poetry by Yours Truly

Isn’t that an amazing line up?

Here’s an excerpt from my column including a wonderful pantomime-worthy original poem by Douglas Florian that appears alongside it.

Everyday Poetry: The Art of Poetry
We know th
at poets create pictures with words, but some even use pictures to prompt the words or they create the art that accompanies their own poetry. Art and poetry go hand in hand and it can be fun to explore poetry books based on art, poetry books illustrated by the poets themselves, and poem picture books that feature single poems reinterpreted through art.

Ekprhastic Poetry

Poems written in response to art are called “ekphrastic” poetry, the unifying thread in Jan Greenberg’s anthology,
Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art and its recent companion, Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. Greenberg includes a helpful introduction and map locating poem sources, poems in multiple languages, biographies of poets and translators, and poetry from more than 30 different countries. Other anthologies that pair fine art and poetry are also cited along with follow up activities.

Poet Artists

There are many poets who also produce the illustrations for their own poetry collections. They are known for their art, as well as their writing…. Douglas Florian creates distinctive paintings+collages that are instantly recognizable (
Dinothesaurus, Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars; Handsprings).

For more examples of paintings and poetry, check out the work of Calef Brown who employs wordplay alongside inventive acrylic and gouache (
Polkabats and Octopus Slacks, Flamingos on the Roof, Soup For Breakfast), or Kurt Cyrus who creates nature poems and watercolor paintings (Oddhopper Opera, Hotel Deep), or Adam Rex who produces outrageous cartoon monsters and poem parodies (Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich; Frankenstein Takes a Cake)…. and the iconic photography of Charles R. Smith, Jr., (My People, If) or the cut-paper collages of Hope Anita Smith (Mother) or the textured quilts of Anna Grossnickle Hines (Winter Lights, Pieces) and Sue Van Wassenove (The Seldom-Ever-Shady Everglades).

Poem Picture Books

Many picture books have rhythmic and even rhyming text, but a true “poem picture book” features a single poem as the book’s complete text, a poem that can stand on its own without the illustrations. This gives us the opportunity to see the poem through new perspectives and can serve as a model for homemade picture books that kids can create for their favorite poems. It can also be helpful for older students who may be familiar with a classic poem, but h
aven’t found it moving or meaningful until they see it as a visually rich experience. Specific examples and activities are also provided.

er Sports
By Douglas Florian

Puddle hopping.

Watching waves.

Belly flopping.

Finding caves.

Chipmunk chasing.

Climbing trees.

Relay racing
Skinning knees.

Picking daisies.

Swimming laps.
Feeling lazy.

Taking naps.

Sand handstanding.

Washing cars.

Counting stars.

[Thank you again, Douglas! Be sure and stop by his Floriancafe.]

This week's Poetry Friday celebration is hosted by Jama Rattigan at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup. Go there now!

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2009. All rights reserved.

Image credit:; ala


jama said...

So much goodness in this post! Looking forward to hearing all about the Conference/Poetry Blast. Thanks for posting Doug's poem. Love him! :)

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks so much-- and for hosting Poetry Friday. You made me want peaches NOW! :-)

Author Amok said...

I can't wait to read the article on "A Poetry Book of Their Own." Sounds like a wonderful project. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

In addition to kids story books I think we should encourage our children to read poetry too.

Marinela said...

"A Poetry Book of Their Own"sounds great project.Thank you Sylvia for sharing this article :)