Friday, October 09, 2009

The Global Scene

I just came back from the amazing biennial IBBY regional conference held in St. Charles, Illinois (near Chicago) where we had an incredible line up of speakers from all around the world (Shaun Tan, Ana Maria Machado, Carmen Diana Dearden, David Wiesner, Katherine Paterson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Vladimir Radunsky, Klaas Verplancke, and more). It’s always a great event—an opportunity to learn, but even more, an opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded people all weekend long. I’ve always characterized it as more of a “retreat,” than a conference, because you spend as much time in conversations and meals with colleagues—including the speakers themselves who stay and participate—as you do attending sessions. It’s sponsored by the U.S. national section of IBBY, the international organization dedicated to literature for children around the world.

IBBY is the organization that publishes the journal, Bookbird, which I co-edit. Speaking of Bookbird, our October issue is hot off the press, and once again, we’re featuring a poem on the “back page”—this one is by the award-winning Dutch writer and artist, Ted Van Lieshout. It’s a sonnet made of seashells!

In his “Author’s Note,” he wrote: “This is ‘The Dubai Sonnet,’ also called the ‘Holiday Sonnet of Dubai.’ Instead of writing a poem about how wonderful my holiday in Dubai was, I picked up shells from the Dubai beach and used them for a picture sonnet. It is not a photograph, but a digital collage. As you can see, the “rhyme” is created by reusing the exact same shells. More than 30 picture sonnets appear in my new book, Hou Van Mij (Love Me) a 270-page collection of poetry and pictures, published in honor of my 25 years of writing for young people.” Won’t kids just LOVE this notion—poems built by patterns of objects? Get your very own subscription to Bookbird here.

One of the books on our conference reading and discussion list was Under the Spell of the Moon, a beautiful and unique collection of poems, riddles, games, songs, and sayings from countries around the world, illustrated by artists from around the world. It’s just gorgeous, as well as appealing with its quirky child-friendly sensibility. Here’s an entry from South Africa, just to give you a taste. (You’ll have to get the book yourself to see the accompanying illustration.)

Everybody has a song,
be it short or be it long,
in the right or in the wrong key,
like the hee-haw of a donkey,
twitter, tweet, tu-whit, tu-whoo,
howl or growl or quack or moo.
Everyone has a song
and must sing it all life long.
Don’t be silent
nor afraid,
you must sing
as you’ve been made.

By Piet Grobler, South Africa (the poem also appears in Afrikaans)
Illustrated by Philip de Vos
(Groundwood Books, 2004, p. 67)

Finally, on the international news front, the candidates for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world's largest children's literature prize (half a million dollars!) were just announced. There were 168 candidates from more than 60 countries, including contemporary authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and promoters of reading. The award is given in memory of Astrid Lindgren, author of the much-loved Pippi Longstocking, in recognition of outstanding life-time achievements in the field of children's and young adult literature. The winner or winners will be announced March 24, 2010, from the birth-place of Astrid Lindgren in Vimmerby, Sweden. U.S. nominees include Ashley Bryan, Kevin Henkes, Russell Hoban, Maira Kalman, Lois Lowry, Walter Dean Myers, Anne Pellowski, Allen Say, Uri Shulevitz, Peter Sis, and many reading promotion organizations, including IBBY itself. I was intrigued to see that a poetry organization was on the list of nominees: Callaloo Poets, a group of poets with links to the Virgin Islands, both British and US poets.

Cool poetry news from around the world—once again reminding us of the fascinating global world of poetry and literature for young people.

This week's Poetry Friday gathering is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day.

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



Joyce said...

Love the idea of pictorial sonnets . . . with seashells! Would love to see this book--hope it's available in the U.S. at some point.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Me, too. I'll be keeping my eye out for it and will keep you posted.

Julie said...

What an idea - a visual sonnet! I wonder if you can show meter somehow - by size, maybe? I have to give it a try. Imagine - iambic seashells! Thanks for sharing this, Sylvia. I, too, hope to hear that the book will be available in the U.S.

laurasalas said...

Picture sonnets--wonderful! What a cool way to introduce the sonnet form to kids.

I just put Under the Spell on reserve at my library. Can't wait to read it.

Thanks, Sylvia--glad you had a fabulous time!

Julie said...

I'm very interested, too, in that idea of a visual sonnet - I wonder if you could indicate meter by the size of the seashells... or even rhyme! How intriguing that would be. Please do let us know if you see his book for sale in the U.S.

Stephanie M. said...

I am fairly new to your blog and wanted to say thank you for doing this! I'll be saving a list of your ideas to share with my son as he gets older. thanks!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you all for your comments. I have my eye out for Ted's new book and will let all know if/when it's available here.