Friday, April 26, 2013

Blast from the Poetry Past: 1991

Valerie Worth, author of the “Small Poems” collections of free verse, received the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1991. 

With pen and ink sketches by Natalie Babbitt, these small books are some of my favorite examples of the most beautiful free verse for children. Here's my copy (at left) of small poems published in 1972! 

They almost seem like scientific observations in the most perfect, poetic language. Take “Garbage,” for instance (from All the Small Poems):

The stained,
Bucket tips out
Orange rind

Eggshell ivory,
Garnet coffee-
Grounds, pearl
Wand of bared
Chicken bone:

Worked back soon
To still more
Curious jewelry
Of chemical
And molecule.

Contemporary Connections
I’m so happy to report that a new compilation of Worth’s animal poems is out this year with wonderful paper illustrations by Steve Jenkins!

Worth, Valerie. 2013. Pug and Other Animal Poems. Ill. by Steve Jenkins. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

And pair it with a previous posthumous collection of Valerie's animal poems also illustrated by Steve Jenkins:

Worth, Valerie. 2007. Animal Poems. Ill. by Steve Jenkins. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Two lovely visual incarnations of her crisp and elegant poetry!

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2013. All rights reserved.

Image credits: Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan.


Jane Heitman Healy said...

Thank you for drawing attention to Valerie Worth's poetry. I think of her as the Emily Dickinson of our time, writing about homey things, helping us see them in new ways. She is a great example of how the power of observation fuels good writing.

Carol said...

Valerie Worth is one of my all time favorite, favorite poets. And I love Steve Jenkins oh-so-intricate collages.I'm looking forward to getting hold of their collaboration!

Bridget Magee said...

I am familiar with Worth's 'All the Small Poems' and I love it, but her new one, 'Pug and Other Animal Poems' is a pleasant surprise. I look forward to exploring this new collection. =)

laurasalas said...

Time for me to revisit All the Small Poems. And Pug is at the top of my to-buy list. Thanks for featuring Worth. Her conciseness is something I aspire to.