Monday, August 13, 2007

Poet Mary Ann Hoberman's birthday

It's poet and author Mary Ann Hoberman’s birthday, so I’d like to post this little bio-tribute to her and her work. For more complete information, please look for Poetry People; A Practical Guide to Children's Poets (Libraries Unlimited, 2007).

Mary Ann Hoberman was born on August 12, 1930, in Stamford, Connecticut. As a teenager, she wrote for her school newspaper and edited her high school yearbook. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from Smith College and earned her master’s degree in English Literature from Yale University thirty-five years later. In the mean time, she married and had four children. She and her husband have lived for over forty years in a house that her husband designed in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Hoberman has taught writing and literature at all levels and co-founded and performed with a children’s theatre group. But when her first book was published in 1957, she turned her attention to writing for children. Her work has received many citations including a National Book Award in 1983 for A House is a House for Me. She received the National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Poetry for Children Award in 2003 for her entire body of work.

Mary Ann Hoberman’s poetry often targets our youngest audience with rhythm and repetition, usually published in picture book form or as “read aloud” rhyming “stories,” such as in You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together (Little Brown, 2004). Other inviting collections include The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems (Harcourt, 1998), Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems (Little Brown, 2001) and My Song is Beautiful: Poems and Pictures in Many Voices (Little Brown, 1994).

For one outstanding example of Hoberman’s style, look for her poem “Take Sound” which she composed especially for the ceremony at which she was given the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. It also appears in Paul Janeczko’s poetry anthology Seeing the Blue Between (Candlewick, 2002). Hoberman acknowledges that the poem pays homage to the great children's poet David McCord, the first recipient of the award, and in particular to his poem, "Take Sky," by echoing its title and cadence. It focuses on the pleasures of sharing the sounds and words of poetry with children and is a great way to begin a poetry lesson or unit or just to celebrate Hoberman’s gift for poetic expression.

Take Sound
by Mary Ann Hoberman

Each word a poem.
Take sound

Its mysteries abound:
To hear a sound;
To sound to find;
Or to be sound
In body, mind;
A stretch of water
Wide and clear;
To register
Upon the ear—
Each separate meaning
Hovers, tense
Above the more
Intended sense.
Each part of speech
Another trope,
A turn
In the kaleidoscope.
And in this lovely
Layered thing,
The origins
Of language sing,
Alive, ambiguous, absurd—
In the beginning was the word.

Picture credit:


AMY said...

Thanks for the bio of Mary Ann Hoberman. My youngest, a budding performer who is 9, but who has only been immersed in books and reading for 2 years now, LOVES the You Read To Me, I'll Read To You books. I hope her 4th grade teacher and peers will be understanding about this quirk.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Glad to meet a fellow fan of Hoberman's-- you AND your daughter! I hope her fourth grade teacher uses her talents and allows HER to invite children to try poetry performance and reading aloud-- with Hoberman's work and others. Fourth grade is SUCH a pivotal year. Best wishes for the school year ahead!