Tuesday, April 15, 2008

National Library Week: A new Pat Lewis library poem

This week is also National Library Week (April 13-19)! First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association. And of course, I have to share a library poem (perhaps my favorite topic of all). This time, I’m lucky enough to have a new, original poem to share from the always generous and prolific, J. Pat Lewis. Enjoy!

The Librarian

by J. Patrick Lewis

After school one day I was talking to Mr.
Butterwinkle, the school librarian.
"Can you
Define ABECEDARIAN?" I asked.
"Easy," he said. "But
First I think you should
Go to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, and...
Hmm, here's one," he said. "Now,
Isabelle, when you're looking for sparkling word
Jewels, try to
Keep them spit-shined, ready to go. A dictionary's
Like a trap, an irresistible
Mind trap.
Nobody can discover
One beaut without two more
Popping up-fifty-cent
Quality words-in
Xerox them. Hang them in your locker. Now
You're in the
Zone. Oh, I forgot. ABECEDARIAN. Look it up."

Used with permission from J. Patrick Lewis.

I love this ABC connection, don’t you? Paul Janeczko writes about this poetic form in Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers (New York: Bradbury, 1994). I have posted about the link between the ABCs and poetry before on April 21, 2007, last year. Just as a refresher, here are some poetry collections that are organized alphabetically ala the dictionary.

Ada, Alma Flor. 1997. Gathering the Sun: An Alphabet in Spanish and English. Lothrop, Lee, & Shepard.
Bryan, Ashley. 1997. Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry. Atheneum.
Harley, Avis. 2000. Fly with Poetry; An ABC of Poetry. Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
Harley, Avis. 2001. Leap into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry. Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2003. Alphathoughts. Boyds Mills Press.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1994. April Bubbles Chocolate. Simon & Schuster.
Janeczko. Paul, comp. 1994. Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers. Bradbury.
Merriam, Eve. 1995. Halloween ABC. Aladdin.
Schnur, Steven. 1997. Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic. Clarion. (See also: Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic; Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic; and Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic all by Steven Schnur)
Sierra, Judy. 2004. There's a Zoo in Room 22. Voyager.
Wilbur, Richard. 2001. The Disappearing Alphabet. Voyager.

Do you know of any other alpha-poems or alpha-poem collections? Visit your library during library week and let me know if you find any!

Picture credit: talking-dog.com


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

A swashbuckler of a bow to you, dear heart, for posting my poem on your website. I am always fizzgiggiously delighted when I find myself in Professor Vardell's lovely lyrical neighborhood.

And to all of Sylvia's readers, don't miss her nonpareil new book,
CHILDREN'S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN'S GUIDE, 2008. Brilliant! (And no, she didn't pay me to say that!)

xo, Pat
aka J. Patrick Lewis

Sylvia Vardell said...

Pat, Thank you for your kind words-- and the generous book plug, too. Your phrase "lovely lyrical neighborhood" is the nicest compliment of all. Thanks again.

P.S. It looks like two clicks of your comment were processed, so I deleted one. Hope that was OK.

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers said...

I hope you'll stop by and join the One Week Poetry Challenge we have going on. It's not too late to join in the fun!