Monday, April 14, 2008

Young People’s Poetry Week (April 14-20), TLA & Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

This third week of April was designated as Young People’s Poetry Week (by the Children's Book Council), so I’m tickled that my TLA Poetry Round Up occurs this week. One of the panelists for our Round Up is the up-and-comer Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. A former teacher of kids with special needs, and the author of many teaching and discussion guides for books by other writers, Tracie grew up in Ohio with a twin sister and a big family. Early teachers encouraged her writing and she published her first book, a poetry collection, Sketches from a Spy Tree, in 2005, a New York Public Library Best Book.

Last year’s book, Reaching for Sun, is a wonderful coming-of-age story about a girl growing up with cerebral palsy, told through free verse poems. It is also the winner of the Schneider Family Book award. School Library Journal hailed its “poetic structure” and “imagery” and Booklist noted that this “appealing story will capture readers' hearts with its winsome heroine and affecting situations.”

Tracie’s newest poetry book, 42 Miles, is about a girl who is turning thirteen and lives a life divided between her city apartment with her mom and the family farm with her dad. Tracie’s first work that is not poetry is also debuting this year, A Floating Circus, a historical novel set on a circus boat in the 1850's. What diversity!

For a taste of Tracie’s writing, here is a sample poem from Reaching for Sun:

by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

What do you want to be?
adults always ask,

as if you know
by fourteen

what you want to be doing

at forty-five.
I used to make up stuff:



all the people

I knew my mom
wanted to hear.

I know

more what I don’t want to be:

a single parent,


stuck behind some desk

or in school longer than

I need to go.
And that will have to be


for now.

From Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. 2007. Reaching for Sun. Bloomsbury (p. 175-176).

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