Friday, May 02, 2008

Revising and Recycling Poetry

This time last week, poet Janet S. Wong allowed me to share her poem, “The License Plate Game” in honor of the first minting of license plates in the U.S. However, not only did she allow me to post her poem, she encouraged me to share SEVEN different versions of the poem she had contemplated. Then several of you responded with interesting observations (Emily, Cloudscome, and Linda). Well, to top it off, Janet invited some of her poet-friends to comment on the different versions and and several took her up on her offer, including J. Patrick Lewis, Lorie Ann Grover, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Marilyn Singer, Alice Schertle. Check out the comments area for April 25, 2008. Finally, Janet offered yet another revision of her poem based on all this collective input (posted in the Comments area). HOW COOL IS THAT?

And just for fun, I’ll post a fresh poem by Janet from an older collection I love (A Suitcase of Seaweed) .


by Janet S. Wong

“What you study in school?” my grandfather asks.

“Poetry,” I say, climbing high to pick a large ripe

lemon off the top limb.

“Po-tree,” he says, “It got fruit?”

From Wong, Janet S. 1996. A Suitcase of Seaweed, and Other Poems. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, p. 18.

Thank you, Janet, for all you do for poets and poetry and kids!

For the rest of the Poetry Friday Round Up, go to Big A, little a. Thanks for hosting, Kelly!

Picture credit:


Jane Heitman Healy said...

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your posts. You are helping me stay current and delighting me with new poems. I have mentioned your blog on my latest blog post.

Jane Heitman

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks for the plug, Jane, and for your very kind words! I enjoyed checking out "Read, Learn and Be Happy," too!

Anonymous said...

That poem, "Poetry," was inspired by a conversation similar to what I described in the poem. My Chinese grandfather and I were in his garden one morning picking lemons, and I told him that I had just started a children's poetry class. "Poetry?" he asked, puzzled. I understood right away that he had no idea what poetry was; even though Chinese children traditionally are taught to read using poems, he had only two years of school as a child, two years of being continually hit with the teacher's chopsticks. So I said something along the lines of "really short stories, very short. Like words to songs."

He still didn't quite get it until years later, when I read the poem "GongGong and Susie" to him (from the same book where "Poetry" can be found, A SUITCASE OF SEAWEED). And then he got it. He laughed so hard over that poem that he almost stopped breathing...

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you for that sweet back story!