Friday, December 02, 2016

NCTE 2016

I'm sure you've read posts by many others who attended the recent NCTE conference (National Council of Teachers of English) in Atlanta. It's always a great event, but this year's conference had an amazing richness of poets present! Look at all the poets who were there! And I'm probably forgetting some other names. But, WOW, right? 
I believe you can search the program for sessions by these poets here and then look for any handouts from those amazing sessions at the NCTE GoogleDoc here. On Twitter, use #NCTE16 to see what people were tweeting at the conference.

Plus, they announced the newest recipient of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children: 
Marilyn Nelson! 

I also attended a session presented by the committee for the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children during which they present their annual list of "Notable" poetry books. That list is published annually in School Library Journal and you can find the 2016 list here. However, this year I learned that they also generate a list of "Notable Verse Novels" and somehow I had missed that previously. Apparently, they've been making that list for a few years and it is published in the New England Reading Association (NERA) Journal, but I can't find a link for that. (Please let me know if you find the link!) I was very excited to hear they were singling out verse novels for a separate "notable" list! The 2016 list of notable verse novels includes:
  • Crowder, Melanie. 2015. Audacity. New York: Philomel.
  • Engle, Margarita. 2015. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. New York: Atheneum.
  • Hilton, Marilyn. 2015. Full Cicada Moon. New York: Dial.
  • Holt, K. A. 2015. House Arrest. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  • Jensen, Cordelia. 2015. Skyscraping. New York: Philomel.
  • Rose, Caroline Starr. 2015. Blue Birds. New York: Putnam.
  • Sonnichsen, A. L. 2015. Red Butterfly. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
Look for the article because it includes reviews, curriculum connections, and related titles.
>>> I was lucky enough to present a panel on verse novels with Jeannine Atkins, Patricia Hruby Powell, Margarita Engle, and Janet Wong. 

I spoke first about the roots of the verse novel-- some say as back as far as Homer, and certainly many credit Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology as a seminal work in this form. 
I pointed out these groundbreaking books helped shape the form and build an audience for verse novels-- and it didn't hurt to win a Newbery Medal (Karen Hesse for Out of the Dust).
And that even more recent award winners (Newbery, Newbery honor, National Book Award) were novels (or memoirs) in verse.
I reminded our audience of the many pedagogical advantages of the novel in verse form and how that serves as a motivating advantage for teen and tween readers and as a natural form for performance as readers theater. 
Then we involved volunteers from the audience in performing excerpts from each of our authors' recent works, starting with Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins. Jeannine spoke about her process in researching and capturing these women's voices and persona from the past.   
More volunteers helped bring to life an excerpt from Patricia Hruby Powell's Loving vs. Virginia-- complete with a gum-smacking sheriff reader! And Patricia spoke about how this book came to be and about her path from dancer to storyteller to author and poet. 
Another small troop performed several passages from Margarita Engle's book, Lion Island, reflecting multiple characters and inviting the whole audience to chime in on the repeated word, "power!" Margarita spoke about the true story behind her work and the power of language to speak for freedom. 
Finally, we performed "Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand from You Just Wait with the whole audience joining in on "shushing" where the poem requires it while two volunteers read the dialogue for Carmen and her sister. 
Janet spoke about her work in writing response poems to the poetry of others and weaving those poems all together to create a mini novel in verse-- or verse novella-- in You Just Wait.

She shared her poem in response to the "Dracula" poem here:

Then she shared two other examples of poems + response poems. Here's "Black Ice" by Joseph Bruchac (who was also at the conference):
Here's Janet's poem in response to "Black Ice."
Here's "Future Hoopsters" by Avis Harley, an acrostic poem.
Here's Janet's poem in response to "Future Hoopsters"-- also an acrostic poem, but one in which each initial WORD in each line (rather than the initial letter) creates a new sentence.
Now she's working on new poems in response to other poems for a new book we have in the works. (More on that later.) Janet shared one example of a poem-in-progress with the audience. Here's the initial poem, "'Break-Fast' at Night" by Ibtisam Barakat (who was also at the conference):
 Here's a draft of Janet's response poem:
Finally, we ended with this beautiful quote from First Lady, Michelle Obama, one of my favorites for wrapping things up:
What a great panel and responsive audience! You can find our complete handouts, including a comprehensive bibliography of novels in verse at the NCTE link hereThey're already soliciting proposals for next year's NCTE conference in St. Louis. Here's the link for submitting proposals (by Jan. 5).

Now head on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones where Bridget is hosting Poetry Friday! Enjoy!


BJ Lee said...

Such a wonderful post, Sylvia! I've just put ALL of these novels in verse on my to read list. It's such a great genre! :)

Bridget Magee said...

Oh what a treat that you are sharing your panel presentation with those of us unable to attend NCTE, Sylvia! Holy wow - so many amazing poets, books, and poems. I love that you performed "Dracula" with the audience - such a fun thing to be a part of. =)

Margaret Simon said...

I was so bummed about having to miss this session. Thanks for posting such a rich collection from it. I'll be emailing you soon. We had a very rich day of writing poetry from You Just Wait. I haven't read all of the verse novels you listed, but I love this genre. I need a whole shelf for all of Margarita's books. It was such a joy to meet her. And wonderful to see you again. Next year, let's spend more time together. OK?

Jeannine Atkins said...

Thanks for the great lists and bringing me back to such a wonderful day of poetry and many voices!

Irene Latham said...

I love these voices! I need that graphic of "what verse novels can do for you" to hand out to skeptical friends. :) Thank you, Sylvia! xo

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you all for stopping by and for your kind words. It was great to see so many of you at the conference and I hope we can do it again next year. I hope I captured some of the magic for those of you who could not be there. I know I enjoy hearing what other people enjoy about conferences they've attended.

So glad you all share my love of the verse novel form. It's so fabulous on so many levels-- and so many of these poets play with the form in beautiful, distinctive ways.

Feel free to grab any of these images if they're helpful to you-- particularly the graphic of "what verse novels can do for you"!

Hugs to all!

Mary Lee said...

Poetry DEFINITELY makes me feel less alone!!

HUGS to you and Janet for all you do for poetry!

Karen Hildebrand said...

What a wonderful post, Sylvia! Thank you so much. Exciting ideas!

Karen Hildebrand

Linda B said...

There is much to love here, Sylvia: all those we're reading for Cybil's awards, and I'm really looking forward to Loving vs Virginia. One bright spot this week is that I discovered my granddaughter's teacher is working with her class in poetry through reading Love That Dog. Ingrid is loving the poetry and the book! Nothing nicer to hear!

Catherine said...

I was sad to miss NCTE, but this post is a treasure trove of poetry and resources that help me feel like I was there. Thank you for sharing, and for all you do for the world of children's poetry!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

It sounds like an AMAZING session, Sylvia. Magic received— thank you! Thank you also for such a comprehensive list of verse novels. Wow! Who knew so many?!! And they just keep coming, thankfully. I did notice a few that you may want to add to your list (unless I missed them, which is possibly): GONE FISHING by Tamera Will Wissinger (2013) and the sequel GONE CAMPING (March, 2017); also BULL by David Elliott (March 2017).

Linda Mitchell said...

Wow! This is a keeper of a blog post. So rich in resources and excitement for NIVs. Thank you and thank you!

Unknown said...

Oh this post is so rich with so much poetry goodness - thank you, thank you dearly! There is really something about poetry that touches the soul. Congratulations to Marilyn Nelson too, well deserved!