Saturday, February 23, 2019

Remembering Paul B. Janeczko

Teacher, poet, and anthologist Paul B. Janeczko has passed away. Such a loss; such a significant contribution to the world of literature for young people. I would like to take a moment to celebrate his significant and influential work. He is one of the first people to champion poetry in terms of it's appeal and value to young readers, as well as to provide guidance in the teaching and sharing of poetry with young people. He paved the way for all of us who think of poetry in terms of guiding young people to enjoy and embrace it. Including ME! I first encountered his work when I, myself, was a sixth grade teacher. (He started as a teacher too.) I found the choices he made and the formats he provided so helpful and appealing and my respect for him and his work has grown over the years. What a life well lived; what a huge contribution to all of us who love poetry and look for engaging and creative ways to introduce young readers to the genre we love so much. Here's just a sampling of the depth and breadth of his work. There are MANY others! 

I first encountered Paul's work in poetry collections that included comments or auto biographical bits from poets themselves along with the poems. Like these:
Janeczko, Paul B. 1983. Poetspeak: In Their Work, About Their Work: A Selection. New York: Atheneum.
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 1990. The Place My Words are Looking for. New York: Bradbury.
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2002. Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

Then later, he focused on poetry teaching with engaging picture book collections illustrated by Chris Raschka:
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2001. A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems. Somerville, MA:   Candlewick.
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2005. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Janeczko, Paul. B. Ed. 2009. A Foot in the Mouth; Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. Ill. by Chris Raschka. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2014. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems. Ill. by Melissa Sweet. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2015. The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects. Ill. by Chris Raschka. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 

Plus he created books centered on poetry form:
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 1988. The Music of What Happens: Poems that Tell Stories. New York: Orchard.Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2000. Stone Bench in an Empty Park. New York: Orchard. (haiku)
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2001. Dirty Laundry Pile. Poems in Different Voices. New York: HarperCollins.
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2007. Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things. New York: HarperCollins. (poems of address)

He created thematic collections too, of course:
Janeczko, Paul B. 1999. Very Best (Almost Friends): Poems of Friendship. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Janeczko, Paul B. Ed. 2004. Blushing: expressions of love in poems & letters. New York: Orchard Books. 

There are also several books of poetry by Janeczko himself:
Janeczko, Paul B. 1998. That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems. New York: Atheneum.
Janeczko, Paul B. 1993. Stardust Hotel. New York: Orchard.

And amazing, powerful novels in verse written by him alone:
Janeczko, Paul B. 2004. Worlds Afire. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
Janeczko, Paul B. 2011. Requiem; Poems of the TerezĂ­n Ghetto. Candlewick. 

Plus nonfiction books about poetry helpful to teachers and students alike:
Janeczko, Paul B. 1994. Poetry from A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers. New York: Bradbury.
Janeczko, Paul B. 2011. Poetry Reading in the Middle Grades. Heinemann.

And he collaborated with other poets on dual-authored books, like: 
Lewis, J. Patrick and Janeczko, Paul B. 2006. Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku. New York: Little, Brown.
Nye, Naomi Shihab, and Paul Janeczko eds. 1996. I Feel a Little Jumpy Around You: A Book of His and Her Poems Collected in Pairs. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Plus, he authored many works of "straight" nonfiction he created like Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Cyphers, and Secret Writing, among others. He has a lifetime of major contributions to poetry-- with two new books out this year. Look for The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and other How-To Poems which debuts next month! He will be awarded the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry in November-- a lovely recognition of his life's work. Personally, I owe Paul a major debt of gratitude for paving the way for anthologies of poetry that include a teaching component-- a focus of my own work with Janet Wong and our Poetry Friday anthologies. Goodbye, Paul, and thank you for the many, beautiful gifts you left us. 


Linda B said...

You've reminded me of a few I don't own, though I think I've read them. I was surprised to read his Codes & Cyphers last year, surprised it was his, but it too, like all the others, is good. Those first three you mentioned are also the first I loved, used so often with students. Thanks for this lovely post, Sylvia.

Nikki Grimes said...

Thanks for taking the time to celebrate Paul's enormous gifts to the world of poetry for children. He was a quiet giant in our field and will be sorely missed! I'm grateful for the legacy of work he created for us all to enjoy for years to come.

Cynthia Grady said...

Thank you, Sylvia, for the lovely post about Paul. How lucky we are to have so much of his work and people like you to keep his legacy alive.

laurasalas said...

What a terrific post. Many of Paul's books have been meaningful to me. Require and Seeing the Blue Between are the 2 that have meant the most to me. Thanks for this moment to reflect on the gifts he gave us.

Linda said...

This is a beautiful tribute. I was a huge fan of Paul's work. I used his books in my classroom and as mentor texts for my own writing. He made a difference in the lives of so many.