POETRY MATTERS

WRITING A POEM FROM THE INSIDE OUT

In this pep talk for aspiring poets, Fletcher (Have You Been to the Beach Lately, 2001, etc.) speaks directly to his readers in a chatty, non-threatening manner, as if he were a guest lecturer in their classrooms or homes and he reminds his audience that poetry must be an honest expression of the heart and soul. In the first of two parts, he focuses on what he calls “the guts” of poetry: “emotion, image, and music.” He explains the key role that each of these elements plays in the creative process and he also tackles the tricky problem of selecting a subject. The second part involves the nuts and bolts of crafting a poem. Throughout, he cites extensively from his own work, as well as those by other published writers and students. Also included are several interviews with poets who are asked about their inspirations, methods of writing, and advice to young poets. There is a lot of information to digest and understand, and it is not always presented clearly; ideas are thrown at the reader in rapid succession with hardly a breath in between. Each idea is ostensibly illustrated by a poem, but in too many cases neither the idea nor the poem is adequately explained before the next one comes along. Fletcher is obviously passionate about his subject. However, he might do well to follow the warning he gives to young poets: “beware of going on and on and draining the energy.” Someone already intrigued with the idea of writing poetry might find just the right hints and tools here to spark that first successful poem. Anyone else will be overwhelmed and confused. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-79703-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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MARIANA AND THE MERCHILD

A FOLKTALE FROM CHILE

A resonant, evocative tale about a lonely woman and the child of the sea who becomes her dearest companion. Mariana, an old woman, lives by the sea that is a mother to her, providing her with food for the table, driftwood for her fire, and music for her soul. But she is lonely, for the village children mock her and run away. One day after a wild storm when the sea-wolves prowl, she finds a crab shell; within it is a tiny merchild, with pearly skin and hair “the color of the setting sun.” Mariana, at the advice of the Wise Woman, places the merbaby where her mother, the Sea Spirit, can see she is safe; every day the Sea Spirit comes to feed her daughter and to teach her. Mariana cares for her the rest of the time, even though she knows the merchild must eventually return to the sea. The village children come to play with the merchild, and warm to Mariana. When the merchild does finally rejoin her mother, she returns daily to Mariana with gifts and greetings. Conveyed in the emotionally rich telling are the rhythm of waves, filial devotion, the loving care of children, and the knowledge of beasts. The beautiful illustrations are full of the laps and curves of the ocean, the brilliant colors of sea and sky, and the gorgeous reds and dusky browns of fabric, interiors, skin tones, and shells. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8028-5204-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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COUNT ME A RHYME

ANIMAL POEMS BY THE NUMBERS

Mother-and-son team Yolen and Stemple follow up Color Me a Rhyme (2000) with this engaging counting book. Throughout, Yolen’s verse is matched with Stemple’s full-color photographs of animals. The pairings are organic: In “Eight Bighorn Sheep,” two, skinny vertical lines of text, side-by-side, mimic Stemple’s image of sheep ascending a rocky cliff. “Nine Swallows: A Haiku” is illustrated by nine little birds on a telephone line against a solid blue sky. The numbers one to ten are the focus, but the final poem, “Many,” pays homage to the infinite wonder of numbers and nature. Numerals, Roman numerals and related words (e.g., octave, ninth) accompany each poem. Readers will enjoy counting the creatures that appear on each spread. Many, no doubt, will memorize the enchanting verse. (Picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2006

ISBN: 1-59078-345-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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