How to Appreciate Poetry: A Word Nerd’s Guide

Mirror, MirrorWelcome to April: Poetry Appreciation Month!

I know, I know.  You read books.  Not poems.  Believe me, I hear it from my family every year at this time, when I pull out the poetry anthologies and force them to *endure* some haiku, Silverstein, and rhyming couplets.

Reading poetry serves any word nerd well.  It gives you appreciation of word play, rhythm, figurative language, and rhyme.  Sometimes, it will make you laugh.

 

For kids, it’s a great way to play with rhyme and practice expressive reading.  I guess that’s good for us grown ups too.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to Shakespeare or Wordsworth here (although a sonnet could be fun).  However, for the next few Fridays, I want to coax you into the world of verse.  Hopefully, you’ll find something appealing.

Reverso

Today, I’d like to introduce you to “reverso.”  Poet Marilyn Singer, in her children’s book Mirror, Mirror, presents poems, based on fairy tales, that can be read two ways: up or down.   By only changing capitalization and punctuation, she gives the same poem a different meaning by flipping it, and writing it from end to beginning.  For example:

A cat

without

a chair;

Incomplete.

Reverses to:

Incomplete:

A chair

without

a cat.

Pretty cool, huh?

Singer suggests that reverso poems can be a creative way to tell two sides of one story.  Just Follow, Followthis year, she released a second book of reverso, called Follow Follow.

Now, normally, this is the spot in the post where I’d ask you to create your own reverso poem.  But I’ve tried.  For a long time.  This flipping thing isn’t as easy as Singer makes it look.

So maybe just check out her books, enjoy the fantastic illustrations, and marvel at her Word Nerd prowess.

And pull out a book of poetry sometime.

What poems or poetic forms have you enjoyed?  Can you recommend any books of poetry for the rest of us?

Coming up next week, Bolton Carley, author of Hello Summer Vacay!, a young adult verse novel, shares some tips for encouraging a love of poetry.

Thanks for stopping by!

Julia 

 

 


Comments

How to Appreciate Poetry: A Word Nerd’s Guide — 11 Comments

  1. In honor of those impacted by yesterday’s Boston Marathon and in honor of the 32 men and women lost at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, here is my reverso poem:

    Love
    is
    Enduring;
    Violence
    is
    Fleeting;
    Peace
    is
    Sustaining
    and
    Remaining.

    Remaining
    and
    Sustaining
    is
    Peace;
    Fleeting
    is
    Violence;
    Enduring
    is
    Love

  2. I love poetry; I just wish I knew where to start and how to write it! I even thought about googling “How to write a poem” b/c it’s been so very long since I studied poetry in school. Yesterday I did my borrow my friend’s, Billy Collins book of poetry and can’t wait to dive in. My children are memorizing poetry at school – a tradition I adore!

  3. I’m going to put in a plug for jazz poetry. It may be about a performer, a piece of jazz history or contain elements of jazz. Check out Langston Hughes, Etheridge Knight, Mbembe Milton Smith and Sonia Sanchez as just a few of the poets who have written jazz poetry. By the way, jazz haiku is an important segment of jazz poetry.

  4. I’m a huge fan of Jack Prelutsky. I love his humor and irreverence and how he plays with words. Scranimals was always one of my son’s favorites. Poetry can be moving and lyrical and dark and enigmatic, but it can also be silly and fun.

  5. This is great Julia!

    Our boys have to memorize a poem each fall and present it to their class, and school, if they advance. Based on their age the length increases greatly. I’ll have to remember these books and see if they would work. ;)

    Bless your weekend,
    Hester, ;)

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