Thursday, May 21, 2009

Diving Into Poetry

This week, I've dived head-first into poetry. I'm not sure why this happens, but it kind of creeps up on me. First I read some poems (these were ones I wanted to use in my mythology class), then I wrote a couple, then I wrote more for my new verse novel, then my book order arrived, which included four books of poetry. Somehow, when my fingers did the ordering online, they clicked on books of poems and verse novels. Now I'm fully indulging! And remembering all the things I love about poetry, what each poem creates as I read it, and how often something in a poem will spark an idea and off I go to write.

Of course, the book I grabbed first was Ballistics. This is Billy Collins' new collection, and as the very first poem is about Paris, I had to stop and re-read it. Having heard recordings of him reading quite a few times, now whenever I read one of his poems, it's as if I can hear his voice. Weird, but good.

The Cuckoo's Haiku: And Other Birding PoemsNext book in my pile was one I read about in a review magazine and actually misunderstood what it was. The book is The Cuckoo's Haiku: And Other Birding Poemsby Michael Rosen. I thought it was a book about writing haiku (despite the subtitle) but it's a great collection of haiku about birds. And not only that, the watercolour illustrations of birds by Stan Fellows are beautiful. If you're a haiku fan, I can recommend it.

Shakespeare Bats CleanupI've also ordered three verse novels, again from reading about them in other people's reviews or blogs. I've read novels by Ron Koertge before, and was surprised to see a verse novel by him (hidden poet inside us all?) - Shakespeare Bats Cleanupis about a 14-year-old boy who gets mono (a disease) and is quarantined at home for a few weeks. He can't go to school, and he can't play baseball, his favourite sport. He's reduced to writing poems to entertain himself! What I like about this story is the way form poems sneak in - the narrator is under no illusion that his poems are world-class, but he still manages to use the forms and say what he wants. There are shades of "Love That Dog" in here - the idea of a kid who isn't keen on poetry and ends up writing it and drawing more from the experience than he thought possible.

After many years, Sharon Creech has written a follow-up to "Love That Dog". It's called, of course, Hate That Cat. I haven't read this one yet, but am looking forward to it. More poetry, please, more!

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