If you’re like me then while you appreciate some good poetry, you don’t necessarily seek it out on a regular basis. So if you’re hitting the end of Poetry Month this April and feeling bad about your lack of high-class reading (and 10 page epic poems from the Baroque period just don’t do it for ya), here are a couple of things you might be able to handle:
This is a YouTube channel that posts slam poetry videos every week. They are Ah-mazing. Not all of them are clean, but they even have a list of “Classroom-Friendly Poems” that should be safe for most ages (i.e. no cursing or sexual references). Most vids are 3-5 min long, and you don’t even have to do the reading with slam poetry! The author does it for you!
There are SOOOOOO many good ones to choose from, but here is one of my all-time favorites that I’ve probably watched 50 times….
Brrrrrrrrrrr!!!!! Doesn’t this just give you chills? This is the power that poetry can have. I cannot do it with this level of power, but it’s something to aim for.
And just for fun–because poetry can be fun (remember Shel Silverstein?)….
2. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Age: Elementary/Middle Grade
when you are trying
not to think about something
it keeps popping back in your head
you can’t help it
you think about it
think about it
think about it
until your brain
a squashed pea.”
If you have not read this book go out and get it right now. Seriously. You will weep.
Plus it’s adorable. This book is on about a 5th grade level, but the first time I read it we were sitting in the now defunct downtown Fort Worth Barnes and Noble in the children’s section, as me and all my friends shared with each other our favorite childhood books.
If you hate poetry, well, then so does Jack. Which makes him fun to read as he starts to discover the power that words can have.
3. Split Image by Mel Glenn
Laura Li feels trapped. Everyone she knows, from the students at school to her family at home, has an opinion about her. They all view her in a specific way, and none of them seems to see all of her.
This story is told from multiple perspectives, all in verse. Some is told from Laura’s view, but most of her story is told by the people who know, or think they know her. This book has stuck with me years after I read it.
4. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
The dress code says
we must cover ourselves
skirts that reach well below
our lascivious knees,
polos buttoned over
the rim of the canyon,
a glimpse of which can send a boy
plunging to such depths
he may never climb back up
that if a hiker strays
off the path, trips, and
winds up crippled,
is it really the canyon’s fault?”
This book is definitely meant for a more mature YA crowd. It addresses issues of body image, puberty, eating disorders….all in an unflinching, haunting style that plops images into your brain and lets them nest there.
Fantastic read, and short, too! I’ve already checked it out from my library twice!
5. Sold by Patricia McCormick
“Inside my head I carry:
my baby goat,
my baby brother,
my ama’s face,
our family’s future.
My bundle is light.
My burden is heavy.”
Lakshmi is 13 years old when her family sends her to be a servant in a rich woman’s house. Turns out she’s actually being sold as a sex slave.
The book isn’t super graphic, but given the topic you obviously want to know what you’re dealing with before you hand this book to your child or a classroom full of children.
This is an important topic that I think more people need to be aware of. That’s why it was a National Book Award Finalist. It’s a powerful story, told from Lakshmi’s perspective, sure to insight discussion after it’s read.
All of these are short reads, but hopefully you will find something on this list that sparks an interest in at least occasionally perusing poetry. I find as a writer it broadens my conceptions of how to use language and makes me see the world in a new way.
Plus it can be fun!