Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’
Here we are, right in the middle of the 100th anniversary of World War I (1914-1918). Those of you who read these blogs may have noticed that eLibrary has been posting occasional entries relating to various topics of the “Great War.” I have been perusing many articles and books about the First World War and was searching around on Amazon for something else to read when I came across the book “Above the Dreamless Dead.” It is a unique mixture of poems from the Trench Poets of World War I and artwork from today’s finest cartoonists. The collection was edited by New York Times bestselling editor Chris Duffy. Thinking that this book would be a great resource to use in schools for teaching both history and poetry, I reached out to First Second Books for an interview with Mr. Duffy. Here are the questions and responses from that interview:
1. First of all, what made you want to compile a book of WWI poetry in graphic form?
2. Have you always been interested in WWI? [Mr. Duffy answered both questions at once]
Mr. Duffy: The idea came from editor Calista Brill at First Second. She called me up one day and said “We have this idea for a book to round out our season.” She described the idea of current cartoonists adapting the work of the Trench Poets as part of the centennial of the start of World War I. She asked if maybe I would edit it, but she had someone else in mind if I said no. I thought it was a pretty bad idea at first and I almost passed–I mean, what do we have in common today with men who lived in muddy trenches and watched their buddies die (and who died) a hundred years ago? Didn’t seem like a great fit with the cartoonists I know, who are for the most part sheltered from war. Then I started reading a lot of World War I poetry just to see. There’s a lot of it, the best of it is amazing, and all of it is compelling–and I started to really see how visual and narrative a lot of it was/ is. Then I started thinking about cartoonists who have spent their careers engaging with war and related themes–Pat Mills, Sarah Glidden, George Pratt, Peter Kuper, Garth Ennis, just to name a few. The project started seeming like a GREAT idea. In the end, I think the book is both about the poetry and about cartoonists of today engaging with the past and with a specific group of writers.
3. Why do you think that WWI has been a neglected topic in classrooms over the decades?
Mr. Duffy: I really don’t know, but I’m asked that a lot. I think people feel a distance there and want to bridge it. I highly recommend anyone read the work of the war poets and writers to bridge not only the distance between them and the past, but with them and soldiers in general.
4. What is your favorite WWI poem?
Mr. Duffy: “As the Team’s Head Brass” by Edward Thomas. It’s a home front poem. A soldier, probably Thomas, watches a ploughman at work and every time he passes by they exchange some words–about the war, the weather, the tree that fell that the ploughman can’t remove because all the younger men are at war. It’s an everyday scene but the poem is about life, death, alternate worlds, young love, death, and maybe a great tragedy to come. I believe it’s Seamus Heany’s favorite World War I poem, so I feel pretty good about my choice. It didn’t make it into the book; several cartoonists turned it down when offered. Maybe I should have pushed harder!
5. Who is your favorite WWI-era poet?
Mr. Duffy: Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Edward Thomas. But it’s hard to choose.
6. Are you yourself a graphic artist?
Mr. Duffy: I draw and make comics, but not professionally.
7. Any ideas on how educators could use Above the Dreamless Dead to get the discussion started with students concerning both poetry and WWI?
Mr. Duffy: I think it would be a good follow up to a unit on World War I–maybe the students could read one poem, talk about it, and then look at the adaptation and discuss the choices the cartoonist made. I also think it’s a good opportunity for students to research one poet–his life, war experience, and career. In one way or another World War I was a huge part of every one of the poet’s lives. In many cases it ended their life. But I’m not a teacher, so beware of these tossed-off suggestions!
8. Why do you think WWI inspired such an outpouring of poetry, whereas other wars do not seem to have generated such literary creativity, especially in poetic form?
Mr. Duffy: I don’t know. I postulate that poetry was something read and written by more people at that time than after. I have also read that this was the first generation of young British men to benefit from big education reforms–the average soldier would have been more literate than in previous wars. But I don’t know the whole story about why!
9. If you could go back in time and say something to one of these Trench poets, what would it be?
Mr. Duffy: That’s a little too ahistorical for me. We can’t go back in time. You have to read to learn about them.
10. With the tremendous amount of poetry produced during and after WWI, are there any more such anthologies in the works?
Mr. Duffy: I hope so! Not by me, but I think poetry is a rich topic for cartoonists.
(Thanks to Chris Duffy and a special thanks to Gina Gaglinao of First Second Books for setting up the interview.)
The best review I can give for the book is this: I was in my basement reading it when my son Josh, who has ZERO interest in poetry but likes comic books, stopped and asked what I was reading. I told him a little about the book and showed it to him. He said something like, “Hmmm. Interesting.” Later that evening, when I walked past his room, I saw him sitting in his “gaming chair” reading “Above the Dreamless Dead.”
If you wish to contact First Second Books to ask about ordering this book for your classroom or school library, please follow this link: First Second Books
During this 100th anniversary of World War I, please use the many resources available in ProQuest’s eLibrary to learn more about the War to End All Wars:
America and World War I (Research Topic)
British Poets of World War I (Research Topic)
Canada and World War I (Research Topic)
Canadian Poets of World War I (Research Topic)
Common Core ELA: History/Social Studies (Research Topic)
Common Core ELA: Reading Literature (Research Topic)
Poetry (Research Topic)
ProQuest Research Topic Guide: World War I (Research Topic)
Trench Warfare of World War I (Research Topic)
World War I: A History in Documents (Reference Book)
And just some of the Research Topics for WWI-era poets:
If we were to discuss poetry vs prose in terms of contemporary popularity, prose would win. Take a walk through a library or bookstore and you’ll usually find a small section of books of poetry peeking through the sprawling aisles full of books of prose.
But what if we looked at poetry a little bit differently?
Poetry isn’t simply words in a book. Poetry is words spoken aloud, poetry is words spray-painted on a wall, poetry is words in a greeting card, poetry is a posting on Facebook, poetry is words vocalized in a song.
When we perceive poetry in this light, we begin to understand just how popular poetry is.
Reading poetry aloud, or hearing someone speak poetry, assists in understanding the work’s deeper meaning. It allows the reader and listener to hear all the sounds, rhythms, patterns, and intonations in the poem. These things are just as important as the meaning of the poem itself.
Consider how poetry spoken aloud impacted cultures throughout history.
In ancient Rome, poetry was the literary vehicle of choice. Some poets’ works were written and read, but mostly, ancient Roman poetry was spoken aloud in private or public gatherings. This is the way poetry reached the masses. It was how poetry assimilated itself into Roman culture. The likes of Virgil, Horace, and Ovid were the superstars of their day!
Ancient Chinese poets of the Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279) and Han (206 BC – 220 AD) dynasties are still revered as the greatest Chinese poets. During their time, their poems were performed for royalty and beautifully scribed on scrolls that were housed in the emperors’ palaces. How did the common people discover these masterpieces of literature? The spoken word, passed to and through communities, memorized and loved.
During the Renaissance, the plays of William Shakespeare drew enormous crowds at the famed Globe Theatre. His works resonated with the elite and with the common folk. Are his plays considered to be poems? No, they are not—but his dramatic oeuvre is replete with poetic devices. Let us call his plays “poetical.”
Poetical…much like the lyrics of songs we listen to every day.
Listen to a favorite song and consider the figurative and sound poetic devices found in the lyrics. What do you hear? Imagery, alliteration, metaphors, similes, personification, repetition, assonance, consonance, meter, rhyme? How do these devices impact the meaning or message of the song? How do these devices, along with the meaning of the lyrics, make you feel? Are the lyrics written as verse, as lines of poetry? What meaning do the lines hold separately; what meaning do they convey together?
This is a great activity to engage reluctant students of poetry. Poetry on a page offers quite a different experience than poetry spoken aloud, shared, heard. Listening to songs in a classroom setting—or hearing the lyrics aloud in spoken word—can transform students’ perspectives on this time-honored literary form.
The name Edgar Allan Poe usually brings to mind stories of murder and the macabre, mysterious women who come back from the dead, premature burials and the insane. He is known mostly for such classics as “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” yet he was a very versatile author whose canon includes poems, short stories, a novel, a textbook, a book on scientific theory, literary criticism and book reviews. He is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story and an innovator in the genre of science fiction. Edgar Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809, less than a month before the birth of Abraham Lincoln. (Lincoln, ever the lover of the dark and melancholy, was a fan of Poe’s “The Raven,” and he was known to have carried a copy of the poem with him while on the legal circuit, reading and quoting from it often.) Poe’s father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died of “consumption” a year later. Poe was taken in by the family of John Allan, which is where he got his middle name. Poe married his 13-year-old cousin in 1835. By all accounts it was a happy marriage that lasted for 11 years, until his wife’s untimely death, which may account for some of the dark subject matter in his writings.
Poe’s own death is shrouded in mystery. In 1849, while on his way to Philadelphia, he stopped in Baltimore and disappeared for five days. On October 3rd, he was found on a street, delirious and in great distress. Poe was taken to the Washington Medical College, but he was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in such dire straits. He wasn’t even wearing his own clothes. He kept repeating the name “Reynolds,” but it is not clear to whom he was referring. He died on October 7, with his last words being “Lord, help my poor soul.”
Jumping ahead, Poe’s grave in Westminster Hall in Baltimore became the subject of another mystery. For decades, every January 19th, an unknown night-time visitor called the “Poe Toaster” would leave three roses and a cognac on Poe’s grave. The Toaster’s final appearance was in 2009, the day of Poe’s 200th birthday, thus putting an end to the annual tradition.
Robert Frost once defined poetry as “serious play.” Poetry does many things to help children learn about their lives and feelings. Poems can be silly or funny while providing serious messages. Rhyming makes poems easier to memorize and fun to read aloud. Countless authors have written poetry for children. SIRS Discoverer also provides content on these authors as well as further reading about children’s poetry.
Here are 10 authors who write poetry for children. Who is your favorite?
- Dr. Seuss
One of the most famous and beloved authors for children. Most of his writings are in verse. All kids know The Cat in the Hat.
- Edward Lear
This English humorist popularized the limerick. His most famous nonsense poem is The Owl and the Pussycat.
- J. Patrick Lewis
Inspired by Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, Lewis has written over 50 books of poetry for children on a wide variety of subjects.
- Jack Prelutsky
In 2006, Prelutsky became the first Children’s Poet Laureate. His popular books delight readers with poems and illustrations of made-up creatures.
- Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson began writing poetry as a child. She has won numerous literary awards and was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate in 2015.
- Jane Yolen
Yolen writes poetry based on science and history. Her book Owl Moon is written in verse and is intended to help owl species.
- Mary Ann Hoberman
Hoberman also served as the Children’s Poet Laureate. Her poems are about everyday topics such as family, animals, and nature.
- Roald Dahl
Another big name in children’s literature, Dahl’s poems subverted nursery rhymes and fairy tales and often contained surprise endings.
- Shel Silverstein
Silverstein remains hugely popular for his quirky wit and style. His iconic works include Falling Up and Runny Babbit.
- Kenn Nesbitt
Nesbitt served as the Children’s Poet Laureate in 2013. His poems are humorous and he often visits schools to teach children about poetry writing.
Creative writing, poetry, fiction, short stories and so many other types of expressive writing are sometimes taken for granted in school when rigid educational standards and testing are prioritized. Writing, however, is a skill that goes hand in hand with reading and literacy and should be practiced in all forms including creative ones. Crafting a story from the imagination is a talent that cultivates creative thinking and should be encouraged. Whether you’re just starting to write, college-bound, working or interested in taking a writing class, opportunities are endless. You may be surprised at how many doors will open when you know how to craft stories and poetry. This summer, challenge yourself to start writing and see where it can take you. As Dr. Seuss wrote, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
Here are five wonderful places where writing can take you this summer:
1. Writing poetry can lead you to compete:
If you have an interest in writing poetry, there are contests and competitions you may want to check out. Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Card Contest is one in particular that awards you and doesn’t require an entry fee. The contest is held bi-annually and you can enter as many times as you wish. Non-rhyming verse is preferred.
2. Writing can encourage you to craft your talent:
Sometimes writing camps are good options for young writers who want to attend a program over the summer. You meet other like-minded writers and get to have your work critiqued. One such program offered by the Emerging Writers Institute allows 10th-12th graders to craft works of poetry, fiction, plays and more under the guidance of talented instructors. This particular program is housed in residence at top universities and dates are available in 2-week time-frames throughout the summer.
3. Writing can inspire you to visit the local library:
Believe it or not, your library does offer writing workshops and classes over the summer. Chances are it also offers these services year-round. Check with your local librarian to find out what writing classes and events are being offered in your hometown. Once you start writing, you may visit the library more often to find new books to inform your writing. Also check out National Novel Writing Month in November and see what you can do to prepare for it this summer.
4. Writing can take you on a travel adventure:
Sometime in the course of your education, you may get an opportunity to study abroad. Writers have many options available to them to do this. One program to consider is the Prague Summer Program for Writers which now operates as an independent entity. Being able to apply directly removes the obstacle of being enrolled at a specific university. If this program isn’t right for you, there are lots of others. Beginning a writing journey this summer can prepare you for a study abroad adventure next summer!
5. Writing can teach you about yourself:
The terms “writer” and “introvert” are often associated together. This does not mean every writer is an introvert or every introverted person is automatically a writer. The association comes from society’s idea that if you write, you are more attuned with your inner self and thus able to channel that better with words. I have learned that writing can teach you a lot about yourself and your inner voice. The more you write, the better you become at listening to what it’s trying to tell you. Let your words be your guide and you will always find your way. The New York Times op-ed “Writing My Way to a New Self” by Hana Schank provides a firsthand account of how this sentiment is illustrated by writing.
Where is writing leading you? Let us know in the comments section or Tweet us at #ProQuest!
Today marks exactly one year since we lost Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014. Her literary and educational contributions go beyond books and wisdom. She was an activist, actress, composer, dancer, director, editor, essayist, playwright, poet, singer, storyteller and writer. In the 86 years she spent on Earth sharing her art, voice and many gifts, it is her strength and poise we will remember most. To honor the full life she led, I thought it would be befitting to list 10 facts you may not know about Maya Angelou and reflect on the woman who published more than just poetry. She imprinted our hearts with empathy and adoration so that we always seek to understand instead of to judge.
Maya Angelou loved country music.
She was born Marguerite Annie Johnson.
Maya Angelou received over 30 honorary doctorates from universities spanning the world during her life, but never attended college.
Aside from being a poet, she was a calypso singer and dancer. She also immersed herself in other artistic areas including acting, directing, editing, and playwriting.
April 4, 1928 was Maya Angelou’s birthday and April 4, 1968 was the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. She didn’t celebrate her own birthday for years after his death because of the shared date.
She mastered French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Fanti and English of course.
In 1993, Maya Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” during Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration and was the first black female poet to do so.
Though Maya Angelou had one son, she thought of Oprah Winfrey as the daughter she never had.
NASA sent Maya Angelou’s poem “A Brave and Startling Truth” into space aboard the Orion spacecraft in December 2014.
Maya Angelou was a strong supporter of civil rights and marriage equality.
Poetry can be wondrous, mysterious, mystical, beautiful, breathtaking, provoking, distressing, funny, and surprising—even startling.
It can also be confusing.
I have a school-aged child. She recently read Emily Dickinson’s “A Bird Came Down the Walk” for homework, and had to answer a few questions. It’s a pretty straightforward poem about a bird out for a meal, happily hopping along the path until he sees the narrator, who offers him a crumb.
“Hey Mom, what does ‘And he unrolled his feathers/And rowed him softer home’ mean?”
It’s an integral part of the poem—the narrator offers the bird a crumb, which startles the bird, and thus the bird flies away.
But she’s in elementary school, and she can read poetry, but she doesn’t always get it.
I started thinking about the inclusion of poetry in school curricula these days, especially in the upper grades. What sort of poetry exposure will she get in high school? As a student and fan of poetry myself, I hope she gets a lot.
But I also hope that she simply doesn’t discover poetry as a timeless literary form and learn the art of absorbing and then dissecting a poem. I hope she meets the poets and understands how their lives and times influenced and inspired their works.
I want her to know that Walt Whitman cared for injured soldiers during the Civil War and wrote beautiful poetry honoring their suffering. I want her to know that he was alive when President Lincoln was assassinated, and that Whitman memorialized him in a poem. I want her to know that he bared his soul in his collection Leaves of Grass, in which he admits his humanity in “Song of Myself”:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
And he even acknowledges his inevitable passing: I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love.
I want her to dig deep into the blues poetics of Gwendolyn Brooks, who meditated on the struggles and aftermath of the Montgomery bus boycott of the Civil Rights movement, and who called for leaders and strength among the many:
We who are weak and wonderful, wicked,
bewildered, wistful and wild
Are saying direct Good mornings through the fever.
It is the giant-hour.
Nothing, less than gianthood will do.
I also want her to know Brooks’ familial history and the extent of her literary talents: granddaughter of a runaway slave, daughter of a supportive schoolteacher, participant in the Great Migration, regular contributor to the Chicago Defender newspaper’s poetry column at age sixteen, the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize, Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.
I want her to know Robert Frost as a brilliant man who struggled and suffered and ultimately captivated the nation with his words and imagery. I want her to read his well-known”The Road Not Taken” and go beyond seeing the poem’s last lines as simply oft-quoted verse and instead integrate them as words to live by:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
April is National Poetry Month. How are you celebrating in your classroom? Reading selected poems? Listening to poetry readings? Writing haiku, free verse, or limericks? Perhaps you will introduce students to the works of notable poets and discuss how their lives impacted their poetry. You can get some help from SIRS Knowledge Source. Visit the April SKS Spotlight of the Month for articles and Web sites on poets and poetry, and a quiz on poetry collectives. SKS is the perfect resource for helping students research and learn about poets from across the centuries and from around the world, and is a great way to bring them into your classroom. Who will you inspire with poetry this April?
Jane Yolen was born on Feb. 11, 1939. She has published hundreds of books, novels, poetry and short stories suitable for children and teens. Her novella geared for young adults, “The Devil’s Arithmetic,” draws on Holocaust history to captivate readers and was turned into a made-for-TV-movie in 1999. Her ever-growing imagination and talent for fiction-writing has led her to win notable awards and accolades. While she is now both a mother and grandmother, her love for children’s literature began way before having children of her own. She has written stories and penned poems since childhood, though she jokingly refers to the first poem she ever wrote, “Bus, bus, wait for us!” as being “truly awful.” To celebrate Jane Yolen’s birthday through the power of literature and prose, think about incorporating a mix of ProQuest resources and educational activities into your next lesson:
2. ProQuest SIRS Discoverer not only guides you in the right direction, but is also a great resource for discovering other children’s book authors and their works. Here are a couple of articles to get you started: see Poet Finds Inspiration All Around Her and Jane Yolen: A Writer for Every Reader.
3. Jane Yolen’s For Teachers Page: A wealth of teacher resources for use in the classroom can be found on Jane Yolen’s web site.
4. NPR Interview: Kids Author Jane Yolen Never Too Old For Comics: Audio interviews as primary sources are both personal and informative.
5. Reading Rockets: Interview with Jane Yolen: Video interviews can be a wonderful way to complement a lesson and bring an author’s experiences to life.
Check out SIRS Discoverer’s June Spotlight of the Month on poetry and books to have your students explore a journey of reading and writing. Also try this fun activity to exercise their creative muscles:
Poetry Acrostic Activity
Poetry is not just rhyming, counting syllables, and creating verses. Poetry can be very simple! For example, for an acrostic poem, all you need is a topic and some descriptive words, phrases, or sentences about that topic. Let’s write one!
First, pick a topic. Maybe the topic can be you! Or maybe you want to write about your favorite food, or favorite place to be, or favorite animal. My favorite animals are D-O-G-S, so I will write an acrostic poem on dogs. Now that I have my topic, I will write D-O-G-S vertically on a piece of paper, with each letter on a different line, one on top of the other. Time to brainstorm! Hmmm, what do I know about dogs? What do I like about dogs? What do dogs do? How do dogs make me feel? I need a word, phrase, or sentence that begins with each letter of the word D-O-G-S….
S pirited friend makes me happy
And there’s my poem! I like my poem, and I hope you like the one you’ve created, too. The one below is pretty cool, too! Perhaps you’d also like to try writing a haiku or a limerick! Poetry can be really fun. Write some poetry and share your poems with your family and friends!