Thursday, April 1, 2010

Does poetry speak to your teen?

Does poetry speak to your teen? I find that some teens are drawn automatically to poetry, and others shy away from it. Those who like poetry may enjoy the shorter lines, the personal nature, the rhythm and rhyme, the metaphors and similes. But others find that poems don't tell enough of the story, make you work too hard to "figure it out". Teens have moved beyond the funny poems of Shel Silverstein, but want something that speaks to their experiences more than the classics. If you're looking for poetry that speaks to your teen, check out this new collection: Poetry Speaks Who I Am.
Poetry Speaks Who I Am with CD
Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else in Your Amazing Future
by Elise Paschen, Dominique Raccah
IL: Sourcebooks, 2010
ages 12 - 15
available on Amazon and at your local library
Poetry Speaks Who I Am makes young teens and tweens think about their lives today. It's a collection of 108 poems that has been carefully selected to mirror the hopes and fears of kids and teens today. It mixes contemporary and classic poets from a range of ethnic backgrounds. All of the poems help kids think about their lives, who they are and who they might be. As Elise Paschen writes in the introduction,
This is not a poetry anthology for adults, for children, for classroom study, or for required memorization and recitation. It’s made just for you. ... Youth inspires poets. So when we asked poets to send poems either that were important to them at your age or that they’d written about being your age, we received hundreds of submissions. Many writers try to capture those moments you may be thinking about now as you step into a new world.
I loved how this collection was organized. It's perfect for dipping into, and swimming a bit. While the poems are thoughtful and encourage reflection, the collection does not seem heavy-handed. "Vampire's Serenade" by Dana Gioia is on one page, followed by "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe on the next. You'll find poems from a boy's perspective, poems that speak to girls, and poems that speak to all of us. Many poems are short, many tell stories from the poet's childhood, some are more abstract.

Best of all, this collection has gotten a positive thumbs up from my neighbor. Each student in his 8th grade class had to read aloud a poem, and he had no idea what to choose. This collection was perfect for him, and made the assignment work. This is a great collection for middle school families. Try just leaving it lying around and see if your young teen browses through it.

The collection includes a CD of many of the poems read aloud. I did not find the CD spoke to me as much as the written poems. I think, in part, I liked skipping through the poems until I landed on one that resonated. I also like reading poems a couple of times over, letting them sink in. I typically listen to CDs in the car, and it was harder to let the poems sink in.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am has received several other great reviews: Fuse#8, The Happy Nappy Bookseller, and Welcome to My Tweendom.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Sourcebooks. If you purchase something on Amazon using one of the links here, a small percentages goes to Great Kid Books. This will be used to buy other books to review. Thank you for your support. Today's Poetry Friday will be hosted by Kate Coombs at the Book Aunt. Check out the many resources for poetry around the Kidlitosphere!

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