The Thursday Reader, 9.06
Madeleine L'Engle, 1918-2007

Poetry Friday: The Place My Words Are Looking For

The Place My Words Are Looking For:
What Poets Say About and Through Their Work

selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Bradbury Press, 1990
ISBN: 0-02-747671-5

I am loving this anthology of poetry for children, which came highly recommended by my friend Ms. C at the library. It's a perfect Poetry Friday book. Not only is there a range of work by wonderful writers, but the editor Paul Janeczko also includes short prose pieces from many of them about their poems or why they write. Younger children will enjoy many of the poems here, but the book is really meant for a somewhat older reader, aged 10 or 11 and up.

You'll come across William Stafford, Bobbi Katz, X.J. Kennedy, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Updike, Myra Cohn Livingston, and many other names. When Junior comes home from school today, I'm going to read him J. Patrick Lewis's "Mosquito," which begins:

I was climbing up the sliding board
When suddenly I felt
A Mosquito bite my bottom
And it raised a big red welt.
So I said to that Mosquito,
"I'm sure you wouldn't mind
If I took a pair of tweezers
And I tweezered your behind?"

Lewis says of the poem, "...[I]nstead of trying consciously to discover what appeals to a third grader's mysterious mind, I'm more likely to write a poem as seen through the eyes of a giraffe, a crocodile, maybe even a blue-footed booby."

My inner twelve year old guffawed at the deadpan examination of boy-girl differences in "What I Remember About the 6th Grade," by Mark Vinz. The second stanza goes,

The Scarlet Tanager edged out the Wood Duck
in our balloting for the State Bird
because the girls liked red and organized.
I voted for the Bluejay or maybe the Loon.
Weird Charlie voted for the Crow.

Isn't it great to have the weekend ahead and a good book to read? Now I'm going to run so I can sneak in a few more pages of The Place My Words Are Looking For.

Friday is the day when lots of the children's literature bloggers talk about poetry. Semicolon rounds up all the Poetry Friday posts this week. If you want to know more about Poetry Friday, check this article at the Poetry Foundation. To volunteer for roundup duties, see Big A, little a, the blogger who started the tradition in the kidlitosphere.


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I loved this book, and wrote about it here:

The other book that I loved, even more than this one, was Janeczko's anthology, Seeing the Blue Between. It's marvelous.

I've been lucky enough to own this book for a long time, and it's one of my favorites that I return to over and over again. I'm just a sucker for books that highlight both great poetry AND the creators/process behind it all.

And, Kelly, I NEED Seeing the Blue Between!

Thanks for the link, Kelly! And, Sara, me, too, about Seeing the Blue Between.

I did not like Janeczko's A Kick in the Head very much. I know. I'm one of the few. It struck me as a book for an adult writing group, not a book for kids.

Ah, now, I'm off to fetch Jr. and get some coffee at Dunkin Donuts. Or Unkind Donuts, if you scramble the Dunkin. (Did y'all see Wordplay?)


THE PLACE MY WORDS ARE LOOKING FOR is becoming a poetry classic. There aren't many poetry books for the young that have been in print as long. It is a great anthology! If you like that book--I am sure you'd like Janeczko's SEEING THE BLUE BETWEEN: ADVICE AND INSPIRATION FOR YOUNG POETS. Have you read it?

Elaine, I think I'm going to need a copy of my own. And, no, I haven't read Seeing the Blue Between. I'll pick it up on my next trip to the library.

I love that book too and we have it in our library.

I think Paul's anthologies are all thoughtful and cohesive. I'm always delighted that he uses my poems.Opening one of his books is like unexpectedly finding yourself at a very good party, where all of the guests are a delight.

Star Struck, I'm so pleased you stopped by. "A very good party, where all of the guests are a delight" --that's a marvelous way to look at The Place My Words Are Looking For. I just loved it.

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