The Place My Words Are Looking For:
What Poets Say About and Through Their Work
selected by Paul B. Janeczko
Bradbury Press, 1990
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.