THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Friday, November 13, 2009

Poetry Friday: Paint Me a Poem

This Friday, I'm celebrating the recent re-issue of Maryland children's poet Justine Rowden's book Paint Me a Poem. It's a great way to introduce elementary schoolers to art and ekphrastic poetry.
Justine received permission from the National Gallery of Art to use its masterpieces as inspiration and illustration for the book. It originally came out in 2005 and was re-issued last month.
For a taste of the book, check out the sample pages at Justine's nifty & kid-friendly website, http://www.paintmeapoem.com/.
As part of my "Five Questions for the Author" series, here are Five Questions for Justine Rowden:
1. How did you approach the National Gallery of Art about this project? What was their response?

I made contact with the National Gallery of Art, showing them a mock-up of Paint Me a Poem, Poems Inspired by Masterpieces of Art, the book for which I had just received a contract. They were extremely receptive to my approach. Hurrah!

At the book's publication, the National Gallery Shop chose to feature the book in a display. Another Hurrah!

2. Describe the process of choosing paintings and writing the poems. I am imagining you taking a notebook to the museum and writing first drafts as you stood before the paintings.

I did look at a great many paintings, choosing a diverse group of paintings representing different periods. Then I worked on writing poems connecting with the art that pulled me in, that "sang" to me.

3. When you hear from young readers, which of the poems do they respond to? What do they like about them?

It always tickles me to find every child finds a favorite among the poems, but it is never the same poem! I think some children are more captivated by sounds, some by the progression of ideas, some by the element of surprise.

(And it is true of their parents, and adults, in general.) And that is an unexpected joy to the writer.

4. Why is poetry a good way to get children thinking and writing about art?

Children seeing art instinctively sense their impressions in poetic phrases!

Reading poetry that is rich and vibrant in describing art can evoke the painting's dramatic bold strokes and can egg the child on to find the wonderful wildness in his or her own poems.

5. You used some concrete poetry in Paint Me a Poem. How does that technique help the reader connect the poem to the work of art?

Arranging words, phrases, in unusual configurations adds a touch of art to the spirit of the poem; it can intrigue, tantalize the reader. And I think the playful spirit it engenders brings the read an intimacy with the poem, and, maybe, even with the author!

Thanks, Justine and congratulations on the re-issue.

You'll find more rich and vibrant poetry at Gregory K's blog, GottaBook. He's hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up.

12 comments:

Tabatha said...

Congrats, Justine! Nice write-up, Laura. I *love* the NGA!

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Tabatha. You'll enjoy the book, then. She's got such a wide variety of art -- abstract, impressionist, folk art.

jama said...

Thanks for the wonderful post. Loved hearing Justine's comments. I have this book in my "to be reviewed" pile, too. :)

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Jama. I loved Justine's comments about why and how poetry helps kids express themselves about visual art.

Janet said...

This looks like such a neat book, and I really enjoyed reading your dialogue with Justine Rowden!

Mary Lee said...

This post is cousins to Diane Mayr's at Random Noodling!!! FUN!

Author Amok said...

Ooo, thanks for the tip, Mary Lee. I haven't been over there yet.

laurasalas said...

I love poem responses to images. Must get this book. Thanks!

Author Amok said...

Laura -- You're welcome. Justine told me it's available again at the National Gallery of Art. The book is a joyful introduction to ekphrastic poetry for younger kids.

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jacob said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Claudia

http://paintingdrawing.net

Author Amok said...

Thanks for stopping by, Claudia! I hope to have some new posts up soon.