April 12, 2016

Friday, April 23, 2010

NPM 50 State Tour: Illinois

The Prairie State has had a poet laureate since 1936. Past P.Ls include Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Illinois' current poet laureate is Kevin Stein, who is a well respected literary critic as well as a poet. Read an interview with Stein here.

Before we check out Stein's poetry, here is a youth poem featured on his website. Stein is a champion of kids writing poetry -- you'll find some great work by children on his site. Yay!

Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, 6th grade
by Rebecca

Aged Cheese
People are like cheese.
When cheese is first made, it does not have
strong flavor.
When a child is born, it has not discovered
all its senses.
As the cheese ages, it gets more flavor.
As the child grows, it explores the world.
When the cheese is sold, it lives in
a refrigerator.
When people become adults, they get a job,
have a family, and buy a house.
Eventually, the cheese gets forgotten,
it gets moldy and is fed to a dog,
or eventually when you are old,
your kids move away
and after a long hard life
you lie down to rest
for the rest of your life.

And here is a poem by Kevin Stein -- a sort of dual character sketch. What does the open space breaking up each line signify to you?

It Didn’t Begin with Horned Owls
Hooting at Noon

by Kevin Stein

Though in them he heard       the weird symmetry
of loss and love’s becoming,       a great silence
between one call and the       other’s reply.
So he laid block, framed       studs into walls:
plumb, square, on line.       He stayed up late,
straightening bent nails       on the lip of a block
with his ballpeen hammer,       the way a contractor
with a sprung back had shown       him. Evenings
he went next door to talk,       toting his thermos
of bitter coffee and a picture       of his son
who’s dying of AIDS. Son       he’d failed, son
he’d pounded on and never got       right.

The rest of the poem is at the Poetry Foundation.

Anastasia Suen is hosting Poetry Friday at Picture Book of the Day. Stop by for some rockin' verse.


Jeannine Atkins said...

I got pulled by the broken line in Kevin Stein's poem, and just felt all broken inside by the end. So so sad. But beautiful words.

Author Amok said...

It is a sad and beautiful poem. Stein's work hits emotional nerves -- so brave.

all things poetry said...

Wow, what a poem, so complex!

Laura Evans