April 12, 2016

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Poetry Friday Announcement: A New Series

Hey there, Poetry Friday crowd. I'm starting a new series today. Anyone can join in. If you'd like to  guest post, leave me a note in the comments.

Find more Poetry Friday
posts at Poetry for Children.
My favorite part of summer isn't the beach (we haven't been there yet), the hot weather (I prefer blizzards, thank you), or no school (can I have my routine back yet?) It's summer reading.

My nephew, demonstrating that a book
can be enjoyed anywhere, even
sitting on the floor by Auntie's front door.

I've been on a Sharknado-worthy reading binge, chomping up novels, gliding through the library looking for delicious fantasies, never roaming far from shore without an audio-book to satisfy my story-hunger.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself to slow down and *enjoy* what I'm reading. Taste the flavors. One way to stop my book-hopping and think about each novel I'm reading is through poetry.

The idea for this series dates back to my years teaching high school. My ninth graders were about to do a unit on Betty Smith's classic coming of age novel, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.

Find it here.
I wanted to add more poetry to my lessons, so I used the poem "The Lake Ilse of Innisfree" by William Butler Yeats to help introduce the themes of the novel. The class talked about dreams, especially dreams of place.

When we finished A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, we went back to the poem. What a rich discussion we had. The students' ideas about dreams and the importance of place had developed as they read the novel. Circling back to Yeats' poem gave them a way to focus their thoughts.

How about you? During your summer reads, have you come across a book that made you think of a favorite poem? That's what this series is all about.

Summer Reads: Chapter & Verse

To participate, you can go simple and share a pairing of book and poem. I'll post as is, giving you credit for the contribution!

If you want to step it up, include a paragraph about the book you read and a few lines about why you paired it with a particular poem.

For those of you who really want to dig in and discuss your Chapter & Verse, write a blog post of 500-750 words. Tell us what you liked about the novel you're sharing. Expand on what made you think of this poem as you were reading the book. How does one complement the other? Explain how reading the poem with the book deepens your understanding of novel, poem, or both.

Here is a sample pairing from my own summer reads.

Author Amok's Chapter & Verse

Find it here.
Genevieve Valentine's retelling of "The 12 Dancing Princesses" is a historical YA novel, set in 1920s New York. Here, the dancing princesses are society sisters. The Hamilton girls are locked in their ritzy home by a misogynistic father who is embarrassed by his large family and lack of male heirs. The girls sneak out several nights a week to dance at New York's speakeasies and get a taste of life outside their father's walls.

I'm pairing THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB with Edna St. Vincent Millay's most famous poem.

First Fig
By Edna St. Vincent Millay
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
The Hamilton girls are burning the candle at both ends. What I love about this pairing is how the poem emphasizes the balance between frenetic joy and risk. That's what keeps drawing the twelves sisters back to the dance floor. It can't (and doesn't -- gasp!) last forever.

If you'd like to share your Summer Reads: Chapter & Verse, leave me a note in the comments or send an email to I'll post another sample next week.

Have fun out there, book sharks!

Find it here.


Margaret Simon said...

You know how I love a good challenge! This one will take some deep thinking. I am reading middle grade novels this summer and reading poetry, but I haven't thought to put them together as a pair. I see from your post how one genre can enrich the other. What is your deadline? School starts soon for me, so I am quickly running out of personal reading time.

Donna Smith said...

This sounds like a challenge that could result in some really outstanding pairings. What a great idea!

Author Amok said...

Hi, Margaret. Great question! I'm hoping to have at least two posts a week from now until the official end of summer, 9/22. The Autumn Equinox falls on 9/23 this year.

Diane Mayr said...

Hi Laura, I don't think I'll commit at this time, however, I'd love to recommend an audiobook or two for you to listen to. These books are well-written and thus are also a pleasure to listen to: What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. I'd also recommend Neil Gaiman reading his The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

BJ Lee said...

I'm impressed by this ambitious project. Unfortunately, I am not reading much fiction this summer, just poetry collections and picture books and writing a lot. Good luck with your series!

Linda said...

Oooh, I'm looking forward to this series, Laura! I'm swamped with teaching summer school, grandchildren, and working on a writing project, but I'll be dropping by to read every post! I hope you're having a wonderful summer! It's going by way too fast for me. : )

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I've said it before, I'll say it again: you always have the best ideas for series! I'll have my to-read list handy for additions.

Bridget Magee said...

I love this creative challenge, Laura! I've been reading a lot this summer, but hadn't thought of what I reading in the context of how it relates to a particular poem. Something for me to focus on now. If I come up with an inspired pairing, I'll let you know. = )

Tabatha said...

Hi Laura! The Girls at the Kingfisher Club looks interesting. Your project reminds me of my Fictional Favorites, which paired characters with poems. I would love to think of a match for you, as soon as I get enough sleep to power my brain back up!

Anonymous said...

I like your choice of First Fig to pair with this novel!

Keri said...

What a brilliant idea! I'll be pondering as I water the garden this morning -- I have the middle grade novel in mind, and the main character quotes a poem, but I would like to investigate further. Thanks for the challenge!

Janet Wong said...

I love pairings! I think these make a great match: "Poem for a Bully" by Eileen Spinelli (page 208 in The Poetry Friday Anthology) with STARGIRL by Jerry Spinelli, where the main character (inspired by Eileen, Jerry told me a long time ago), is someone like the speaker of the poem, a person who sees good even in a bully.

Note: Sylvia is leading a session at NCTE with me, Jerry, and Eileen Spinelli on it. Friday 11/21 at 2:30--if you'll be at NCTE, please come!

Author Amok said...

Diane -- Great recommendations. I'm putting those on my TBR list. I have done the Neil Gaiman audio of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Isn't it wonderful? I passed it along to a friend.

Bookseedstudio said...

Hello Author Amok, I'm not sure we've met as I'm relatively new to PF. I'm Jan/Bookseedstudio.
Thank you for this idea.

Reading a folk tale collection compiled by Mary Gould Davis, with illustrations from Jay Van Everen, THE TRUCE OF THE WOLF, at one story featuring an event centering on a flower, "The Goblin and The Rose," I remembered poet Emanuel di Pasquale & CARTWHEELS to the MOON. In his poetry book are his lines (none of these evocative free verse poems are titled)

by Emanuel di Pasquale
" Mother and I
rip two rosebuds
from the rosebush in our yard,
and we slip a bit of branch
into each rosebud
and make ourselves pipes.
Then we puff on them
and laugh and laugh."

from CARTWHEELS to the MOON,
My Sicilian Childhood