I’m thrilled to welcome the incomparable team of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong with The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations from Pomelo Books, featured as a “Hot off the Press” title from the Children’s Book Council in March. This is fourth in the series of praise-garnering Poetry Friday Anthologies, which offer fun and accessible ways to bring poetry to life in the classroom. Learn about each collection and connections to the Common Core and other teaching standards here. [I posted my own PFAC poem last week.]
This new volume explores more than 150 holidays and celebrations – 156 poems by 115 poets (!), including many familiar Poetry Friday names. And – in a welcome and wonderful feat – each poem is presented in both English and Spanish.
In the PFA tradition of “Take 5,” let’s ask Sylvia and Janet five questions about this terrific new resource.
Happy Poetry Month, Janet and Sylvia! What an undertaking. Whose Muse insisted on such a project, and what does this new volume bring to the world of poetry for children?
JW: It was definitely the Sylvia Muse on this one, the "Christmas-tree-in-every-room-of-the-Vardell-house" and "Happy Half-Birthday" Sylvia. The emphasis on Picture Book Pairings and the idea to have Spanish translations for every poem were also hers; Sylvia, please take a bow!
SV: Thanks, Janet! I do like savoring life’s many special moments and I think kids find something to celebrate in the smallest, silliest things, too. Plus, I think our poems offer great hooks for specific celebrations, but are also worth reading and sharing any ol’ time for their humor, lyrical language, or thoughtful themes.
The breadth of these poems is staggering – from silly to profound, acknowledging cultures across the globe. In the introduction you write, “A poem on an unfamiliar celebration is a thirty-second look out the window at what brings meaning to another group of human beings.” Why is that thirty-second look important?
JW: The best way to reach global understanding is to share in our happiness. You don't see the enemy in a smiling child.
SV: We need diverse literature that focuses on real and important issues such as discrimination—but we also need examples of joyful diversity for balance. Some of the diverse and joyful poems that you can find in our book are: Uma Krishnaswami's Diwali poem, Ibtisam Barakat's Ramadan poem, Debbie Reese's poem about making bread in Pueblo cultures, Margarita Engle's poem about the Dashain festival of Nepal, Renée M. LaTulippe's poem featuring friendship and disabled children, and Lesléa Newman's Gay Pride Day poem. I love that each of these poems offers a glimpse at something new (to many), but also points to familiar connections with family, play, friendship, etc.
I know faithfully translating poems from English to Spanish (as well as from Spanish to English) was very important to you both. How did you accomplish that?
SV: At a lunch after our ALSC Institute session last September, we brainstormed with Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy about ways to expand what we had done with The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, which includes a dozen poems translated by the poets themselves into Spanish. They liked the idea of having more poems in Spanish for this book and connected us with Liliana Cosentino, a professional translator whose work they admire. After we received the translations, we sent them to more than a dozen additional readers, including Alma Flor and Isabel, poets Pat Mora and Julie Larios, and David Bowles, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) Translation Award.
JW: And then the shaping and reshaping began: one reader would suggest a change; another reader would modify it further; a third reader would suggest the original translation; and so on. Some of the most useful feedback came from a high school student who grew up in New Jersey but speaks Spanish daily with her friends and her Guatemala-raised parents and grandparents. She and I sat down together, discussing poems line-by-line. I still remember how pained she felt over one particular (now-revised) translation, saying, "Well, yes, those words might be correct; but no one would ever say it that way!" It was important to us that the poems be musical and poetic in Spanish too—and not necessarily word-for-word translations of the English poems.
This collection is offered in a teacher/librarian edition as well as a student edition, featuring just the poems with illustrations. How do you hope each book is used?
SV: The teacher/librarian edition is our “usual” format that provides guidance in sharing and teaching the poems. But we’ve often heard that people would like to be able to share the poems with children without the instructional component on the page and so the illustrated “children’s” or “student” edition was born. We hope classrooms and libraries will have BOTH—so that the poems can be savored on their own, but teaching tips are also available for anyone who wants to lead a poem lesson or poetry celebration.
Finally, you’ve set up a nifty website just for the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations at PoetryCelebrations.com. What will virtual visitors find there?
JW: This month at PoetryCelebrations.com, the featured piece is a lyrical Poet's Note by Ibtisam Barakat that accompanies her audio reading plus an illustrated mini-poster of her "Tree Day Celebration" poem, our Arab American Heritage Month poem (you can click on a link to see a translation of the poem in Arabic). In future months we'll feature videos of poems, additional holiday poems that do not appear in our book and also longer versions of some of the poems that do appear in the book. In August, there will a super-neat Thrift Shop Day feature; make sure to check the website in August!
Oh, I will! HUGE thanks, Sylvia and Janet, for sharing your anthology magic with us today.
Since we’re just past halfway through Poetry Month, let’s close with Janet’s wonderful poem from July 2:
On Halfway Day
by Janet Wong
We each had half a sandwich
then we waited half an hour –
so the food could sink
halfway to our feet.
Then we halfway-ran
to the neighborhood pool,
three whole blocks,
at the end of the street.
We shook off our shoes
and set down our towels.
My sister made sure
my suit was on right.
We swam until dinner –
half a dog and half a burger –
then we watched half a movie
and we said good night!
©Janet Wong. All rights reserved. [Thank you, Janet!]
Sylvia and Janet write, “We firmly believe that poetry is the ideal vehicle for inviting children of all backgrounds to enjoy language and literature.” Amen! Visit more with Sylvia at her Poetry for Children blog, and with Janet at her website .
[For more Kidlitosphere Poetry Month Goodness than any human could stand, remember to check Jama's Roundup of events at Jama's Alphabet Soup.]
What wonderful things are YOU celebrating for Poetry Month today? Please leave your links in the comments, and I'll round them up throughout the day. Thanks for coming by!
Penny Parker Klostermann starts us off with a terrific entry in her “A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt” series. Her guests, award-winning author Pat Zietlow Miller with daughter, Sonia, offer an illustrated poem that will have you tapping your toes all day long.
Over at Teaching Authors, they’ve also been celebrating the PFAC. (Three of them have poems included!) Today, my buddy April brings us a poem for National Thrift Shop Day. It’s bear-y fun, so Jama needs to make sure Mr. Cornelius sees it…
Turn out the lights! Just for a few minutes. Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids continues her “Poetry Tips for Teachers” series with her poem, "Flowerful Flood," and a suggestion for reading poems in the classroom.
What can dodo birds teach us about meter? Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty brings us the always-entertaining Renée LaTulippe to explain. (There might be a surprise poem over there, and a prompt, too!)
Joy offers up a light-filled haiku and tells us about “the world’s largest collaborative poem on the internet” at Poetry for Kids Joy. [She’s given us the link if you’d like to participate. Diane gives us some insight into all this as well today!]
Over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt offers up a fun challenge (Poetry Cubed? – click to find out) and shares his own poem in response. (There’s a book giveaway too!)
At Jama’s Alphabet Soup, Jama brings us Margaret McNamara's A Poem In Your Pocket (illustrated by G. Brian Karas) – the PERFECT book for perfectionistic poets of any age. Plus, Mr. Cornelius takes “Poem in Your Pocket Day” to new heights (or depths -- of pockets).
What is Catherine Johnson wearing? Author Amok’s Laura Shovan continues her fun and insightful guest-blogger series on clothes, and Catherine shares "Getting Dressed" by Alexander Resnikoff.
Tamera Will Wissinger shares a short review of the new verse novel AUDACITY by Melanie A Crowder. (She’s doing an ARC giveaway, too, which you’ll want to try for after reading the review!)
Robyn Campbell (Robyn with a “y,” like me!) shares a clerihew today, written in honor of a Poetry Friday-er we all know and love.
For the fourth year in a row, Donna at Mainely Write is participating in the “A to Z Challenge” (a poem each day prompted by a letter of the alphabet). Whew! Today is “O” – for “Oversize Load.”
The 2015 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem has progressed to Buffy’s blog today; a mysterious connection made…
What is a Zip Ode, you ask? Tara at A Teaching Life has got your number. Warning: these look terribly addictive.
Irene chimed in (sent me a text) from the Land of No Internet Connection, asking if we’d make sure she’s in the mix! She highlights Lee Wardlaw’s new WON TON AND CHOPSTICK and offers up another gem in her Poetry Month series, “Artspeak,” original poems written to image prompts from the National Gallery. (Today’s wind poem is one of my favorites so far.)
Carol at Beyond Literacy Link offers “A Cordial Invitation to peruse the Winter Whisperings Gallery” just unveiled last evening. Take a deep breath and savor these thoughtful poetry/image (& sound, too!) offerings from around the world. Guaranteed to lower your blood pressure for a few moments.
Ever-clever Liz Elizabeth Steinglass has been bringing items from her desk to life in poems this month. “I'm still exploring the desk with my daily National Poetry month poems, but I find myself moving away from the usual school supplies,” she says. Her short but punch-packing poem today is "Stolen."
Long live haiku! Before I got immersed in the form a few years ago, Diane Mayr was a seasoned, published poet. She has a great post at Kurious Kitty celebrating National Haiku Poetry Day TODAY. She’s also got some great book recommendations (most of which I must confess are already on my shelves). Super entry point if you’d like to learn more about haiku poetry.
Now, it’s also International Haiku Poetry Day and at Random Noodling, Diane explores the international aspect of haiku (it’s not just Japanese and English, folks!), including the Earthrise Rolling Haiku collaborative poem Joy mentions above.
Speaking of haiku (and Carol’s “Winter Whisperings”) this April morning finds Linda at Teacher Dance sharing weather-inspired haiku from snowy Denver! [Linda, my hubby was on the phone with a snow-bound Colorado colleague last night – if you get tired of the snow, head over here to the coast....]
Over at The Poem Farm Amy continues her “Sing That Poem!” series with poemsong #17 and a poemsong by Joy Keller's fourth graders - both to the same tune! [I dare you to visit Amy’s blog and NOT try this song-matching challenge. But even if you don’t, Ms. Keller’s class poem is a fantastic tribute to the oceans, with or without music.]
Linda K. at Write Time is wearing her PFAC party hat. She’s sharing her poems from the book – “Welcome” and “Dear Veteran” – and offering a chance to win a free copy as well! And, in addition to being a terrific poet and teacher, did you know Linda is a veteran herself? Check out her pictures in dress blues and fatigues (1974) in today’s post. Linda, sincerest thanks for your service.
Celebrating from Down Under is Sally, who shares a (lump-in-your-throat-inducing) excerpt from her new verse novel, verse novel Roses are Blue. Said novel (illustrated by Gabriel Evans) was just named a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia book of the year judges. Congratulations, Sally!!
Iphigene is in today from Gathering Books with a post which makes my day. You might know the poem about growing old and wearing purple, and red hats – have you seen poet Jenny Joseph reading “Warning”? Pure delight.
Mary Lee brings us another terrific entry in the PO-EMotion series today at A Year of Reading - such strong imagery in two poems. (Have a tissue at the ready.)
Mary Lee also shares this: Poetry PSA: Janet and I will be hosting the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Poetry Month Twitter Chat (#NCTEchat) on this coming Sunday evening (4/19) at 8:00 pm ET. Our guiding question is "What is the Role of Poetry in Literacy Learning?" We wrote this blog post to get you thinking: http://blogs.ncte.org/index.php/2015/04/poetry-in-literacy-learning/. Hope to hear many of your poet-voices chiming in Sunday night!
A reason to join Twitter, if you haven’t already!
At The Miss Rumphius Effect, Tricia continues exploring poetic forms (and the teaching of them) with some great article links (one from our own Laura Shovan) and examples from Ron Koertge and his character Kevin Boland (Shakespeare Bats Clean Up and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs).
A hearty Poetry Friday welcome to newcomer Kathy at The Brain Lair, where today she features an intriguing original poem, “My Soul Looks Back.”
Much to ponder with Jan today at Bookseedstudio. She reminds us that it’s National Library Week, after all – and also Days of Remembrance (April 16-19). “The White Rose resistance of teens against Hitler is on my mind,” she explains, with links to resources and a call for others. Thinking about bullies, Jan offers up a poem about their cat, Ginger. (We have one of those! A bully cat, that is. Ours is black and white.)
Margaret shares some amazing acrostic poetry from a precocious third-grade student, Lani, at Reflections on the Teche. At the risk of repeating myself, you will be amazed.
At Reading to the Core, Catherine share’s Marilyn Singer’s poem “"Abraham Lincoln" to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death on this past Wednesday. She’s got some great resources, links, and teaching ideas, too.
Oh, my! At Keri Recommends, you’re in for a treat. Ever have a moment when you are watching a video online and you realize you’re smiling? An encounter between scientists via a deep-diving camera and a deep-diving sperm whale inspired an original poem by Keri, “Curiosity.” Her post title today? “Poetry Friday and Scientists Geeking Out.”
Speaking of delights and oddities and light, Tabatha continues to bring us wonderful poems about poetry this month! Today at The Opposite of Indifference you’ll find words from Dylan Thomas and Conrad Aiken.
Whether you’re trekking through snow or enjoying beach breezes today, celebrate spring with Brenda at Friendly Fairytales. Her original poem, “Yellowist Green,” brings you daffodils on the cusp of blooming.
Katie at The Logonauts also celebrates Lee Wardlaw’s new WON TON AND CHOPSTICK – A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku, with more fetching illustrations by Eugene Yelchin. Tune in to find out about Won Ton’s new challenge…
Our incredible Heidi loves a challenge. She
Kay at A Journey Through the Pages shares a lovely and moving original poem, “Darkness Falls,” in response to Mary Lee’s PO-EMotion challenge today (“sorrow”).
In a similar vein, Kortney shares remembrances of her poetry teacher, Steve Kowit, at One Deep Drawer. Such a touching post, and I know I’ll learn much when I can circle back later and explore the links.
At There is no such thing as a godforsaken town, Ruth is “still doing the mermaid thing” (Progressive Poem reference!). She brings us a haunting mermaid poem by Thomas Merton, and a link to an earlier post featuring a haunting Pablo Neruda poem. I mentioned haunting, didn’t I? For both? Hold your breath….
At Think, Kid, Think, Ed reveals the classroom winners of March Madness Poetry #MMPoetry! Grand (and Second and Third) Prize Giveaway winners will receive a stack of wonderful poetry books to add to their classroom shelves. My guess is, after investing such time in the tournament, the students won’t be leaving that poetry on the shelves for long.
Holly Thompson continues her The Language Inside series of 30 prompts at HATBOOKS. Today’s prompt calls for a list poem about time, place, change and emotion – with an excerpt from her award-winning verse novel as inspiration.
Our special guest Sylvia shares more PFAC fun at her own blog, Poetry for Children.. All month, she’s sharing some terrific videos produced by her graduate students of PFAC poems being read by students. Up today: a poem for “National Cereal Day” by our own Matt Forrest Esenwine, “Picky Eater”! [The reader is 14-year-old Andy, a good sport and a good cereal-box-catcher!]
A classic continuation of some of today’s PF images… light? shimmering water? bee? Little Willow shares D. H. Lawrence’s poem, “Coming Awake,” at Bildungsroman.
Anastasia brings us a roaring snippet from An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal (Author) and Jago (Illustrator) at Booktalking #kidlit.
Doraine checks in from Antarctica again, at least poetically, at Dori Reads. (What would it feel like to lose your ship in a sea-field of ice?!)
Renée might be a little late to the party today, but she’s fashionably late and worth the wait. In her amazing series on NCTE poets, she posts another interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins. This time the No Water River spotlight shines on Eloise Greenfield. Grab a cuppa something – you’ll want to savor this rich feature on one of our most important poets for children and readers of all ages.
Karen’s in today with a poem by Richard Wilbur from 1974, a perfect and timeless tribute to spring.
Charles Ghigna (Father Goose®) invites us all to celebrate Poetry Month at the Urban Family blog, where his colorful quartet of board books leads a pack of recommended titles for young readers.
At Pleasures from the Page, Ramona shares some “essential” poetry anthology titles with us. [She had to winnow down to six for a local bookstore’s April newsletter – I know, can you imagine?! So she’s sharing a few more collections she loves in today’s post.]
Head over to Check It Out, where Jone has another young writer, Cathy, who is wise beyond her years. I just love reading student poems that blow me away, don’t you? OH - and participate by leaving a comment, and you just might win a copy of the PFAC!
Jone’s back! She has an original poem for the “LL” challenge word QUILLS at Deowriter. (My kind of poem – you’ll enjoy, too!)
At Writing and Ruminating, Kelly, another PFAC poet, shares a post about her chapbook, The Universe Comes Knocking with one of its well-crafted poems, “Socratic Method.” [Thanks for sharing, Kelly - I can't figure out how to leave a comment without signing over my firstborn to LiveJournal.]
Close out this Haiku Day with an original haiku by Cathy at Merely Day by Day.