Today is the fourth in the series where I ask children’s poets what their favourite poetry books are – they choose 5-8 books, one of their own, and they can if they wish choose a book of poems for adults, too. A big British welcome to Eric Ode, American poet and musician and a lovely person as well.
List some of my favorite (or “favourite”) poetry books? What a fun invitation! Thanks so much, Liz. As Sue Hardy-Dawson did last week, I’m also going to shy away from including any collections from poet friends. Once you start, where do you stop?
1) Small Poems by Valerie Worth is easily my first choice. These are poems I love sharing with students. The observations enter the room quietly. The metaphors are flawless, unexpected, and always good for “Of course!” moments.
2) Is A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson too obvious? Well, so be it. I still remember my mother reading from this collection to me. Poems about haylofts and swings and little toy sailboats written with perfect meter, perfect rhyme, and always with a child’s heart.
3) Sing a Song of Popcorn, selected by Mary Michaels White, Eva Moore, Beatrice Schenk De Regniers, and Jan Carr is a beautiful, wide-ranging anthology. The poems are grouped by theme, each section wonderfully illustrated by such notables as Marcia Brown, Maurice Sendak, and Arnold Lobel.
I first came upon this collection while teaching elementary school. My copy is dog-eared and page-worn.
4) Judith Viorst’s If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries is a slim collection packed with the sly wit and heartstrings-tugging thoughts for which Viorst is so well known. An especially fun collection for that ages 8 to 11 group.
5) And I suppose Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends is another obvious choice (at least on this side of the pond), but can it be topped? From the opening “Invitation” to the closing “The Search,” I’ve always appreciated how Silverstein could move from the goofiest of themes to the most tender while never letting his collections lose cohesion.
6) The truth is, I don’t often read poetry written for adults. I’ll pick up a collection with optimistic energy from time to time only to wind up feeling beaten and frustrated—like a poet imposter—as I realize I am missing too much of what the poet is sharing. (That says far more about me than the poets, by the way.) And so I am thankful for poets like Billy Collins and titles like Sailing Alone Around the Room, a collection written with the inviting, conversational language that has me curling up into the pages.
7) And I still need to choose one of my own? Then let’s go with my newest collection, Otters, Snails and Tadpole Tails, published by Kane Miller Books and beautifully illustrated by Ruth Harper. I love a walk in a healthy wetland ecosystem and hope this collection helps others find magic there as well.
Peace and joy,