Poetry, I have often found, helps everyone everywhere find common ground. OK, so much for my feeble attempt at rhythm and rhyme. But I did find while teaching ESOL to both children and adults that it was poetry over prose that kept everyone on the same page moving in the same direction.
In recognition of National Poetry Month, I thought I’d ask our Gwinnett librarians about which poetry books particularly touched them. And no, I’m not going to try to make a poem out of it.
No one was able to name just one. On the top of the list for Amy Billings, events and outreach manager, was “Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes” by Salley Mavor.
“Nursery rhymes are often a child’s first exposure to poetry. The illustrations in this version are hand sewn from fabric, yarn, acorns, shells, beads and other small objects for rich visual interest,” Billings said.
I, too, loved the illustrations, which inspire kids to use their imagination and resourcefulness and not just glue together pre- packaged kits from craft stores.
Billings also mentioned “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear, illustrated by Anne Mortimer and “Switching on the Moon: a Very First Book of Bedtime Poems” collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. And her choice of “Doggie Slippers” by award winning poet Jorge Lujan, especially appealed to me. Lujan wrote to children all over Latin America asking about their pets and then shaped their responses into this collections of poems. A child does not have to live in Latin America to relate to them.
Amy Walker, events and outreach specialist, submitted “I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus” by Jack Prelutsky, the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate. These 100 poems, Walker predicts, are sure to tickle your funnybone. On a more serious side, “I, Too, Am America” by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier features trains and Pullman porters to accompany Hughes’ classic poem,.
And speaking of classics, “A Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein was first released in 1963.
Parents and even grandparents can remember being entertained by Silverstein, both as toddlers and as adults.
Events and Outreach Specialist Leigh Atkinson’s selections might be called “po-art-ry” as they all combine both forms of expression. In “Come to My Party And Other Shape Poems” by Heidi B. Roemer, illustrated by Hideko Takahashi, “words fly through the air, weave across the ground, and stack up to the ceiling as they fill the pages forming fun concrete poems.”
“Fold Me a Poem” by Kristine O’ Connell George, illustrated by Lauren Stringer combines the art of origami with poetry as a little boy folds his way through a stack of colored sheets of paper making a variety of shapes. And “Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings” by Douglas Florian, well, poetically speaking, as I wind up this column, how’s that for a closer?
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at email@example.com.