April is National Poetry Month, but like any special month like this one, I think poetry should be read year-round. Poetry houses the framework for language. For children, it can highlight imagery, diction, rhyme and phonetics. As we get older, great poems express the human condition in bite-sized nuggets of gold. At any rate, there are still four days of April left, and here are some of my picks for our poetry collection on Hoopla.
Reading poetry can be a great way to get reluctant readers involved. Large pages of text can seem daunting to a fledgling reader but poems; well they’re shorter and pack more of a punch immediately. Kids who may not want to sit down and read longer texts often enjoy the length and variety of poetry.
Poems by the Sea by Brian Moses
This book is a way to travel when you can’t go anywhere (much like all books). This collection offers readers engaging illustrations, a great introduction to rhythm and rhyme and verse that lends very well to reading aloud.
Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry By Jack Prelutsky
Jack Prelutsky has a fantastic way with the wacky. In this collection, the Children’s Poet Laureate (2006-8) shares some of his work along with tips and tricks kids can use to write their own poetry. Kids with love the absurdity of the language Jack uses and may even end up writing a few of their own poems.
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein was one of my favorite poets as a child. I love his honesty, his wild imagination, and the morality behind his poems. His work is the perfect mix of wacky, smart, funny, and heartfelt and the illustrations are an added bonus. This is a timeless classic!
For Teens and Adults
Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet who rose to fame on social media after sharing her visual poetry. Criticized for being too simplistic by some, she nevertheless persisted to create two works; milk and honey and the sun and her flowers (both available on Hoopla). Her content tackles life, love, heartbreak, trauma; you know all of the important stuff!
Dream Work by Mary Oliver
From ‘Wild Geese’
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Mary Oliver’s poetry says so much with often so little. Her portrayal and reverence for nature is often a spiritual experience for the reader and her ability to pare and distill life down to its core is simply beautiful. Dream Work is a collection of poems that to me offers a chance of self-redemption, deep reflection, and soul rejuvenation.
Selected Poems of Rumi
From “A Great Wagon”
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”
A 13th Century Persian poet, Rumi is the poet of earth, wind, fire, and water. His words have the capacity to transcend borders and touch all of humanity. Before she died, it was said Mary Oliver had a copy of his work by her bedside where she’s scribbled notes and she was heavily influenced by his work. He is deep and wide and so very rich. I highly encourage you to check out some of his work, or if you have, check it out again.
Poetry on TV for teens, and adults
Poetry in America, created and directed by Harvard professor Elisa New, is a public television series and multi-platform educational initiative that brings poetry into classrooms and living rooms around the world. In each episode, different poets are featured and discussed by dozens of celebrity interpretations, including Bono, Nas and biologist E.O. Wilson. A fantastic watch.
Happy National Poetry Month and happy reading!