Friday, January 5, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of Out of wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

I always enjoy reading books that writers have written about other writers. Often the stories we encounter in such books are incredibly perceptive, and it is interesting to see how the authors get into the minds of their subjects. Today we will encounter a book written by poets in which they explore the writing styles and the lives of twenty-five wonderful poets. It is a beautiful book and the respect that the authors have for the people that they write about is tangible and warming.

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating PoetsOut of wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Candlewick Press, 2017, 978-0-7636-8094-7
Kwame Alexander had the privilege of growing up in a house where books were treasures and “words came alive.” He grew up loving poems in particular because a poem is “a small but powerful thing.” Poems allow us to connect with the people who wrote them on a very deep level; they inspire us, and in our minds they evolve as we grow and change.
   For this collection Kwame and his co-authors, Chris Colderley and Marjorie Wentworth, have chosen to focus on the lives and works of twenty-five poets who are “ interesting people” and who were, or still are, “passionately in love with their poetry.” They have written poems of celebration that reflect the styles of these poets, and they hope that we will use their creations “as stepping-stones to wonder.”
   The book is divided into three parts. The first section looks at poets who developed singular styles in their writing that poetry lovers have grown to recognize. For example, in the poem In Every Season, Marjory Wentworth beautifully captures the free verse style favored by Robert Frost. She takes us to a farm where we walk with the narrator “through fields and woods.”  We crunch on ice “through starless winter nights” and shake snow from the branches of trees.
   The second section celebrates poets who beautifully capture everyday moments. Here there is a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, a poem about a boy who dreams of becoming a basketball player who will “grab the world in my hands and /twirl a big ball of hope / from corner to corner.”
   The final section serves as a tribute to the poets who have written poems that delight Kwame, Chris, and Marjorie in a special and very personal way. The poets that they feature in this section make the authors feel that “the poet is speaking directly to us, as if we are in the middle of a private conversation.” On these pages we find poems like No Idle Days, which celebrates William Carlos Williams. We read of the man who had “two lives / crammed / into one.” William Carlos Williams worked as a doctor, and in his spare moments, the few that he had, he scribbled away on his prescription pads. He was a man who crafted “a new American voice,” for ordinary people.
   Throughout this title the extraordinary poems are paired with beautiful multimedia artwork to give readers a special book experience.
   At the back of this remarkable collection readers will find biographies of the twenty-five poets who lives and works are celebrated in the book. 

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