All tagged Poetry

Verse Week List-O-Rama: For the Verse Averse

We know despite our saying over and over again that verse novels are absolutely nothing to fear, some of you may still be nervous about trying out a verse novel.

As a result, I thought I'd point those of you who may want to ease into verse to some traditional novels with poetic or verse elements. Similarly, easing into verse novels with books for the younger set can be a fun way to test out the form without committing to a long, complex verse novel for teens or adults.

Once you've tried a few of these on for size, head over and give our Verse Week 2013 podcast a listen for more first-verse recommendations.

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder | Simon Pulse (2013)

Lisa Schroeder is well known for her verse novels, but her most recent YA novel, Falling for You, is told in prose format, but contains loads of poems (the narrator is a teenage poet) that are key to the story. I really, really enjoyed this book, but I will warn you that the summary, cover and title aren't particularly related to the actual story. This is really a novel about finding family where you least expect it.

Review | Amazon | Goodreads

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley | Knopf Books (2012)

Graffiti Moon is one of my favorite all-time books, it just so perfectly captures that type of night that can only happen the summer after high school. Told from multiple points of view, Graffiti Moon includes a perspective entirely in poems. Some of my favorite moments are the poems evoking the Melbourne night--they're absolutely vivid.

Review Amazon | Goodreads

Review: When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

“A lot of the images that I’ve grown up with, that’s kind of how I filter the world, through those images, and images carry meaning for me. A lot of the words I use – that’s the way we talk here [Fort Mohave Indian Reservation], that’s the way I’ve learned to express myself or at lest to try to express myself.”

Hearing these words from Natalie Diaz, author of When My Brother Was an Aztec, in an interview on public radio, immediately caught my attention.

Diaz discussed work she is doing on her Native American reservation to preserve the Mojave language that is threatened by extinction in the overarching present. The subject of language preservation as well as a discussion of When My Brother Was an Aztec, held my rapt attention.

Diaz pointed out when asked about her sense of identity as a Mohave, that her father is Spanish, that she is also Pima and Mohave, and she grew up outside of the Phoenix area. 

We had a little bit of everything in our house.

Diaz discussed her passion for writing as a “sense of hunger” within her, her love of basketball, of how basketball became a way to quiet her life – at least somewhat, and the pain of her brother’s meth addiction and how it affected her family altering or nearly wrecking its structure.

Her intelligence and  passion for her writing and diverse culture led me to purchase her 2012 book of poems and vignettes, When My Brother Was an Aztec. This slim 100 page volume holds beauty, sorrow and celebration. It’s not a quick nor an easy read, but it is well worth a commitment to reading it. 

I could not read this small book of poetry for a sustained period of time. The intensity of each piece does not invite a quick turning of the pages.

Rather, When My Brother Was an Aztec insists on quiet contemplation.

I Love... Poetry

The beauty of words weaving themselves into verse, into poetry, has always been a treasure in my life, an essential part of who I am.

There’s good reason for this. The wonder of language formed around me naturally, an essential part of growing up. The following are my memories how how the joy of poetry eased its way into my my life.

Robert Burns 'Holy Willie's Prayer' - Pages 1 & 2

Evening wrapped itself around our campsite, the fire crackled and the s’mores dripped like warm icicles from our fingers. A day of leaping about the sand dunes and the folding of ocean waves one upon another settled upon my cousins, my sister and myself. It was at the perfect moment, orchestrated by the ambiance surrounding us that my aunt would begin to speak.

The words rolled from her heart to her lips weaving its magical spell.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

    By the men who moil for gold;

The  Arctic trails have their secret tales

    That would make your blood run cold:

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

    But the queerest they ever did see

Was the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

    I cremated Sam McGee.

We five young children huddled about the fire hearing crickets chirping in the background with the sound of the Pacific and the heat of the summer sun upon still us, listened to the tale in rapt silence. Ah, The Cremation of Sam McGee, the chill of the Arctic and then to the final words of the verse.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green 

Today my super-cute husband (who also knows how to make all sorts of household repairs and use power tools—swoon) and I celebrate our seventh wedding* anniversary. Since I am a big fan of True Love, I thought I’d round up a few of my favorite books about love to commemorate the day. 

Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

I just re-read this book (I think I’m going to write about it soon, more a reflection than a review), and it was pure magic the second time around. Anna is an extremely relatable character for me, and Etienne is a flawed character in realistic ways. I love that the relationship between the two grows over the course of an entire school year, as they go from being casual friends, to best friends to something more. Because the book is set in Paris and the teens are more independent than in most YA novels, I totally bought that Anna and Etienne will be together for the long haul. This is a stand out for me for a number of reasons, but I think more than many young adult novels, it’s very adeptly explores the difference between teen infatuation and Big ‘L’ Love and the importance of friendship in successful romantic relationships.

{Buy it at Amazon | The Book Depository}
{Add it on Goodreads

Requiem Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul B. JeneczkoLiterature’s power lies in its ability to bring depth, immediacy and empathy through the words and into the heart. Images of the Holocaust haunt anyone who has seen black and white reels and photographs of the horror, the reality of an era that must never be forgotten.

Paul B. Jeneczko’s Requiem Poems of the Terezin Ghetto stands as a requiem to the people who lived, suffered, endured, died and carried the inhumanity of a shameful period in their hearts and literally tattooed to their arms, a number never to be diminished.

Terezin was originally a fortress town in Czechoslovakia. Hitler and his fellow Nazis turned it into, in their euphemistic terms, a collection and transport camp for the Jewish people. The original residents were “transported” out, and the Jewish prisoners began arriving.

The Nazi regime purported that was “a home for Jewish intellectuals and artists.” In truth it was a propaganda tool for the Third Reich. In the midst of the horrors of captivity there were musical performances, lectures and other artistic endeavors.

The reality was a different tale, one of woe.

Musicians who performed beautifully one night were packed into cattle cars the next, transported to the gas chambers. [They] …played as only the heartbroken can play.