Thursday, April 22, 2010

On the cusp of adulthood: Poetry Month, Day 22

Paul Janeczko is committed to bringing poetry to children and young adults. I'm going to feature poems from a couple of his earlier, edited collections, poems that speak to a young adult audience. Please make sure you check out some of his more recent work. I'll list a few additional titles at the bottom of this post. You might also be interested in this clever, short biography from his website.

Teresa's Red Adidas
(for T. G.)
I think that I shall never view
Shoes as nice as those on you.
They're red and soft with stripes of white.
One goes left, the other right.
I hope they let you run quick fast;
I also hope they last and last.
Shoes are made for feet like those,
And I just love the ones you chose.

--Paul B. Janeczko

Small, Smaller
I thought that I knew all there was to know
Of being small, until I saw once, black against the snow,
A shrew, trapped in my footprint, jump and fall
And jump again and fall, the hole too deep,
   the walls too tall.

--Russell Hoban

and here is one in the form of a riddle

Hard bu you can polish it.
Precious, it has eyes. Can wound.
Would dance upon water. Sinks.
Stays put. Crushed, becomes a road.

--Donald Justice

from This Delicious Day: 65 Poems, selected by Paul Janeczko. Orchard Books, 1987.

Younger than they,
and not the same.
Girl growing amid
a grove of brothers.
They took my dolls
one day into their
forbidden circle
in the woods,
drove sticks
into the cleared dirt,
and burned them at the stake.

--H. R. Coursen

If you are weak of heart or stomach, don't read this next one. If you do and find it disturbing, don't say I didn't warn you.

Boy, Fifteen, Killed by Hummingbird
Bent low over the handlebars,
Arms arced and legs pumping
As his father had taught him
When he was five,
The boy struggled to pedal
Up Camelback Hill,
But he didn't mind
Because he knew that,
Once there, he could relax
And coast the rest of the way home.

He didn't see it hanging there
Dead ahead in the air,
Its tiny wings whirring invisibly,
Until it was too late.
The hummingbird poised iteself
So that when the boy,
Speeding downhill,
Met the bird,
Its greedy bill
Exploded his right eye
Like a ripe cherry tomato
Skewered at a barbeque
And sent the liquid
Streaming down his cheek.

People said the father
Refused to accept the coroner's report
That the bird,
Seeking nectar,
Had pierced the boy's brain,
Abloom with youth,
And lodged there,
Draining it dry.
But a week later,
A neighbor watched the father
In his backyard
Hover over the hollyhocks
And, wielding a long knife,
Sever their heads.

--Linda Linssen

from Preposterous: Poems of Youth, selected by Paul Janeczko. Orchard Books, 1991.

More Janeckzo books:

For a delightful foray into concrete poetry, check out A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems, edited by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Rashka, Candlewick, 2001.

Janeczko and Rashka have two more children's poetry collections that, if I had had them to hand, I would have included as one or more of my days of poetry. They are A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms (Candlewick, 2005) and A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout (Candlewick, 2009).

Do you know an aspiring young poet? Why not pass along Janeczko's Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets (Candlewick 2002)?

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