Mar 26, 2017

Praising Poetry: Poetry Month and Timeless Classics

A recent Facebook post by poet extraordinaire,  Lee Bennet Hopkins, noted this distressing statistic:
"POETRY UPDATE: Of some 3,400 children's/YA books published in 2016, less than 55 books of poetry appeared. This includes rhyme, original collections, anthologies and verse novels."

That post generated 40+ comments and reactions, all of which expressed praise for poetry in young lives, along with concern for the obvious decline of interest in producing poetry books for young readers from within the publishing industry.

I, too, bemoaned the reduced number of "collections", themed or otherwise. It's true, in the early and mid- decades of the last century there were far fewer books published for children in general. Books tended toward anthologies, retold classics, a few longer novels or series, and poetry collections aimed at young audiences that were often written by poets who primarily wrote for adults.

The children's section of the library I visited as a child had a pathetic collection. I often spent up to an hour scrounging around for books I might enjoy, most of which had been rebound in dull fabric covers. Once I settled on a few possibilities, I'd hurry to the equally pitiful poetry section. There, I'd check out my favorite and familiar titles, multiple times. Edward Lear (poems), James Thurber (cartoons), William Steig (stories and cartoons) filled my need for word play, humor, and language with the mastery of precision-cut diamonds.

April is poetry month, and I used the lower case for that phrase rather than designating it with caps. As I posted in the early weeks of this blog more than five years ago, theme months are double edged swords. Remembering my childhood willingness to reread old favorites, especially in the absence of other options, I headed over to a used book outlet and ordered a dozen or more of those favorites.

I knew that Lear's work had long outlived his life, but it wasn't until ordering that I realized the original publication date of his BOOK OF NONSENSE was 1846! I get such pleasure out of picturing Abe Lincoln reciting Lear rhymes with his sons. I have no doubt whatsoever that their shared enjoyment of those and other books, rhymes, and stories was in no way bounded by special monthly designations. 
With my position on theme months clearly stated, I'll await delivery of my old friends. I'll be back to share some more recent favorites, too, and will post about multiple poetry titles in special categories. Many of those posts will be in April, but I'll continue throughout the year. 

And here, just for the fun of it, is a link to to access posters and activities.

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