How to Help Teens Discover Poetry

Halfway through college, I still hated poetry.

I kept it hidden pretty well. You’re not supposed to hate poetry if you’re an English Education major. You’re supposed to love anything to do with writing and uphold all of these classic poets and authors who have been upheld since (what feels like) the beginning of time.

But mostly, I got bored reading poetry. Sure, it was something I was capable of doing, but it definitely wasn’t something I enjoyed. Like most students, I looked at poems as a short piece a writer double-dipped in things like “metaphors” and “conceits” before giving them to teachers to use as a way to make their students’ heads hurt as they tried to figure out the “deeper meaning” of each poem. Poetry just seemed like a lot of work.

Then Ted Kooser came to do a reading at my college.

 

I only went because my English professors were providing extra credit for those who attended. Then I promptly squeezed the arms of my chair as hard as possible for the next hour or so as Ted Kooser read a variety of his works.

I did not realize poetry could be like this, I thought to myself. See, Ted didn’t really seem to worry about rhyme or meter or that type of thing. His sole concern seemed to be finding ways to relate everyday moments in ways that made you stop and think. To recognize something and describe it in a way that you didn’t expect but made you blurt out “Exactly! That’s exactly right!” once you heard or read it.

And that’s when I realized that I didn’t hate poetry. I just hadn’t found the right poet until that moment. I proceeded to buy and eat up all of Ted’s books. I talked with professors and researched online and found other poets who wrote in a similar vein that I liked. Poets like Billy Collins, Donald Hall, Naomi Shihab Nye, Taylor Mali, and Tania Runyan.

Many young adults don’t enjoy poetry, but you can help them find find “their” poet and discover the joys of poetry.

how to help teens discover poetry

I started writing poems and sending them out in the hopes of getting published. I sang the praises of poetry wherever I went. Here are some ways I’ve tried to promote poetry in my classroom and library: Continue reading How to Help Teens Discover Poetry

Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets established April as National Poetry Month to encourage the reading of poetry and increase awareness of American poetry.  It is a great time to support and inspire the teen writers and poets who frequent your library!  Below is a sampling of fiction and nonfiction books to help you do just that.

YA Fiction Featuring Teen Writers

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Ever since her beloved Uncle Joe died, aspiring writer Anna has lost her muse.  This poignant debut novel follows Anna through her grief journey as she struggles to rediscover her passion for writing and cope with the knowledge that she may not have known her uncle as well as she thought.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (2015 Morris Award Winner, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Top Ten)

In this novel in journal format, Gabi explores her feelings about her friend’s pregnancy, finds her voice in poetry, and works on her school’s zine.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

During November of her senior year, Darcy wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month that was picked up by a major publisher.  In this unique book, chapters from Darcy’s novel alternate with her adventures in New York as she foregoes her first year of college to dedicate herself to the publication process. Continue reading Booklist: Fiction and Nonfiction for Teen Poets and Writers

Line by Line: Poetry in Teen Fiction

Poetry in YA

Poetry has been figuring in a lot of teen literature lately. Have you noticed? I don’t mean novels in verse, quality as some recent titles have been. Nor do I mean poetry collections for teens (a la Poisoned Apples or Paint Me Like I Am). The Guardian noticed this poetry trend, too, pointing out a few examples in a recent article, and asked its readers for more.

I liked how the article noted authors’ uses of poetry, such as Meg Cabot beginning the chapters of Avalon High with stanzas from The Lady of Shalott. These stanzas just happen to give a clue about the characters’ identities. The article also mentioned a similar use of poetry in Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare: the lines that open the chapters are all from poets who lived in the time of the novel’s setting, late-19th century London. Continue reading Line by Line: Poetry in Teen Fiction

Get Inspired: YA Novels with Characters Who Read or Write Poetry

sweet revenge of celia door finneyfrockIn celebration of National Poetry Month, and because I am a poetry lover myself, I wanted to share some YA fiction titles in which a major character reads and/or writes poetry.  If you are reading this blog entry, then you probably enjoy poetry too.  And if you are like me – who has not kept the promise she made to herself some time ago to read a poem every day – you could do with some inspiration. 

So take a look at the list below, pick out a couple novels to read and let the presence of poetry move you to read or write some verse yourself!

 

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

Author Karen Finneyfrock is herself a poet.  Celia, the protagonist of this novel, dreams of becoming one.  She also dreams of revenge on classmate Sandy for what she did to Celia in eighth grade, an act which is not revealed until late in the novel.  As Celia writes: “That’s the day the trouble started. / The trouble that nearly ruined my life. / The trouble that turned me Dark. / The trouble that begs me for revenge.”  Rejected by her classmates, Celia finds comfort in writing poetry.  She even turns her mom’s notes into haiku.  An unexpected friendship with Drake, a boy who has just transferred to Celia’s high school, eventually opens Celia up to a new way of seeing the world and a more hopeful approach to life.

Continue reading Get Inspired: YA Novels with Characters Who Read or Write Poetry

Hub Photo Challenge Check-In: Spine Poetry

national-poetry-monthIn celebration of National Poetry Month, we are all making poetry! Specifically, Spine Poetry, which is the technique of arranging your books so that their titles form a poem. To combine this challenge with our 2014 Hub Reading Challenge, all books that are used must be taken from those eligible for the Reading Challenge.

Once you have perfected your poem, snap a picture of it and send it to us to be entered in the contest! We’ll post some of the best poems on The Hub and one grand prize winner will receive a signed copy of Every Day by David Levithan!

Check out the official rules:

  1. For privacy reasons, make sure there aren’t any people in your pictures, please! But, aside from this one caveat, feel free to get as creative as you would like in both your poem and the setting of your photo!
  2. All entries must be sent to yalsahub@gmail.com by April 25th to be considered. Please include your mailing address if you would like to be eligible to win the grand prize.
  3. By submitting your photo, you are consenting to its publication by YALSA on The Hub or any other YALSA social media accounts, though we are under no obligation to publish all submissions that we receive.
  4. The contest is open to anyone, but the winner will be selected from participants in the United States or Canada.
Here is an example of spine poetry to inspire you!
Here is an example of spine poetry to inspire you!

We will announce our winner and share some of the best entries we get at the end of the month. Good luck! We’ve been getting some great entries, and can’t wait to see what you will come up with!

-Carli Spina, Hub Advisory Board member

Hub Photo Challenge: Spine Poetry

PoetryApril is National Poetry Month and, in celebration, we challenge you to release your inner poet and create a book spine poem!

Spine poetry refers to the art of arranging books so that the titles on the spine form a poem. For this challenge, all you need to do is arrange any of the books that are included in the 2014 Hub Reading Challenge into a poem, take a photo and submit it to us!

Here’s an example from Hub manager Allison Tran:

allison_tran_spine_poetry

We’ll post some of the best book spine poems on The Hub and one grand prize winner will receive a signed copy of Every Day by David Levithan! Here is the fine print:

  1. For privacy reasons, make sure there aren’t any people in your pictures, please!
  2. All entries must be sent to yalsahub@gmail.com by April 25th to be considered. Please include your mailing address if you would like to be eligible to win the grand prize.
  3. Poems must be composed ONLY from book spines of 2014 Hub Reading Challenge eligible titles to be considered.
  4. Participants worldwide are welcome to participate just for fun, but the grand prize can only be mailed a winner located in the United States.
  5. By submitting your photo, you are consenting to its publication by YALSA on The Hub or any other YALSA social media accounts, though we are under no obligation to publish all submissions that we receive.

A selection of the best poems from our readers and bloggers will be posted at the end of the month to celebrate poetry and the winner will be announced at the same time. Good luck!

-Carli Spina, Hub Advisory Board member