Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's explore concrete poetry today

Today's quote: " A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language."
                                                                      -W.H. Auden

What exactly is concrete poetry?  Well let me give you a little tour of this fabulous form of poetic expression.  It can be a one-word poem or poems with multiple words, in every case the words are arranged into particular shapes that reflect the poem's meaning. Concrete poems are designed to be seen rather than to be heard.  They both challenge and delight both the eye and the mind.

A book that is an excellent example of concrete poems is "A Poke in the I", selected poems edited by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Christ Raschka, a Caldecott Honor artist.

This book is not to read aloud necessarily, but some parts lend itself very well to that, but to look at and laugh together.  It is sometimes known as image narrative writing because the poems are part of the illustrations on each page.  The illustrator uses colourful, torn-paper, watercolour, and ink images to make a fabulous eye-candy treat for the reader.  Raschka's own poem for example, "Cat Chair, showcases scraps of floral paper shaped like a chair with a single word "cat" resting on the seat.  It is visually amazing and ignites your imagination to fill in whatever comes to mind.  Joan Bransfield Graham's poem, "Popsicle" is a "tickle tongue fun."   The poems are penned by all different authors but the book is illustrated by the same person who is an illustrator extraordinaire in my opinion.  The words are playful, witty and begging to be enjoyed.   Concrete poems have the ability to delight a child's funny bone, pique a child's interest in poetry, and engage children in word play of their own.  I would suggest if you give this book as a gift you also include a pad and pencil so the receiver can create a concrete poem of their own.  This book is recommended for most 8-14 years olds but some younger kids may be ready for it too.  The book is both clever and creative, the perfect combination.

Here are some examples of concrete word poems that you may enjoy,

Read on and read always!  Build your own concrete poem today with your kids and let me know what happened.

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