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Poetry Speaks Who I Am with CD: Poems of…
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Poetry Speaks Who I Am with CD: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration,…

by Elise Paschen

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Read for Bookstore Explore Assignment
  shaemakay | Dec 8, 2013 |
This is a collection of modern poetry written by students from various backgrounds. It is ideal for teaching poetry to high school students since it is written by people they can relate to. These poems are alternated with older classics making it a virtual treasure trove of poetry, perfect for comparing and contrasting in the classroom. The newer poems are often a reflection of older poems providing perfect material for poetry lessons and close reading. Students will find they can relate to many of the older poems as well as the new ones when they see how many of the poems connect intertextually. The CD of students reading their poems provides another way of looking at the poems as well to help students see what the author was thinking and feeling when they wrote their poems. A great way of getting students interested in poetry.
  rachelhunnell1 | Nov 5, 2011 |
I memorized some poetry when I was in 4th grade. It was a class requirement, but I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the poetry I memorized were mainly limericks; anything that wasn’t was some bit of doggerel that I read in a joke book. I never got into serious poetry, much to my eventual chagrin.

My daughter enjoys poetry. Most of what she reads is Shel Silverstein-ish poetry; a cut above my limericks, but still light. And most of the poetry geared toward kids is like that — I really think that one reason that kids have such a hard time when the hit high school and start doing more serious poetry is that they’ve been conditioned to think of poetry in very limited terms. Going from “Where the Sidewalk Ends” to Silvia Plath can be a bit disconcerting.

I’m not writing this to diss Silverstein, so don’t even comment if that’s what you’re thinking. I enjoy his work, and have memorized more than a couple of his poems. Both of my kids love his stuff, and as I keep mentioning, it’s far better than the crap I used to read and memorize. But there is more to poetry, and it’s important for kids to learn that, as early as possible.

Thankfully, there is the Poetry Speaks series. These books show kids poetry that they can relate to, that is serious (sometimes rather dark) and beautiful and emotional. There is a wide range in poets; in Poetry Speaks Who I Am, you can read selections from well-known poets like Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, and lesser-known poets as well. There is free verse side-by-side with iambic pentameter. There is diversity in style.

There is also a diversity in subject and theme. Some poems explore coming of age themes (like Phillip Schultz’s “33″ and “49,” about the experience of a bar mitzvah, or even Parneshia Jones’ “Bra Shopping”). Others are classic self-exploration or self-statement (Maya Angelou contributes the classic “Still I Rise,” and of course there is Frost’s immortal “The Road Not Taken”). Elise Paschen has done an outstanding job of selecting work for this volume.

And there is audio. The book comes with a CD featuring many of the poets reading their work. I’ve always enjoyed hearing poetry read more than reading it myself (unless I’m reading out loud — odd, I know). And I think this is the part of the book my daughter (8) enjoys the most. Even after I took the book to read myself before writing this review, she was still enjoying the CD, listening to the poems.

If you have kids, you should look into this series, and this book. It will teach your kids about poetry; about rhythm, rhyme, meter, and all of that, but also about emotion and expression. It will teach them about rules, and when it’s OK to break them. And it will teach them that there is a huge diversity of poetry, and not all of it is happy. They’ll learn that some of the best poetry is born out of sorry, or difficulty, and they may learn that they like writing the stuff themselves. ( )
  wkelly42 | Aug 2, 2011 |
A collection of poems on various subjects by a variety of poets from the past and present (late twentieth/early twentyfirst centuries). This is a fine anthology, geared for the younger reader and with themes of interest to young women and men. Very much worth reading.
  Fledgist | May 3, 2011 |
It’s National Poetry Month, and could there be a better way to celebrate than with a first-rate collection of poems for middle grade readers? Even better, these poems focus on a topic that weighs heavy on the minds of young readers: personal identity. The poems come at this broad theme from many angles, sometimes taking it on very directly as in Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “I Am Black,” sometimes in a more roundabout way.

I was especially impressed by the diversity of poets and poems that were chosen for inclusion. The collection presents a well-balanced mix of the old and the new, the serious and the funny, the well-known and the unfamiliar. But more than that, the poems come from a truly diverse group of poets. The editor has clearly put thought into the gender, race, class, and religious backgrounds of the contributors, and because of this careful selection every reader is likely to find a poem that will speak to who he or she is. Despite being well outside the target age of this anthology, the dog-eared pages of my copy show that I made my own connections to many selections.

The book opens with “Eternity” by Jason Shinder, which is a lovely introduction to the bond that can form between a reader and a writer of poetry, despite differences of time and culture. By highlighting a strong personal connection to poetry from the very first selection, the editor encourages young readers to make their own connections to the featured poems. Several more poems are specifically about the act of reading or writing poetry, and the book ends with a section of blank lined pages that encourage the reader to become a writer of poetry. I liked the sense of progression that these selections seem to encourage, starting as a reader of poetry, moving on to a person who makes a personal connection with poetry, and ending as a poet.

The selections move easily from one poem to the next, especially considering the wide variety of poetry that is included. The collection flows from theme to theme, and makes some nice connections along the way. Putting a poem in which John Keats addresses his fear of death next to the wonderful “Fears of the Eighth Grade” by Toi Derricotte, a modern poem about the fears of a middle school class, shows very starkly how the most universal themes stay the same. A few very explicit connections like this one will catch the attention of even a less-than-careful reader and will encourage them to make other connections between the poems.

I did find the artwork, which is on every page, a little bit distracting – particularly because much of it looks very pixelated and it covers words in two poems. I have a feeling that some of this will be fixed in the final book – I will be looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. A cd of the poets reading their work is included, and it makes a nice supplement to the collection. Molly Peacock’s audio segment addresses her personal identity and how it relates to her poem – including some word play that relates to ientity within the poem. It’s a nice way to add content, and will also help some readers who are not familiar to poetry get a feel for the rhythms of the poems they read. ( )
  twonickels | Nov 12, 2010 |
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Book description
Poetry Speaks Who I Am is filled with more than 100 remarkable poems about you, who you are, and who you are becoming. Dive in-find the poem you love, the one that makes you angry, the one that makes you laugh, the one that knocks the wind out of you, and become a part of Poetry Speaks Who I Am by adding your own inside the book.

Poetry can be life altering. It can be gritty and difficult. It can be hilarious or heart-breaking. And it's meant to be experienced, so we've included a CD on which you'll hear 44 poems, 39 of which are original recordings-you'll only find them here. You'll hear poets both classic and contemporary, well-known and refreshingly new, including:
--Dana Gioia expresses the hunger of a "Vampire's Serenade"
--Elizabeth Alexander waits for that second kiss in "Zodiac"
--Langston Hughes flings his arms wide in "Dream Variations"
--Marilyn Nelson reads to her class in "How I Discovered Poetry"
--Paul Muldoon's poem "Sideman," brought loudly to life by the band Rackett
--And 39 more poems that are immediate and vibrant

From Lucille Clifton's "Here Yet Be Dragons" to Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" to "Tia Chucha," by Luis J. Rodriguez, Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a collection that is dynamic, accessible, challenging, classic, edgy, and ultimately not quite perfect. Just like you. If you're lucky, it'll serve as a gateway to a lifetime lived with poetry. At the very least, it'll be a good time. Dive in, and happy hunting.
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Collects more than one hundred poems for young readers, with selections by Maya Angelou, Arthur Sze, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, William Butler Yeats, and others; and includes an audio CD with some of the poets reading their works.… (more)

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