Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy National Poetry Month! Sunrise today was at 6:20, sunrise will be at 7:59. Venus is in the west, close to Mars, so bright above the sunset. I understand there will be a crescent moon tonight, as well. That is cosmic poetry.

I have to admit that I really don't have a favorite poem, I have poems that fit my life at certain times and they become a part of my walking around world. I have always appreciated the more concrete sentiments that pull a thought or a feeling into a clear, succinct way of seeing a piece of that world.

Ooh, Nancy Pearl's on NPR right now, talking about poetry and poetry books! Serendipitous!

One of my favorite books right now is called Sorta Like a Rock Star, by Matthew Quick. It's the story of a little girl, Amber, who lives in a bus with her mom and her dog. They have been living in the bus since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out of his house.

Amber is a perpetual optimist. She knows there will be a silver lining, that people will always offer the best they have if you expect the best of them, and she tries to help the people around her have better lives.

When something horrible happens to her, yes, even worse than living in a school bus, she begins to lose her feelings of hope and optimism. She starts to wonder if that silver lining might actually be tin.

I just loved this book. Amber is a great character, happy, hopeful, helpful, giving what she can to make the world better, but she doesn't actually see how the world is better for her being in it. Even though she is having a crisis of life, she begins to make friends with a Viet Nam veteran, a hermit who spends time only with his dog.

Amber sees that he needs more than just his dog in his life and as she begins to become a friend to him, he lets her into his house and his life. Here's where the connection to Poetry Month comes in: Whenever he gets sad, worried, angry, he writes a haiku and posts it in his house; his walls are covered in little pieces of paper and letters.

In letting Amber into his life, he gives her the gift of poetry and a way to channel her own grief and sadness into something she has had to think very hard about in able to convey it in only 17 syllables. Together, they work out their troubles, sometimes with great grinding of teeth and tearing of hair, sometimes with bellows of laughter.

Yeah, the book has some sad stuff happening, but it is a monument to a life filled with happiness. It isn't goopy or sappy, it is just really good.

Teachers: This will make a great book to base poetry lessons on. The haikus included will give your students some pretty good ideas for their own.

The book will be available in May (why did they not put this out for Poetry Month?) and is good for fifth grade and up. It is published by Little Brown and will cost $16.99. Well worth every penny!

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