Poet/Author Irene Latham Talks About Her New Book For Children..

CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship Carolrhoda/LernerPublishing. was inspired by a conversation with editor Carol Hinz about a book of poems for adults CITIZEN by Claudia Rankine, which she and I had both recently read. Carol shared her idea of a poetry book that tackles the same subject — systemic racism — except for kids! She thought it might work best as a conversation, and she asked if there was a black children’s poet with whom I would like to have this conversation. I immediately thought of Charles Waters– whom I had never met, and in fact did not meet until we presented together about the book at AASL November 2017!

Lucky for me, when I invited him to collaborate, Charles said YES. And off we went, writing poems madly about some intensely personal and sometimes difficult stuff. Within about 3 weeks we had a draft ready to share with Carol. The book includes paired poems about every day things like shoes and family dinner, and also poems about more difficult topics like the “N” word and police brutality. Illustrations are by the amazingly talented interracial team of Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.



KIRKUS
 calls the book in their starred review, “A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY states in their starred review, “The poems delicately demonstrate the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships.”

BOOKLIST adds, “Young readers searching for means to have difficult, emotional, and engaged discussions about race will find an enlightening resource in Irene and Charles’ explorations.”

THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE proclaims, “This volume would make an excellent read-aloud or a launch pad for collaborative classroom writing.”

Here are other articles about the book from Shelf Awareness, bloggers Margaret SimonLinda Mitchell and two from Jessica Smith, here and here

We couldn’t be more pleased and grateful for the warm reception the book has received. We hope it gives readers a starting place to have their own conversations about race, mistakes and friendship. 

Irene Latham
Poet & Novelist
For more information about the book, the authors, and a downloadable Curriculum Guide, please visit charleswaterspoetry.com and irenelatham.com.

Poetry Challenge: by Lori Degman

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I asked a fellow writer and poet, Lori Degman to share some different kinds of poetry forms.  Lori’s picture books, 1 Zany Zoo, (Simon &     1 Zany Zoo CoverSchuster 2010)     and Cockadoodle,Oops! (Creston Books 2014)          cokadoodle oops

were written in rhyming verse, and are an absolute delight to read aloud.  Here’s Lori:

Thank you, Darlene, for asking me to do a guest post on your wonderful blog!

As a writer of rhyme – most of the time (but not always), and because April is National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share four unusual forms of poetry I’ve discovered through the years. I challenge you to give them a try – I bet you’ll have fun if you do!

1. Cinquain – a five-line poem that follows this pattern:
Line 1: One word (subject or noun)
Line 2: Two words (adjectives that describe line 1)
Line 3: Three words (action verbs that relate to line 1)
Line 4: Four words (feelings or a complete sentence that relates to line 1)
Line 5: One word (synonym of line 1 or a word that sums it up)

Here’s my Cinquain:

Springtime
Fresh, green
Raining, blossoming, growing
Goodbye to old winter
Rebirth

2. Clerihew – a light verse, usually consisting on two couplets of uneven length and irregular
meter, with the rhyme scheme AABB. The first line usually contains the name of a well known
person. The Clerihew was invented by Edmund Clerihew Bently (1875 – 1956), an English
writer, at the age of 16.

Here’s my Clerihew:

Dr. Seuss
Is out on the loose.
He’s hunting for words
that are silly and absurd.

3. Sausage Poem – a string of words which are “linked” with the same letters/sounds at the
endings and beginnings of words. An extra challenge is to go full circle and have the last
letter/sound of the sentence match the first letter/sound. It’s harder than I thought it would be!

Here’s my Sausage Poem: (Darlene highlighted the letter sounds in orange to show the technique)

Spring goes slowly yet time elapses.
Summer rain nurturing growing greens.
Fall leaves swirl like caustic kids.
Winter rains snow over rustic cabins.

4. Skeltonic Verse – The Skeltonic Verse was named after English poet, John Skelton
(1460-1529). The rules are simple:

Line 1: Keep the line lengths between three and six words
Line 2: Every end word rhymes with the previous, until you start a new set of rhymes
Line 3: Keep the same rhyme until it starts to lose its energy or impact
Line 4: The poem should be full of energy and fun

Here’s my Skeltonic Verse (I wrote this right before going out to do my “duty”):

The weekend’s here
I shout and cheer
Until I hear
A voice so clear
From in the yard
the words were hard
So I was jarred
My plans were marred
Outside on the stoop
With a bag and scoop
His words made me droop
“Let’s pick up poop”                                     mompic_small

Bio –
Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekends and school holidays. Her debut picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Her second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! was released by Creston Books in May, 2014! She is represented by Karen Grencik at Red Fox Literary.

Darlene here:  I don’t know about you, but I am going to have to try a Skeltonic poem of my own.  Which form speaks to you?