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I Just Hope It's Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy

I Just Hope It's Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy

4.3 3
by Liz Rosenberg (Editor), Deena November (Editor)

The teenage years are a time filled with sadness, madness, joy, and all the messy stuff in between. Sometimes it feels that every day brings a new struggle, a new concern, a new reason to stay in bed with the shades drawn. But between moments of despair and confusion often come times of great clarity and insight, when you might think, like the poet Rumi,


The teenage years are a time filled with sadness, madness, joy, and all the messy stuff in between. Sometimes it feels that every day brings a new struggle, a new concern, a new reason to stay in bed with the shades drawn. But between moments of despair and confusion often come times of great clarity and insight, when you might think, like the poet Rumi, “Whoever’s calm and sensible is insane!” It is moments like these that have inspired the touching, honest, and gripping poems found in I Just Hope It’s Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy. After all, what’s normal anyway?

This collection includes poems by Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, T. S. Eliot, Edgar Allen Poe, W. B. Yeats, Dorothy Parker, Jane Kenyon, and many more, including teenage writers and up-and-coming poets.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Includes poems of great intensity . . . alongside verses with humor-tinged darkness." —Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

"The wide range of styles, from poets both famous and lesser known, from various time periods, also adds interest. . . . Good biographical notes and indices of authors, titles, and first lines conclude the volume." —Horn Book Horn Book

"[A] deeply affecting, and sophisticated collection, which will resonate with young people in all states of mental equilibrium." —Booklist Booklist, ALA

"Powerfully written and easy to understand. . . . This efficiently organized, concise, and interesting collection is an excellent choice for libraries serving teens." --School Library Journal School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Organized into sections such as "Lopsided Love" and "Rapid Tumble," I Just Hope It's Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, & Joy, ed. by Liz Rosenberg and Deena November, includes poems of great intensity such as Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus," about her attempted suicides, alongside verses with humor-tinged darkness such as T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." More contemporary poets include Margaret Atwood, Naomi Shihab Nye and editors Rosenberg and November. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Many a teen finds solace in poetry. As the teenage years are an emotional rollercoaster, the raw emotion present in some poetry can be very comforting. For this reason, Liz Rosenberg and Deena November decided to collect some of the most emotional poems ever written into one volume. Each editor writes her own introduction and describes how she selected the poems. The collection is divided into sections based on emotion. The poems are written by a very wide range of authors, from the very famous (William Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, and Edgar Allen Poe, among others) to more modern authors (even some teenage poets). By placing young poets in such illustrious company, Rosenberg and November encourage creativity in their readers and introduce teenagers to a wide range of poems. There are brief but informative biographies of each poet at the end of the collection. Copies of I Just Hope It's Lethal will undoubtedly be carried in many a backpack and read to tatters. 2005, Graphia, Ages 12 up.
—Amie Rose Rotruck
This unique collection of poetry will attract aspiring poets, practicing poets, and lovers of poetry. Readers, including teens who have experienced bouts of depression or other mental illness, will find solace in the fact that fellow sufferers, including poets such as John Berryman, William Blake, Jane Kenyon, Sylvia Plath, and Dorothy Parker, managed to write their ways out of depression or to eventually use the experience of it creatively. The anthology is divided into five sections titled Sadness Without Reason: Moods; Wild World; Lopsided Love; Rapid Tumble; and Wish You Were Here: The Return. Rosenberg collaborates with her former Binghamton University student and fellow poet November to come up with a collection of work inspired by sadness, madness, and joy. Many of the poems, however, are a reflection of the insanity in the world and the poet's interpretation of war, injustice, and cruelty. Others represent the sadness one feels enduring difficult periods or universal experiences of love, suffering, and loss. Brief biographies of each poet give readers insight into the lives of these poets who come from different cultures and eras, and who like Rosenberg and November, are of different generations. This interesting and rich collection of poetry will have special significance for teen readers. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2005, Houghton Mifflin, 176p.; Index. Biographies., Trade pb. Ages 15 to Adult.
—Lois Parker-Hennion
Brought to life by college professor Liz Rosenberg and her student, Deena November, this anthology contains a wide variety of poems that in one way or another deal with the themes of depression and madness. Its purpose, as Rosenberg states in her introduction to the book, is to serve as a "guide for those who find themselves lost in a dark wilderness," for "poetry can help us survive." It is a collection that comforts its readers with an impressive number of poems by poets like Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, and Rumi, as well as the equally moving poems of unknown young poets. Rosenberg and November even throw a few of their own poems into the eclectic mix. It is a collection that ultimately shows how common feelings of depression and instability really are—even among the greatest of minds. As May Sarton puts it in her poem "A Glass of Water"— "Someone in dark confusion as I was / When I drank down cold water in a glass, / Drank a transparent health to keep me sane, / After the bitter mood had gone again." KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Houghton Mifflin, Graphia, 208p. index., Ages 15 to adult.
—Beth Lizardo
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-The poems in this diverse collection range from classic (Shakespeare, Lord Byron) to modern (by the compilers themselves). While some of selections might be too complex and antique for reluctant readers, most of the pieces are powerfully written and easy to understand. Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, and Rumi are among the poets included. Two short introductions explain the inclusion of many of these selections and the significance of each of the book's five sections. A biography section gives interesting summaries of each poet's life. This efficiently organized, concise, and interesting collection is an excellent choice for libraries serving teens. However, as November states in her introduction, "This book is for everyone and anyone."-Jessi Platt, Auburn Public Library, AL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This intelligent anthology will accomplish two amazing feats: It will please teen readers and simultaneously satisfy their teachers. Poet, children's author and anthologizer Rosenberg, with former student, November, collect verse that sensitively addresses those readers who are susceptible to emotional downdrafts and uptakes. The poems range from the classics (Wordsworth, Blake) to the contemporary (James Wright, Gerald Stern, Stephen Dobyns) to the just composed (Das Lanzilloti, Deena November)-which guarantees the teen authenticity. Moreover, the poems, organized in five sections, "speak" to one another across time and through generations, addressing theme and subject and giving young readers a sense of immediate connection and belonging. They also lay a foundation for young readers to begin to see for themselves how one work of literature may spark another. For example, included here is Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Sympathy," which features the line "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Unforgettable characters such as J. Alfred Prufrock and Richard Cory make their appearances here as well. Handy backmatter includes poet's biographies and an index of first lines. A must have for teachers who need the just-right book for their eighth-graders. (Poetry. 14+)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Liz Rosenberg is a poet and author of more than twenty books for young readers. She teaches English and creative writing at the State University of New York at Binghamton.

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I Just Hope It's Lethal : Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
jkair More than 1 year ago
This compilation of classical to contemporary poetry defines the state of being a teenager and explores the various emotions and phases passed in the process. Seperating into five sections focusing on individual aspects of growing up, the poetry contained in "I Just Hope It's Lethal" very accurately yet creatively makes the internal struggles and extrenal battles of blossoming teens clear. Opening with the first section, titled "Moods", the book begins to elaborate on the various and ever-changing emotions young adults feel; ranging from lack of belonging to restlessness. The following section titled "Wild World" focuses on judgement, faulty ambitions and worldwide occurences. This particular portion seems to include more than just the individual thoughts of one's self but the impact of outside events and criticism of the public as well. Next is "Lopsided Love", a section dedicated to examine the tosses and turns of young romance. Many of the poems go on to confess that not always will one's love be returned, heartache is prone and if you're lucky, love will stay. Poems contained in the "Rapid Tumble" section of this nonfiction piece reflected the downfall, the breakdown, the time of pure insanity in a teenager's life. It is the most in depth section of the five and perhaps even gives off a more serious feel. Many of these pieces brush upon feelings of jealousy, regret, anger, revenge, helplessness and giving up. The final section switches the spiralling downwards mood of the book into a more optimistic one. It is titled "The Return" and focuses on the feeling of relief after a recovery from a breakdown; the return of happiness from prior difficult situations. With a clever mesh of authors, including both editors themselves, Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath and Jane Kenyon, this book suits as a great read either just for fun or even simply for classroom analization. It captivatingly describes the worries, and issues teenagers bottle up through very intriguing stanzas of poetry.
Steffie34 More than 1 year ago
This is an important book for teens who run the gamut of moods from mildly jumpy to out and out crazy. At that age I'd have grabbed for a book like this that addressed how I feel. Wonderful wide selection of poems and poets with helpful bios at the back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago