“An inspiration for any fledgling poet”
“Raging, defiant, giddy, lusty, and hopeful”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“A rich kaleidoscope of poems that reflect the hardships of ethnic and urban existence against the steadfast spirit of youth.”
Nikki Giovanni provides the foreword, adolescents from San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and the Bronx, the verse-in Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems from WritersCorps. "Why don't you paint me/ Like I am?" begins Delia Garcia's title poem. "Paint me happy,/ Laughing, running down a path of happiness/ Paint me with a smile on my face." An inspirational quote and a suggested tip or exercise ("Write as if you were in your favorite month or the month your birthday is in") introduce each of the volume's seven sections. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Voices of real teenagers are featured in this anthology collected by the Writerscorps, an organization dedicated to improving the literacy and communication skills of at-risk youth. Each themed section ("Artists," "Friendships," " Furious," and so forth) begins with an appropriate quote from a famous writer, and a writing challenge�filled with words like "imagine," "see" and questions to inspire probing beyond the surface. The poems in each section are the result. The final section gives directions for holding a poetry circle, where everyone is both a teacher and a student. Halfway through the book, inspiring words from Kevin Powell, a young poet, are included: "I love words and the poetry made from stringing just the right words together. It is this coming together of pen and paper, of fingers and computer keys, of raw dog emotions and instant testimonies that make poetry�to me�as necessary as the blood beating a path to our hearts." The poems are accessible, immediate, and of interest to young people. Although of varying quality, these poems may indeed inspire young people to share their thoughts and feelings. A poem by Nikki Giovanni serves as a forward, and an afterward tells of the history of the Writerscorps, including contact information about their three sites in San Francisco, Washington D. C. and the Bronx. Pairing this with Nikki Grimes' Bronx Masquerade or Paul Janeczko's Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspirations for Young Poets would make a very powerful introduction to the genre. 2003, HarperTempest/HarperCollins Publishers, Nevett
Nikki Giovanni's poem in the foreword to this collection addresses the difficulties of growing up. The teen writers whose works are featured understand those difficulties only too well. They are residents of neighborhoods being served by the San Francisco Arts Commission WritersCorps volunteers, who bring literacy and communication skills to the disadvantaged, giving them an outlet to express themselves creatively. The result, as evidenced here, is a rich kaleidoscope of poems that reflect the hardships of ethnic and urban existence against the steadfast spirit of youth. Although the poems are primarily written in free verse, they are diverse in their subject matter and mood. Some are upbeat, such as the title poem, which radiates with hope and confidence. Others, such as "Diary of an Abusive Stepfather," mirror the writer's pain and anger. Teachers will find this collection valuable for more than just providing an example of teen poetry to model for students. To encourage youth to create their own poems, instructors could use the excellent writing prompts that introduce each of the seven chapters. The poems can also be used to discuss ethnic diversity or racial stereotyping, and will cause teens to ponder the problems that they face in their own neighborhoods and the creative outlets available that can affect positive change. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, HarperCollins, 144p. PLB
Chris Carlson <%ISBN%>0060292881
This slim little volume of poems by "at risk" teenagers who participated in creative writing classes sponsored by the nonprofit group called WritersCorps is a powerful voice in the world of poetry today. These poems were often inspired by assignments to help the students develop a springboard for their creativity, and they divide the book into chapter-like sections. "Friendship" and "Furious" are sample titles of chapters, which also reflect main poems in these areas. The painful feelings reflected in the poems make the reader realize that these are kids who have often seen, heard and/or experienced life beyond their young years: "I remember when my first crush died of a / Drive-by. / I remember when I / felt like the whole world / Stopped." Adolescents have been given the opportunity to write from their souls. In the environment of these workshops they can wax poetic about their anxieties and the rawness of their more vulnerable selves: "Why don't somebody / Anybody / Ask me what no one dares to ask / Like / What I feel." Noted poet Nikki Giovanni introduces this wonderful little book with these words that so well capture its essence: "We need food for the soul / We need poetry. / We deserve poetry." You don't really have to love poetry to find appeal in these talented voices from WritersCorps' newest volume. With some touches of rap, hip hop and slam, this is a wonderful addition to any school or public library that serves teens. KLIATT Codes: JS*�Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, HarperCollins, Tempest, 128p. illus., Tibbetts
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-WritersCorps works with disadvantaged youth, encouraging teens to express themselves through writing and recording voices that might otherwise not be heard. The young people have a lot to say about race, drugs, abuse, and self-image, as seen in these honest and sometimes raw poems. There are some good metaphors here ("Bodies sprawled along the shelter's floor-,/like sloppy cursive writing-" "I'm a sleepy flower,/and the ground waves at me"). "Alone in a darkness that laughs in your face," one poem notes. All the contributors are intensely aware of "self." One girl writes, "When I feel like I'm going to fall apart,/I hold my ribs, all the way around-/I hold brightness and shadows in/the hollow where my ribs meet-/I hold my ribs, until I feel solid." As in any anthology, there are some literary jewels and some less-poetic but more openly honest rants. There is much to learn from these young people.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
As anthologies of teen poems become more and more plentiful, WritersCorps offers an attractive volume to supplement teen collections. Poems by teens in the San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC, programs are gathered loosely into sections with titles like "Friendship," "I Too Am American," and "Furious." Each section begins with a quote about writing, and a sample writing exercise. The free-verse poems vary in voice from narrative to lyric to performance; they are edgy, mysterious, and assertive in tone. Subjects range from friendship to parenthood, from the importance of doing right to the importance of doing nothing. "My favorite food is burnt lasagna / Because the world is / Black, bloody and cheesy to me anyway," proclaims Karen Baylor, while Ember Ward writes, "I hold brightness and shadows in / The hollow where my ribs meet . . . / I hold my ribs, until I feel solid. / Until my legs are tree trunks and / My fingers are fruit." The poems in the collection are mixed in their effectiveness; there is no editor mentioned, or any indication of how the poems were selected or when they were written. Other collections of teen writing offer a stronger package, such as those edited by Betsy Franco (Things I Have to Tell You, 2001, and You Hear Me?, 2000), or the annual anthologies from the San Francisco Arts Council WritersCorps project (most recently Believe Me, I Know, 2002). Nevertheless, this volume will be appreciated in teen collections that already offer similar anthologies. (Poetry. YA)
Read an Excerpt
Today my name is colorful.
Yesterday my name was dead souls.
Tomorrow my name will be lively spirits.
My friends think my name is fire.
The police think my name is burden.
My parents think my name is symphony.
Secretly I know my name is anything I want it to be.