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Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets

Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets

by Paul B. Janeczko (Compiler)

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"For a class, or to work up enthusiasm about writing - and not just poetry - one could hardly do better for young people than this fresh and inviting collection." - KIRKUS REVIEWS

How do you write poetry? It's a question with as many answers as there are poets. Now, in this unprecedented volume, thirty-two internationally renowned poets provide


"For a class, or to work up enthusiasm about writing - and not just poetry - one could hardly do better for young people than this fresh and inviting collection." - KIRKUS REVIEWS

How do you write poetry? It's a question with as many answers as there are poets. Now, in this unprecedented volume, thirty-two internationally renowned poets provide words of wisdom and inspiring examples of their own work for new poets everywhere.

Compiled by anthologist extraordinaire Paul B. Janeczko, a talented poet in his own right, this outstanding resource offers a fascinating spectrum of advice from those who know best - ranging from "break a few rules" to "read Shakespeare's sonnets in the bathroom" to "revise each poem at least thirty-two times." Not surprisingly, the most frequently made suggestion from these seasoned poets is simply to "read, read, read!" This rich volume - an ideal resource for classroom teachers and a beautiful gift for budding writers of all ages - offers the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Love words play with them find the meanings of those you don't know," writes poet Michael Dugan. He, along with 32 other poets including Ralph Fletcher, Douglas Florian, Naomi Shihab Nye and Jane Yolen offer words of encouragement and a few poems of their own in Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, ed. by Paul B. Janeczko. "Notes on Contributors" complete the handsome volume. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Budding poets need look no further to find a wealth of advice and inspiration to motivate and challenge them in their endeavor to write. Thirty-two renowned writers including Douglas Florian, Nikki Grimes, Karla Kuskin, X.J. Kennedy, Jane Yolen, and Lee Bennett Hopkins offer their support in the form of a Dear Poet letter followed by several of their poems. Over and over the message is clear; only readers become writers. Young poets are admonished to keep a notebook for recording their thoughts and to be prepared to edit, refine, rewrite, and read, read, read. As an anthology, this is an excellent variety of poetry from some of today's most respected poets, but when you add the motivational words of wisdom, the result is a superior book. Photos and notes on the contributors round out this crisply designed volume. In the hands of the right person it will be just the encouragement needed to experiment and take risks. In the words of Douglas Florian, there is only one rule to remember, and this is "Poetry Rules!" 2002, Candlewick Press,
— Beverley Fahey
Informative, fun, and motivating, this compilation of letters and poems from thirty-two published poets offers intellectually and emotionally accessible experiences, advice, and models to all writers—but to poets in particular. Both prose and poems have wide appeal. Joseph Bruchac opens the collection by telling how his teacher discouraged him from writing poetry because Bruchac was a wrestler. Kristine O'Connell George, who penned the title poem, explains how science influences her writing. Kalli Dakos's "I'd Mark with the Sunshine" will have every student whose papers have bled with red pen cheering. The poets skillfully exhibit their suggestions. Jack Prelutsky's hilarious "Euphonica Jarre" demonstrates the blend of comedy techniques he recommends—exaggeration, transformation, and absurdity. Michael Dugan, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Marilyn Singer shape their letters of advice into poems. Like Janet S. Wong, Liz Rosenberg, and Nikki Grimes, many of these poets not only advocate drawing on experience and developing a heightened awareness but also emphasize combining perspiration with inspiration—learning as much as possible, expressing thoughts accurately, and revising constantly. The blend of advice and application is an excellent complement to Janeczko's user-friendly How to Write Poetry (Scholastic, 1999/VOYA August 1999). Classroom teachers will find great ideas for five-minute or full-period activities. They can add this book to the extensive list of resources suggested in Teaching Poetry in High School (NCTE, 1999/VOYA June 2000) by Albert Somers. Any writer should have a copy of this book—just to read and enjoy. Index. Photos. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being anybetter written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Candlewick, 132p,
— Lucy Schall
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Letters of advice from 32 of today's best poets for children and teens are accompanied by their poems. The letters are personal, friendly, and supportive. Over and over, young poets are encouraged to read. The importance of revision is emphasized, as is emotional honesty and looking at the world with fresh and open eyes. Some of the statements are wonderfully pithy, as when Lillian Morrison claims, "Poetry makes you smart." Plenty of humor is found as well. The selected poems cover a wide range of styles, moods, and subjects. Some follow the letters beautifully; Naomi Shihab Nye's comment, "Now I see revision as a beautiful word of hope" is followed by her poem "How do I know when a poem is finished?" This volume is similar to Janeczko's The Place My Words Are Looking For (Bradbury, 1990), but is more fleshed out. One note: while there is much discussion of the importance of revision, actual examples of first draft to final version are not given. A valuable addition to public and school libraries, with the potential for much classroom and personal use.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
For a class, or to work up enthusiasm about writing-and not just poetry-one could hardly do better for young people than this fresh and inviting collection. In a series of letters, usually addressed to the young poets reading the section, contemporary poets write a page or two of inspirational how-to and then add a poem or two of their own. Janeczko has gathered some wonderful contributors, many of whom have made a career not only in writing but in writing for young people: Janet S. Wong, Naomi Shihab Nye, Karla Kuskin, Nikki Grimes, X.J. Kennedy, Joseph Bruchac, Douglas Florian, and many others. Like a favorite poem, their advice has rhythm and repetition: observe; read a lot; listen to words; write and write; revise; say your poetry out loud. The title comes from Kristine O'Connell George's notion of seeing stories not in the clouds, but in "the blue between." Andrew Hudgins has a wonderful one-page essay on the benefits of reading poetry in the bathroom. "Poetry names the secrets you didn't know you were keeping," says Robert Farnsworth. Teachers and librarians will love this, too-as a classroom tool and as a way of explaining the art of poetry lucidly. (notes on contributors with thumbnail photos, index of first lines, acknowledgements) (Poetry. 10-15)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.89(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

"Do you want to write a poem?
Forget it...
until you have rewritten it." - Lee Bennett Hopkins

"How to begin? How to get better? If you love poetry, that's a good start. If you have a favorite poet, maybe you could memorize a few poems by him/her, so you can carry them around whenever you need or want them. Certain poems - like favorite trees, or views or memories - become old friends over time." - Liz Rosenberg

"Nothing succeeds like failure. Revel in it. You may take a measure of pride if you can say, 'I failed three times today, and that was before lunch.'" - J. Patrick Lewis

"Most of all, I want a poem to say what I really felt or saw or heard - that is, to be true." - Lilian Moore

SEEING THE BLUE BETWEEN edited by Paul B. Janeczko. This collection copyright (c) 2002 by Paul B. Janeczko. Letters copyright (c) 2002 by individual authors. Poems copyright (c) year of publication as indicated in Acknowledgments. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Meet the Author

Paul B. Janeczko, a poet and teacher, has edited numerous award-winning anthologies for young people, including Candlewick’s A POKE IN THE I: A COLLECTION OF CONCRETE POEMS and VERY BEST (ALMOST) FRIENDS: POEMS OF FRIENDSHIP. Of SEEING THE BLUE BETWEEN, he says, "I tried to create a book that I wish I’d had when I was a kid. Maybe its words would have given me the comfort and encouragement I needed." Paul B. Janeczko lives in Maine.

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