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Wham! It's a Poetry Jam

Wham! It's a Poetry Jam

by Sara Holbrook, Jane Yolen (Foreword by)

Boyds Mills Press publishes a wide range of high-quality fiction and nonfiction picture books, chapter books, novels, and nonfiction


Boyds Mills Press publishes a wide range of high-quality fiction and nonfiction picture books, chapter books, novels, and nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Using over 30 of her own poems as a guide, Sara Holbrook teaches readers how to present poetry with rhythm, movement and a strong voice in Wham! It's a Poetry Jam: Discovering Performance Poetry, with a foreword by Jane Yolen. Much of her advice is geared to teachers; guidelines and advice for organizing a poetry "wham" appear midway. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
This slim volume is quite deceptive. It is jam-packed with useful information for teachers or anyone who has an interest in performance poetry. In her introduction Jane Yolen stated that Sara "...sticks her hand down a poem's throat and pulls it inside out. She makes you laugh, cry, feel." Her book is filled with tips identified with catchy titles such as "Toot Your Own Horn," "Voice Your Attitude," and "Going Solo." The section opens with some suggestions and then a poem to practice the technique with. For the call and response example, the text is even color-coded to identify the parts. Towards the end of the book, there is good advice about running a poetry contest (jam), who can play, how to score, basic rules and the like. A good book to have on hand in the media center or library and inexpensive enough for individual purchase.
—Marilyn Courtot
"Hey, you—poetry jammer! Yes, I mean YOU! Let me show you some poems that beg you to come out and play with them—some rappin' tappin' finger snappin' rhymes for you to perform." So begins Holbrook's high-energy introduction to the world of performance poetry. Not only will students want to read this book in one sitting, but they will also want to begin jamming immediately. The book contains sage, practical advice on voice, rhythm, gesture, attitude, and technique, and it is loaded with good humor and a dose of in-your-face irreverence. More than thirty original poems that the author has orchestrated for solo, pair, and group performance are included, as well as suggestions for poetry competitions and notes for a poetry jam coordinator. In highlighted, irregularly shaped boxes around the pages, she offers tips for experimentation, improvisation, and overall performance techniques: "When you want to convince someone to see things your way, it's always best to look them in the eye.... You don't want them looking at the ceiling or (worse) at your feet. That's not a poetry jam, that's toe jam." Youngsters, teachers, and librarians looking for a good beginner's handbook to performance poetry need look no further. Illus. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2002, Wordson/Boyds Mills, 55p,
— Cynthia Grady
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-The author of Walking on the Boundaries of Change (1998) and The Dog Ate My Homework (1997, both Boyds Mills) presents some of her poems along with tips on how to perform them. She explains how to move, how to put emotion behind the words, and how to make rhythm affect the performance in notes at the beginning of each poem, and occasionally in short, chatty captions at the end. Her instructions are easy to follow, although they often feel like lessons ("Can you think of some achy-breaky movements to put with this poem?"). She's also not consistent in the way she talks about voice projection-in two places she mentions volume or loudness, while later she explains that it's actually the strength of the voice, not its volume, that carries. The poems themselves vary in appeal, as they range from the goofy ("The dog ate my homework. You've heard that before? This one ate the table, then chewed through the door") to the righteous ("I'm not on your track, and my whistle is fixin' to scream. I'm warning you, Jack. Peer pressure just makes me get steamed"). Though not illustrated, the book has an inviting, colorful design with stars and spirals in pastels all over each page and text set on blocks of color, matching the energy in Holbrook's voice. Some readers will find this offering too teacherly and "for kids," but younger poets and adults may enjoy her suggestions on how to produce a poetry jam.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Guaranteed to get even confirmed classroom drones out of their seats and into an audience's face, this high-energy manual is a poetry slam-dunk, combining plenty of easy practice pieces—"The guinea pig has fleas, / there are grass stains on my knees, /AND IT'S ALL MY FAULT?"—with pithy advice about voice, gesture, rhythm, and other aspects of solo, paired, and choral performance. Except for a closing note to adult "coordinators," Holbrook (Walking on The Boundaries of Change: Poems of Transition, 1999) addresses young "jammers" directly, delivering a mix of practical tips and inspirational exhortation, inviting experimentation with the original examples she provides, emphasizing that attitude and technique are equally important, and finishing with suggested rules for poetry competitions. Glazner's Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry (2000) remains the older slammer's bible, but younger readers looking for ways to get poetry "from the page to the stage" will get plenty of help here. (Nonfiction. 10-15)
From the Publisher

"Guaranteed to get even confirmed classroom drones out of their seats and into an audience's face, this high-energy manual is a poetry slam-dunk. . . ."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
AD770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Sara Holbrook is the author of Nothing's the End of the World, The Dog Ate My Homework, I Never Said I Wasn't Difficult, Am I Naturally This Crazy?, Which Way to the Dragon!, and Walking on the Boundaries of Change, all published by Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. She lives in Mentor, Ohio.

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