Inspired by a magnetic poetry word game that was given to her as a Christmas present, Livingston devised a series of exercises to be used in her master poetry class at UCLA. Some of the poetry that was produced by her students from those exercises has been gathered here. The students composed their poems choosing one word (rabbit), then three (ring, drum, blanket), and finally six (hole, friend, candle, snake, bucket, or scarecrow). Despite the imagined constraints, the poems are remarkably diverse in meter, length, and mood. For example, Anita Wintz created an untitled humorous limerick about a magician's dilemma when the rabbits in his hat multiplied, while in "No More" Janet S. Wong explains why she and her siblings would never have a rabbit as a pet because they could not take care of the hamsters they already had. With "moon," "drum," and "ring," students used "drum" and "ring" both as the subjects of their poems and as verbs: Christine O'Connell George in "Did You See Them?" writes of "rings of trampled grass" where fairies danced; in Ruth Lercher Bornstein's "Lullaby" "a wind-chime bell will ring for you." The set of six words were used in poems with subjects ranging from summertime ("A Summer Hum"), a lighthouse ("For A Sailor"), a goddess ("Goddess"), and language itself ("Language [for Helen Keller]"). This small volume would be a wonderful addition to a classroom, school, or public library as an inspiration for students to try writing poems using these words or words of their own choosing. The quality of the poets' work-many are published authors-reveals Livingston's talent and dedication to her craft. It is a fitting tribute to a remarkable poet we lost last year. VOYA Codes: 5Q 2P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Myra Cohn Livingston conducted a master poetry class at UCLA composed of contemporary poets. One of their assignments was to write a poem in which the word "rabbit" appeared. Those poems as well as others that resulted from this poetry game appear in this book. The diversity and creativity of the poems are an inspiration to all who teach or love the beauty and images created by words. Terrific ideas for your own students.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
This is the poetry game, in which a writer starts off writing a poem that must use one specific word, then another that must use three, and finally one that must use six. For example, a writer would have to write a poem with the word "hat" in it, then one with "parachute," "monkey," and "hand," and finally, one with "pajamas," crayons," "carrots," "sticks," "hamper," and "glue." The idea is to inspire creativity-to get writers thinking, "just how could carrots and pajamas be in the same poem and make sense? As seen in the poems presented, writers will create not only a variety of topics, but a variety of poetry styles as well. This is a good teaching tool. It gives writers a place to start.
Children's Literature - Sheree Van Vreede
Gr 9 UpPrompted by a gift of refrigerator magnets that featured individual words meant to be arranged into poems, Livingston used the technique of assigning words or groups of words to be used in poems by her students, many of whom are published poets. The results are quite good and presented in this slim, cleverly designed volume. Despite Livingston's reputation as a children's poet, however, these selections will appeal more to older readers and are for the most part examples of sophisticated, though accessible uses of language. This would be a wonderful book to use as a jumping-off point for a high school creative writing class or a young adult poetry writing workshop, but will also be enjoyed by anyone interested in the craft of poetry and its possibilities.Carrie Schadle, New York Public Library
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
The process of writing poetry can be looked at as a chicken-or-egg problem: Which comes first, the images or the words? Inspired by a magnetic-word poetry set, Livingston (Cricket Never Does, p. 642, etc.) explains in an introduction how she launched students in her master class in poetry on a fascinating study of how disparate words could be connected in coherent, artful ways. This delightful collection features works by Alice Schertle, Janet Wong, and Tony Johnston, among others; each student was given one wordthen three, then sixthat had to be included in a poem. The possibilities are endless, as shown in the diverse styles and range of the pieces: Some are brilliant and touching, others are humorous, some are silly. It's not a book for browsersthe poems are most revealing when read togetherbut is a teaching tool, by students, to use with and inspire other students.