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River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things
     

River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things

by Pamela Michael (Editor), Robert Hass (Introduction)
 

The California-based River of Words (ROW) has gained fame as an important nonprofit that trains teachers, park naturalists, grassroots groups, and others to incorporate observation-based nature exploration and the arts into young people’s lives. One of the group’s most important annual projects is to take the youth pulse from the United States and 22

Overview

The California-based River of Words (ROW) has gained fame as an important nonprofit that trains teachers, park naturalists, grassroots groups, and others to incorporate observation-based nature exploration and the arts into young people’s lives. One of the group’s most important annual projects is to take the youth pulse from the United States and 22 other countries, by asking for writing on water and nature. This anthology collects the best of that writing, with accompanying artwork. Divided into nine geographical areas (California, Pacific Northwest, Inland West, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest, Mid Atlantic, South, and International), the book presents writers from ages six to 18. In poems such as “I Love My Dog,” “Seasons in Our Watershed,” “History of a Cornfield,” and “Swamp Shack,” River of Words exhibits diverse voices, as well as some bilingual poems. A remarkable confluence of K-12 curriculum, children’s literature, environmentalism, and poetry, this thoughtful book, in the words of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Gary Snyder, gives us “pleasure and hope.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In 1995 Michael and Hass, then the U.S. poet laureate, cofounded the River of Words project, designed to connect students' art and poetry education to the natural world immediately around them, to link their imaginations with a sense of place, or to "watersheds." The poems and pictures in this handsomely designed volume have been culled from yearly contests, with 85% of the entries coming from the United States (the cover image happens to be by an 11-year-old from Malaysia named Lim Yi Fan); most were submitted by teachers, but others came directly from youths in refugee camps or detention facilities. The works are startling, many of them dislocating and highly complex. The opening poem, however, is the beguilingly direct "My Name Is Elijah," by five-year-old Elijah Soza of California: "Waterfalls told me hello today./ The river also talked./ She wanted me to know/ that my name/ was important./ My name is Elijah./ I am a friend of the river." All ages. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Laura J. Brown
This is a delightful book of poems written by young wordsmiths all over the world. Rivers of Words is an organization that was created to focus students' attention on local watersheds in their own areas so they can be informed about the environment and grow as active citizens where they are. Each year, the organization receives thousands of poems and pieces of artwork from school-aged children all around the world. The submissions must have some aspect of water in them, and they must express the authors' or artists' creative personality. This volume of the annual publication contains over one hundred poems by authors six to seventeen years old. The book also features over twenty student paintings and drawing which express the love and joy of the world we live in. This is a great book to read and show students. It is an inspiration to all who read it, and it is a wonderful example of collaboration between science and the arts. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown
VOYA - Valerie Ott
The work in this anthology of youth poetry and art is impressive both in quantity and quality. The pieces come from the annual River of Words contest, originally launched in 1995 by Pamela Michael and Robert Hass in an effort to encourage youth to think about their corner of the natural world and their own place in it. Specifically the contest asks students to think about the watersheds in their areas, both in a literal and figurative sense, so that they might become more aware of the environment and become better stewards of it. The variety of interpretations of this theme is broader than one might imagine, in part because entries come from all over the world. Furthermore the pieces from year to year are markedly different, based on global events such as September 11 and the 2004 tsunami. Finally the breadth of this anthology is aided by the fact that students of all ages are invited to participate. Each of the poems and illustrations, however, share a poignancy that can only be conveyed by children. Their observations and emotions seem to come from an unsullied place, making these poems unpretentious and accessible for any student. Although not every teen will gravitate toward this title, those interested in poetry are sure to be inspired. Teachers, too, might use it as a jumping-off point from which to explore cross-curricular opportunities such as incorporating art into science. Reviewer: Valerie Ott
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

River of Words is an organization that holds an art and poetry contest each year for children and teens. Winners of the competition over the past 12 years make up this substantial volume. The theme of the contest is "Watersheds," and most of the 250-plus poems deal with water in nature. Many different forms are represented, though the vast majority are free verse. The poets range in age from 5 to 18, and although the quality and sophistication of the selections varies with the age of the authors, the poems are honest expressions of the young peoples' ideas and emotions. The book is illustrated with a few full-color reproductions of pictures that were done by children who also took part in the competition. The artwork ranges in style from picturesque to abstract and is on the whole appealing and vibrant. This is a great anthology to inspire young poets to express themselves freely.-Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781571316851
Publisher:
Milkweed Editions
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
9 Years

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