October 21, 2009

Salting the Ocean

"How should we use poetry?" people sometimes ask poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

She responds, "Read it! Share it with one another! Find poems that make you resonate. Different poems will do this for every person. We 'use poetry' to restore us to feeling, revitalize our own speech, awaken empathy."

Over the past 25 years Nye has "used poetry" in classroom workshops in schools all over the country. In this lush, amusing, and touching anthology, Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets, she gathers 100 poems and divides them into four groupings: "My Shadow Is an Ant's Night" (poems about the self and the inner world), "Think How Many Stories Are in Your Shirt" (about where we live), "My Grandma Squashes Roaches with Her Hand" (about family), and "Silence Is Like a Tractor Moving the Whole World" (about the imagination). Students in grades 1 through 12 are represented in this anthology, brilliantly illustrated by the talented Coretta Scott King Honor recipient Ashley Bryan.

These young poets have mostly grown up, now, to become dentists and actors and construction workers, but the purity of their work lives on.

from an Amazon.com Review by Emilie Coulter

Sample poem:
"One" by Butch McElroy

We had a
'Most commonly misspelled word'
Spelling test
Yesterday in English,
Fourth Period.
I commonly misspelled them all.
Except one.
Was the only one I got right.

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