Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets
Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets
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Bruno Navasky, editor
ISBN 9780810991422
Abrams/Amulet, 2011.
4 stars
Keywords: bruno-editor inspiration nature poem-your-pocket-for-young-poets poetry wordplay writing

Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets
by Bruno Navasky, editor

No matter what your child’s interests may be, there’s a poem in this collection of 100 poems that will speak to him or her. The best part about it (in addition to its diverse range of themes and poets) is the message that poems are for collecting and keeping and reading over and over again.

Some of these will appeal to more sophisticated poetry lovers, such as an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Others are approachable for novices: Emily Dickinson’s “The Outlet”; Robert Frost’s “The Pasture” (“I’m going out to fetch the little calf/… / I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too”); Steve Crow’s “Revival,” comparing snow to “white fireflies/ wanting to land, finding/ a wind between houses”; Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Dog” (“The sky is the belly of a large dog,/ sleeping”); and William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Here are the beginning lines of one of my favorite new discoveries in this collection, “Analysis of Baseball” by May Swenson: “It’s about/ the ball,/ the bat,/ and the mitt./ Ball hits/ bat, or it/ hits mitt./ Bat doesn’t/ hit ball, bat/ meets it.” Can’t you see a group of boys and girls having a field day with that one (it goes on for four stanzas)? Performing it as a rap with their friends? Spurring a debate about how to describe the sport?

Bruno Navasky, who selected the poems and also teaches poetry, says that he and his students have tried to define a poem, and they couldn’t. Poems do not always rhyme. Poems do not always have line breaks. “Poems are the rule-breakers, my students said, the bugs in the system,” Bruno writes. Now if that doesn’t entice your child, what will?

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