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August 10, 2016
Each year, National Poetry Month arrives and I feel like I’m taking a crash course in poetry—in a good way! I find myself thinking about favorite poems, investigating the lives of poets, and wondering about how different forms and their rules developed.
This April, I thought about the poetry of everyday life. Shopping lists. The rhythm of overheard conversations. Text messages and tweets. Even my pile of to-be-read books seemed poetic.
Once I realized the track listing on a new CD read like a poem, I started investigating song lyrics again. I remember poring over lyrics as a teen, but I hadn’t done that in ages! I started using the Shazam app to find out the titles of songs and see their lyrics. I cracked open CD cases that I hadn’t looked at since I loaded their contents onto my iPod. I even pulled out an old vinyl album or two to check out the liner notes!
While walking past a colleague’s desk, I saw a copy of Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems by Nick Cannon. (Yes, that Nick Cannon, from TV and movies!) With my heightened interest in the poetry of the everyday, I wondered what his book might hold. Would it be full of the unattainable or would his poems investigate the things that kids would relate to?
I thumbed through the collection and was pleased to see how familiar the subjects (homework, lunch ladies, P.E., family) were interspersed with the fantastic (neon aliens, robots, and pet tigers). He even includes nods to street art and hip-hop artists! While poems about stinky feet and haters probably won’t land on my own list of favorite subjects, I realized that if you were to ask a group of students to write about their lives, many of these topics would come up in their poems. I can imagine how inspiring it would be to for young writers to see their own lives and interests reflected on the page. There is poetry in the everyday and it’s refreshing to see that in a book for kids.
May 13, 2015