Poetry Speaks Who I Am is filled with more than 100 remarkable poems about you, who you are, and who you are becoming. Dive in-find the poem you love, the one that makes you angry, the one that makes you laugh, the one that knocks the wind out of you, and become a part of Poetry Speaks Who I Am by adding your own inside the book.
Poetry can be life altering. It can be gritty and difficult. It can be hilarious or heart-breaking. And it's meant to be experienced, so we've included a CD on which you'll hear 44 poems, 39 of which are original recordings-you'll only find them here. You'll hear poets both classic and contemporary, well-known and refreshingly new, including:
Dana Gioia expresses the hunger of a "Vampire's Serenade"
Elizabeth Alexander waits for that second kiss in "Zodiac"
Langston Hughes flings his arms wide in "Dream Variations"
Marilyn Nelson reads to her class in "How I Discovered Poetry"
Paul Muldoon's poem "Sideman," brought loudly to life by the band Rackett
And 39 more poems that are immediate and vibrant
From Lucille Clifton's "Here Yet Be Dragons" to Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee" to "Tia Chucha," by Luis J. Rodriguez, Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a collection that is dynamic, accessible, challenging, classic, edgy, and ultimately not quite perfect. Just like you. If you're lucky, it'll serve as a gateway to a lifetime lived with poetry. At the very least, it'll be a good time. Dive in, and happy hunting.
About the Author
Elise Paschen is the editor of Poetry Speaks to Children and co-editor of Poetry Speaks, both New York Times bestsellers. She is the author of several acclaimed poetry collections of her own, including Bestiary and Infidelities, winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Former Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America, she is the co-founder of Poetry in Motion, a nationwide program that places poetry in subways and buses, and co-editor of Poetry in Motion and Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast.
Series Editor Dominique Raccah is founder, president, and publisher of Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher outside of Chicago. Today Sourcebooks is the world's leading publisher of poetry in book-and-audio form, and also publishes nonfiction and fiction. Raccah was the initial visionary of the books Poetry Speaks, Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, seeing them as interactive, engaging ways to experience spoken and written poetry.
Advisory Editor Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher. Most recently, she composed and delivered "Praise Song for the Day" for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, also published as a book. She has published five books of poems, including The Venus Hottentot, Body of Life, and American Sublime, which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Association's "Notable Books of the Year."
Advisory Editor Brad Leithauser is the author of five novels, a novel in verse, five volumes of poetry, a collection of light verse, and a book of essays. His poetry collections include Curves and Angles, The Odd Last Thing She Did, The Mail from Anywhere, Cats of the Temple, and Hundreds of Fireflies. Among his many awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Grant, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
Advisory Editor Joy Harjo's seven books of poetry include She Had Some Horses, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, and How We Became Human. Her poetry has garnered many awards including a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.
Read an Excerpt
From the Introduction:
This is not a poetry anthology for adults, for children, for classroom study, or for required memorization and recitation. It's made just for you.
When I was younger, I wish I had possessed an anthology like this one-a compilation that brings poetry to life through words and recordings. In grammar school, I memorized the poems I discovered in a favorite poetry anthology my parents had given me. In high school, after my British Literature teacher introduced me to the work of William Butler Yeats, I began to understand how to write a poem. But in middle school there were no poetry anthologies compiled just for students and poetry was not taught in class. So I gravitated toward poets of the past and read William Shakespeare's love sonnets, trying to imitate them. I had no idea that poets were alive and writing. This anthology attempts to fill that void by offering poems about subjects that might express what's on your mind.
Youth inspires poets. So when we asked poets to send poems either that were important to them at your age or that they'd written about being your age, we received hundreds of submissions. Many writers try to capture those moments you may be thinking about now as you step into a new world.
We strived to create an anthology where you can discover poems about the changes taking place in your life. We offer first kiss poems like "Zodiac" or "The Skokie Theatre." If you've ever stood in the outfield, waiting to catch a fly ball, check out "Baseball." There are some Bar Mitzvah poems called "33" and "49." Poems about changing bodies such as "Bra Shopping." Poems about the times you think you hate your mother as in "The Adversary" and poems about loving her such as "Dear Mama (4)." Poems about loneliness like Robert Frost's "Acquainted with the Night." We even have a "Vampire Serenade." There are poems about navigating the turbulence of friendship like "Caroline" or the riptides of your parents' marriage as in "Mediation." We have paired classic poems with contemporary poems, from John Keats to Toi Derricotte, so you can read how poets throughout the ages have mulled over the same subjects.
Some poems will help you catch your breath, others will let you slowly exhale. Many of the poets traveled to studios to record their poems for Poetry Speaks Who I Am. When you listen to the CD, you will hear the immediacy of their words and the nuance of expression, and you will be able to hear and perhaps understand the poem from the poet's perspective.
In seventh grade, my friends and I would get together at each other's houses, listening for long afternoons to our favorite records. Older siblings introduced us to Carly Simon, James Taylor, Carole King, and we would sit and talk and sometimes just sit and listen to the songs, memorizing each one, playing them over and over in our minds. Let's hope that these poem recordings touch that same nerve for you and that they hold the same power that music did. Throughout my life, whenever I read a book I often scribble down a draft of a poem in the back pages. In Poetry Speaks Who I Am, you will find pages at the end where you can write down your own thoughts. Maybe some of the poems in this anthology will stir you to write some poems of your own.
We hope you will find inspiring company with these poems and with these poets. As the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes: "Live a while in these books..." So live a while with these poems.
Table of Contents
A Note from the Publisher xi
Eternity Jason Shinder 1
Perhaps the World Ends Here Joy Harjo 2
Still I Rise Maya Angelou 4
Cinderella's Diary Ron Koertge 6
Vampire's Serenade Dana Gioia 7
Alone Edgar Allan Poe 8
Alone Siegfried Sassoon 9
Caroline Allison Joseph 10
"What are friends for...? Rosellen Brown 12
I Loved My Friend Langston Hughes 13
In the Fifth-Grade Locker Room Rebecca Lauren 14
Bra Shopping Parneshia Jones 16
Blood Charm Annie Finch 18
Pause Nikki Grimes 19
The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee N Scott Momaday 20
Indian Education Sherman Alexie 21
One Art Elizabeth Bishop 22
Here Arthur Sze 23
Haiku Sonia Sanchez 24
Good Girl Molly Peacock 25
Bad Boats Laura Jensen 26
No Images Waring Cuney 27
won't you celebrate with me Lucille Clifton 28
What I'm telling you Elizabeth Alexander 29
How I Learned to Sweep Julia Alvarez 30
Sonnet 130 William Shakespeare 32
Litany Billy Collins 33
A Teenage Couple Brad Leithauser 35
Free Period David Yezzi 36
Zodiac Elizabeth Alexander 38
The Skokie Theatre Edward Hirsch 39
Valentine Wendy Cope 41
An Angry Valentine Myra Cohn Livingston 42
What Great Grief Has Made the Empress Mute June Jordan 43
Mad Girl's Love Song Sylvia Plath 45
How We Heard the Name Alan Dugan 46
The Gladiator Kevin Prufer 47
Worth Marilyn Nelson 48
I Am A Black Gwendolyn Brooks 49
Lost Sister Cathy Song 51
Flash Cards Rita Dove 54
Arithmetic Carl Sandburg 55
Dream Variations Langston Hughes 56
Dreams Langston Hughes 57
Blackberry-picking Seamus Heaney 58
Manners Elizabeth Bishop 59
Mascara Elizabeth Spires 61
from For a Girl Becoming Joy Harjo 62
Every Day It Is Always There Rainy Ortiz 64
Dear Mama (4) Wanda Coleman 65
A Boy in a Bed in the Dark Brad Sachs 67
The Talk Sharon Olds 68
A Small Poem Calvin Forbes 69
Fears of the Eighth Grade Toi Derricotte 70
When I have fears that I may cease to be John Keats 71
Death of a Snowman Vernon Scannell 72
Oatmeal Galway Kinnell 73
Eating Poetry Mark Strand 75
The Bagel David Ignatow 76
Hope Is the Thing with Feathers Emily Dickinson77
If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking Emily Dickinson 78
The Duke's castle John Fuller 79
Ozymandias Percy Bysshe Shelley 80
The Sacred Stephen Dunn 81
The Road Not Taken Robert Frost 82
Prowess Samuel Menashe 83
What We Might Be, What We Are X J Kennedy 84
Sideman Paul Muldoon 85
XVIII Oh, when I was in love with you A E Housman 87
Sometimes with One I Love Walt Whitman 88
In the Desert Stephen Crane 89
Annabel Lee Edgar Allan Poe 90
The Summer of Black Widows Sherman Alexie 92
Permanently Kenneth Koch 94
A Dog on His Master Billy Collins 95
Mowing Midge Goldberg 96
Seal William Jay Smith 97
Seahorses Brad Leithauser 98
So Far Naomi Shihab Nye 101
The Germ Ogden Nash 102
Baseball Bill Zavatsky 103
Poetry Slalom Mary Jo Salter 106
How I Discovered Poetry Marilyn Nelson 107
Used Book Shop X J Kennedy 108
The Survivor Marilyn Chin 110
New Clothes Kay Ryan 111
Mediation Kim Stafford 112
A Fable Louise Glück 113
Houses Nancy Willard 114
Snowmen Agha Shahid Ali 115
The Floral Apron Marilyn Chin 116
Abuelito Who Sandra Cisneros 117
Legacies Nikki Giovanni 118
Instead of Her Own Molly Peacock 119
Tia Chucha Luis J Rodriguez 120
The Adversary Phyllis McGinley 122
What Your Mother Tells You Now Mitsuye Yamada 123
33 Philip Schultz 124
49 Philip Schultz 125
What Are Heavy? Christina Rossetti 126
The Wind Sara Teasdale 127
Acquainted with the Night Robert Frost 128
When You Are Old W B Yeats 129
"Nobody can counsel and help you" Rainer Maria Rilke 130
"Live a while in these books" Rainer Maria Rilke 131
Here Yet Be Dragons Lucille Clifton 132
Sedna Kimiko Hahn 133
The Writer Richard Wilbur 135
About the contributors 149
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First things first, Happy National Poetry Month! I thought I would kick off my own personal celebration of poetry by reviewing Poetry Speaks: Who I Am. I think poetry is such an amazing outlet for healthy expression. I honestly don't know where I would be if I was not a member of poetry club in high school. So, when an anthology aimed at middle grade/high schoolers comes along, then yes, count me among the curious, because, ya'll poetry changes lives.Within this anthology are a wide swath of poems. They range from contemporary to classic, written by males, females, people of different ethnicities. The subjects of the poems are broad, and especially easy to relate to by the age targeted. The topics go from family, grief, friendship, love, and school. I enjoyed how much variety the poems contained and did not find myself getting bored.I also really enjoyed the quality of the poems chosen. Some were among my favorites, and I discovered new poems which I really enjoyed the style. I loved that Still I Rise by Maya Angelou was included as well as poems by Sherman Alexie, who I've only read his short stories, but not his poetry. I'm actually really glad to finally have read some of his poems.Overall, this was a quick read, at 136 pages. Some of the poems were mad short, and all the poems were placed on separate pages, so even if the poem was a haiku, it got it's own page. This book also comes with a CD featuring some of the poets reading their work. I think that may engage readers who are reluctant to take on poetry, as sometimes what enhances the experience is hearing the cadence of the words and really becoming immersed.Overall, reading Poetry Speaks: Who I Am was a pleasant experience which caused me to want more poetry in my life.
My freshman year of High school I fell in love with poetry after doing a unit of it in English class. I wrote for years and years after that and even got a few published. But since becoming obsessed with books I haven't done much writing. But when I was offered to review this book, I grabbed at the chance.Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a wonderful book, this is type of tool I wish I had back when I was learning about poetry. In this book there are some of the greatest poets and some of my favorites. Some of the poets included are Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe, Langston Hughes, John Keats, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and William Shakespeare. Not only does it hold all these great poets but it also comes with a CD with some of the featured authors reading their work. Plus in the back of the book there is space to write your own words. While this is aimed for young adults., I believe readers of all ages will enjoy this book.
Elise Paschen¿s Poetry Speaks Who I Am combines written verse with audio recitation of poetry by the poets themselves on CDs spark young readers¿ love of poetry and verse. Readers between the ages of 11 and 14 will find poems in this volume that speak to their struggles with love, family, growing into adulthood, and making friends.¿[Paschen says,:] For me this poetry is life altering. It¿s gritty. It¿s difficult. And it hurts in all the ways that growing hurts. It¿s meant to be visceral and immediate. It¿s meant to be experienced.¿ (Page XI)Gritty and real are the best terms to describe the struggles within these lines of verse, from being the only white kid in school to being a Black person at a time when political correctness suggests you are African-America. But more than that, there are poems about bra shopping ¿ the stepping stones of becoming a woman ¿ and the realization that the world is not perfect and that wars do exist. Bra Shopping by Parneshia Jones (Page 16) Mama and I enter into no man¿s, and I mean no man in sight, land of frilly lace, night gowns, grandma panties, and support everything. A wall covered with hundreds of white bras, some with lace, ribbons, and frills like party favors, as if bras are a cause for celebration. Some have these dainty ditsy bows in the middle. That¿s a nice accent don¿t you think? Mama says. Isn¿t that cute? Like a dumb bow in the middle of the bra will take away some of the attention from two looking, bulging tissues.Full of wit and sarcasm, this poem illustrates the angst and embarrassment of the narrator as she shops for bras with her mother under the watchful eye of the sales clerk. A number of poems illustrate these feelings of awkwardness and tenderness between friends and parents.The audio CD that comes with the book is stunning as each poem is read with emphasis and care either by the poet themselves or a contemporary counterpart. In some cases, the poems are accompanied by ambient noise and/or nature sounds. Some poems will garner young readers¿ attentions more than others, but overall the CD works. Used Book Shop by X.J. Kennedy (Page 108) Stashed in attics, stuck in cellars, forgotten books once big best-sellers now hopefully sit where folks, like cows in grassy meadows, stand and browse. In a yellowed old history of Jesse James two earlier owners had scrawled their names. I even found a book my dad when he was in high school had once had, and a book I found ¿ this is really odd ¿ was twice as much fun as my new iPod. I always get hooked in this dusty shop. Like eating popcorn, it¿s hard to stop.Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a wonderful collection of classic and contemporary poems from the likes of Langston Hughes and Lucille Clifton to the contemporary works of Billy Collins and Molly Peacock. Each poem will reach out to young adolescents in new and exciting ways, having them nod their heads in agreement as emotions, situations, and dilemmas are unleashed in verse. Moreover, the poems selected in this volume will not have readers scratching their heads, wondering what it all means. These poems are straight forward and get to the heart of the adolescent matter.
Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a collection of classic and contemporary poetry aimed at addressing middle schoolers in their transition from child to young adult. There is a wide range in the collection: classic poetry like Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes, and Emily Dickinson and newer and present poets, some of whom read their work on the accompanying CD.Poetry Speaks Who I Am has many poems that will apply to every feeling and thought, put words to what we can¿t find words for, and prove that yes, there are other people out there who feel like you do now, you¿re not the only one. You¿re not alone. These poets talk about everything from the awkwardness of changing and showering in the fifth grade locker room to embarrassing bra shopping with mom, to a first kiss. There¿s poems about segregation and ethnicity, homework and math class, sports, clothes, and even the emotions brought forth from reading poetry itself.Not only does it have the poetry, there are pages in the back of artistic inspiring blank pieces of paper for the reader¿s own poetry. The CD contains many of the poems read by the poets the way they were intended to be read.Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a fantastic collection that every young lit-lover should have on their shelves.Recommendation: Boys and Girls ages 8+
It¿s National Poetry Month, and could there be a better way to celebrate than with a first-rate collection of poems for middle grade readers? Even better, these poems focus on a topic that weighs heavy on the minds of young readers: personal identity. The poems come at this broad theme from many angles, sometimes taking it on very directly as in Gwendolyn Brooks¿ poem ¿I Am Black,¿ sometimes in a more roundabout way. I was especially impressed by the diversity of poets and poems that were chosen for inclusion. The collection presents a well-balanced mix of the old and the new, the serious and the funny, the well-known and the unfamiliar. But more than that, the poems come from a truly diverse group of poets. The editor has clearly put thought into the gender, race, class, and religious backgrounds of the contributors, and because of this careful selection every reader is likely to find a poem that will speak to who he or she is. Despite being well outside the target age of this anthology, the dog-eared pages of my copy show that I made my own connections to many selections.The book opens with ¿Eternity¿ by Jason Shinder, which is a lovely introduction to the bond that can form between a reader and a writer of poetry, despite differences of time and culture. By highlighting a strong personal connection to poetry from the very first selection, the editor encourages young readers to make their own connections to the featured poems. Several more poems are specifically about the act of reading or writing poetry, and the book ends with a section of blank lined pages that encourage the reader to become a writer of poetry. I liked the sense of progression that these selections seem to encourage, starting as a reader of poetry, moving on to a person who makes a personal connection with poetry, and ending as a poet. The selections move easily from one poem to the next, especially considering the wide variety of poetry that is included. The collection flows from theme to theme, and makes some nice connections along the way. Putting a poem in which John Keats addresses his fear of death next to the wonderful ¿Fears of the Eighth Grade¿ by Toi Derricotte, a modern poem about the fears of a middle school class, shows very starkly how the most universal themes stay the same. A few very explicit connections like this one will catch the attention of even a less-than-careful reader and will encourage them to make other connections between the poems. I did find the artwork, which is on every page, a little bit distracting ¿ particularly because much of it looks very pixelated and it covers words in two poems. I have a feeling that some of this will be fixed in the final book ¿ I will be looking forward to seeing how it all comes together. A cd of the poets reading their work is included, and it makes a nice supplement to the collection. Molly Peacock¿s audio segment addresses her personal identity and how it relates to her poem ¿ including some word play that relates to ientity within the poem. It¿s a nice way to add content, and will also help some readers who are not familiar to poetry get a feel for the rhythms of the poems they read.
I memorized some poetry when I was in 4th grade. It was a class requirement, but I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, the poetry I memorized were mainly limericks; anything that wasn¿t was some bit of doggerel that I read in a joke book. I never got into serious poetry, much to my eventual chagrin.My daughter enjoys poetry. Most of what she reads is Shel Silverstein-ish poetry; a cut above my limericks, but still light. And most of the poetry geared toward kids is like that ¿ I really think that one reason that kids have such a hard time when the hit high school and start doing more serious poetry is that they¿ve been conditioned to think of poetry in very limited terms. Going from ¿Where the Sidewalk Ends¿ to Silvia Plath can be a bit disconcerting.I¿m not writing this to diss Silverstein, so don¿t even comment if that¿s what you¿re thinking. I enjoy his work, and have memorized more than a couple of his poems. Both of my kids love his stuff, and as I keep mentioning, it¿s far better than the crap I used to read and memorize. But there is more to poetry, and it¿s important for kids to learn that, as early as possible.Thankfully, there is the Poetry Speaks series. These books show kids poetry that they can relate to, that is serious (sometimes rather dark) and beautiful and emotional. There is a wide range in poets; in Poetry Speaks Who I Am, you can read selections from well-known poets like Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, and lesser-known poets as well. There is free verse side-by-side with iambic pentameter. There is diversity in style.There is also a diversity in subject and theme. Some poems explore coming of age themes (like Phillip Schultz¿s ¿33¿ and ¿49,¿ about the experience of a bar mitzvah, or even Parneshia Jones¿ ¿Bra Shopping¿). Others are classic self-exploration or self-statement (Maya Angelou contributes the classic ¿Still I Rise,¿ and of course there is Frost¿s immortal ¿The Road Not Taken¿). Elise Paschen has done an outstanding job of selecting work for this volume.And there is audio. The book comes with a CD featuring many of the poets reading their work. I¿ve always enjoyed hearing poetry read more than reading it myself (unless I¿m reading out loud ¿ odd, I know). And I think this is the part of the book my daughter (8) enjoys the most. Even after I took the book to read myself before writing this review, she was still enjoying the CD, listening to the poems. If you have kids, you should look into this series, and this book. It will teach your kids about poetry; about rhythm, rhyme, meter, and all of that, but also about emotion and expression. It will teach them about rules, and when it¿s OK to break them. And it will teach them that there is a huge diversity of poetry, and not all of it is happy. They¿ll learn that some of the best poetry is born out of sorry, or difficulty, and they may learn that they like writing the stuff themselves.
Something for everyone, here, if the selection's a little scattershot. I was happy to see some of my favorites from grade school. A good gift for adolescents with a literary bent.
Poetry collections directed to teens are not very common; you're much more likely to find collections of poetry for children or adults. This lack of poems for teens to appreciate is exactly what editor Elise Paschen addresses in a new collection that is part of the Poetry Speaks series, Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Stories of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence and Everything Else. The more than 100 poets whose work is represented include classic poets like Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Frost as well as contemporary poets such as Sherman Alexie, Maya Angelou and Portland's Kim Stafford. Some of the poems are whimsical, such as Death of a Snowman by Vernon Scannell, while others are more contemplative, such as One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, which is about the art of losing things. Girls may cringe when reading Bra Shopping by Parneshia Jones. And of course, there are poems with rich imagery. Here are just a few lines from one of those, Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney: Late August, given heavy rain and sun For a full week, the blackberries would ripen. At first just one, a glossy, purple clot Among others, red, green, hard as a knot. You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it I recognized poems I memorized in high school, like Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, marveling that memorizing was much easier for me then than it seems to be now. An added bonus to Poetry Speaks Who I Am is that is comes with a CD of 47 poems being read by their authors or others. There's something hypnotic about listening to poems being read, especially by the author, who knows where she intended emphasis and can add tone. Blank pages in the back of the book encourage readers to write their own poetry, which could be a great activity for a mother-daughter book club. April is National Poetry Month-reading Poetry Speaks Who I Am would be a great way to celebrate.