Living in Isolation I have challenged myself  during the months of May and June to read at least ten poems a day. This isn’t hard to do, since I’ve been dipping into anthologies for young people and adults audiences, including illustrated picture books, to help me reach my goal. To date, I’ve read over 500 poems, ore than I’ve read in the whole last year. How many poems have you read?

WOKE: a young poet’s call to justice by Mahogany L . Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood; illus. Theodore Taylor III

The passion of social justice is presented in 24 poems dealing with such topics as discrimination, empathy, speaking out and acceptance.

If we must live, let it not be in silence

Each shadow surrounding our right to be outraged

Let us not sit hands crossed while our stomachs grow upset

from Right To: After Claude McKay by Mahogany L. Browne


POEMS ALOUD by Joseph Coelho 

This collection of poems are intended to be read aloud/ performed alone, with friends and in a large group. Some suggested techniques are provided to offer different ways of approaching a poem (e.g., This poem is a race. Read as fast and clearly as you can; Start softly and finish Loud (crescendo), but experimenting with voice, sounds, gesture and movement help to lift the words of the page and have ‘fun with poetry.

The woosh of crops in he field


plays in our ears.

The pebble roll of the sea on the shore

hushes in our ears.

from To the Countryside


THE WOMAN  IN THIS POEM by Georgia Heard (editor); (Adult)

How many poetry anthologies do you buy/ read in one year? I challenge myself to go beyond poetry collections written for young people and was pleased to come across this special creation (2015) , by a special poet. Georgia Heard has collected  over seventy classic and contemporary poems written by women about women’s “lives and dreams, thoughts and experiences.” The book is divided into five thematic sections (Love, Motherhood, Work, Family and Friends, Balance. An exquisite – and tough – collection that shines a light on women voices.

Does a poem enlarge the world

or only our idea of the world

from Mathematics by Jane Hirshfield


WHOO-KU HAIKU: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari; illus. Jonathan Voss

A picture book. A nonfiction picture book. A nonfiction picture book told in verse. A nonfiction book told in haiku verse. And it is a STORY (of the great owl).  The birth and growth of a pair of great horned owlets under the protection of Mama and Papa.  What a beautiful  beautiful piece of literature!

Trying out her wings

Beating, leaping, teetering

Owlet bobs and springs


POEMS THAT MAKE GROWN MEN CRY:100 men and the words that moved them by Anthony and Ben Holden (eds.) (Adult)

The editors invited 100 men (poets, novelists, scholars,  stage and film artists) to each select one poem that would say brings them to tears.  The poems are arranged in chronological order by date of publication. Who’s to say why a poem moves someone but love and loss, of course,  seem to be the predominant theme.  Confession#1: I didn’t “GET” a lot of the poems, but that’s ok.  Confession #2: I tried to figure out how many of these poems touched the heart.  I will perhaps re-read some.  There was one poem that touched me because it brought a specific memory of time, place and relationship and I therefore felt I had a personal connection to the words. I have travelled that highway, I have witnessed that twilight. My dear friend and I have been welcomed by those ponies and pastures. Connections: I guess that’s what makes a grown man cry.  The following excerpt begins the poem, entitled Blessing by James Arlington Wright chosen by novelist, Richard Ford:

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota

Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.

And the eys of those two Indian ponies

Darken with kindness.

They have come gladly out of the willow

To welcome my friend and me.


WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater; illus. Ryan O’Rourke

Poet VanDerwater previously wrote the anthology Read! Read! Read! and with this publication she digs into the world of writing through a range of rhymed pieces. Titles include: Writing about Reading: My Story, Revision is, Writing is for Everyone, and Truth and Wish.

I make marks with one wish-
that a person will look
that a reader will giggle

The reason I write?
To connect.


I AM A SEED THAT GREW THE TREE: A nature poem for every day of the year selected by Fiona Waters; illus. Frann Preston-Gannon.

I bought this 300+ page anthology while on a trip to London, and though it was heavy to pack, I knew that it was a worthwhile purchase if only it led me (parents? teachers?) to read a poem a day. The book has been sitting on my coffee table and I decided to read the  collection of poems, organized into months.  (it took me 12 days to read 365 poems, most by British poets, some classics, some anonymous, some very short.  The colourful spreads by Preston-Gannon provided a stunning, colourful gallery of animal and nature images. This book was certainly worth shlepping home.

I am the seed

that grew the tree

that gave the wood

to make the page

to fill the book

with poetry

~ Judith Nicholls