Sunday, March 6, 2011

Poetry Book Review: "Poetic Form"


Janeczko, Paul B., and Henri Silberman. 2000. Stone bench in an empty park. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN# 0531332594.


An introduction to this book describes a brief history and guidelines for writing haiku written by Paul Janeczko. I particularly find this helpful because it shows the reader exactly what the poetic form of the book is. Haiku qualities are outlined for the reader to understand in the introduction.

The themes of Stone Bench in an Empty Park take place in major cities and show certain aspects from various writers. These aspects include, tollbooths, newspaper stands, rain, parks, buses, trees, carnivals, baseball, jumping rope, music, pigeons, sidewalks, construction, skyscrapers, and many seasonal themes (summer, spring, snow, rain, icicles, etc).

Different writers have come together to publish this book; each poem illustrates a theme from a particular writer. Many well known poets include Myra Cohn Livingston, Nikki Grimes, Paul Janeczko and Alan Pizzarelli.

The audience for this book is slightly higher being ages 10+. The themes are more mature and the individual poems do not have titles.

This poetry book collects the guidelines for haiku (syllable count, nature themes, etc) and channels it into the the surroundings of a city atmosphere. Each poet write about nature as it applies to the city. While haiku have strict guidelines, some of the poets go outside the standards so that their message can be heard.

By showing themes of the city with haiku the poets are trying to reach out to the reader in noticing that your surroundings can be part of nature. Instead of traditional themes such as hills, trees, and mountains, the poets use themes that the reader can relate to. In doing so, their haiku standards are slightly altered.

Poem: by Anita Wintz

full moon shining
squeezes between skyscrapers


Introducing the Poem:

You can see by this haiku that the writer chose to go outside the guidelines for haiku. She did this because she wanted to illustrate a quality of skyscrapers to the reader through "fluorescent". She also wanted to add something extra to the poem.

I would introduce this poem before a field trip somewhere. Many children are drawn to the themes of the city and any poem from this book would be great.

Particularly, this poem shows the poet breaking away from the standards of haiku. I think another way of introducing this poem would be before poetry studies. You could teach the students about haiku, and they could learn the guidelines. Since most children don't get excited about haiku, you could show examples from this book to inspire them. They would enjoy "breaking the rules" like the other poets have.

Many poems in this book could be illustrated through out the school year because they mention spring, summer, and winter. This would be a great poetry book to have because it mixes the seasons with aspects of the community.

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