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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2017. 23.00 ages 9 and up

"Bronzeville lady
Way past cool
Voice like butter
Melting blues

She sung low
She swung high
Rouse with rhyme
Hue and cry


In this poem called Hue and Cry, Kwame Alexander celebrates Gwendolyn Brooks, born in Kansas
and raised in Chicago. The first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in poetry, her poems were about the 'social issues of the urban poor, in particular African-American women'. She published twenty books of poetry, which led to other Black Arts poets finding success.

Kwame Alexander invites two friends to help him pay tribute to twenty poets of the world, each honored for the contributions they make to help readers understand the power of poetry. Their words have inspired readers across the centuries, in widely varied cultures and unique and personal styles. The poet authors 'pay tribute to the poets being celebrated by adopting their style, extending their ideas, and offering gratitude to their wisdom and inspiration'.

celebrating Basho

Desks in tidy rows
Notebooks and texts neatly stacked
New year begins soon.

Thunder and lightning
Rain soaking the school blacktop
Recess bells silent.

Pens scratching paper
Syllables counted with care
Poets blossoming.

  - Chris Colderley"

celebrating Mary Oliver

Each day I walk out
onto the damp grass
before the sun has spoken,
because I love the world
and the miracle of morning.

I love to stand beside
the old oak trees
beneath a symphony
of birdsong and listen
to every perfect note

while the wind passes
around me like a warm sea.
Sometimes a feather
drifts down into my hands;
I hold it and imagine flying.

  - Marjory Wentworth"

I found myself going back again and again to 'wonder' at the phrases, the rhythms, the joy found in their poems. I returned to read again poetry written by Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Robert Frost, Nikki Giovanni, and Walter Dean Myers - some of my own favorites.

Kwame Alexander's preface explains the importance that reading holds for him and talks about his passion for poetry. There are three briefly noted sections, emphasizing experimentation with style, ideas, and strong feelings evoked. Short informative biographies are included in back matter, as well as a time frame listing poets from ancient to contemporary times.

I have not even touched on the incredible collages fashioned by the very talented Ekua Holmes. The textures, colors and beautifully designed visuals perfectly complement the imagery of the words. The colors are rich, the textures wonderful, and the settings compelling. It is no 'wonder' that readers will love it!

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