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A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems Paperback – March 3, 2005
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What on earth is a concrete poem? Well, for one thing, it's a lot more playful than a regular poem. The arrangement of letters or words, or the way the type--and even blank space--is placed on the page, or the typefaces chosen... all of these things can contribute to the creation of a concrete poem. In this marvelous collection selected by Paul B. Janeczko (Very Best (Almost) Friends, etc.) and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Chris Raschka (Yo! Yes?, etc.), you never know what might happen from page to page. In John Agard's "Skipping Rope Spell," for example, the words are shaped into four spirals, representing the motions of hands as they turn the jump rope. "A Seeing Poem," by Robert Froman, is printed in the shape of a light bulb. The words of the poem in conventional order go like this: "A seeing poem happens when words take a shape that helps them to turn on a light in someone's mind." And Monica Kulling's "Tennis Anyone?" covers two pages. The poem is split down the middle, so readers must swivel their heads back and forth as if they were watching a match! Raschka's unique, terrifically captivating illustrations, done in watercolor, ink, and torn paper, are a perfect match for the wackiness and joy of the poetry. (Ages 5 and older) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Publishers Weekly
On this book's cover, a winking man nudges a letter "I" with his umbrella. This multilayered image, with its homonym and visual game, provides a stimulating introduction to 30 concrete poems by various authors. Throughout the volume, crisp black words on spotless backgrounds do double-duty as concepts and physical objects. Raschka (Waffle, reviewed below) works in tandem with each poem's design; for example, he fashions the palindrome "eyeleveleye" as a bar across three faces, with each pair of "E's" standing for eyes, and the giddy eat-it-before-it-melts "Popsicle" presents a block of words atop vertical letters spelling "sticky," as a nearby ice cream vendor gazes out from the page. Other poems contradict top-to-bottom reading conventions. The phrases of "Sky Day Dream" ("Once I saw/ some crows/ fly off...") ascend the page, diminishing in size as though growing distant. For the spread "Tennis Anyone?" words and artwork suggest a tennis court with the gutter as the net, so that readers glance from side to side as though watching a volley. Janeczko (Very Best [almost] Friends) selects economical works that allow plenty of space for reflection. "Whee" offers a slope of six single-syllable words ("Packed snow steep hill fast sled") and a scattered group of rag-doll figures; another piece simply joins "merging" to "traffic." Raschka's restrained collages of calligraphic watercolor lines and torn paper leave most everything to the shaped poems. He and Janeczko provide an uncluttered, meditative space for the picturesque language. All ages.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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While many poems could stand alone by themselves, Mr. Raschka has given them all additional illustrations. His illustration style of broad lines, bright colors and bold patterns in the manner of Eric Carle augments each poem beautifully whether it's about rain softly falling, a danelion blowing in the wind or two people watching a train go by.
It is, of course, singularly difficult to review a book of this type because it's impossible to duplicate the exact layout of these poems which stretch, splish and splash across the pages. To put the poems into single lines stacked on top of one another in word-processor format would be to ruin them and take all the fun out of this splendid work. You therefore have to see them in all their glory on the page with Mr. Raschka's illustrations.
I've used this book a few times in my own classroom to inspire students who are less than enthusiastic about writing poetry. Making concrete poetry (or "form poetry" as I called it in school) offers readers and students a different perspective on what is often considered a mundane form of writing. A lot of fun and highly recommended!
Poetry does not exist to be "gotten" (or understood) by it's readers, or pigeon-holed into one interpretation. Do not underestimate the capacity of a child to comprehend a poet's message. This book is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn to love and appreciate poetry. Children learn to write by using a combination of writing and drawing (driting). So this book is the perfect segue into a genre that many children never learn to appreciate, because it is force-fed to them from the beginning as something that has one purpose. They are led to believe the goal of reading poetry is to discover "the meaning," and in the process the joy is taken away. Maybe that is why so many adults cannot appreciate poetry. They do not know how. This thinking is not a way to promote literacy.
If you want poems that are dumbed-down to meet what you think a child can appreciate about poetry at an early age, then do not buy this book.
Otherwise, do your child an incredible favor and allow them to explore, at their own pace, this book and this genre.
This collection of poems is a language lover's dream! It is a juggler throwing words up in the air just to see how they come down again, only to be caught, and returned to the air.
This is a book that will not allow you to sit still. Children will catch the excitement of poetry as well. May they run with it and have a blast!
is so clever, It makes me think "I wish I had thought of that"! "Eskimo Pie" and "Popsicle" are cute to look at but haven't any punctuation! "Shadow and Swan" and "Forsythia" are too difficult to bother reading. This is just my opinion and someone else might love it but I didn't!
Most recent customer reviews
This book has great poems. My favorite poem out of all poems that exist is from "A Poke In The I."