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At the library

My township's local library is a marvel these days. It used to be a scrubby little building without much parking, but now it's a glorious new building with a beautiful reading room (for the grown-up stuff), a nice kids' area, and lots o' parking.

I spent about an hour and a half there today looking at poetry anthologies. Mind you, I could probably spend a few full days there looking at that same category, particularly if I were to read every single poem. It was a most enlightening time, if only because it shows how much influence the editors of anthologies truly have on shaping a particular collection. Some obviously prefer rhyme, some free verse. Some like funny, some? Not so much. And I brought home Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, compiled by one of my favorite poetry editors, Paul B. Janeczko. Why is he one of my favorites? Because he likes it all, all of the poems, whether they are concrete poems or free verse, haiku or sonnets, rhymed couplets or found poems.

Why I like this book: It is a marvel. It includes letters and poems from thirty-two renowned poets. Each poet has written a letter to the budding young poets who are the intended audience for this book. And then, each poet has provided (or had chosen for them, I'm not sure) one to three poems of theirs. Not poems about writing poetry, either. Poems that show them at their finest, singing stories and sharing experience with their readers.

The title comes from a poem by Kristine O'Connell George entitled The Blue Between. It begins "Everyone watches clouds,/naming creatures they've seen./I see sky differently,/I see the blue between--/" And I think that poem relays a lot about what it is to be a poet, or to "try looking at it another way," in words borrowed from James and the Giant Peach.

One of the reasons I like this book so much is for how very smart it is. It is designed to encourage young poets, and according to its publisher (Candlewick), it's geared for kids ages 12 and up. And through the tone of the letters and the poems chosen, Janeczko displays the utmost of respect for his reader. Get this: not all of the poets who are represented in the book write for children. And while many (if not most) of them do write for kids, not a one of them has chosen to address the reader as if they were anything less than another poet. A poet just getting started, perhaps, but a poet nonetheless. In fact, I'd recommend this one as much for folks like Douglas Florian, who didn't decide to start writing poetry until they were already grown-ups as for the tweens and teens it was designed for.

And the best news of all?

This book came out in paperback earlier this year, with a slightly modified cover. I believe I will buy the book. Although now that I'm in love with it, I probably need the hardcover.

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