Poetry Friday: A Kick In The Head

It's so great to enthuse about a book, with absolutely no reservations at all. A Kick in the Head (2005), a volume of poems selected by Paul Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka, is such a book. But this is not just a collection of charming and diverting poems by various skilled authors, charmingly and divertingly illustrated (although it is that). This book is "An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms." Examples of 29 different forms of verse are presented, with the poems in largish type and the explanation of the form in very small parent-reading-size type.

For example, here's a Riddle Poem:

The beginning of eternity
The end of time and space,
The beginning of every end,
The end of every place. (annon.)

And Janeczko notes: "A riddle poem indirectly describes a person, place, thing, or idea. The reader must try to figure out the subject of the riddle. A riddle poem can be any length and usually has a rhyme scheme of abcb or aabb" (page 33)

In the introduction, Janeczko says that "knowing the rules makes poetry - like sports - more fun." It's his hope that knowing the rules will make the "game" of poetry more fun.

I'm not the first to fall for this book. It's won awards, gotten glowing awards, etc. etc. Deservedly so. This book is certainly educational--it's the best guide to poetic forms I've ever read (I can't actually remember reading any others, but there you go). I had never, for instance, heard of a senryu before (a haiku about human nature). But it is also simply a fun book to read to your kids, hoping, perhaps, that they will want to play too.

A Kick in the Head is recommended for children 9-12, but heck. Everyone likes to read fun poetry, and figuring out (and bending) the Rules makes poetry even more engaging.

The poetry friday roundup is at The Miss Rumpheus Effect today!

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