Poetry, Young Adult

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

This novel in verse tells the story of Xiomara Batista, a teen growing up in Harlem. Her strict mother does not allow Xiomara much freedom and as a result Xio feels unheard. As Xio’s body and emotions undergo the predicted changes of the teen years, she definitely has more to say these days. Sneaking around her mother’s rules, Xio joins the school’s poetry club and quickly finds that she can express herself through her poetry. She turns to slam poetry performance as an outlet and soon feels the importance of her words. A beautiful story of a young adult finding her voice, despite the pressures to remain silent. I loved the relationship that Xio had with her twin brother, as they each find and express themselves, and support each other along the way. The support Xio finds in her friends, along with staying true to herself, all make for a wonderful protagonist and a beautiful story! LOVED this one!!!


Poetry, Young Adult

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


A fast and impactful young adult novel written entirely in narrative verse. The taut poems make for a very visceral and emotional read – each word selected for ultimate effect. Will is a 15 year old boy who’s older brother Shawn is shot and killed in a sudden but non-random act of street violence. Will knows the 3 rules of the neighborhood: no crying, no snitching, get revenge. Will leaves his grief stricken Mom behind in their apartment and sets out to seek his revenge, but then something happens on the long ride down in the building’s elevator. A damning take on teenage gun violence in America and the deep wounds it wreaks in individuals, families, and communities. This novel has earned several awards including being named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. I learned of this title through another Reading Revels review. Highly recommended; not just for teens.



Catching Life by the Throat: Poems from Eight Great Poets by Josephine Hart


Josephine Hart is best known for her novels of psychological obsession — Damage, Oblivion, The Reconstructionist — but this book examining the lives and craft of eight poets in the English language is her most important work, and likely to be the most enduring. From Dickinson to Kipling, from Yeats to Plath, the author begins each chapter with a short biographical essay, then moves to a description of their poetry, and then provides a sample of their works. It is more of a tutorial on how to read poetry in general, and the accompanying CD of professional actors and writers reading the poetry only enhances the experience. My only word of caution is, this is a book you will want to own and not return to the library.



World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins


A short but very enjoyable book. Some of the poems captured the mood and action of the paintings perfectly; others less so. Loved “Paint Me” by Marilyn Singer that accompanied “Mada Primavesi, 1912-13” by Gustav Klimt, and “My Dog and I” by Ann Whitford Paul accompanying “Approaching Thunder Storm, 1859” by Martin Johnson Heade in particular, but “The Repast of the Lions” accompanying Rousseau’s painting and “Early Evening” accompanying Winslow Homer’s painting are also charming.