Saturday, March 6, 2010

Poetry Speaks Who I Am

A few years ago, I discovered Poetry Speaks to Children (edited by Elise Paschen, 2005, Sourcebooks), a wonderful collection of poetry--old and new--accompanied by a CD with many of the poems read by the original poets. When I shared this with the students in my children's literature course, they loved it!

March 1, 2010, Elise Paschen released a new volume in the Poetry Speaks series, Poetry Speaks Who I Am with CD: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else. The book is smaller and the collection in general is aimed at an older audience. From the editor:
This is not a poetry anthology for adults, for children, for classroom study, or for required memorization and recitation. It's made just for you.

The idea behind the collection is that poetry is deeply personal and will touch and move different people in different ways. To this end, the series editor, Dominique Raccah, writes:

...poetry changes the world because, as poet Jason Shinder says beautifully in Eternity--the poem that begins this book--it makes us feel known:

And every time the poem is read,
no matter what her situation or age,
this is more or less what happens.

Poetry moves you when it's true. Find what's true for you.

Poetry Speaks Who I Am is filled with more than 100 remarkable poems. The CD contains 44 poems read by 35 poets of which 33 poets, past and present read their own work. 39 of the recordings are original--only found in Poetry Speaks Who I Am. The power of poetry lies with the beholder, but there is also power in hearing the poet read her work. On the CD, renowned poets such as Langston Hughes and Robert Frost read their own works while Emily Dickinson and William Butler Yeats is read by the editor Elise Paschen. Contemporary poets such as Billy Collins and Naomi Shihab Nye also read their poetry.

Teachers in my children's literature course often are not fans of poetry. They were not exposed to the joys of poetry as children and/or had bad experiences with how poetry was taught in high school. Many do not come willingly or happily to our discussion of poetry. However, upon hearing Langston Hughes read Dream Variations and Marilyn Nelson read Worth along with many more, they were moved to open their mind to the power of poetry for children. They could easily see how to incorporate the Poetry Speaks to Children and Poetry Speaks Who I Am into the classroom to inspire children to read and learn more about poetry. 

Poetry Speaks Who I Am is a wonderful collection to give to yourself and if you are so inclined, to share with others in your life.

1 comment:

Chintan said...

Hello Denise,

I am a student researcher from India, currently pursuing an MPhil in English Language Education.

Thanks for this blog post. I fully support what is implied here --that poetry has the potential to be intensely personal, to speak to us, offer solace, even heal.

I found this statement particularly interesting: "They were not exposed to the joys of poetry as children and/or had bad experiences with how poetry was taught in high school."

Quite similar to the situation here, in India. If you'd like to read more on this, check

That's a paper I wrote for a conference on children's literature.

By the way, I run a group called People in Education, which connects a diverse bunch of people interested in education -- teachers, students, researchers, filmmakers, journalists, homeschoolers, etc.

You are welcome to join.

Here's the link:!/group.php?gid=20885858553&ref=ts