Recommended Reading

Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life
by Allan Wolf
Lark Books, 2009

For many years, Allan Wolf was part of Poetry Alive!, a traveling troupe of actors that performed at countless venues across the country. He was also co-director of the PA’s Summer Residency Institute. From this experience comes his delightful and helpful writing handbook for young writers, Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life. And it all of those things. He lays out the basics of “living the poet’s life” in a way that will engage kids who have an interest in writing but aren’t quite sure what to do next. Allan shows the way, presenting advice and activities from “Your Poetry Toolbox” to “Ta Da!: Presenting Your Work,” most illustrated with poems classic and contemporary. To order this book, as well as Allan’s books of poetry, visit his website.

Gulls Hold Up the Sky: Poems 1983-2010
by J. Patrick Lewis
Laughing Fire Press, 2010

If you know the poetry of J. Patrick Lewis, it’s probably through one of his many hilarious-clever-funny-witty books of poems for children. Take your pick. His list of books for kids is delightful and long. Now comes Gulls Hold Up the Sky, a thoughtful selection of his poems written from 1983-2010, which features a wide array of poems written for adult readers as well as the light verse at which he excels. You can find out more about the book, as well as the chance to buy one here.

The Book of William: How Shakespeare’s First Folio Conquered the World
by Paul Collins
Bloomsbury, 2009

You’re right. This is not a book about poetry, other than references to the poetry in the Bard’s plays. Nonetheless, I’m crazy about the book and wanted to spread the word. I think you’ll feel the same if you are a) a lover of books (and I don’t mean those metal and plastic contraptions), and b) a fan of bookstores, and c) an admirer of Shakespeare.

Collins traveled the world, tracing the history of one of the world’s most elusive literary treasures. Along the way, he sheds light on the history of books, booksellers, and early publishing. And it does it with a pleasant sense of humor.

Song of Myself and Other Poems by Walt Whitman
Selected and Introduced by Robert Hass
With a lexicon of the poem by Robert Hass and Paul Ebenkamp
Counterpooint, 2010

You’re probably thinking, Does the world need another edition of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”? Of course, the answer is no. And yet, when a poet like former US Poet Laureate, Robert Hass, creates a new edition, it’s worth a look. This edition includes the original version of the poem published in 1855 and the so-called “deathbed edition” of 1891. I’m a Whitman fan and agree with Haas, who says of the long poem, “It was then and is now an astonishment, perhaps the most unprecedented poem in the English language.” To celebrate the brilliance and playfulness of Whitman’s language, this edition includes a helpful lexicon of the poem.


The Ode Less Travellled: Unlocking the Poet Within
by Stephen Fry
Gotham Books (Penguin Group)

If you enjoy teaching poetry to young people, chances are you dabble in the poetic arts yourself. The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry is a book for a writer who wants to be challenged by exploring some of the finer points of more formal poetic forms.  Fry covers such concepts as meter, rhyme, form, and diction as he introduces the reader to the features of such poetic forms as the sonnet, ode, villanelle, ballad and haiku. Try this book if you believe as Fry does that “a small, often ignored corner of us positively yearns” to write poetry.


Integrating Literature in the Content Areas: Enhancing Adolescent Learning and Literacy
by Sharon Kane
Holcomb Hathaway, Publishers

Although you’re unlikely to find this book on the shelf of your local bookstore, it is worth tracking it down because Kane offers valuable strategies for integrating literature into the content areas by serving up specific teaching strategies, annotated reading lists, and author studies for informational books, fiction, poetry, and biography, autobiography, and memoir. Kane has done middle school and high school teachers a great service with this practical, accessible resource.

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