"How should we use poetry?" people sometimes ask poet Naomi Shihab Nye. She responds, "Read it! Share it with one another! Find poems that make you resonate. Different poems will do this for every person. We 'use poetry' to restore us to feeling, revitalize our own speech, awaken empathy."
Over the past 25 years Nye has "used poetry" in classroom workshops in schools all over the country. In this lush, amusing, and touching anthology she gathers 100 poems and divides them into four groupings: "My Shadow Is an Ant's Night" (poems about the self and the inner world), "Think How Many Stories Are in Your Shirt" (about where we live), "My Grandma Squashes Roaches with Her Hand" (about family), and "Silence Is Like a Tractor Moving the Whole World" (about the imagination). Students in grades 1 through 12 are represented in this anthology, brilliantly illustrated by the talented Coretta Scott King Honor recipient Ashley Bryan. These young poets have mostly grown up, now, to become dentists and actors and construction workers, but the purity of their work lives on, as in the poignant "One" by Butch McElroy:
"We had a
'Most commonly misspelled word'
Yesterday in English,
I commonly misspelled them all.
Was the only one I got right."
(Ages 8 and older) --Emilie Coulter