Children’s Poet Laureate Monthly Book Picks

Each month, the Children’s Poet Laureate recommends a book of poetry for children. Selections include classics of children’s literature, adult collections that are well-suited to children, as well as newly published books.

The Poem that Will Not End: Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices

Kenn Nesbitt’s December 2014 Book Pick

The Poem that Will Not End: Fun with Poetic Forms and Voices

by Joan Bransfield Graham

Two Lions January 2014

Ryan O’Brian is a boy who can’t stop writing poems. It starts one morning with “a rhythm and a rhyme,” and he proceeds to write poems everywhere, and on everything, throughout the day. He scratches them in the dirt on the playground, composes them out of French fries in the cafeteria, and composes them on the bathroom mirror with toothpaste, all with thrilling exuberance, before eventually running out of steam.

Graham’s poems are masterful, demonstrating remarkable dexterity with form and meter, while simultaneously conveying the gleeful abandon with which Ryan pursues his mission.

The individual poems are threaded together by a single, long narrative poem that runs the length of the book and tells the story of Ryan’s poetic adventures. And they are complimented superbly by Kyrsten Booker’s lively collage and paint illustrations.

In addition to being an exciting story about a boy who feels compelled to compose poems, Graham’s The Poem that Will Not End is also a terrific introduction to poetic forms and voices. Ryan writes his poems in many different forms – from free verse to villanelles – and with several distinct voices. The book concludes with “Ryan O’Brian’s Guide to Poetic Forms” and a page on voices, describing the many different forms and voices used throughout the book. A student of poetry would find it useful to read the description of, say, blank verse or haiku, and then read those poems in the book.

In short, The Poem that Will Not End belongs in every classroom and school library, and in the hands of every young reader who wants to know more about poetry.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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