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The One Word to Terrify Them All (a guest post by K. A. Holt)

On Sunday, March 10th, author K. A. Holt will be visiting my library as part of our Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels visit.  If you live in or around the Grand Prairie area, please consider stopping by and supporting libraries and authors. Today, author K. A. Holt shares a guest post with us to talk about the one thing that seems to terrify tweens and teens.
Sometimes I’m afraid that among pre-teen and teen readers there is One Word To Terrify Them All. Or maybe worse: One Word No One Thinks About Until They See It And Then They’re All OH MAN I Don’t Want To Read THAT.

The word?

Poetry.

Wait, wait – don’t run away.

I’m here to convince you that poetry is not boring. It’s not difficult to read. It’s not snobby or foofy or lame or whatever. I mean, it can be… but it doesn’t have to be.

I should probably come clean and tell you that I write books in verse. Not all of my books, but some of them. One of my books is about zombies and chupocabras and humans all trying to go to middle school together without eating each other. The whole book is written in haiku. Five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. Three-lined poems tell the whole story – brain-eating, fights, crushes (both of the romantic kind and the bone-crunching kid) and more. It’s poetry, but it might not be the first thing that pops to mind when you have that “aaargh, a book in poetry, what?!” reaction.
A zombie novel written in Haiku? Yes please!

Another book I’ve written (that is tentatively scheduled for release in 2014) is about a bully who rips pages out of library books so he can scratch out words and make messages. You don’t usually think of defacing school property as poetry, and yet… That’s the cool thing about poems. They can be anything you want. It’s just a way to focus words on the most important details of a story.

You know those bouillon cubes you drop in hot water to make chicken broth? The cube dissolves in the water, leaving trails of salty silt that you stir to make a warm, filling soup. A poem is like a bouillon cube – all the salty goodness of a story is compacted into a tiny space. The hot water is like your brain. Those compacted words seep out of the poem, filling your brain and spreading out into worlds and characters that the author trusts you to help create. Weird analogy? Sure. But kind of true.

Reading a novel that’s written in verse gives you all the punch and excitement of a prose book (sometimes even more), but with fewer words, fewer pages, and arguably more imagination. You become an important part of the telling of the story because you take those few words and give them life.

Here are some ya titles written in verse, with a fun poetry activity to do w/teens

So please, for the sake of zombies and chupocabras and sonnets and free verse, and torn out pages everywhere, don’t freeze up when you see the word “poetry.” Don’t feel harrumphy when you see “novel in verse” on the cover of a book.

Poetry is beautiful. It’s ugly. It’s exhausting. It’s freeing. It’s simple. It’s complex. It can hold the whole world in just a handful of words.

Book Inspired by a Poem or Poetry . . .
Golden by Jessi Kirby comes out in 2013, based on Robert Frost, so very good
Coming in 2013, and so very brilliant. Great voice.

Yes, I’m biased, but I want you to be biased, too. Poetry can be anything you want it to be. Not everything can say that. Not everything can live up to that. So give it a whirl and see what you think.

Sharon Creech, Ron Koertge, Ellen Hopkins, Lisa Schroeder, Sarah Tregay, Sonya Sones, Virginia Euwer Wolff, Linda Oatman High, Caroline Rose, Walter Dean Myers and more, more, more. All of these authors write novels in verse. And so do I.

Why not pick up a book and give it a try?

[I totally did not rhyme that last part on purpose. I swear.]

And more poetry:
TPiB: Poetically speaking, poetry activities to do with tweens and teens 
TPiB: Freeing your life with words . . . more poetry activities

K. A. Holt  is the author of Brains for Lunch and Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel? You can find out more about her, and her books, by visiting her webpage. It is set up like a comic book and epically cool.