Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Entries into Poetry

Poetry is weird and hard. It’s confusing and vague and boring. Unless it’s not.  Here are five easy entries to poetry for teens, in honor of National Poetry Month.

1. After The Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy

It looks like realistic romantic teen fiction, it moves like realistic romantic teen fiction, it IS realistic romantic teen fiction, but GOTCHA! It’s a novel in verse.  The reason I picked this over the many many other novels in verse out there is that this one really works. The characters write poetry, poetry plays into the plotline, and each voice (and his or her poetic style) is distinctive and fits the character perfectly. Also, like some readers, the characters sometimes struggle with form, meter, and style, working hard to make their words work in a poetic structure.

2. Magnetic Poetry

It doesn’t even have to be magnetic – it could be single words printed on card stock with sticky tack on the back. Make a poetry wall in your teen area and encourage kids to combine words in awkward and funny and wonderful ways.

3. United States of Poetry

This miniseries and companion book reveal poetry in images and sound, bringing modern poetry to a whole new audience. Johnny Depp reads Kerouac, a drag queen performs Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and performances by the now late Alan Ginsberg, Czelaw Milosz, Amiri Baraka, Lou Reed, and Maggie Estep (among many other still living poets) can work to bring to life what is sometimes awkward, difficult and hard to access.

4. Record-A-Poem or other poetry on Soundcloud

The Poetry Foundation has an interactive project going on, inviting people to record their favorite poems. It began last year and there are well over two thousand pieces recorded for folks to browse or be inspired by. But don’t stop there, search Soundcloud for poetry and you’ll find all kinds of projects and new ways to connect with poems, like this version of a well known Emily Dickinson poem set to music.

5. Where I’m From poems

This is a simple, personal poetic structure that leads to some truly lovely results, and the best part is that it all comes from the writer’s own personal experience. If you’re looking to incorporate poetry writing into a teen program, consider working with a Where I’m From poem. Your teens will surprise themselves!