Accessible Poetry for All Teens

REVIEW of Paschen, Elise, Ed. Poetry Speaks: Who I Am. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2010. 161p. $19.99 Hardcover with audio disc. 978-1-4022-1074-7. About the Contributors. Acknowledgments. Permissions. Audio. Index.

[VOYA codes:] 4Q Ÿ  4P Ÿ J Ÿ S

Teens come from a vast range of experiences and perspectives, and so does Poetry Speaks: Who I Am, an anthology gathered “just for” them.  This title (fourth in a series edited by Elise Paschen) includes forty-four poems in print and forty-seven audio-tracks of narrative and recited poetry, with some poems performed by the poets themselves.  The poems were penned by classic authors such as Shakespeare and Robert Frost, by more modern names such as Maya Angelou and Nikki Grimes, and by perhaps lesser-knowns such as Dana Goia.  Themes include love, anger, loneliness, fear, puberty, ethnicity, parents, whimsy, and writing.  The poems range from short and simple to lengthy and detailed.  The disc contains voices which are quick, slow, crisp, dreamy, youthful, penetrating, and more.

The stunning design of this title reins in a variety of poets, themes, styles, and sophistication, making it captivating for teens of various ages, maturity levels, and interests.  Each page looks like an uncluttered concrete slab, ‘stamped’ with titles and ‘scratched’ with distinct motifs that allow for choice of pace, anchoring of thought, or flipping through the pages for just the right poem.

Newcomers to the power of poetry, as well as lovers of the genre, will find a jam-packed, accessible experience which brings poetry to life in print and read aloud.  There is something here for all teens – those who are forming themselves and those who are not yet thinking independently.  This anthology is sure to rouse thoughts and emotions, and will invite teens to return and explore more than once.  It will speak most loudly to older teens, but any teen will be able to find themselves somewhere in the work.  Even those who think they do not care for poetry will not be able to resist at least skimming through this splendid collection.

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