Monthly Archives: October 2018

Sing a Song of Seasons

Lucky me! Last week’s mail had a treasure chest of a new book, Sing a Song of Seasons, A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon and selected by Fiona Waters. As you might guess from the title, this delightful collection has one poem for each day of the year, celebrating the sights and sounds of the natural world. Many of the poems are familiar classics–for example, Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” for January 6th, William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” for April 3rd, and Carl Sandberg’s “Fog” for October 23rd. Others are less well-known (at least unknown to me) but thoroughly charming. All are simple enough to read aloud to young children, and show a slice of what is occurring as each season progresses.

Both the poems and the artwork inspire wonder–they make me want to head outside and observe something small or something big! The artwork is particularly captivating. Each illustration runs across two pages, with one to four poems on it. Geese fly across the pages of October, as do colorful leaves, rainstorms, foggy harbors, night creatures, and pumpkins and bats.  Consider this leafy masterpiece, with four poems for today through Monday (the book is too large and my scanner too mediocre to combine these into one illustration, so you’ll have to imagine them side-by-side:)

I think this book would be a wonderful addition to a classroom library–imagine a ritual of reading the day’s poem, either by a teacher or student. What discussions might the illustrations and poems spark? What observations might they inspire? Where might they lead students’ writing? What mood would they set for a morning or afternoon?

Sing a Song of Seasons would also be a treasure for a home library. I remember when my daughter was in fourth grade and received a children’s collection of Emily Dickinson poetry. We shared many together, and then she read them over and over on her own, eventually memorizing quite a few. I think that book turned her into a writer! And I believe this book could also turn many youngsters into poetry lovers and writers.

For a children’s poetry writer, this book is a bounty of inspiration. Last week on a rainy afternoon I read several October rain poems. The patter of the poems echoed the sounds of the storm outside my window. I collected some of the words from the rainy pages and sprinkled them into this poem:

October Storm

Gray clouds grumble.
Acorns tumble.
Whips and howls,
dark sky growls.

Raindrops splatter.
Branches scatter.
Rumble, cackle,
lightning crackles.

Wind gusts slow.
Oak leaves blow.
Sprinkle, drizzle,
showers fizzle.

Puddled street.
Boots on feet.
Stomp and dash–
time to splash!
–©Buffy Silverman

Sing a Song of Seasons has found a happy home on my coffee table, where I plan to read and reread it. Thanks to Candlewick Press for the review copy.

Head over to Friendly Fairy Tales where Brenda has the Poetry Friday round-up.


For all of US!

The hound’s howls alerted me to a package at my doorstep on Wednesday. I added my own howls of joy as I tore open the package’s cardboard wrapper and found a copy of J. Patrick Lewis’ newest National Geographic anthology–The Poetry of US. I’ve only begun dipping my toe in this book, and plan to spend time savoring its many poems (more than 200!) and photographs. The anthology takes the reader on a journey across the United States, sharing the beauty, diversity, and challenges of our country.  It’s impossible not to feel a sense of wonder and delight as you flip through the pages, traveling around this complicated country of ours. And for me, it’s a needed antidote to the divisiveness and discouragement of the daily news cycle.

The book begins with poems celebrating symbols of the United States (Joyce Sidman’s “Our Rose” and Steve Withrow’s “Naming the American Eagle” are both a pleasure to read) and continues with new and old poems of what divides and unites us, by Carole Boston Weatherford, Walt Whitman, and Langston Hughes. Then the book starts its epic geographical journey, beginning in New England, reaching across the Midwest and Great Plains, traveling to the Pacific and beyond to the US Territories. Along the way we learn of history and holidays, festivals and food, wildlife and wild places, and the struggles and triumphs of people who live in towns and cities.

One of the great joys of having a poem in this volume is sharing space with poetry friends, some of whom I’ve met in real life and other who I know online. The members of my online group of poetry encouragers/critiquers all have poems in The Poetry of Us. They’ve generously given me permission to share their poems, which I think give a hint of the span of the anthology.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ shape poem, “Mass Ascension” floats over the Albuquerque balloon festival:

Renee LaTulippe’s “Child Chant” takes the reader back in time to the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, and one of the causes of the westward migration:

Liz Steinglass’ persona poem, “The Menorah” focuses on both the light of Chanukah and the experience of many immigrant families:

Pat Lewis asked me to write about the Holland, Michigan tulip festival. Although I live only an hour from Holland, I had not actually visited during the festival. But youtube came to my rescue so I could cyber-attend (and I have since been inspired to go to the festival–twice!)

I hope you’ll check out this terrific anthology that includes poems by many Poetry Friday regulars. Order it online or from your local bookstore, or request it at your library.

Head over to The Opposite of Indifference where anthologizer/poet/all-around-generous human being Tabatha has the roundup for this week’s Poetry Friday blogs (and a poem of Gingko leaves and friendship.)