Skip to main content

A Focus On Anthologies


Image result for anthology

I have been fortunate enough to publish two anthologies of poems. The poems I wrote were randomly included with no conscious connection to one another -apart from the fact that they were all a joy to write.  Sometimes though poets create anthologies where the poems are connected by a common theme. The anthology is created quite deliberately to explore these related ideas. Douglas Florian, an American poet, is very accomplished at establishing connections in this way. So many of his anthologies explore themes.


Image result for douglas florian poem
A Douglas Florian List Poem about Winter that also uses rhyming couplets

Below are some examples of these books. You will notice how Douglas brings his poems together around common themes -trees, marine creatures insects, the solar system. These books are part of my ever expanding poetry collection. Douglas Florian is not just a prolific and accomplished poet, he is always a great illustrator and painter. He remains a particularly fine exponent of list poems. The poetry of Douglas Florian comes highly recommended.



Image result for douglas florian poetry books



Image result for douglas florian poetry books



Image result for douglas florian poetry books


Image result for douglas florian poetry books



 Poetry can be presented around almost any theme or idea you care to dream up. You just need to have enough poems written to allow the creation of your intended anthology.  That's the challenging part. but its also the fun part. There's an inherent joy in exploring a theme, making those essential connections.

So, here's an idea young poets might like to consider...


Maybe you could work with a poet partner, or even a small team of poets in your class  (say four) and make a collection of poems around an agreed idea or theme. 

You might also consider planning a poetry project where each member of your class is given the task of contributing at least ONE poem (around a theme) and creating an anthology that way. Think of broad subject territories -science, technology, mathematics, physical education. Think playground, think animals. And, so it goes...

My advice would be to firstly get your hands on some themed anthologies (it would be great if you could read some of Douglas Florian's books) -and read them carefully to gain some vital background knowledge. It is important to consider what connects the poems. Then, talk to your teacher about how your poetry project might possibly LOOK. Then start making poetry!


Image result for themed poetry books

I know I often like to write poems about food. Over the years food has been a much visited theme for my poetry. So,  it would be easy for me to make an anthology based on a feast of food poems. Here are two poems I would definitely include in my anthology. Hope you can see the connection? 

I DON'T LIKE PEAS

I don't like peas
I really don't like peas
So I always say to Mum
No peas please
And my dear Mother says to me
Give me ten reasons why I shouldn't serve you peas
Number 1. They're green.
Number 2. They're the wrong shape.
Number 3. They roll off the fork.
Number 4. They roll under the table.
Number 5. They get squashed in the carpet.
Number 6. You always make me clean up the mess.
Number 7. Even the dog refuses to eat them.
Number 8. The baby gets them stuck up his nose.
Number 9. I much prefer strawberries and cream if you really must know.
.....And the peas de resistance
Number 10. I don't actually like them very much.
Do you know what my Mum said?

......KEEP EATING THOSE PEAS, PLEASE!

Alan j Wright



SOGGY BEANS IN MY JEANS


Auntie Bess I must confess
I didn’t eat my greens
When you got up to get dessert
I hid them in my jeans

I then walked home to my place

As quiet as a mouse
My pockets full of soggy beans
Until I reached my house 

Well, that was many years ago

And I was just a kid 
And still, I don’t like soggy beans
-I Never Ever Did!

Alan j Wright









Comments

  1. I have reviewed a couple books by Douglas Florian in the past. I enjoy his anthologies. Thanks for reminding me of his work. I will have to look at some of his other collections. Based on the poems you posted, you should definitely do a food anthology. Love the pea one especially!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am pleased to have provided a reminder of the wonderful works of Douglas Florian. Thank you for the feedback on my food themed poems. I would love to go in that direction.

      Delete
  2. Lee Bennett Hopkins has wonderful anthologies. I love the idea of a food anthology. Endless possibility there. No two poets would write the same one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a couple of Lee Bennett Hopkins books Brenda. So true about the unique perspectives of different poets regarding the same theme.

      Delete
  3. I can picture the illustrations that would go with these poems!
    I actually know someone who got a pea stuck up her nose and can picture her sitting at her desk, pointing at her nose (early elementary school memory!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The reference to peas up the nose concerns one of my own children Tabatha. So often direct experience informs the writing. It was frightening for an inexperienced parent (at that time) . Glad you can visualize the illustrations for my poems. That heartens me.

      Delete
  4. I had great enthusiasm in my middle school classes when they were asked to write about food. Each one always had an opinion! I love your "pea" poem and know they would have loved it, too. Douglas Florian's books were go-to anthologies for non-fiction mentor texts. They are terrific. I agree that doing a food anthology would be great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Food is something we all know well Linda and opinions are so often clearly defined about various food stuffs. I agree with you regarding Douglas Florian's work. It is indeed, terrific. You have given me food for thought, or rather, thought for food...

      Delete
  5. Thanks for introducing me to a new to me poet! I enjoyed both your food poems--I felt the same way about green beans!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you got to meet Douglas Florian, Kay. We are united in our distaste for soggy beans! Thank you for the feedback on my two-course food poems. I am inspired by the various comments to explore this possible anthology further. Who knows...

      Delete
  6. Our fourth graders write poetry anthologies around a theme of their choice at the end of the year. It's great fun! We have loads of Douglas Florian anthologies to share and many other mentor texts as well. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about anthologies and your two food poems. I must say that I preferred a bean up my nose to a pea. Just sayin'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beans are much easier to retrieve Molly. I like the sound of making anthologies around a theme with your young poets and the deliberate exposure to the works of Florian and others. Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Delete
  7. Douglas Florian books take up a huge portion of the real estate on the poetry shelves in my classroom library! I love his books...KIDS love his books!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary Lee, we are both friends of Florian by the sound of things. How lucky we are to have found this poetic influence.

      Delete
  8. I have a couple Douglas Florian books in my personal library. Love them! I laughed at your soggy beans poem. My older brother did that with French toast when he discovered the bread was covered with egg ... he didn't like eggs. He put it sticky with syrup in his corduroys and dumped it on the way to school.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the visual of your brother with sticky, syrupy, French toast, Alice. Glad to hear you have some of Douglas Florian's titles among your personal collection. 'Soggy Beans' is also a favourite amog kids when I visit schools.

      Delete
  9. Douglas Florian is a favorite of mine, and I have "In the Swim," I've also read many of his other poetry books. I like your two food poems here, especially the one about peas, it reminds me of how I felt about lima beans as a child. Thanks Alan!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by Michelle. Two of our kids disliked baked beans- something about the texture. Glad you enjoyed my poems. Food is one of those subjects we all can identify with quite easily. Everyone seems to love the work of Douglas Florian -that pleases me.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Opposite Poems

Opposite Poems


In his book, 'How To Write Poetry,' Paul Janeczko presents the idea of opposite poems. Paul suggests they could also be referred to as antonym poems. This is wordplay and it's fun to try.

Here are some examples Paul provides to help us see very clearly how these short little poems work.

I think the opposite of chair
Is sitting down with nothing there

What is the opposite of kind?
A goat that butts you from behind

Paul Janeczko

You will  notice the poems are written in rhyming couplets. They can be extended so long as you remember to write in couplets. Paul shows us how this is done.

What is the opposite of new?
Stale gum that's hard to chew
A hot-dog roll as hard as rock
Or a soiled and smelly forgotten sock

You might notice that some of Paul's opposite Poems begin with a question. The remainder of the poem answer the question posed.

Opposite poems are a challenge, but it is a challenge worth trying. Not every thing has an opposite and not every word has an easy t…

List Poems Are Easy To Like

A list poem is one of the easiest kinds of poems to write because it doesn't require a set rhythm or rhyme. But that doesn't mean you should write anything down helter- skelter.

Consider the inclusion of the following elements to make a list poem a poem instead of just a list:

• The writer is telling you something--pointing something out--saying, "Look at this," or, "Think about this."
• There's a beginning and end to it, like in a story.
• In other words, the poem needs to make sense and have some kind of flow to it.

List poems provide an easy and successful structure to get children feeling more comfortable with poetry. They are to be found in the poetry of many cultures and have been employed successfully by many contemporary poets.

Poetry is full of surprises. List also need to be full of surprises. Without the occasional surprise your list poems will have all the appeal of a supermarket shopping list on a day when you don't want to go shopping!

Here …

Safety Pin Poem

Poets not only write poetry, they also read poetry. In order to be able to write poetry, one must read it. Lots of poetry in fact. 

I want to share a short little poem by Valerie Worth. I bought Valerie's book, All The Small Poems And Fourteen More, when I was living and working in New York some time back. It remains a personal favourite. 

I love the way the poet shines a special light on everyday objects, transforming them into something unique and worthy of attention. Her close observations elevate her poems into the special category. 

Each poem in the collection celebrates earthly wonders. From eggs to garbage, from potatoes to pockets, each object is given special attention in the form of short poems employing keen observations. Valerie Worth demonstrates through her poems she totally understands the saying-'ideas exist in things.'

The poem I have chosen to share with you (one of my personal favourites) is titled, 'Safety Pin'.


Safety Pin
Closed, it sleeps On its side