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A Focus On Anthologies

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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.

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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!

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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 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?


Alan j Wright


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


  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!

    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.

  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.

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

  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!).

    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.

  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!

    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...

  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!

    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...

  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'

    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.

  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!!

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

  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.

    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.

  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!

    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.


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