Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Every

Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Every

Edited by Elise Paschen
Poetry with Audio CD
For ages 12 and up
Sourcebooks , 2010   ISBN: 978-1402210747

There are some wonderful collections of poetry for young children, some of which have been around for a long time, and there are excellent collections of poetry for adults. Unfortunately, the needs of teenage readers are often overlooked when it comes to poetry. In this poetry book there is a “highly unusual collection – coming-of-age-moments caught next to classics next to grieving, kitchen tables, Cinderella, dragons, and school periods.” The editors of this book asked poets from around the United States to share the poems that touched them when they were teenagers. They also asked poets to submit poems that they have written that they think will resonate with teenage readers.

   Growing up is all too often a painful process full of high moments, and an awful lot of low ones. What is interesting is that these same years are often the ones when young people are most drawn to poetry, which is why it is odd that no one has created a collection like this before. The poems in the collection beautifully capture those moments in the life of a teenager that are so bright with emotion, newness, and confusion.

   Some of the poems are modern, capturing moments and images that can only be found in the modern world and yet have a timeless feel to them. One of these poems is Mascara by Elizabeth Spires. In this poem we see two sisters who are ten years apart in age. One is applying mascara and she belongs to a world the younger sister knows so little about. They are separated by their ages and by “old injuries, forgotten but not entirely / forgiven,” and yet they are also close.

   Then there are poems that are from another time. If I can stop one heart from breaking by Emily Dickinson is just such a poem. It is short but addresses an issue that most teens think about at some point. What are they going to do with their life? Are they going to serve themselves and “live in vain,”or are they going to be the kind of person who will “stop one heart from breaking” or “ease one life the aching.”

   This book has an added dimension because there is an accompanying audio CD with forty-seven tracks. Most of the poems on the CD are read by the poets who created them,  and many are original poems that the reader can only read (and hear) in this collection.