Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Friday, November 22, 2013

Plot Summary:
In this anthology of poetry, teens are given a wide variety of poems that are not only timeless, but relevant to the very issues they face. With poems from Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Poet Laureates such as Paul Muldoon and Sandra Cisneros, teens will dive into a sea of emotions that deal with everything from falling in love, being left out, experiencing joy and prejudice. There is so much that can be learned and reflected upon in this collection that teens, and even adults, can analyze and grapple with. In this edition of Poetry Speaks Who I am, a CD with the poets reading their works is included so teens can not only real along, but feel the power from the speaker's voice. Although poetry can be difficult to understand, this collection introduces, and eases, readers into this amazing world of words, rhymes, music, and sheer art.

Critical Evaluation:
I absolutely loved reading this anthology! In fact, I read about eight poems, aloud, to teens during our first annual Teen Poetry Cafe. As an adult, and looking back on my adolescence, it's amazing to reflect on the messages that are being conveyed in each poem. What's eve more surprising is that I still suffer from the same issues and it goes to show that poetry can encapsulate emotions where age and stages of life are irrelevant. The poem that touched my heart the most is "Every Day it is Always There" by Rainy Ortiz. The speaker of this poem is talking about his, or her, relationship with their mother. I will admit, right here and now, that not matter how much my mother and argued, or fought, the lessons she tried to instill in me have shaped and formed me into the person I am today. What we all must realize, in this particular poem, is that if there is a constant in every family, it's usually mom. Granted, not everyone may have the perfect mother, or a mother at all, but, at some point in our lives, our mothers have made significant sacrifices to get us to where we are and, whether we choose to acknowledge that sacrifice, we need to base it on love and not anger or hate. Another poem that struck a chord with me is "I Will Rise" by Maya Angelou. If we want to talk about powerful, this poem is just one of the few examples of how we must face our problems and overcome them. There are actually quite a few poems in this story that deal with racism. Readers can interpret this poem as a pledge to overcome several issues such as: race, gender, religion, and even age. I had to read this poem to the teens because they need to know that this world has no place for this kind of intolerance and that no matter what people say, we all  have the courage, the ability, and the drive to never lose hope and persevere.  I cannot express how much I loved reading this book because it not only carries words of wisdom, but but give teens the hope they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. 

Information about the Editors:
 Elise Paschen, a poet of Osage descent, is the author of Bestiary (Red Hen Press, 2009); Infidelities (Story Line Press), winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, and Houses: Coasts (Oxford: Sycamore Press). Her poems have been published in The New Republic, Ploughshares and Shenandoah, among other magazines, and in numerous anthologies, including Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America; A Formal Feeling Comes: Poems in Form by Contemporary Women; Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and The POETRY Anthology, 1912—2002. She is editor of The New York Times best-selling anthology Poetry Speaks to Children and Poetry Speaks Who I Am (Sourcebooks) as well as co-editor of Poetry Speaks, Poetry Speaks Expanded (Sourcebooks), Poetry in Motion, and Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast (Norton).
The daughter of prima ballerina Maria Tallchief and Henry Paschen, Elise Paschen was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she attended the Francis W. Parker School. While an undergraduate at Harvard, Paschen was awarded the Lloyd McKim Garrison Medal and the Joan Grey Untermyer Poetry Prize. At Oxford University, where she received her M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees in 20th Century British and American Literature, she co-founded Oxford Poetry.

Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America from 1988 until 2001, she is the co-founder of Poetry in Motion, a nation-wide program which places poetry posters in subways and buses. Paschen was the featured Illinois poet at the National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress in September 2006. She currently serves as Poet Laureate of Three Oaks, Michigan. A former Frances Allen Fellow of the Newberry Library, Dr. Paschen teaches in the MFA Writing Program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lives in Chicago with her husband and their two children.
Dominique Raccah is founder, president, and publisher of Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher outside of Chicago. Today Sourcebooks is the world’s leading publisher of poetry in book-and-audio form, and also publishes nonfiction and fiction. Raccah was the initial visionary of the books Poetry Speaks, Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, seeing them as interactive, engaging ways to experience spoken and written poetry.
Series Editor Dominique Raccah is founder, president, and publisher of Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher outside of Chicago. Today Sourcebooks is the world’s leading publisher of poetry in book-and-audio form, and also publishes nonfiction and fiction. Raccah was the initial visionary of the books Poetry Speaks, Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, seeing them as interactive, engaging ways to experience spoken and written poetry. - See more at: http://www.sourcebooks.com/index.php?option=com_egdauthors&view=author&aid=A343#sthash.f0V0vN1c.dpuf
Series Editor Dominique Raccah is founder, president, and publisher of Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher outside of Chicago. Today Sourcebooks is the world’s leading publisher of poetry in book-and-audio form, and also publishes nonfiction and fiction. Raccah was the initial visionary of the books Poetry Speaks, Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, seeing them as interactive, engaging ways to experience spoken and written poetry. - See more at: http://www.sourcebooks.com/index.php?option=com_egdauthors&view=author&aid=A343#sthash.f0V0vN1c.dpuf


Genre:
Teen Poetry, Teen Contemporary Fiction


Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up 

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Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

"Teen readers will find much to enjoy in "Poetry Speaks: Who I am...a highly eclectic collection of 100 poems about everything from valentines to being black to mowing the lawn."

"The power of spoken poetry is at the heart of Poetry Speaks. Poetry is a vocal art, an art meant to be read aloud. Listening to a poem read aloud can be a transforming experience. Poetry Speaks not only introduces the finest work from some of the greatest poets who ever lived, it reintroduces the oral tradition of poetry, of poetry performed."

"Poet Elise Paschen is turning her attention to yet another most universal of human experiences: awkward adolescence...[Paschen] can turn this subject into something that we can laugh about now."

"Poetry Speaks Who I Am is the perfect book to introduce tweens & teens to Poetry... [Poetry Speaks Who I Am] also features blank pages in the back, where teens can write their own poetry. The book's design also speaks to younger readers -- with the pages created to look like they belong in a teenager's notebook, with scribbles and doodles around the edges...This adds yet another dimension to the experience of poetry, which is sometimes considered a performance art more than anything else."

"Elise Paschen: poetry for teens caters to the rebel in each of us... So what if that poetry happens to be written by some fancy-sounding name such as Percy Shelley or Paul Muldoon? So much the better."

"This volume of verse is aimed at teenagers and is, not surprisingly, full of strong emotion... It's a standout collection, packaged with a CD of the poems read aloud, many by the poets themselves."

"Humorous, biting, tender, angry, confused--the range of moods and voices reflect those of young people themselves as they make and lose friends, fall in love, worry about school, hug (and hurt) parents and try to figure out their place in the world."

"The greatest contemporary poets speak to our youth and to us all. This marvelous anthology contains over 100 poems that matter, by such luminaries as Langston Hughes, Robert Frost and Edgar Allan Poe, to the greatest of our own lifetime: Nikki Grimes, Joy Harjo, Richard Wilbur, Jason Shinder, Nancy Willard, N. Scott Momaday and scores more. A rich experiential collection is featured on the included CD with 47 new, recent and archived recordings of the poets and editors reading their work! The look, feel and design of this volume is cool and relevant – just like the poetry. This gem is a gift of a lifetime." - National Parenting Publications Awards

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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