Poetry Friday: Singing Away the Dark

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Winter nights are long, cold and dark in northern countries like Canada.  So often, getting up for school means trudging out into the pitch blackness which can be a little unsettling.  In Caroline Woodward’s Singing Away the Dark (illustrated by Julie Morstad, Simply Read Books, 2010), a six year old girl must set out from her family farmhouse and walk a long way to the highway bus stop.  She must go down a hill,  in between the barbed wires of a fence and through a stand of trees — all, of course, in the darkness.  A very scary prospect indeed, for one so young!  So what does the little girl do?  She sings, sings away the dark.

The girl’s journey is narrated in verse, in loose quatrains, with end rhymes every second and fourth line.   So the journey reads a bit like a song itself, accompanied also by some very fine illustration by artist Julie Morstad.  By the time the little girl meets the bus, she has overcome her fears and is “so happy when [she sees] two headlights blaze into view.”   For any child who must negotiate dark mornings as is so often the case in rural communities in northern Canada, Singing Away the Dark is certainly a good solution to the problem.

This week Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura at Writing the World for Kids.

Poetry Friday: Think Again

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Think Again is JonArno Lawson‘s latest book of poetry.   Published just this spring (2010) by Kids Can Press and illustrated by Julie Morstad, the book is a delightful exploration of the feelings of early adolescence — and indeed, of adults, as well!  The poems are short meditations written in pithy quatrains like this one called  “The Heart”:

Make sure that your heart
isn’t too well defended.
Your heart is designed
to be broken and mended.

Accompanying each poem is a lovely illustration by Morstad that gets at the ‘heart’, so to speak of the poem.  There are 61 poems altogether and one can easily read through the book in a short time, but the poems are of the kind that are worth revisiting.  They are loosely based on the feelings of  young lovers, sometimes towards or about each other;  at other times, the poems are just about the individuals themselves.  Though not quite as linguistically acrobatic as Lawson’s earlier book on lipograms, Think Again is nontheless a charming collection of poems that are witty and playful in their own way.

I have to quote the last poem in the book, “An Attempt at Description”, because it’s about tigers(!) and about what poets try to do with their words.

How to describe the natural world?
I think I know how to begin:
A tiger has terrible, beautiful eyes,
And the night has lovely skin.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this small taste of Lawson’s recent poetry and seek out your own copy of Think Again. It will be well worth it.

This week’s Poetry Friday host is Mary Ann at Great Kid Books.