Friday, December 12, 2008


Today I'm changing up my usual Poetry Friday: Poetry to Read Aloud to share the gift of other poets' thoughts on writing poetry for children and young adults.

In the fall of 1991, the Editorial Board of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) approved Jeffrey and Vicky Copeland's proposal for "a book that would explore the lives and works of poets writing today for children and young adults." From this proposal, the Coplands wrote two invaluable volumes of SPEAKING OF POETS: INTERVIEWS WITH POETS WHO WRITE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS.

In the first SPEAKING OF POETS (1993), Jeffery Copeland interviews: Arnold Adoff, Lilian Moore, Mel Glenn, Aileen Fisher, Karla Kuskin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Mary Ann Hoberman, Myra Cohn Livingston, Valerie Worth, Lee Bennett Hopkins, X. J. Kennedy, Gary Soto, Eloise Greenfield, Barbara Juster Esbensen, William Cole and Eve Merriam.

In SPEAKING OF POETS 2 (1994), Jeffery and Vicky Copeland interview J. Patrick Lewis, Marilyn Singer, Cynthia Rylant, Paul Fleichman, Brod Bagert, Lillian Morrison, Ashley Bryan, Jane Yolen, Luis J. Rodriguez, Deborah Chandra, Paul Janeczcko, Michael Spooner, Constance Levy, Nikki Giovanni, Patricia Hubbel, Victor Martinez, Lucille Clifton, Maxine Kumin, Judith Thurman and Nancy White Carlstrom.

Copeland writes: Poets who write for the young comprise a close-knit fraternity. Most were either friends with or at least have had occasion to meet with and share their views with each other. Also, as the interviews were conducted, it became obvious that they find great satisfaction in fostering and promoting each other's careers.

He concludes his 2nd volume's introduction by saying: And finally, after interviewing all the poets, one special message, one overall philosophy, seemed to echo in a chorus of their voices: The world is an exciting place, a place where all possibilities exist for all people It is a world populated by a true "family of humanity." It is a world of magic and joy. It is a world just waiting to be explored, and this exploration can begin right now--through poetry.

These are the books I turn to when I want inspiration, friendship, community. These books are a gift to all of us. Today with so many emerging voices in children's poetry, I hope the Copelands and the NCTE would consider publishing a third volume.

Copeland is right...children's poets are a tight-knit, generous, uplifting group, and I am proud and honored to be part of this loving community.

Both SPEAKING OF POETS volumes are out of print but you can buy them from NCTE, Powells and Amazon.

The poetry roundup is at Wild Rose Reader today.


  1. both of those books look great, but where is YOUR name? If there's a SPEAKING OF POETS 3 you've got to be in it!

  2. Douglas,
    You were one of the first people I thought of when I put out that plea for a 3rd volume. I love your work.

  3. Thanks for featuring these books. Will have to check them out!

  4. You're welcome, Jama.
    BTW, I like your blog.

  5. I've had both of these books for years and have used them in my classroom. They are excellent. I also hope there will be a volume 3 since there are many wonderful poets not included in the previous volumes.

  6. I agree, Linda. It has been almost 15 years since the last one. Lots of new and important voices have emerged in those last 15 years.

  7. Wow, fifteen years since the last one? It's time for another volume! Those sound like wonderful books for inspiration for poets and in the classroom as well!



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