Friday, March 13, 2009

VALERIE WORTH-WORDSMITH EXTRAORDINAIRE


When Kristin O'Connell George introduced me to Valerie Worth in my first UCLA Children's Poetry class, I fell in love with poetry for children. Worth's ability to capture the essence of an object or animal with minimum words and maximum sensory imagery is astounding. Her poems make readers think beyond words on a page and engage in the recreation of the poem's subject in their minds, in their souls. We can't read Worth's safety pin or dinosaurs and simply move on to our next thought because Worth demands we return to our previous conception and re-evaluate.

safety pin

Closed, it sleeps
On its side
Quietly,
The silver
Image
Of some
Small fish;

Opened, it snaps
It's tail out
Like a thin
Shrimp, and looks
At the sharp
Point with a
Surprised eye.


dinosaurs

Dinosaurs
Do not count,
Because
They are all
Dead:

None of us
Saw them, dogs
Do not even
Know that
They were here-

But they
Still walk
About heavily
In everybody's
Head.

Read more children's poems at the Poetry Friday Round-up being lassoed in by University of Richmond teacher of teachers and poet Dr. Patricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

12 comments:

  1. I learned of her poetry through a poetry class I took. Each carefully chosen word packs a punch!

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  2. I like the safety pin poem. I do not, however, have much affection for actual safety pins.

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  3. Wow, love both poems. Your observations about Worth's poetics is spot on. Thanks!

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  4. These are wonderful!
    Thanks so much for sharing...

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  5. I love the saftey pin one too, taking an ordinary object ad transforming it to the extraordinary.

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  6. I love this! It's beautiful and funny all at the same time! :0)

    Christy

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  7. I've been wanting to take classes at UCLA, it's just over the hill from me. Gotta get on that.

    I sat on a safety pin when I was about eight and went screaming to mommy, who was in the bathroom. She plucked the pin from my bottom and said, "I've been looking for this."

    Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

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  8. Tracy--I think you should write a poem about the experience.

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  9. I LOVE Valerie Worth's poetry. "Pebbles belong to no one/Until you pick them up--/Then they are yours./But which, of all the world's/Mountains of little broken stones,/Will you choose to keep? ...(first two stanzas of "Pebbles").

    Thanks for celebrating her poetry!

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  10. I love Valerie Worth's poetry. Her poems help the reader to see the wonder in the ordinary. And after all, isn't that's one of the things poetry is about? Thanks!!

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  11. I always suggest Valerie Worth to kids that come to the library looking for poetry. I love how she has this way of taking an everyday object and folding it in on itself. Although, I have to say I'm partial to her Library poem. :)

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