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Updated by Valley Libraries Radio Reference on May 09, 2021
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April 14-16, 2021: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry month. If we were more ambitious, this Valley Libraries Radio Reference spot about poetry would be presented as a limerick, but alas, we’re not quite that talented. This is Sarah and Lizzy from Staunton with Ali from Augusta to highlight titles for anyone who enjoys reading poetry, but may not yet be ready to write their own.

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Lizzy's selections

Lizzy's selections

In my opinion, no one is writing better poetry for young people than Virginia poet Kwame Alexander. While Alexander may be best known for his sports-themed teen novels in verse, his poetic works for young children truly stand out. His 2019 picture book The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, garnered numerous awards and honors for its deeply loving depiction of the African American experience.

Animal Ark features Alexander’s poetry next to delightful wildlife photography from National Geographic’s Joel Sartore.

Becoming Muhammad Ali, a new middle grade verse novel co-written with James Patterson, is the perfect choice for sports fans ages 10-14. And if you like reading poetry ABOUT poetry, look no further than Alexander’s books Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets and the colorful picture book How to Read a Book.

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Ali's selection

Ali's selection

Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee tribe and the first Native poet laureate of the United States. I’m not usually a poetry person, but I’ve found her works to be inspiring and beautiful. She blends music, poetry, and storytelling using the language of the oppressor -English- to heal and recreate a space for indigenous’ women’s strength, power, and stories. She is the editor of a new Norton Anthology of Native American poetry, When The Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, which includes pieces from over 160 indigenous authors. Her own works include Crazy Brave, a memoir, An American Sunrise, a book of poems, and a kids’ book called The Good Luck Cat.

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Sarah's selection

Sarah's selection

Just this week, I finished a lovely free-verse novel for teens called The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta. The story follows Michael as he navigates British life as a mixed race child who comes out as gay during his adolescence. Through high school and his first years at university, Michael finds solace and power in poetry and drag performance, both of which allow him an accepting and welcoming space that allows him to shine. As Michael grows over the course of the story, so do the imagery and expressions author Atta uses to narrate the character’s life. While the book itself is great, but the audiobook is even more powerful as it is read by the author himself; it’s available to download through the Libby app.