My children’s poets group chose to write cento poems for our National Poetry Month project. For those who don’t know, a cento is like a poem collage. The poet takes exact lines from existing poems and arranges them to make a new poem. I want to particularly thank my poet-friend Judy Gamble for exposing me to a yet another poetic form that I have come to love.
For my cento, I limited myself to poems by children’s poets who have inspired me and whose work I have particularly enjoyed either during my childhood or as an adult. This meant that I got to identify who those poets are for me and take a new look at their work–a very satisfying activity for National Poetry Month.
As I picked out lines I liked, a theme of children’s imaginative play emerged. I began to seek out lines that fit that theme. Soon I had a large group of potential lines from the poets I’d identified. I decided that I could use multiple lines from the same poet, but not from the same poem, and began the exciting process of choosing, arranging, and rearranging to create the new poem, “Play.”
“Play” has 25 lines from 25 different poems by 18 different poets. The poems are all referenced below, so you can check out the wonderful and fun poems that make their little cameos together.
Tomorrow is Poetry Friday, so soon you can also visit ellenleventhal.com for even more poetry. Thank you, Ellen, for hosting! (For now, Poetry Friday links are here: readingyear.blogspot.com/2015/05/poetry-friday-emotional.html. Thank you, Mary Lee, for temporarily hosting!)
Play A Cento in Celebration of Children’s Poets and Children’s Play We burst forth,1 Lost in cloudy hallways2 Into the hammock and wound round the stairs,3 i twirl in rhythm to the dance4 Behind the beat, around the beat5 we leap into the wind,6 Down and around and up on the crest of a breeze7 Up in the air and over the wall,8 For there’s no more UP to go.9 are you grinning10 There are no rules.11 Perhaps I am a Postman. No I think I am a Tram.12 Resemblance to both mud and lace.13 and onion ring fryers—14 Pieces out of picture puzzles,15 spitting papaya seeds!16 Where ferns uncurl17 Whispers18 like bright chips of sunlight19 These are my two drops of rain20 These jewels of color!21 I really hold a million million rocks here in my hand22 Let the rain kiss you.23 the sun is where the sun should be—24 There’s laughter and smiles galore.25 © Karin Fisher-Golton, 2015
“Play” includes lines from 25 different poems by 18 different poets. Each line appears in its entirety and unchanged except one minor punctuation change as noted. Author, poem, and collection sources are below. 1. Joyce Sidman, “The Season’s Campaign,” Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems 2. Leland B. Jacobs, “E,” An Alphabet of Girls (period at end of line omitted) 3. Shel Silverstein, “Spaghetti,” Where the Sidewalk Ends 4. Nikki Giovanni, “November,” The Sun Is So Quiet 5. Walter Dean Myers, “America’s Music,” Jazz 6. Kristine O’Connell George, “Tree Horse,” Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems 7. Alice Schertle, “A Silver Trapeze,” A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms 8. Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Swing,” Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems 9. John Ciardi, “How to Tell the Top of a Hill,” Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems 10. Paul B. Janeczko, cinquain that begins “Oh, cat,” A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms 11. Ogden Nash, “The Mule,” A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms 12. A.A. Milne, “Busy,” Now We Are Six 13. Joyce Sidman, “The Lichen We,” Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors 14. N. M. Bodecker, “Sing Me a Song of Teapots and Trumpets,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children 15. Shel Silverstein, “Hector the Collector,” Where the Sidewalk Ends 16. Janet S. Wong, “Mountain Gorilla,” National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry 17. Margaret Wise Brown, “Green Stems,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children 18. Valerie Worth, “Crickets,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children 19. Joyce Sidman, “Always Together,” Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow 20. A.A. Milne, “Waiting at the Window,” Now We Are Six 21. Valerie Worth, “prism,” Peacock and Other Poems 22. Florence Parry Heide, “Rocks,” Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems 23. Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children 24. N. M. Bodecker, “Good-by My Winter Suit,” The Random House Book of Poetry for Children 25. Shel Silverstein, “The Land of Happy,” Where the Sidewalk Ends
What a wonderful celebration of poetry! You’ve included many of my favorite poets, and I love the way you’ve arranged these lines. Poetry is the place for “laughter and smiles galore!”
Thank you! How fun to know that many of these poets are your favorites, too.
Wow! You had a month of writing AND reading! What a fun project!
Thanks, Mary Lee! It really was fun–and educational and inspiring, too.