You hear it all the time now, every time you turn on the radio. Syncopated rhythms, heavy beats, words laced together at an alarming speed. But where many people hear blasting music and demeaning lyrics , I hear alliteration, assonance, and allegory.
Simply put, I hear poetry.
Of course, I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of harsh, demeaning rap and hip-hop songs out there; truthfully, I listen to a lot less rap than I used to. But if you listen closely, hidden in the harsh language is the emotion and fury of a person trying to tell a story; a person trying to connect with his or her audience.
That’s the beauty of poetry; it allows the poet and the reader to connect in a way that’s very difficult–if not impossible–with traditional prose. The economy of words dictated by poetry means that every word, every line break, every syllable, is important.
Picture books-in-verse have always been popular–so much so that many authors attempt (and fail miserably) at trying to create happy, perfect, rhyming texts. However, poetry novels–called novels-in-verse–have also become quite popular over the years. In addition to exposing readers to the beauty of language, these novels-in-verse also encourage reluctant readers to delve into the world of reading.
Here are a few novels-in-verse that I’d suggest taking a look at:
Street Love, by Walter Dean Myers
Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson
The Way a Door Closes, by Hope Anita Smith
A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson