A favorite poem by Marilyn Singer

Hi everyone,

Marilyn SingerFor the past few days I’ve been selecting poems from collections I recently purchased at a Friends of the Library book sale in Springfield. Most of these are out of print now, a sad reminder that even the best books don’t remain in print forever. Today’s feature is a poem by Marilyn Singer. It’s selected from FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF, POEMS ABOUT THE EARTH, published in 2002 by Alfred A. Knopf and is metaphoric poem called “Dormant Dragons.”

As many of you know, Marilyn was chosen by National Council for Teachers of English for its 2015 Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Thank you, Marilyn, for granting permission to post your work here. I apologize for my inability to space lines on the blog the way they appear in the book. It’s a disservice to the poem but I have no tool to place lines where I might like them. I typed and spaced each line exactly as it appears in the book, and it looks that way on my blog page, until it goes to post, at which time all lines default to flush left. Part of the positive experience of a poem is in how it looks as well as what it says. Alas, you won’t get the full benefit here.

Dormant Dragons
by Marilyn Singer

Volcanoes there are that sleep
the sleep of dragons
With cool heads and hot bellies
they crouch
solid and still
where the earth meets the sky
Till something wakes them
Then furious they breathe fire and smoke
hot spittle and wrath
to burn and choke
whatever lies in their path
leaving in their wake
an odd treasure
of stone sponges and glass
and an occasional lake.

(c) by Marilyn Singer, all rights reserved

More favorite poems

Hi everyone,

Other enjoyable books of children’s poetry I bought recently at the Springfield Friends of the Library book sale include these titles.

Karla KuskinMOON, HAVE YOU MET MY MOTHER? the Collected Poems of Karla Kuskin, published by Laura Geringer Books, and imprint of HarperCollins in 2003. This is a 322 page volume so there’s a lot from which to choose, but one that especially appealed to me is on page 127. All the poems are untitled but this one is about summer heat and the opening line is “Heat, heat, heat.” What I like here is that you can almost feel the tortuously slow tedium and pounding heat of summer. Kuskin accomplishes this with her skillfully arranged cadence which draws out the lines, slowing the reading to fit the subject, and her selection of sounds that bring out the sweat with lines like “The flat, fat, hot of it.” If you haven’t read much Karla Kuskin poetry, here’s a chance to read a lot of it!
Marilyn Singer
Next on my stack of bargain purchases: FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF, POEMS ABOUT THE EARTH, by Marilyn Singer, published in 2002 by Alfred A. Knopf. One of many I like in this collection is a metaphoric poem called “Dormant Dragons.” When a poem begins, “Volcanoes there are that sleep/the sleep of dragons,” you know you’re in for an memorable experience in the hands of a master word crafter. As most of you know, Marilyn was chosen by National Council for Teachers of English for its 2015 Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.

Kalli DakosKalli Dakos’s book, MRS. COLE ON AN ONION ROLL, was published by Scholastic in 1995 and wound up in my stack of treasures. In this one we switch gears and enter the school yard, class, library, cafeteria, and all the rest the scene that constitutes the world of young students. Kalli is all about having fun so everything is possible, from eating Mrs. Cole on an Onion Roll to getting into trouble for painting a fellow student’s nose green. One that made me smile is called “YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and perfectly expresses, in two brief stanzas, not only how the student feels about passing a test but how the teacher feels as well.

If I receive permission to post any of the poems I mentioned, I’ll gladly do it. Some of these titles, perhaps most of them, are out of print. I hate it when something good goes out of print. Thank goodness for libraries and used book suppliers and garage sales and flea markets and inherited boxes of books!!