Thursday, July 24, 2014

Remembering Walter Dean Myers for Poetry Friday

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! I can't believe it's the last Roundup of July... holy firecrackers, this month is disappearing. Be sure to visit Sylvia and Janet (and read their exciting PFA news!!) for Roundup.

What's up in my world? Well. Wonderful, wonderful things! Friday I am traveling to Gee's Bend, where I am giving the keynote for the 2nd of 6 quilting symposiums across the state organized by Alabama Folklife Association. I am beyond excited and thrilled and honored. After all I've written and all I've talked about my love for Gee's Bend, I've never given a talk IN Gee's Bend before! And the quilters will be there!! VERY excited.

I'm also excited to share with you some of my favorite poems by Walter Dean Myers. For a list of all his poetry books, be sure to see Sylvia's list at Poetry for Children. What a great resource. Thanks, Sylvia!

And now, the poems:

by Walter Dean Myers

Shout my name to the angels
Sing my song to the skies
Anoint my ears with wisdom
Let beauty fill my eyes

For I am dark and precious
And have such gifts to give
Sweet joy, sweet love,
Sweet laughter
Sweet wondrous life to live

(from BROWN ANGELS: An Album of Pictures and Verse by Walter Dean Myers)

My Child
by Walter Dean Myers

There is no  math between us
no sharp angles to measure the world
No history to define
Who we are
or might become

There is no language, no
Words to stir
the moment

Only a curve
in your smile
that somehow matches mine
a familiar glint of morning light
in your eyes

All this vagueness and the
exact art of sending love
across a small space

(from ANGEL TO ANGEL: A Mother's Gift of Love by Walter Dean Myers)

Ernest Scott, 26
by Walter Dean Myers

I stood on the tree of life
Mouth gaped wide
Sucking in the music of the crosstown breeze
When I had filled my lungs near bursting (Cullen, Hughes, Hurston)
I began my song, a black melody
Gathered from the several seas
Warmed by the mistral winds
Rhythmed by the slapping Congo tide

I stood tall on the tree of life
Rapt with wonder
Listening to the resonance of the project walls
I claimed ownership of the joyful noise (Baldwin, Wright, Du Bois)
I was the chorus, the doo-wop from dim halls
My words fogged the neon night
My rhymes tamed the thunder

(from HERE IN HARLEM: poems in many voices by Walter Dean Myers)


  1. Wonderful poems by Walter Dean Myers which leave me wanting more. Thank you for sharing these, Irene! and good luck with your presentation!

  2. Irene Latham, arriving here through Poetry Friday & made silent by the simple majesty of these selections. Your Sound Cloud reading is spot-on.
    So many lines of love here linger but I especially think -

    "My rhymes tamed the thunder"

    has such power to it.

    I would wish that many Ernest Scotts of today, could discover the power of their own poetry.
    Thank you for this important reading.

  3. You picked three wonderful poems here to represent the work of such a well-loved man. I melted with the words of "My Child".

  4. Thank you for sharing these. For the past several years my students have become entranced by "Mr. Walter Dean Myers" thanks to Sharon Creech's "Love that Dog." What a loss.

    I'm sharing today about using Poetry Friday in my classroom and have shared a student PowerPoint point.

  5. I have Brown Angels, and I love the poems and photographs. Thank you for sharing them Walter Dean Myers beautiful poems. Have a great time in Gee's Bend!

  6. Walter Dean Myers was a gem. The poems you selected are phenomenal, Irene. Thank you for sharing them today. And enjoy your talk in Gee's Bend! What a wonderful way to spend your weekend. = )

  7. Amazingly beautiful Walter Dean Myers poems...

  8. These are amazing, Irene. I especially love these lines: No words to stir the moment/Only a curve in your smile/That somehow matches mine...
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Holy firecrackers, indeed! What a terrific post, Irene!!

  10. Love the poems by WD Meyers! I'll have to look for more. Have a great time in Gee's Bend!

  11. Go well among the eyes, hands and quilts of Gee's Bend, Irene! And thank you for bringing Walter's work even more out into the open.

  12. I can't wait to hear about your presentation, Irene. Exciting! I was halfway through Walter Dean Myers' recent novel DARIUS AND TWIG when he died. It's not a novel in verse, but the book is filled with a poet's voice -- symbolism, metaphor, stories within stories.


Your thoughts?