Friday, July 7, 2017

Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit new grandmother Carol at Beyond Literacy Link for Roundup. I am delighted to be in my regular writing spot this week after a month of adventures, including a Mediterranean cruise and setting up a lake house and writing and cello and and and...  reading!

Today I am happy to share with you selections from KEEP A POCKET IN YOUR POEM: Classic Poems and Playful Parodies written and selected by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrations by Johanna Wright. It's the third title I can think of this year that mixes classic poems with new... ONE LAST
WORD by Nikki Grimes and OUT OF WONDER by Kwame Alexander. A publishing trend, perhaps? Or just a coincidence?

KEEP A POCKET IN YOUR POEM, from WordSong, contains thirteen classics, and then Pat riffs on them in some way -- sometimes funny like "Stopping by Fridge on a Hungry Evening" after "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost, and sometimes inventive like "Winter Warmth" after "Winter Sweetness" by Langston Hughes. Fun!

Also, it's like a peek inside Pat's curio-cabinet mind, because we get to see what imaginative leaps he takes... for instance, how did Pat get from "The Eagle" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to "The Firefly"? From "hope is a thing with feathers" by Emily Dickinson to "grief is a thing with tissues" ? This would make for excellent conversation when sharing these poems as pairs with young readers. And of course it begs the question: what would YOU write about?

To give you a taste, I'd like to share two short pairs with you from the book -- and my own response-poem:

by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

by J. Patrick Lewis

The hail flies
on furious hooves.

It batters cars
and rooftops,
slamming anger,
an then melts away.


by Irene Latham

The frost hangs
by silken threads.

It spins
its shimmering web
to catch an early sun
and then swallows
it whole.

The lightning
The toad! It looks like
 it could belch
a cloud.

by Issa

The tiger! It looks like
the sun has been put
behind bars.

by J. Patrick Lewis
(and here is my effort, after BOTH poems!)

The Monarch! It looks like
it's been belched
by a tiger.

by Irene Latham

Read this book! You'll smile, and you'll be inspired. And of course, you are welcome to share your own response poems in comments!

And coming next week: Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday, and she's suggesting a mac-n-cheese theme in honor of National Macaroni and Cheese Day, which is July 14. Bring on the CHEESE! xo


  1. I love your idea of forming conversations with readers from the connections that are shown in this book. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Recently, when traveling I saw the poem, Fog, in a poetry garden. I was so touched to see it in a new place .... because my love for it began in an old place. Poetry connections are so strong for me. I really hope I can foster them in a new generation.
    I love your poems in the style of those written....hard to find a way to include the word "belch" in a poem. But, you did...and it's good and funny.

  2. Another book of poems to savor, Irene. I love that group after Issa! "belched by a tiger"! I'll not look at a monarch the same again! Thanks for sharing so much. I still haven't read this one!

  3. What a fun adventure. You always find a way to access your inner child. :-)

  4. What an inspiring post! Leave it to Pat Lewis to write a poem about hail! Here is my response to that poem, based on the view out my window this afternoon:

    The rain pours
    in silvery sheets.

    It drapes
    the field and forest
    with a glossy cloak
    that will dissolve in the sun.

    Thank you for sharing, Irene!

  5. I'm grinning from ear to ear, Irene! These are truly wondrous words. I especially like your "Frost" poem. Glad you have returned home safely!

  6. One Last Word is AMAZING. So glad to see your poems alongside the masters that inspired it!

  7. My favorite is your poem, Frost. It's such a perfect image! This is another book to put on my list. Such inspiration!

  8. Thanks for sharing these three intriguing books, along with the poems Irene. The imagery is wonderful in your poem, "Frost" I love the personification used in Carl Sandburg, J. Patrick Lewis, and your poem.

  9. Irene, I am thrilled to see another fabulous book by J. Patrick Lewis. He is one of my favorite contemporary poets and is always so gracious to provide a poem for my galleries. The poems you provided are all delightful.
    Tonight when I came home from the wake, my son and I came upon a grouping of fireflies. I was so mesmerized by their twilight dance that I asked my son to try and catch one. This poem evolved from that encounter.

    Twilight’s Fairy

    The firefly rises
    on flashes of light.

    It sparkles luminously
    over green blades
    on silent wings
    and then flits away.

    Thanks for sparking my thoughts into a poem, Irene.

  10. This book sounds like a rich classroom resource --one that would, as you note, spark lots of conversation and potentially inspire lots of poetry writing. Thanks for sharing your inspired efforts--they're wonderful! I agree with Linda--I'll never look at a monarch the same way again!

  11. What fun! I'm leading a writing club for kids at the library this fall, and this sounds like a really fun activity to do with my older writers - it makes poetry so much more accessible and meaningful when you can interact with it and converse like this!

  12. Clever you to notice this marketing trend. I think Pat's might be the one most accessible to younger children. It will be fun to use this year!

  13. Loved your responses to the poems for Pat's book! Also loved all three books mentioned. Three books on a similar trend. Didn't notice that until you mentioned it. These are nice books to use for teaching kids. Have them write their own responses. :-)

  14. The thought processes behind the poems intrigue me. Thanks for letting us get a peek at yours!

  15. Love these playful poem trios!


Your thoughts?