Relax and be Inspired with Imaginative Poetry

By Lee Littlewood

April 6, 2018 5 min read

Poetry has always soothed, motivated and resonated with readers. These new collections, perfect for celebrating April's Poetry Month, are aimed at young people but will satisfy all ages.

"Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners" by Naomi Shihab Nye; HarperCollins; 190 pages; $17.99.

"What if we could hear the voices in the air?" begins this engaging tribute to the diverse voices of the past and present. "What if we could hear their wisdom and their joy? Their regrets and inspirations? Their stories?" Naomi Shihab Nye makes it happen, with 100 thoughtful poems from artists, writers, poets, historical figures, luminaries and even ordinary people. With short informational bios about the figures behind each poem, "Voices in the Air" is a fully layered, completely absorbing tribute to the words that have the power to provoke, lead and give us hope.

Poets and non-poetic contributors include Langston Hughes and Thomas Edison, Bruce Springsteen, Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou and Doris Duke, to name but a very few. Some of the poems are quite timely, from "Little Brother Shot Playing with a Pistol" to "Getaway Car. United States. 2017," and are strengthening and motivating.

"The Horse's Haiku" by Michael J. Rosen; illustrated by Stan Fellows; Candlewick Press; 48 pages; $17.99.

With flowing, evocative watercolors from Stan Fellows, "The Horse's Haiku" looks nearly as grand and lovely as do the majestic animals it clearly loves. Poet Michael J. Rosen notes that haiku is an interaction between a writer and a reader, and that a similar relationship exists between a rider and horse — that they share a language that permits their profound partnership. The horse haiku here is specific and carefully chosen, and captures the strength, nobility and grace of these beautiful creatures.

From what it feels like to gallop on a horse or feed one an apple — "pausing to flatten your fingers before horse teeth/ seize the apple slice/above the fence rails/felt-soft muzzle, snuffled puffs/lips flutter your palms," — "Horse Haiku" is a gorgeous picture book for horse and haiku lovers, and those who appreciate the natural world.

"World Make Way" edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins; Abrams; 48 pages; $14.99.

Based on Leonardo da Vinci's simple statement — "Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen" — 18 poets have written new poems inspired by some of the most viewed artwork at the Metropolitan Museum. With Mary Cassatt's "Young Mother Sewing," 1900, Rebecca Kai Dotlich weaves a lovely two paragraph poem about blue breezes and cornflowers and lovely imagery, such as "mama threads light rain stitching my name into air." With Oide Toko's cover-worthy painting of "Cat Watches a Spider," Julie Fogliano muses, "so silent and certain/a spider/can cause/a watchful and wondering cat/to pause. All prowl and prance/and teeth and claws."

An innovative yet obvious marriage of two of life's best pleasures — art and poetry — "World Make Way" captures ears as well as eyes, for all ages.

"Jabber-Walking" by Juan Felipe Herrera; Candlewick Press; 137 pages; 14.99 paperback; $22.99 hardcover.

The son of migrant farmworkers, Juan Felipe Herrera penned over 30 books and poetry and was appointed the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States in 2015. His huge, bold, exciting collection of short stories and modern, funny and thought-provoking poems with varying text sizes and scribbly sketches is based on Lewis Carroll's "The Jabberwocky."

Herrera begins by describing a dog walk as he prepares for the meetings as Poet Laureate in Washington, D.C., and that he washes Lotus's paws because he doesn't "want her to gobble all the creepy, creepy, creepy things hanging from her spud-pads and claws." He then nearly frantically delves into the fast world of jabberwalking as a theme in everything he and readers do, especially walking fast and writing fast.

Reluctant readers and fans of hilarity and imaginative run-ons will love Herrera's mind-spinning book, which is sure to inspire creativity.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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