Magazine article American Libraries

Finding Reason for Rhyme: Well-Versed Adolescents Are Rocking Libraries

Magazine article American Libraries

Finding Reason for Rhyme: Well-Versed Adolescents Are Rocking Libraries

Article excerpt

How do youth services departments celebrate National Poetry Month? One could count the ways that librarians encourage young patrons to

understand and delight inverse. Libraries have helped sponsor Poetry Out Loud competitions, drawing, organizers say, on teens' enthusiasm for the spoken culture of slam poetry and the rhymes of hip-hop, to develop familiarity with the words and cadences of writers ranging from Sherman Alexie to Edna St. Vincent Millay and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

They have hosted poetry readings and visits from state poets laureate. They have promoted ideas about writing via library websites and authors who appeal to young readers in their programming. Something of the depth and breadth of librarians' work this month is revealed by a glimpse at distinctive local projects that suggest different things about the value of poetry in libraries.

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An endeavor that caught my attention is underway at Jackson County (Oreg.) Library, where five youth services staff and more than 60,000 participants in summer reading programs were affected last year by a six-month closure resulting from a tax shortfall (AL, Nov. 2007, p. 23-24). Janis Mohr-Tipton of the Central Point and Ruch branches says that in 2008 one of the first fundraisers in the works to boost service hours is selling a book of verse written by area youth.

"It's the very beginning of an idea I hope will come to fruition," Mohr-Tipton explained. "It's kind of a homespun thing." Submissions have begun to trickle in, and the project will unfold over the next several months. "I'm going to be going to schools to promote summer reading programs, and I'll promote it there," she said.

Poetry may ultimately allow JCL to meet its own needs as well as foster young people's artistic strivings. Verse has also provided an enduring outlet at Skokie (Ill.) Public Library, where the annual teen poetry contest is now in its ninth year. …

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