2008 Poetry Finalists

America at War
illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Simon & Schuster

The poems in the anthology are not about war itself, but about the emotions related to warfare. The anthology is focused on the poetry of war, and the 54 poems inside the book are separated into eight sections, beginning with poems related to the Revolutionary War and concluding with poems about the war in Iraq. . . . Some classic poems are used in unexpected ways, including a portion of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake and Langston Hughes’s poem, ‘Dreams.’ More than half of the poems were commissioned for the book and are by contemporary poets.” Excerpted from panelist Kelly Fineman’s review of the book.

written by Naomi Shihab Nye

As panelist Bruce Black said in an online review “Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry and prose poems in Honeybee, her newest collection, will draw readers to the page as surely as bees are drawn to nectar to start the honey-making process. . . . These poems are both valiant protest against a world intent on destroying the goodness and beauty contained within it, and, at the same time moving paeans to the beauty and potential sweetness contained in the world, if only we take the time to open our eyes to see it.”

Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures
written by Julie Larios
illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Larios creates “many poems celebrating a handful of creatures from a mythological world [using] spare, concise poems with rhythms and imagery which stir the imagination,” as panelist Julie Danielson pointed out. “Larios infuses the poems with a real sense of mystery and reverence, drawing in the reader with what Publishers Weekly called (in their review of the similarly-formatted Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary, 2006) her ‘near rhymes.'”

More than Friends: Poems from Him and Her
written by Sara Holbrook
and Allan Wolf
Boyds Mills Press

This collection of poems in a variety of forms from sonnets to free verse, and more, is essentially a dialogue between a teen guy and a teen girl. As Bruce Black commented during our discussions, “MORE THAN FRIENDS pulled me into the life of the two characters immediately, too. From the first line… I was inside the voice on the page, inside the character.” Panelist Laura Purdie Salas concurred, noting the terrific audience appeal of this collection.

On the Farm
written by David Elliott
and Holly Meade
Candlewick Press

As panelist Elaine Magliaro said in her review of this book earlier in the year,
“This large-format book contains twelve poems about animals commonly found on a farm: rooster, cow, pony, dog, sheep, barn cat, goat, pig, bees, bull, and two reptiles-turtle and snake. . . . Elliott’s rhyming poems, for the most part, are simple and straightforward – but he does include figures of speech in some. For example, the pig’s tail is ‘As coy as a ringlet.’ The snake ‘coils/in the/garden/like a/ spring…'”

–Kelly Fineman, organizer