Do something different for Poetry Month! How about reading one of these YA books where poets and poetry play a pivotal role in the story:
Shadow and Poet are graffiti artists whose works are scattered throughout their industrial Australian town. Lucy, feeling a profound connection to Shadow’s paintings, has been searching unsuccessfully for this elusive street artist until she’s assisted one evening by former classmate, Ed. With alternating narratives from Lucy and Ed, and interspersed with poems by Leo (aka Poet, Ed’s best friend), Graffiti Moonlures readers along—not for the mystery of Shadow’s identity, but for Lucy’s reaction when she discovers the truth.
Teen Tuesday reviewed this last year and was intrigued by the portrayal of a teenaged Emily Dickinson who’s resourceful, daring and determined to uncover the identity of a murdered man. An historical fiction, a mystery and a biography rolled into one, Nobody’s Secret offers an unconventional introduction to Emily Dickinson’s work.
Another YA novel where Ms. Dickinson plays a pivotal part is Kate Burak’s Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things.Uprooted to Amherst, Massachusetts following her mother’s suicide and friend’s disappearance, Claire has more than enough to deal with as she repeats her senior year in high school. But her life becomes even more complicated when she takes Emily Dickinson’s dress from its museum home. Claire’s first person voice is witty and reflective and readers who check out this book will find not only a story of loss and longing, but an interesting missing person’s case to boot.
Quentin has spent most of his life in love with the girl next door: flamboyant, popular Margo Roth Spiegelman. But after a night spent helping Margo wreak vengeance on her frenemies, Quentin finds she’s disappeared the next morning. Following very cryptic clues, including an in depth examination of Walt Whitman’s poems, Quentin discovers that Margo might not be the girl he, or anyone else, thinks she is. As expected from a John Green novel, there is great dialogue between Quentin and his friends, a raucous road trip, and very understanding parents.
James Whitman definitely does not have understanding parents in Evan Roskos’ Dr Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets. In fact, his parents have thrown his older sister out of their home after she is expelled from school. Deeply depressed, anxious and worried for his beloved sister, James is self-aware enough to know he needs help and hope, one reason he embraces Walt Whitman’s poetic exuberance. Similar to Matthew Quick’s Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, both novels feature hurt and desperate young men struggling for acceptance.
Captured American pilot Rose Justice becomes a prisoner of war in Germany’s infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp during World War II . The daily horrors suffered by Rose and her fellow prisoners are graphically portrayed, as is the sliver of beauty Rose imparts to her friends through the songs and poems she’s memorized. Later, it is Rose’s own poetry that bears witness and stands as a testament to the friends she’s lost and the appalling conditions they endured. A companion novel, Rose Under Fire can be read alone but readers will lose the backstory of several characters first introduced in Code Name Verity. Both novels are riveting reads of heartbreaking courage.
Whether to make sense of the world around us, to express what might seem inexpressible, or to simply share the wonder of words, poetry plays a definitive role in the lives of the characters mentioned above. Explore their stories and put a little poetry in your life! And do feel free to share your own book recommendations in the comments.