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This is a list of my favorite series for older children and younger adults in the realm of magic, other realities, and the richly imagined. All of these books are fantastic, many are deeply poetic, and I recommend them for all ages — I can re-read them anytime, always with wonder and fascination.
The Sea of Trolls trilogy, Nancy Farmer, 2004-2009. Along with The Land of the Silver Apples and The Islands of the Blessed, this is a brilliant quest adventure of Norsemen and berserkers, slaves, gods and ogres — an exciting, exquisitely detailed world half legend and half fantasy, complete with humor and longing and even philosophy, that should be high up in the canon of children’s and young adult literature. (Note for locals: Farmer is an Arizona native who lives in the Chiricahua Mountains. She’s won plenty of awards, but still deserves to be far, far more widely read.)
The Worlds of Chrestomanci, Diana Wynne Jones, 1977-2006. A seven-book series about a multiverse peopled by a charming cast of relatable, endearing magical characters. Written by one of the world’s all-time finest fantasy writers, the British Wynne Jones, who wrote dozens of wonderful novels and short-story collections — of which I’ve devoured almost all — before she died just a couple of years ago. Wynne Jones’ books sparkle with vigor and wit.
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman, 1995-2000. This excellent fantasy trilogy for young adults, beginning with The Golden Compass, is in fact, like most of the books on this list, for all ages. Gorgeous and almost infinitely memorable, it’ll stay with you for the rest of your life, I predict, once you fall in love. There’s also a movie.
The busy Wordplay elves will be closing up shop for the holidays. But not to worry: we'll be back in early January with an exciting Spring line-up of Recommended Reading lists, Reading Series in the Classroom posts, Voca posts, Guest Bloggers, Family Days writing, interviews, and much more. Stay tuned! And, in the meantime, have a safe and happy holiday season.
Photo by Cybele Knowles
The Poetry Center’s Matinee program now brings poetry readings to schools. Local poets and authors, in addition to poets who have traveled to Tucson to participate in the Poetry Center’s Reading Series, are available to read and discuss their writing with middle and high school students. More than 1000 writers have read or lectured in the series, including most major contemporary U.S. poets, significant international visitors, and emerging artists. The following poets are available for upcoming visits.
Spring 2013 semester: Rebecca Seiferle, Tucson Poet Laureate, author of four books of poetry, and translator of Cesar Vallejo. Read her work here and here.
Fall 2013 semester: Eduardo C. Corral, author of Slow Lightning, winner of the Yale Younger Series Poets Prize. Read his work here.
To reserve a matinee performance by one of the poets above, contact Renee Angle at email@example.com. Please include the name of the poet you are interested in hosting, your school name and grade, and subject you teach. Interested teachers and schools are served on a first come, first serve basis. Each poet will make one visit to one school. Most poet visits are ideal for middle and high school groups. For more infomation, please visit our Matinee page.
With winter upon us, what better way to celebrate the chilly weather than with some snow poems? Check out these wonderful poems about snow, written by students at past Family Days events at the Poetry Center. Snuggle up, get some hot cocoa, and enjoy!
Snow, Snow Wonderful Snow
Snow, snow wonderful
snow. Listen to the silence,
of the wonderful snow
falling over the town,
over the icy pond, on the
mountains over the valley.
Between midnight and
daylight. Little tiny icy gems
Glitter falling from the sky.
Today, we're featuring the writing of our guest blogger, Eleanor Allen-Henderson. Eleanor was a volunteer this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing Camp. She has graciously agreed to share her writing with us. Below is one of her stories.
Ice Cream Dreams
This bite is about dreams
Reba Trimbolli knew from a young age that she was an ice cream girl. She lived in Tucson all her life and the many years she had suffered under the scorching heat has given her true appreciation for the cold treat. In fact, to this day, she remembers the moment she fell in love. The pavement was hot and the sunset maintained a look that was both beautiful and passive aggressive, threatening the smoldering descent of sun and expansiveness of sky. She had gotten a cone from a little shack, and the operator turned to her, said not a word, turned back and returned with what appeared to be some kind of chocolate. He explained it was a homemade creation of chocolate, three types of nuts, and the slightest hint of cherry. As she bit into the cold, she was overcome with the joy of chocolate. And that was it. Love.
Maybe it’s the cliché poet soul-disturbance, but I could hardly find a happy winter poem. One, called “Winterpig” by Denise Levertov, is the only celebratory poem of winter, or the holidays, or the cold, that I discovered. Most are ominous, like John Haines’ immensely deep voice, making the cold months of December and January feel daunting -- not like the Tucson 70 degree days we seem to enjoy in Southern Arizona.
In spirit of the gratefulness and compassion we share in the holidays, I will now share with you poems that have nothing to do with those emotions. Most of these works are extremely short, making me think that perhaps all these poets just want winter to be over -- I can’t blame them, it’s difficult to write with chilled fingers..
I guess I need a little help this month, what are some fun winter poems you have found on Voca?
Most of his poems from Winter News do, indeed, deal with winter. The wild, cold, natural winter. Cozy up to a real wood fire, a quilt, and indulge your ears in this disturbingly low, smooth, voice.
Today, we're featuring the writing of our guest blogger, Eleanor Allen-Henderson. Eleanor was a volunteer this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing Camp. She has graciously agreed to share her writing with us. Below is one of her stories. Keep an eye out for more writing from Eleanor in the next month.
The bamboo wood, supporting the wall of glass, didn’t feel trusted. Bamboo wasn’t enough for Walls and there was Steel, outlining its every crevice. Bamboo wasn’t sure whether to be relieved of the weight or disheartened that it could not bear the weight of lives. Bamboo speculated people are like that too.
The Poetry Center's 13th annual Corrido Contest deadline is fast approaching this Friday, December 7th at 5 p.m. (this is a postmark deadline). All Arizona high school students (grades 9-12) are encouraged to apply by writing corridos in Spanish and/or English. For resources on teaching corrido in the classroom, visit our Teaching Corrido page. To enter this year's Corrido Contest, please click here.
With the Corrido contest deadline fast approaching, Wordplay had a chance to sit down with one of last year's Corrido winners--Jamie Navarrette--and ask her about her Corrido contest experience. Jamie was a freshman when she won third place in the Corrido contest last year. She is now a sophomore at Sunnyside High School. Check out our interview with her, as well as her winning corrido, below.
WP: When did you first hear about the Corrido contest? Were you familiar with the corrido form prior to the contest?
JN: I heard about the Corrido Contest from my Spanish teacher; it was an assignment for class. I knew what a corrido was, but I didn't know there was a contest about it.
WP: Who/what inspired you to write your corrido titled, "Corrido Terminado?"
JN: My Mom helped me and encouraged me along the way. But I had gone through so many ideas, and none of them worked, so I decided to write about how I couldn't write a corrido.
Today, we're featuring the writing of our guest blogger, Eleanor Allen-Henderson. Eleanor was a volunteer this past summer at the Poetry Center's annual Creative Writing Camp. She has graciously agreed to share her writing with us. Below is one of her stories. Keep an eye out for more writing from Eleanor in the next few months!
A burst of color smattered across her face. And by her, I mean my. I don’t mean to be so loud, but sometimes, my interest speaks louder than volumes, and what I feel is not quite equitable to words. So one day, they ask you, “What is Eleanor?” To which you reply, “Eleanor is a burst of color across my eyelids, and she’s never quite predictable, but sometimes she jumps just to get the point across. To say Eleanor, one is to say dancing of hands and the light of her eyes, brimming with all the things she cannot wait to say.” But this is just the capacity to which you know me.
Every year, the Poetry Center holds their annual Corrido Contest. The corrido is a musical ballad form developed in Mexico in the 1800s and originally sung throughout the country. Although still popular in Mexico, over time it became known as “musica de la frontera” (border music) because it was especially popular along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. This contest for high school students encourages historical and cultural awareness and provides students with a vehicle to express themselves. All Arizona high school students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to apply by writing corridos in Spanish and/or English. For resources on teaching corrido in the classroom, visit our Teaching Corrido page. To enter in this year's corrido contest, please check out our website; the deadline for this year's contest is Friday, December 7th by 5 p.m.
With the Corrido contest deadline fast approaching, Wordplay had a chance to sit down with one of last year's Corrido winners--R.J. Mendoza--and ask him about his Corrido contest experience. Check out our interview with him below.
WP: How did you (and your family) re-act when you found that, out over 400 submissions, your Corrido was award second place?
RM: We were really surprised. After I got the call saying that I had wond second place, I called up my parents and we started telling everyone.
WP: When did you first hear about the Corrido contest? Who encouraged you to enter?
RM: I head about the Corrido contest about a month or so before the due date. I was looking on the Phoenix Library College depot site and found it in their scholarship list. My parents saw the scholarship as well and encouraged me to enter, throwing ideas as to what I could write about.