Friday, December 26, 2008

What Makes a Poem a Poem?: Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

Creech, Sharon. Love that Dog. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

Jack struggles to write poetry. Even when he writes a poem, he's not sure that it is a poem. He also worries if his poems are any good. He doesn't want his teacher to put his name on his work when she posts it on the bulletin board. Here's an excerpt from Love That Dog:

Maybe the wheelbarrow poet
was just
making a picture
with words
someone else--
like maybe his teacher--
typed it up
and then people thought
it was a poem
because it looked like one
typed up like that.

And maybe
that's the same thing
that happened with
Mr. Robert Frost.
Maybe he was just
making pictures with words
about the snowy woods
and the pasture--
and his teacher
typed them up
and they looked like poems
so people thought
they were poems (22-23).

Jack makes a valid point. How can anyone really know what makes a poem a poem? Who decides? I think Jack eventually comes to the conclusion that the writer decides.

What I thought: This was a fantastic book! It was a very fast read. I read it in 30 minutes. I really loved hearing Jack's voice come out through his poems. The premise (writing poetry in a classroom setting) reminded me a lot of Jacqueline Woodson's Locomotion. Creech's book would be great to use to introduce kids to poetry. As a poet, I find myself struggling with the same issues that Jack does. I sometimes look at my poems and ask, "What makes this a poem?" I suppose I do as I'm the one who wrote it and dared to call it poetry.

1 comment:

ttulizzy said...

I love this book! I am reading Hate that Cat by Creech right now.