September 2, 2014

Subscribe to SLJ

Rich and Playful Voices: Marilyn Singer’s Favorite Poetry Collections

MarilynSinger Rich and Playful Voices: Marilyn Singer’s Favorite Poetry CollectionsIn our next installment in SLJ‘s weekly series celebrating National Poetry Month comes from Marilyn Singer, author of Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse (Dial, 2010), its companion Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems (Dial, 2013), plus more than a hundred other books in many genres, including The Superheroes Employment Agency (Clarion, 2012) and A Strange Place to Call Home (Chronicle, 2012). Here in her own words, Singer offers us five of her top poetry anthologies for kids.

As co-host of the “Poetry Blast,” a reading by children’s poets, I have had the good fortune to read and to hear poems read by a wealth of wonderful poets, so it’s hard to select my favorite books. But here are five that my bookshelves can’t do without:

Master of “shaped poems,” Arnold Adoff celebrates the blues and its origins, painful and hopeful, in the stellar book, Roots and Blues: A Celebration (Clarion, 2011). When a book of poems about music sounds like music, it makes me want to sing.

I’ve always liked Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology, with its multiple narrators and their varied stories. Walter Dean Myers creates this tapestry of characters with distinct voices and tales and places them in the vibrant locale of Harlem in his amazing Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices (Holiday House, 2004). Quite a feat!

I really appreciate poets who play with form. When I read Bob Raczka’s Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word (Roaring Brook, 2011), in which he takes a word and rearranges the letters to make new words that form a poem, I squealed with pleasure.

One of the best collections of poems about a single subject that I’ve ever come across is Alice Schertle’s How Now, Brown Cow? (Browndeer, 1994). How good is it?  Recently, Jane Yolen (another poet I greatly admire) and I, unbeknownst to each other, selected the same poem from it to illustrate how to write a perfect humorous poem!

I got introduced to Joyce Sidman’s poetry when I was one of the judges for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and I’ve loved her work ever since. That year, we selected the elegant Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems (Houghton Harcourt, 2005) as the winner.  It remains, for me, a classic example of wonderful poems combined with informative prose.”

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson ( is a former News Editor ofSLJ.



  1. A terrific selection, Marilyn (and an impossible task!)

  2. Thank you for these thoughtful and enticing recommendations, Marilyn. I look forward to reading the ones I’ve missed.