“There is only one rule to follow when writing poetry: There are no rules!”
—Douglas Florian, author + artist
Springtime. Gotta love it! March 20 is the first day of the vernal equinox, otherwise known as the first day of spring. I’m pleased to report my daffodils are sprouting, already glimpsed my first robin, and ran in shorts ‘n t-shirt last week. April is around the corner and that means it’s almost Poetry Month, a 30-day celebration and opportunity to promote poetry. April is also a big month for my beloved Chicago marking opening day for the Cubs at Wrigley Field (11th) and the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field (8th).
When it comes to sports, poetry has been used to document events but also to inspire sports teams and encourage athletes. In other words, the art form of poetry can be used to motivate and bolster confidence. Trying to find a sports poetry book, I was feeling a little flustered when bam, outta left field I came across the picture book, POEM RUNS by Douglas Florian. An award-winning children’s book author and artist, Florian works across different mediums. Initially, what caught my eye was the baseball instead of the letter “O” in the title and the stunning primary colored illustrations, or rather, in this case, paintings. I was immediately drawn to the read aloud, rhythm of the fifteen short poems.
Turning the first few pages I silently whispered, please let this collection include images of girls who want to see themselves catching a pop fly or lunging for a line drive. I was not disappointed. I turned to “Our Slugger” and smiled at this verse, “Our slugger can zing / Each pitch you may hurl. / And one other thing: / Our slugger’s a girl.”
The artwork includes boys and girls, plus shows diversity. Since baseball was not (ahem, is not) my best sport I chuckled and could relate to the girl in “Right Fielder” who might be lazy, “But I know how / To pick a daisy.” Toward the end, “Poem Run” about the batter who smashes a hit and races home to write a poem to capture the moment inspired me. For April, in celebration of Poetry Month, I’ve jotted down a goal for myself: write three new sports poems.
Do you have a favorite sports poem? We'd like to hear from you, please feel free to share in the comments section below.
National Poetry Month - www.poets.org
30 Ways to Celebrate Poetry Month - www.poets.org/national-poetry-month
Poetry Month Activities - www.readwritethink.org
Scholastic: Poetry Writing with Jack Prelutsky - teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry
Favorite Poem Project - www.favoritepoem.org/teachers.html
About Douglas Florian