Poetry Friday: A River of Words

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We continue our study of William Carlos Williams. This biography of him by Jen Bryant was a 2009 Caldecott Honor Book. Bryant manages to tell his story in a way that is interesting and accessible and at the same time somehow echoes the beauty of his poetry.

On his prescription pads, he scribbled a few lines
whenever and wherever he could.
In those precious times,
the rhythm of the river he has rested beside
as a child seemed to guide him. Like the water
that sometimes ran slow, smooth and steady,
and other times came rushing in a hurried flood,
Willie’s lines flowed across the page.

The text is accompanied by visually stunning mixed-media collage illustrations by Melissa Sweet. Sweet is fast becoming one of my favorite illustrators (Balloons Over Broadway, The Boy Who Drew Birds, Jane Yolen’s Baby Bear books). The end of this book includes a note where she talks about the process of making these illustrations. She ended up using old book endpapers as the foundation for her collages. The illustrations often have Williams’ poetry woven into the collage which is a visual representation of the idea of a river of words flowing through Williams’ life.

Related Links:
Melissa Sweet’s website: Homeschoolers take note, there are several activity pages/study guides to go along with some of her books.

A William Carlos Williams tribute by Roger Ebert. Contains a dazzling array of visual responses to his famous poem The Red Wheelbarrow, including many YouTube videos.

The poem In a Motel Parking Lot, Thinking of Dr. Williams by Wendell Berry and finally,  a link to a book about Williams by Berry. 

 Poetry Friday is hosted this week at The Opposite of Indifference.

4 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A River of Words

  1. Amy @ Hope Is the Word

    Wendell Berry? Melissa Sweet? Caldecott? All this name-dropping! Some of my favorites! I’ll definitely be checking out this book and coming back when time permits to check out your links!

  2. Susan Taylor Brown

    This book is one of my go-to favorites to share with new and intimidated poets. It makes it seem so much more accessible.

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