Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rhyme Time with Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis

April is Poetry Month! Two renowned authors, Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis (current Children's Poet Laureate), teamed up to celebrate poetry by interviewing each other about their experiences as poets. Even better, they've done it in rhyme...

Jane Yolen:
So you say you're a poet,
So how do we know it?
Do you wear special clothes when you rhyme?
So, like how do you show it?
Do you go with the flow? It
can't mean that you rhyme all the time.

J. Patrick Lewis:
I rhyme for a nickle, I rhyme for a dime,
A penny, a quarter--it's strange.
I rhyme when I go to the grocery store.
I rhyme when I'm looking for change.

But I won't if I don't really feel like rhyming.
Sometimes words like playing around
On the horn in my mind or the drum on the page.
I sit back enjoying the . . . noise.

As for me, I've been rhyming before I could talk,
with a goo . . . and a gaa . . . and a waa.
I rhymed for my daddy, my uncles and aunts,
and especially rhymed for my Ma.

I began with real verse in rhymed couplets for school
when I was in first grade, I'm told.
(Though I must admit that I'm growing a bit,
Getting better as I have grown old.)

I did a long poem, all in rhyme, at thirteen,
an assignment about New York State.
A great rhyme for Otis, who made elevators,
and I did not turn it in late.

I won a Scholastic award for my verse
and the poetry prizes in college.
I sold my first poem to a real publication
before I'd amassed enough knowledge.

So--over to Pat, catch us up with your verse.
Do you think you're now better or now getting worse?
(To keep rhyming this way can be seen as a curse
Or a-musing.)

How can you write sonnets or epics if, Lordie,
You don't meet Ms. Prosody till you turn forty?!
Where was she hiding? My Pied Piper teacher
In third grade? In eighth grade? Dark mystical creature
To juggle me the noun and swivel me the verb,
To give me a special hat, Do Not Disturb:
The Boy in the Corner May Turn Out To Be
A Man of Outlandish Whimsicality.

Nowhere, I tell you, my wee muse had flown,
So I had to stumble ahead on my own.
My ear is improving, I'm glad to report.
I'm learning by doing this indoor sport.
Who knows? If I practice both day and night,
By flashlight and candle, I may get it right.

So the word from the experts, is just keep on moving.
The more that you do it, the more you're improving.
And whether you've rhymed from your childhood or dotage,
If you work at your poems, then you're sure to get quot-age.

Stay tuned for the upcoming release of Jane and Pat's next poetry collaboration, Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs, due out July 2012.