Friday, January 19, 2018

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets (by Kwame Alexander)

Author: Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth

Illustrator:  Ekua Holmes

Target Ages:  8 and up

Genre: Poetry Anthology

Publisher Summary:  Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. 

Favorite Poem:

Celebrating Maya Angelou

into the wonder
of daybreak.

Be a rainbow in the cloud.
Be a free bird on the back of the night wind.
Shine on, honey!

Walk with joy in your golden feet
over crystal seas
and purpled mountains.

Know your beauty
is a thunder
your precious heart unsalable.

Be brave,
Like a new seed bursting
with extraordinary promise.

Shine on, honey!
Know you
are phenomenal.

            --Kwame Alexander

Out of Wonder:  Poems Celebrating Poets is an eclectic collection of poems ranging in style and theme.  Spanning the world and history, a variety of voices and poetic styles are included.

Part I celebrates the poetic style of writers like e.e. Cummings, Basho’, Langston Hughes, and Robert Frost.  For instance, Basho’ wrote Haikus.  “Contemporary Haiku,” a celebration of his poetry, is written in Haiku stanzas.  Langston Hughes is known for his rhythm and rhyming couplets.  “Jazz Jive Jam” is composed to mimic those features.

In the next section, Part II, the poems incorporate the feelings and themes of the poets.  Pablo Neruda’s poems focus on the natural world.  The poem dedicated to him, “The Music of the Earth,” contains beautiful lines like “where my words linger and accumulate like rocks blurring in the cold rain.”  Similarly, Judith Wright work is concerned with nature as well as Aboriginal land rights.  “Tambourine Things” pays homage to these motifs with phrases, such as “Remember that the shadows once belonged to the elders” and “Hold the relic to your ear; listen to the ancient silence.”   

Finally, Part III shares “with the world—in words—how awesome [the authors] feel about the poet and the poem.”  Many favorites are celebrated here—Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Rumi, Maya Angelou, and more. 
Ekua Holmes’ vibrant illustrations add to the splendor and allure of each poem.  The colors are rich and bold.  Her mixed media layered collages bound off the page, complimenting and extending the motifs and meaning of the poems.

The book ends with biographical information for each featured poet.  It includes basics on their inspiration, motifs, and style.  Clearly, this book is a must-have for teachers.  The format and poems encourage imaginative exploration of the authors and poetry, making it ideal for poetry units or creative writing. 

I highly recommend Out of Wonder:  Poems Celebrating Poets.

Activities and Extension Ideas:


  1. Looks wonderful. I'm adding it to my list. Such a long list. But so many good things on it.

    1. I have the same "problem." A very long list of books I want to read! :)

  2. It is a beautifully crafted book. I'm glad you shared!

  3. I think this isn't too young to buy for my middle school library. What do you think?

    1. I think it actually geared more for middle and high school. It is ideal for educators teaching about poetry, writing poetry, or studying poets.

  4. I'm with Brenda--the to-be-read list is getting longer by the minute!

  5. That Hue and Cry page is spectacular! Grace and poise and style and flair. How lovely to see Judith Wright included, also.

  6. I've been wanting to read this book since I first heard of it. Your review makes me want to read it even more. It does look like a celebration of poets.


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