Friday, February 27, 2009


ORDINARY THINGS: POEMS FROM A WALK IN EARLY SPRING is not a new book. It was published in 1997. It is, however, one of my all-time favorite poetry books, and definitely my favorite book of spring poetry. It's been in the mid-50's all week in Colorado (well, ok, today was cold and windy) but most of the week it's been decidedly spring-ish. My teaching partner even saw crocuses when she was out walking on Wednesday night.  Even if you are in some place that is still cold and snowy, you could look for this book now, and have spring in your heart, while you are waiting for the real thing to appear.

ORDINARY THINGS, like most of Ralph's poetry books, is a series of poems, that kind of tell a story or follow a journey. In the first poem in this book, Ralph leaves his house to walk a large loop through the rural New Hampshire countryside. Each poem is about a different image along the way. Ralph has poems about daffodils, horses, birches, a fern, how  cut hair becomes part of a bird's nest, even one about an overturned Volkswagen beetle. Midway through the book, he rounds a big boulder and loops for home.  You could devour this book in one sitting, or you could just bite off one poem at a time. Either way, it's mudluscious!

Ralph's ability to create an image with just a few words is absolutely amazing. The poems are short and relatively simple, yet also incredibly deep. Ralph is a craftsman who uses language more capably than any one I know. His choice of words, and his metaphors are amazingly complex and beautiful, but also simple enough that kids can easily pick it up. 

I read this book to my fourth and fifth graders on Wednesday. I had only planned to read them two or three poems as an opening for class, but they begged for more, and we ended up spending about twenty minutes sharing poetry. Yesterday, as M (one of my hardest-to-focus fifth graders) burst through the door she said, "Are we going to do more poems by that guy?"

If you don't know Ralph's poetry books, check him out. He has six or seven other poetry books (HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE BEACH LATELY, RELATIVELY SPEAKING, and ROOM ENOUGH FOR LOVE) are some of my favorites. 

Happy Friday! Happy Poetry Friday! Happy Spring! Poetry Friday is here.

1 comment:

Mary Lee said...

"poems by THAT GUY"

I think Ralph would probably LOVE being "that guy!"