Review Detail

What Is Poetry?
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
WHAT IS POETRY: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO READING AND WRITING POEMS by Michael Rosen is a nonfiction, how-to book intended for a middle grade audience. In 190 pages, Rosen explores what poetry is and what it does in order to give a baseline understanding of it as an art form. He then lets readers into his brain as he shares his own thoughts during his creative process and finishes with technical information about the craft. It’s a pretty comprehensive guide and a perfect introduction into the world of poetry for anyone who may be intimidated by it or curious about how to both enjoy and create it themselves.

As someone who has read other books on poetry, I wasn’t sure how much I would get out of this one, particularly because it’s written for a younger audience. However, I learned many new writing tricks, such as how to show time passing slowly, how to approach nonsense poems, and how to find inspiration. I learned all this because Rosen makes poetry accessible. Oftentimes, adult books on poetry can be a bit lofty and pretentious, which makes poetry intimidating. Unfortunately, when poetry is reserved for the elite, it prevents many creative individuals from reading and writing it. Luckily, Rosen breaks down that barrier.

Overall, Rosen only scratches the surface in all there is to be learned both in reading and writing poetry, but his book is the perfect entry point for young minds, and really anyone. It could foster a great conversation in classrooms across America, as well as at home amongst families. I hope that this book will encourage more poetry events and the exploration and inclusivity of all poetry, such as that from Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, and others like them.

WHAT IS POETRY? asks us to form our own definition, not only with the title, but with the blank space in the back of the book. For me, poetry is an expression of the soul. It explains a situation or a feeling without having to provide answers, and Rosen captures that perfectly.
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