Friday, April 06, 2012

Bob Raczka - What Is Poetry?

What Is Poetry?
Bob Raczka

poetry is about taking away the words that you don’t need
poetry is taking away words you don’t need
poetry is words you need
poetry is words

© Bob Raczka. All rights reserved.

One of my absolutely favorite things about putting together 30 Poets/30 Days is when the poets involved send me multiple poems to let me chose what works best. I'm like a kid in a candy shop! The downside comes because I have to pick one, and that is REALLY hard when someone like Bob Raczka sends four pieces of brilliance. I truly could have run any one of them and gushed about how he must not only sees the world differently in order to come up with what he comes up with but how he also has the ability to help us see the world his way. That's a remarkable talent.

I first got to know Bob Raczka's work through his Art Adventure series of books. Those books are a kind of visual poetry, as far as I'm concerned, but they don't give insight into what he's capable of with words alone. Guyku (with Peter H. Reynolds supplying the art) was the book for me that made me stand up and take notice of his gift with poetry. And then last year's Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word simply blew me away in much the same way as Marilyn Singer's Mirror Mirror did - fantastic execution of an idea that seems impossible in concept yet, when you're reading the book, you no longer are even thinking of the constraints involved. Impressive stuff, indeed, and just one of the reasons I'm so happy to have Bob Raczka here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

It's the first Poetry Friday roundup of National Poetry Month! Head on over to Robyn Hood Black's blog to see all the good stuff going on in the Kidlitosphere today, poetry-wise. 

Yesterday, Mary Quattlebaum brought us Earthworms. Tomorrow... Sea Star by Liz Brownlee! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.


Liz Brownlee said...

Oooh - I am now a fan. LOVE that poem! Michael Rosen does something similar in his live poetry shows where he takes a work and removes a letter and recites the removals - it's very funny!

tanita✿davis said...

Oh, now I like this.
Revisions are a lot like this for me, but I am not then left with one pithy word which expresses all else so well. Would that I was!

Tabatha said...

Crazy about this poem! Thanks.

skanny17 said...

This is a good one!
I will share this poem with my students as soon as I see them again. Can't wait to read more of his work. Thank you for introducing us! .......Janet

Linda B said...

And just as you had trouble choosing your favorite of his poems, we all have such a challenge choosing the words to take away. That is one of the biggest lessons for me and for my students-we do love our words. Thanks for a perfect lesson in 31 words (counting the title, too).

Betsy Hubbard said...

Love the encouragement shared through a poem. Great books and I too am now a fan!

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Yes, I Love this poem!
Yes, love it!

Charles Waters said...

Luvs me some B.R. and after reading his stuff who doesn't? "Not many" said I.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Thanks to both of you! ...already a big fan of Bob Raczka's innovative work and look forward to whatever he conjures up next.

Mary Lee said...

I just picked up Austin Kleon's NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT poem book, and I am going to give his reductive form another try this year. This poem is the PERFECT inspiration!

Tara said...

What fun. This obviously takes some thinking, but the process looks like something my sixth graders will love and learn from.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Wow. Less really is more.
Looking forward to looking back to April 1.

Ruth said...

How fun! Thanks for the introduction to this poet. I am going to check out the Guyku book as well.

Cathy said...

Something I always need to remember.
Something I need to remember.
Something to remember.

BeckyK said...

I have a copy of Lemonade and will be reading with my son today. Thanks for the motivation!

Amy LV said...

Copying this one into my notebook! How much a great poet can teach with so few words...many thanks! a.

Rita said...


I've been meaning to check out Lemonade, and other poems squeezed from a single word for a while. This poem got me to do it. Double thanks!!

David LaRochelle said...

So wonderfully clever!

I wish I was still teaching fourth grade as I would love to share Michael's LEMONADE book with a class of ten-year-olds and see what they could come up with.

Tricia said...

Yeah, this one is now posted above my desk. It's become my daily inspiration.

Thanks, Bob! And thanks Greg for this monumental effort.