January 12 – Poetry at Work Day

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka picture book review

About the Holiday

Sometimes your work in school, in the office, outside, or at home inspires you to translate what you’re doing into writing. What better way to express the fun—and folly—of homework, room cleaning, report writing, lunchtime, tests, and all the work that makes up a day than in a poem?! To celebrate today’s holiday try to put the rhythms of your work into poetry! 

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

By Bob Raczka

 

When you envision a poem in your head, what do you see? A block of lines? A square or a rectangle? Well, sweep that image from your mind because in Bob Raczka’s Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems, verses become actions, objects, puzzles, and natural phenomena. Not only are the poems shaped to illustrate their theme, the titles use clever imagery as well.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wet-cement-a-mix-of-concrete-poems-hopscotch

Text and image copyright Bob Raczka, courtesy of Roaring Brook Press

As you encounter the poem hanger you’ll see that “han” has broken away and is dangling from the hook of g in “ger.” The words of the poem itself are shaped like a hanger and contain a giggle-invoking twist: “I hang out in blue jeans and comfy old shirts. I hang out in blouses and long frilly skirts. I hang out in sport coats and sweaters and shawls. I even hang out with no clothes on at all!”

You might want to get your baseball mitt out before you read homer, in which the first line zooms straight as a pitch and the second—written backwards and at an upward angle—soars like a homerun hit: “The pitcher hurls his hummer toward the slugger squeezing lumber CRA / CK! The slugger slams the hummer toward the bleachers for a homer.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wet-cement-a-mix-of-concrete-poems-takeoff

Text and image copyright Bob Raczka, courtesy of Roaring Brook Press

But don’t put that mitt away just yet! You may need to catch the o, which has escaped from the title p p-up. And if you’ve ever played t-ball, baseball, softball, or even wiffleball, you’ll cringe in recognition of this short but pointed poem.

The sky darkened by night in Dipper and by clouds in Lightning holds two poems expressing very different thoughts. In the title Dipper, the second p has floated to the top of the page where it hangs like a miniature reflection of the dipper-shaped poem, which reads: “Way down there on earth you hold firefly jars, filled up to their lids with light. Up here in the sky, I’m a vessel of stars, my brim overflowing with night.” In the title LIGHTNING, the L strikes the I to create the familiar jagged crack echoed in the shape of the verse: “from a bad mood sky, / tears, / then a jag- / ged slash- / ing flash of anger, / ear- / splitting, / obnoxious, / a cloud tantrum”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wet-cement-a-mix-of-concrete-poems-eracer

Text and image copyright Bob Raczka, courtesy of Roaring Brook Press

Any writer will love poeTRY which is such a clever take on the word as well as the revision and editing process:

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

poetry is taking away words you don’t need

poetry is words you need

poetry is words

try”

Put simply, Bob Raczka’s concrete poems will make you smile. Even more than that, you’ll find yourself wanting to carry this book around, saying “Look at this!” to everyone you meet. Raczka calls these poems “word paintings”—because a poet “uses words like colors to paint pictures inside your head.” If creativity is the talent to present the world in new and surprising ways, making connections that enhance life, then Wet Cement is creativity at its best!

Wet Cement: a Mix of Concrete Poems is one poetry book that belongs on your child’s bookshelf! The combination of subjects, expression, and images will make it an often-read favorite.

Ages 5 – 9 and up (adults will enjoy these poems as much as kids)

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1626722361

Discover a full bookshelf of books by Bob Raczka on his website!

Poetry at Work Day Activity

CPB - Pocket Poem Craft

Pocket Poem Carrier

 

Choose a part of your school or work day and write a poem about it. You can even try writing a concrete poem to give more shape to your thoughts! Then make this pocket poem carrier so you can tote your favorite poem with you to show your friends and family—today and every day!

Supplies

  • An old pair of pants or shorts with back pockets
  • A decorative shoelace
  • Thread or fabric glue
  • Needle
  • Paper
  • Your favorite poem or a poem you write yourself
  • Pen

Directions

  1. Cut one back pocket out of an old pair of pants or shorts, including the back of the pocket
  2. Use the shoelace at its full length or cut to desired length
  3. Inside each edge of the pocket sew or glue the ends of the shoelace to make a strap
  4. Print your favorite poem on the paper
  5. Insert the poem into the pocket poem carrier
  6. Take your poem with you and share it with your friends!

Picture Book Review

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