Dark Emperor by Joyce Sidman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
Newbery Honor Book, 2011, and a host of additional awards
For Poetry Friday (and checking off another title for Gathering Books’ Award-Winning Book Challenge), I’m highlighting Dark Emperor & other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman. Since I love Sidman’s poetry collections Song of the Water Boatman (a Caldecott Honor Book) and Butterfly Eyes, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.
Sidman says this collection is the third in a trilogy of books she wanted to write about places that were important to her pond, meadow, and now woods. Since the dark night was always a bit scary to her as a child, Dark Emperor’s poems explore the plants and creatures who are at home in the night woods.
One of my favorites is “Oak After Dark.”
As nighttime rustles at my knee,
I stand in silent gravity
and quietly continue chores
of feeding leaves and sealing pores.
While beetles whisper in my bark,
while warblers roost in branches dark,
I stretch my roots into the hill
and slowly, slowly drink my fill.
The poem continues and so beautifully portrays the quiet strength of an oak who keeps these promises:
“to stand while all the seasons fly,
to anchor earth,
to touch the sky.”
From traditional poetic forms to free verse and even an ubi sunt (a style of medieval poetry), these poems roll off the tongue with Sidman’s characteristic strong verbs, internal rhyme and alliteration. You can hear her read “Welcome to the Night” and “Dark Emperor” on her website. If you like to write mask poems, “Dark Emperor” is a great model. Imagine facing a great horned owl with “the tiny hiccup” of your heart. A trailer also gives a peek at the lovely linoleum print illustrations by Rick Allen.
Sample more poetry today over at Mainely Write. Donna ushers in November with its own poem and gathers together many more.
Check out other great award-winning books at the Award Winning Books Challenge site.
Award-Winning Book Challenge Status: 10/12