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The Varselle & Also Powerful Voices and Delightful Dances

Today’s form is called the varselle, an invented form where the creator gives us options for most everything. My book for the letter V is a picture book biography featuring a powerful-should-be-known-more personality. In addition, my top ten list for this week brings to you another list of poetry books, this time to do with dance, as I continue on my Sunday post’s theme, of poetry and dance.

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The Varselle Poetic Form

The Varselle is a poetic form invented by Linda Varsell Smith of Rainbow Communications. It is full of options, and the poet can pick and choose as they wish!

So What is the Varselle?

The Varselle is made up of one or more eight-line stanzas which can be rhymed or unrhymed, be syllabic or word-based, centered or flushed.

The Varselle’s Characteristics

So the varselle’s elements are that it is:

  • stanzaic: made up of any number of eight-line stanzas (one or more)
  • syllabic or word-count: uses syllable or word count of 2-3-4-3-5-5-4-6 across the eight lines
  • rhymed or unrhymed: if the poet chooses to rhyme, then the rhyme scheme is ababcbca
  • full of options!! (also can be centered or flushed to any side)

My Varselle Attempt

NaPoWriMo’s Day 26 prompt is to write a poem that contains at least one of a different kind of simile – an epic simile. Also known as Homeric similes, these are basically extended similes that develop over multiple lines.

Pin Me

a typewriter with a page inserted in it. pin title says : poetic forms: v is for varsalle

The V Book

Voice of Freedom

Title: Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford  
Illustrator: Ekua Holmes
Publishers: Candlewick (August 4, 2015)
Genre:  Children’s Social Activists Biographies /Children’s Poetry (9 – 12 years, and up)
Source: Library

Stirring poems and stunning collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of equal voting rights.

Carole Boston Weatherford does it again! Each time I read a book by Weatherford, I am awed by her skill with words, her passion for showcasing these hidden heroes (and the not-hidden ones too), and the in-depth research as well as the amount of information conveyed to the readers within the pages of picture books.

I had heard of Fannie Lou Hamer, in mere references in other books, but did not really know her – at all. Which is why I am glad for picture books like this, that provide an amazing concise yet comprehensive at the same time look into the lives of these powerful personalities.

Weatherford’s free verse poems that effortlessly weave in Hamer’s own words within (shown in italics when used) tell Hamer’s story in first-person narrative starting from her birth and through to later in life. The poems are haunting, honest, and capture both the brutality of the period, and the strength of Hamer despite the struggles she faced. Ekua Holmes’ accompanying collage-style illustrations are stunning, vibrant, and powerful, and speak loudly, as loudly as Weatherford and Hamer’s words in the book.

This book allows for so many discussions about racism, discrimination, slavery, colorism, the civil rights movement, and other related topics. And of course, to learn more about Hamer and other unsung heroes like her.

In Summary

An inspiring and powerful picture book of someone more people should know about, this one is a must for any home or classroom library!

Note that the book does include slurs (much needed in this book), so ensure you read it with younger readers keeping that in mind.

Get it here

Books With (the Word) Dance on the Cover

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl is: Books with [___] On the Cover (Pick a thing (a color, an item, a place, an animal, a scripty font, a sexy person, etc.) and share covers that have that thing on the cover.) Given it is still National Poetry Month, and we are also celebrating International Dance Day this week, my list is poetry books related to/about dance (from picture books to anthologies).

The Picture Books

  • Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp. You’ll go ‘booma lacka, booma lacka, whack, whack, whack’! (3 – 7 years, and up)
  • Boys Dance! Delightful, inclusive, and so very encouraging! Sweet illustrations and fun rhymes make this a celebration of dance for all. (3 – 7 years, and up)
  • Let’s Dance! This joyous book takes young readers on a twirling, rocking, cha-cha-ing tour around the world. Adorable illustrations and totally crisp action-filled rhymes capture the diversity and energy of the dances and encourages you to dance as you turn the pages (3 – 7 years, and up)
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance. This book is a rollicking ride of fun and sweetness in its rhyming, its artwork, and its message (part of which is that everyone can dance!) (for 2 – 7 years, and up)
  • Frank was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance – So Much Fun!! Monstrous fun at that.. Read it for laughs, read it simply because, read it and dance like Frank!! Hilariously gory in words and illustrations (for 2 years and up)
  • Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance. A stomping, wiggling, clapping, and tapping book that invites you to do just that! Cute rhyming book with cuter illustrations perfect for burning up all that energy! (for 1 – 3 years, and up too)
  • Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing. My second Marilyn Singer feature this month, and so very amazingly done (just like Mirror, Mirror)! Singer’s brilliant words and Valiant’s amazingly energetic and vibrant illustrations match the dances they feature perfectly (in rhyme and rhythm, in the portrayed movements, costumes, people, and colors, and more). While I did not listen to the CD, I think it would be amazing for this book. (5 – 8 years, and well, all ages)

The Anthologies

  • Dancing in the Street: A Poetry Party. This anthology from Adrian Mitchell will work for all ages (but best for tweens and older). It had me youtube-ing the included songs and dancing to them (like Carl Lee Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes); as well as simply enjoying reading out loud these wonderful selections. Poems range from Christina Rosetti, William Blake, and Ted Hughes to Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen, there is something for everyone here. ‘
  • Dance in Poetry: An International Anthology of Poems on Dance. Another beautiful anthology; and as the subtext says, these poems are all about dance, related to dance, talking about the intersection of poetry and dance, or how poetry is dance in one way and vice versa. Some of my favorites include Earle Birney’s “The Bear on the Delhi Road,” Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s “Doing the Twist on Nails,” Norma Faber’s “Dancer, How Do You Dare?” Gustas Froding’s “They Danced by the Roadside,” Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variation,” Adrian Mitchell’s “For David Mercer,” James Riley’s “My Dancin Days is Over,” May Riley Smith’s “The Last Dance,” and well, too many more!! Backmatter includes mini-bios of the poets and sources for their poems.
  • The Dance: Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series). This is another brilliant anthology of dance-related-poems. It includes everything from Homer’s Odssey and Robert Frost to Rumi and Tagore; from Leonard Cohen and Lewis Carroll to Dorothy Parker and Naomi Shihab Nye; includes the old and the modern; from baby dances to belly dancing and more. A wonderful selection that is great to dip into any time.

NOTE: You can click on the links in the titles to gift these books to yourself or to loved ones who will enjoy them, or you can read quite a few of them over at The Internet Archive (or your local library, of course)

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear readers, have you read the featured books? Or any similar reads? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. What do you think about the varselle form? Will you attempt it yourself?

Previous posts for these challenges (the A2Z, NaPoWriMo and UBC) are in links below.

Day 0  Day 1 – A  Day 2 – B  Day 3  Day 4 – C  Day 5 – D  Day 6 – E  Day 7 – F  Day 8 – G  Day 9 – H  Day 10  Day 11 – I  Day 12 – J  Day 13 – K  Day 14 – L  Day 15 – M  Day 16 – N Day 17  Day 18 – O  Day 19 – P Day 20 – Q Day 21 – R Day 22 – S Day 23 – T Day 24 Day 25 – U

Linking up to BlogChatterA2ZBlogging from A-to-Z April ChallengeNaPoWriMo, and the Ultimate Blog Challenge

9 thoughts on “The Varselle & Also Powerful Voices and Delightful Dances

  1. Love your posts, they are always so full of great information, I feel as if I have come away full with ideas, books and suggestions to try out in the poems that I dabble with. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Vidya, you’ve blown me away again. You are so content-rich! I love your poem tying sunrise and sunset together, conveying coziness! Also, I had no idea there was enough poetry on dance/dancing that you could have an anthology, let alone several. You rock!

  3. I am so amazed by the poem, all of the book recommendations, and by the explanation of the poetic form. You ought to publish your A to Z guide to poetry as a book! It’s incredible and it motivates me to write poems, too!

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