Thursday, June 14, 2018

Poetry Friday June 15, 2018

Thank you, Karen Edmisten for hosting this week's poetry round-up. I'm enjoying summertime poetry!

My summer schedule gave me a chance to visit @justonemorepage to hear Kate Messner speak about reading, writing and her newest book, Breakout.

Messner, Kate. Breakout. New York. Bloomsbury. 2018. print.

Breakout is a novel in documents based on a real-life prison-break at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Donnemara, New York in 2015. 

What does, Breakout, have to do with poetry? 

Kate described writing several versions of a Breakout manuscript. Her challenge was telling a story of the prison-break for kids from many perspectives. Poetry offers ways of doing that. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson is a perfect example of how possible poetry makes such a challenge.

At one point,  Breakout was a manuscript entirely in verse. In her talk, Kate described the puzzle-solving of how to tell a story...and it had to be a different way that included lots and lots of stuff the way a kid would do. She shared pictures of massive hand-made looking spreadsheets. But, when it came down to it, the story drove the method of telling...and the published book we see today is not in verse.

Poetry remains, however. One of the main characters, Elidee, is a new kid in town. She's also a poet. She brings not only her love of reading poetry of famous poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Jaqueline Woodson to the story but also some of her writing. It's a wonderful way of allowing poetry to shine in a book for kids without the book being "a" poetry book. I love it.

Below is a page in Elidee's voice in which she uses a Nikki Giovanni poem as a mentor text. There are many of these throughout the book.

Learning from Nikki Giovanni p. 27

The current version of Breakout makes for a perfect genre-bending middle-grade adventure-mystery with non-fiction elements novel in documents. As a librarian for kids....I'm thrilled with the wide audience Breakout meets.

But wait....there's more for writers too!

Kate published a 23 blog post series about the writing of Breakout. The posts match 23 days all of Upstate New York was looking for the escapees and living in fear of two murderers on the lamb in the woods of the Adirondacks. One of her posts focuses on Elidee's poetry She writes lullabies for where she's from and where she's arrived. 

Furthermore, each of Kate's 23 posts includes a writing assignment, an invitation to write or revise. These 23 posts are like a mini writer's course. I highly recommend reading them.

I'm now enjoying some of my summertime writing lullabies for where I am from and where I live now. Someday, I'll share. 

How about you? Do you have a lullaby for a place? What would it sound like?


  1. This books sounds fascinating! I am going to check it out. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I've read some of Kate's posts and should return and start again. I just got Breakout, about to begin it! Thanks for sharing how great it is, Linda.

  3. Kate is a wonderful teacher, and I appreciate hearing about the poetry connections in this novel. Thank you, Linda! Thinking about lullabies for place... I think I could write hundred for this lake house we now call home... a different sound for each season. xo

  4. I followed Kate's posts about BREAKOUT and can't wait to read it. You are right, each one is like a mini-lesson for writers. Thanks for the great review. I hope you find lots of time to write this summer!

  5. How lovely it is to hear you all talking about a writer who I have met, and a book that we have talked about! It brings us all a little bit closer. :) (But I can see I will have to hunt up those blog posts!)

  6. Interesting to hear some of the backstory about BREAKOUT. I like the idea of presenting the story with documents and including poetry in the manuscript.

  7. Thanks for highlighting this book. I'm looking forward to reading it. I caught some of Kate's posts on the behind-the-scenes writing. I want to catch up with the rest of them.

  8. "Breakout" sound wonderful Linda, I love how Kate Mess Messner has woven poetry into her book in the voice of a character, how novel! I'm looking forward to her book and the posts. Lullabies of place–what a good idea. Happy writing this summer.

  9. I can't wait to read this book! Thanks for the links to the resources!

  10. Sounds like an amazing book.

  11. "the story drove the method of telling" -- isn't that always the way? Fighting it doesn't get you anywhere!
    The mini writer's course sounds great. Thanks, Linda!

  12. You have made me intrigued by BREAKOUT, which is a title & event in history, too, new to me. Appreciations for all the links, which I look forward to exploring.

    And as for lullabies I am sure that our cool pool spot in the universe, especially if I think of our
    wider footprint to the refuge at the coast & to the refuge over the border in the SW Georgia woods & fields is lullaby friendly.

  13. Can't wait to read this one! And I'm intrigued by a lullaby for a place. I'll be thinking about that the next couple of days. Thanks, Linda!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!