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It's National Poetry Month: Celebrate with words that give voice to pictures

It's National Poetry Month: Celebrate with words that give voice to pictures
In the new book "World Make Way," 18 poets composed texts inspired by artworks from the Met. Some give voice to people depicted in the paintings, others provide back stories or epilogues to the scenes unfolding on the canvas. (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

For the new book “World Make Way,” 18 contemporary writers have composed poems inspired by different artworks in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some have written in the voice of a person in the painting; others have imagined a back story or epilogue to the scene unfolding on the canvas. In celebration of National Poetry Month, we share a few examples from the new book, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Though published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, the concept behind “World Make Way” proves ageless.


Rosa Bonheur's "The Horse Fair," 1852-55, oil on canvas
Rosa Bonheur's "The Horse Fair," 1852-55, oil on canvas The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Abrams Books for Young Readers

Resistance

By Cynthia Cotten

He calls himself a handler,

this puny person

with his rope, his shouts,

his “I am your master”

attitude

Thinks he can subdue me,

stifle my spirit,

bend me

to

his will.

But no, I say,

no!

I will not be broken,

controlled,

tamed.

Let others trot willingly

towards servitude,

obedience,

confinement —

towards mere

existence.

I chose life.

Alone

in the light of my

magnificence,

I will fight

until no fight

remains.


Martin Johnson Heade's "Approaching Thunder Storm," 1859, oil on canvas
Martin Johnson Heade's "Approaching Thunder Storm," 1859, oil on canvas The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Abrams Books for Young Readers

My Dog and I

By Ann Whitford Paul

My dog and I

sit,

watch

the tufted cloud quilt

spread overhead,

hiding the listless sun,

painting the leaden sky

dull

dark,

dreary.

My dog and I should leave

before that quilt

spills its chilly wet.

But here we sit,

my dog and I,

each waiting

for the other

to make

the first move.


Oide Toko's "Cat Watching a Spider," circa 1888-92
Oide Toko's "Cat Watching a Spider," circa 1888-92. Album leaf; ink and color on silk The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Abrams Books for Young Readers

Cat Watching a Spider

By Julie Fogliano

so silent and certain,

a spider

can cause

a watchful and wondering cat

to pause

all prowl and prance

and teeth and claws

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