Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Award Winning Poetry Time

This year something very special has taken place within John Hopkins University Press’s The Lion and Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. The Lion and the Unicorn journal presents the award in one of its three annual publications and works to maintain a current discourse in the study of children’s literature, covering topics such as “the state of the publishing industry, regional authors, comparative studies of significant books and genres, new developments in theory, the art of illustration, the mass media, and popular culture.” For the first time in the history of the Lion and the Unicorn Award, the winning piece of children’s literature is being shared by two titles. As a courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Press, the authors of the winning collections will each receive a $500.00 check. The award is given annually to children’s texts that include poetry and rhyming prose distinguishing them among the North American Poetry community.

Here are the names for the 2014 winning and honor book titles:

Honor Books-

This year’s award is in the theme of experimental poetry for children. Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, Stories, and Songs for Children is a brilliant anthology being recognized for its ability to capture the young mentality and experience, while incorporating experimental poetry that wasn’t necessarily intended for a children’s audience to begin with. It is also the first anthology in the history of the award to win. The newly coined term, “kindergarde,” refers to the influences of avant-garde artists, such as Picasso and Kandinsky, who were actually inspired by children and discovers a new and unusual aspect of children’s poetry. These poems ultimately move beyond a “cross-writing” element and focus on a variety of poems that will encourage audiences the formality of playing with normative literary traditions.

JonArno Lawson, winner of the 2013 Lion and Unicorn Award, receives a second award for his title Enjoy It While It Hurts. This publication of children’s poetry is being recognized for its vivid illustrations, capturing the kindergarde artistic feel, and for the complex lines of poetry that follow, through a serious yet playful collection of verses. Lawson’s work does not over-simplify language in children’s poetry but includes verses that challenge children’s language and intelligence, making it important to include as this year’s co-winner. 

As the editors of article state, “What we loved about the word kindergarde is that it defined for us a new genre of children’s verse… by poets unafraid to address the continuum of human experience” (382). Kindgarde is one way to sum up this year’s winners and honor books, and it is one that will hopefully inspire other authors of children’s literature to capture the sophistication and intellectual creativity displayed in these books.


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