Poetry Friday: What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings


WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHANTS, CHARMS, and BLESSINGS by Joyce Sidman was among the seven poetry finalists for the CYBILS.

This is a slim but powerful volume of poetry which contains four sections: Charms and Chants, Spells and Invocations, Laments and Remembrances, and Praise Songs and Blessings. When have you wished for something, felt a loss, or just enjoyed the blessing of the day?

The one thing I love about Sidman’s work is they way she will take a topic and present a unique twist. Her opening sentence in her note to readers says it all, “We speak to send messages to the world.” Once upon a time, chants, charms, and blessings were used to encourage the crops to grow or to place a spell on someone or something.

Today in a world of one hundred forty characters to express your feelings, I am glad Sidman’s book is in the world when I am in need of a lament or an invocation. Sidman’s book is a fabulous as a mentor text for anyone needing to write such a poem.

Then there are the mixed medium illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski. (I missed out on her calendar this year but next year….) The muted tones, the evocative nature of the illustrations pull the collections together for a stunning book.

I love this particular poem as it reminds me of when Ivan the Gorilla awoke to his new home in Katherine Applegate’s The One And Only Ivan. And don’t you love the red satin ribbon to mark you place?

Title: What the Heard Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Pamela Zagarenski
Published: 2013
Pages: 65
Reading Level: 5th grade and up
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 978-0-544-10616-1
Source: Sent by the publisher for the CYBILS

Poetry Friday is held at Karen Edminston. Thanks, Karen.

7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings

  1. I love poems by Joyce Sidman! Thanks for posting this! I have yet to check out the CYBILS finalists in the Poetry division. =)

  2. Yes I love the ribbon, & like Tara, loved the special session honoring Joyce Sidman. I bought the book there at NCTE, but never had the chance for an autograph. There are some very touching poems in this book. I would guess that students will love the creativity of it, too. And I didn’t know about calendars by Pamela Zagarenski-will look next year! Thanks Jone!

  3. I love her work but haven’t gotten my hands on this one yet. It seems so different from her nature-based books. Thanks for sharing!

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