Poetry Friday: Welcome to the CYBILS Award Party

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Welcome, welcome to Poetry Friday.  I’m so glad you’re stopping by and sharing poetry.

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On Valentine’s Day, the CYBILS Awards were announced.  I am thrilled to announce the winner of these FANTASTIC SEVEN.

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This was one of the most outstanding group of finalists for poetry. 

Such. Good. Reads!

It’s always a challenge to select between a verse novel and an anthology or collection.  Someone has said it’s like comparing apples and oranges. I couldn’t agree more. But we did it! We selected…..drum roll…..

LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds.

Here’s the blurb from the committee:


LONG WAY DOWN is a tour de force work of poetry. The entire novel in verse takes place on an elevator ride as a young man whose brother has been shot and killed descends to avenge his murder. Along the way, he is visited by the ghosts of those he has lost, the elevator filling with smoke as each enters to question, chide, taunt, and harangue him. This masterful narrative structure and the claustrophobic setting in that metal box filled with smoke, ghosts, and words create a gripping tension and kinetic energy that make LONG WAY DOWN nearly impossible to put down. Jason Reynolds’s spare, lyrical language and gorgeous, mesmerizing imagery stay with you and compel re-reading and discussion. This novel in verse makes maximum use of the format, using the poem placement, the background art, and the free verse poems themselves all working in harmony. Reynolds varies his approach to the poems to keep the tension high, repeating references, using anthropomorphism, and incorporating anagrams that startle, like a pause for a breath. His use of poetic language is vivid and powerful including:  “how do you hug what’s haunting you?”, “another piece of me, an extra vertebra, some more backbone”, “headlock that felt like a hug”, and “pushing the pistol under my pillow like a lost tooth.” The questions this book raises about the cycle of violence and the responses it evokes also make LONG WAY DOWN a natural for discussion with young readers themselves.  

Congratulations to all the finalists. In the coming weeks I’ll highlight some of the other finalists.

What is your good poetry for the week. Sign up here.