Poetry Friday: Welcome to the CYBILS Award Party


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


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


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.



34 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Welcome to the CYBILS Award Party

  1. What a wonderful selection of finalists! I can’t imagine how difficult it was to come to a final decision. With a week of break coming up, I’m hoping to read some more of these titles, including Long Way Down. Thanks for sharing and for hosting this week!

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  3. I’m so anxious to read Long Way Down. And I know well the difficulty of trying to pick a poetry winner with the apples and oranges issue. Thanks for your work on the Cybils again this year!

  4. Wow! This book sounds amazing! It’s so great to see the other amazing finalists, including our Poetry Friday friend, Irene Latham! Congrats to all, and thank you for hosting, Jone!

  5. It was great to work with you, Jone, but you know I agree, it was so challenging. Congrats to all the finalists. Their writing made our deliberations tough work! Thanks for hosting!

  6. Jone, it is so exciting to see the list of finalists each year. Thank you for leading this initiative and bringing the best forward. Also. thank you for hosting Poetry Friday this week.

  7. Hi, Jone, and thank you for hosting! I wrote my post and then looked to link with you and saw that are posts are surprisingly similar! Sorry and of course– we just served on the same committee together! Hope you don’t mind. Thanks for corralling our group too. Wasn’t that a fun committee?!

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  9. WOOT to all the finalists, to Jason, and to all the judges who gave so much time to the process. So much goodness to look forward to, since *shock* I’ve only read ONE of these books (lookin’ at you, Charles & Irene). Thanks for hosting, Jone!

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  11. There is so much to love in this post….the idea that a poetry party is happening here is the “bees knees” in my book. Thank you for the hours and hours you gave on behalf of the committee. I know that “work” = reading and that isn’t “work work” but still, it was a committment of time that couldn’t be spent elsewhere. As a reader, writer and kidlit librarian I am so appreciative of your efforts. And, wow to the books! Just….wow. I love them all.
    Today, I didn’t think I’d post today…I got home after a 14-15 hour day and well there was poetry. So, today is a surprise post to me but includes everyone here. Love is…

  12. Jone, appreciations for your & the committee’s diligent work. I’m sure it at times was a struggle. But how fantastic to have such tough choices to make. I am a fan of Jason Reynolds but haven’t caught up with this breath-taking elevator ride – yet. I’m also thrilled to see books I know in the group, especially CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? My post does have some slight-weight, short form, original poetry today at Bookseedstudio.

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    • I read The Poet X when it first came out, loved it, bought it, and hoped it would win awards! When Long Way Down was published it was always out of the library, but I hoped it would win awards. I am excited about reading it! I thought Can I Touch Your Hair was excellent and so relatable to children! I can’t get enough of dinosaur books. Poetry and dinosaurs was a great match for In the Past! I’m looking forward to reading all the rest of these poetry books! Thank you, Jone and congratulations to all the finalists!

  14. Many thanks, Jone, for your dedication to the Cybils!! And for sharing your insights. CONGRATS all around to all the poets.
    Big thanks for hosting over here this week – Love & hearts to you!

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  17. I loved LONG WAY DOWN … but yes, collections and verse novels really need to be in separate categories. I said it many times as a second-round judge!

    Thanks for hosting, Jone. I have another episode of the history of children’s poetry. 🙂

  18. So many congratulations to the authors of these wonderful books! LONG WAY DOWN tore me apart. Thank you for hosting! xx

  19. Thanks for sharing about the CYBILs, Jone. I can’t wait to read Long Way Down! I always learn something new on Poetry Friday. Thanks for hosting. And congrats to all the finalists.

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