Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Poetry Friday: Take Two: A Celebration of Twins

I’m happy to be sharing Take Two! A Celebration of Twins, a brand new poetry collection by two of our most beloved and prolific poets, J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen. I know those two names alone will make you want to order this book right away!
The collection is divided into sections: “Twins in the Waiting Womb,” “Twinfants,” How to Be One,” and “Famous Twins.” All forty-four poems are just delightful! Topics range from twins in waiting, to learning and growing together, to seeking individuality. The illustrations by Sophie Blackall (of Ivy & Bean fame) are sure to entice even the most reluctant readers. I also love the facts about twins sprinkled throughout the book!

I asked Pat a few questions about the collection, and he was so kind  (as always) to respond quickly so I could post this today. (Thanks, Pat.) I think you’ll enjoy his responses.

1. You've written several poetry collections with other poets including: Jane Yolen, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and Paul Janeczko. How is the process of co-authoring a poetry collection different from writing solo? What are the joys and challenges of working on a project with another poet?
Collaboration is probably the wrong word to use (though I use it all the time) because the process does not involve two people slaving back and forth over the same poem.Think of these co-authored books as just that: a collection of individual poems, half written by one poet, and the second half by the other poet.

2. Which of the poems you wrote for the collection is your favorite?
Well, I am a twin (the gods be thanked) so one of my favorites in the book would have to be "Pat and Mike," even though I've played fast and loose with my twin's and my respective facts. The longer poems about Cynthia and her sister getting baths isn't bad, I think. And I do like the villanelle about the two young twins who teach each other everything.
3. You've mentioned that your brother is your first reader. Did he offer any advice/suggestions for this collection?
Oh, I pass everything I write along to him first to see what his reaction will be. Since I value his judgement more than anyone else's, I'm eager to get his take on my work. If he says it's fine, then I'm happy. If he says it needs more work, then I get back to work on the poem.

Now, without further delay, I'll share one of the poems Pat wrote that is one of his favorites (but not "Pat and Mike," I'll  keep that one a surprise for you to discover when you get your copy of the book). 

We Learned to Sing

We learned the alphabet; we learned to sing
Because my twin had called it "double-play."
We taught each other almost everything.

I showed her how to push me in the swing.
She's smart. She learned it quickly, the same way
We learned the alphabet and learned to sing.

And entertain with puppets on a string.
Our mom and dad came for the matinee!
We taught each other almost everything.

Remember how it stung— that first bee sting?
But there she was, and it was like the day
We learned the alphabet and learned to sing.

If she was some bright bird, I was the wing.
If I was like a model, she was clay.
We taught each other almost everything.

From summer, autumn, winter into spring.
and after kindergarten we would say
The alphabet together and we'd sing.

This poem has its own familiar ring—
Two twins who stick together come what may.
We learned the alphabet and learned to sing.
We taught each other almost everything.

           -J Patrick Lewis. all rights reserved

Isn't that lovely?  I especially like the lines:
If she was some bright bird, I was the wing.
If I was like a model, she was clay.

Jane was also very kind to respond in time for me to include her favorite among the poems she wrote for the collection.  Check out the clever wordplay.  I can't wait to try this as a choral reading activity with my sixth grade group. I think I'll divde the class into two groups and have them alternate reading a line at a time. What do you think, would that work?


Some time we twincubate in Mom,
   For not quite a year;
The twindow opens up for us,
   We twinstantly appear.

Not yet quite twindividuals,
   So twinsomely we smile
With winning twincandescence,
   They let us stay awhile.

And soon, from spring to twinter,
   We've lived with them so long,
This small twinfestation
   No longer seems so wrong.

-Jane Yolen, all rights reserved

Wow! Jane's poetry is always amazing, inspiring, and surprising!  Can't you just imagine kids making up their own "twin" words after reading this poem? 

 No matter if you're a twin or a singleton, I know you'll enjoy reading Take Two! A Celebration of Twins.