Shel Silverstein fans take note! “Not Gonna Write Poems,” author Michael Lee’s new book of poetry for children, is already generating interest as the date for the 2019 Book Expo America quickly approaches. Mr. Lee will be a featured author at the AgoraPublishing.com booth atBook Expo America in New York at the end of May.
The interest in “Not Gonna Write Poems” stems from the fact that Michael Lee’s poetry is comparable to the late Shel Silverstein’s. And there arenumerous reasons for this analogy that fans of the late Shel Silverstein will appreciate:
First and foremost, both Lee and Silverstein take everyday subjects in the lives of children and then write fantastically humorous poems about them. Since these are poems for children, the poetry from both authors is also often family-oriented. Which means that there are light-hearted verses about household chores, school, siblings, childhood friends, childhood fears, weird foods, and animals.
For readers, what is appealing about this type of poetry is that it is written with a modern voice. The writing style is uncomplicated, and the language is unpretentious. The poems from both Lee and Silverstein are written with an irregular meter, sometimes with rhyming verses and sometimes not. Although not quite free verse, there is a non-poetry feel here that appeals to people of all ages who do not necessarily identify with traditional verse.
Lee and Silverstein both write in a poetry style that is known as descriptive, meaning that they write about the world around them from a third person point of view. This is a writing style that keeps a reader’s attention, as both poets are either describing an action or telling a story. There are no flowery depictions of rolling hills or sunny meadows here – only funny, modern, everyday situations that anyone can relate to.
By reading both authors, you will also notice that while the poems all vary in length, they are all relatively short. Which makes them perfect to read to children who may have a brief attention span, or for adults who are not big fans of the epic poem. These are poems that grade school, junior high, and even high school students can identify with, and that parents can appreciate as well.
Although, there is more to the poetry writing of these two poets than merely getting laughs and what appears on the surface. Both poets also delve into more complex and sensitive subjects too; theywrite about themes that lie somewhere between what is intended for children and what will appeal to adults. For example, Shel Silverstein sometimes writes about death, while Lee writes about falling in love and getting married in his poem, “Ticks and Rice.”
While these are themes that may not seem appropriate for children, they are treated in such a way as to be harmless to them, although adults will recognize and identify with the themes as they relate to common family life.
For the most part, though, the poems are really just for fun. For example, both Lee and Silverstein have aclear grasp of every child’s fascination with bodily functions and how silly they seem. While they both write about nose-picking (an endless topic of discussion for younger children), Lee goes on to explore such biological functions as snoring, pimples, and hiccups.
Perhaps though, the most original thing that authors Lee and Silverstein have in common is that they both illustrate their own books. Here is where the two authors’ educational and professional backgrounds differ greatly. Of course, Silverstein attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and was an internationally known cartoonist while Michael Lee attended medical school in NY and is a self-taught artist.
But Lee’s home-grown art is actually what makes the book even more likable. These drawings (a joint effort between Lee and his daughter) are very personal and yet relatable to the artistic efforts of our own family members and friends. This makes “Not Gonna Write Poems” a poetry book that everyone who picks it up will identify with immediately.
The most interesting thing, however, that the two poetshave in common is that neither one set out to become a children’s author.Shel Silverstein was enjoyinga life of drawing cartoons for Playboy magazine and writing songs for Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn. Michael Lee is a successful doctor and happy family man. So where did the idea to write children’s books come from?
For Shel Silverstein, it was a good friend and a publisher at Harper & Row who insisted that he start writing poetry for children. For Dr. Michael Lee, it was reading Shel Silverstein to his daughter at bedtime that inspired him to try his hand at writing some modern children’s poetry of his own.
“My purpose in writing this book is to make poetry enjoyable for all,” explains Michael,“I want children and their families to smile and laugh a lot when reading my book. Its whimsical style makes it great to read out loud.”
Now when you combine the varied themes and subject matter of “Not gonna Write Poems” along with the humor and pacing, it becomes the perfect book to read out loud for the whole family.
Moreover, educators agree that parents who read out loud to their children, no matter how old they are, will become lifelong readers. Which was more than likely a hope of Shel Silverstein’s as well. Because one more thing that Lee and Silverstein have in common is the ability to look at the world and imagine how children see it – including their fears, aggravations, and most importantly of all, the little things that make them laugh.
Which makes “Not Gonna Write Poems” the perfect book of children’s poetry for Agora Books to showcase at Book Expo America, happening May 29-31 at the Javits Center in New York City. You can get a more in-depth view of Dr. Lee’s book of poetry on his website page: Mikeleethepoet.com.
Book Expo America is the publishing industry’s premier event and the largest of its kind in North America. So it is fitting for it to be held in America’s literary capital, where new writers are discovered every day and established authors are celebrated.