Thanku: Poems of Gratitude

VERSE FORM: PANTOUM

A 2020 Notable from the American Library Association

Selected by Miranda Paul
Illustrated by Marlena Myles
Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1541523630

From Amazon— How do you give thanks?

Gratitude isn’t something we need to save up for a special holiday. What are you grateful for right now, today?

This anthology brings together a diverse group of poets who express gratitude for everything from a puppy to hot cocoa to the sky itself. Each writer uses a different poetic form, and readers will encounter a concrete poem, a sonnet, a pantoum, a sijo, and much more.

Contributors include Kimberly Blaeser, Sun Yung Shin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Waters, Janice Scully, Jane Yolen, Traci Sorell, JaNay Brown-Wood, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Margarita Engle, and more. Stunning illustrations from Marlena Myles invite close examination, making this a collection to return to and savor again and again.

A portion of the proceeds from this anthology will be donated to We Need Diverse Books.

Available everywhere!

reviews

KIRKUS REVIEWS

An anthology of diverse voices united by the theme of giving thanks. In her editorial debut, Paul pairs over 30 poems with Myles’ (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscokee Creek) spirited illustrations capturing favorite things for which the nearly three-dozen poets represented here are thankful. 

Motivated by the sentiment that gratitude should be expressed year-round, Paul collects poems as varied in form as content. The poets not only select a wide array of objects inspiring gratitude―including dimples, “Deep indents in my brown skin / Inspired by the smile bouncing upward from my toes”; an alluring “ocean rock” too perfect for skipping across the water; and the rich experience behind “each scar”―but employ incredibly varied lyric forms such as acrostic, ballad, tricube, even “math poems” (“family + friends + love = a thankful heart”). 

Myles’ colorful digitally rendered illustrations help contextualize the poems, saturated, often abstract backgrounds complementing neatly outlined, diverse figures. While Paul’s choice of contributors and Myles’ depictions of characters are refreshingly inclusive, the collection succeeds more in its individual poetic efforts than an anthology as a whole. Back matter includes a guide to the forms and devices on display, thumbnail bios of each contributor, and an author’s note complicating simplistic perceptions of Thanksgiving. Lovely lyric lessons in appreciating the ordinary.

 

BOOKLIST

Authors from diverse backgrounds contribute poems (each displaying a distinct literary form) focusing on the concept that gratitude is appropriate in all seasons, not only at Thanksgiving. The collection opens with ‘Giving Thanks,’ by Joseph Bruchac, who emphasizes that every day is a gift. Many of the verses highlight nature (‘Dear Sky,’ by Naomi Shihab Nye, and ‘Constellation,’ by Ed DeCaria); others celebrate diverse cultures (‘The Race of Friends,’ by Jane Yolen, and ‘Stories for Dinner,’ by Cynthia Leitich Smith); while still others, such as Sylvia Liu’s ‘Thanks in Advance (for Not Squishing Me),’ will elicit laughter. Myles’ full-color digital illustrations exhibit variety as well, and she is equally adept at creating panoramic vistas, playground close-ups, and inventive collages. Many spreads feature poems with complementary themes, which allow one illustration to bleed seamlessly into the next. Appended with an explanation of poetic forms, biographical information on the creators, and an editor’s note, this attractive and accessible collection should be popular with browsers and useful for creative writing classes.

KIRKUS REVIEWS

Lovely lyric lessons in appreciating the ordinary.