This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Falling Hard 100 Love Poems by Teenagers

Falling Hard, 100 Love Poems by Teenagers

By Betsy Franco

Cover image retrieved 4/26/13 from

Franco, Betsy. Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press, 2008. Print. ISBN 9780763634377

Critical Analysis
“How do I love thee… let me count the ways...” This immortal line from Shakespeare could be the basis for many of the poems in this fresh anthology of poems written by teens about the eternal search for love. Poets contributing to this collection come from all types of backgrounds. That connects the reader to this concept of the search to understand love, because it is such a primal need felt by everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age. While the mature subject matter and vocabulary of some poems directs this more to the upper teen and older reader, everyone who does read it will identify with the bewilderment and desire described herein.

Rich vocabulary, excellent use of metaphors, similes, and other figurative language, and a strong infusion of sensory imagery are the glue that binds these poems, as well as the lightning rod that attracts readers. The author’s introduction informs the reader, “The poetry is honest, edgy, fearless, emotional, and wise.” Emotional connections throughout the anthology hold the interest of the reader. Poems appear in a variety of formats- free verse, rhymed, long, and short. Each is used perfectly for the emotion or experience expressed, and each has a particular hook. Some poems are titled, others are not. Poems are identified in a table of contents at the beginning.

It is rather difficult to realize that this collection was written by teens. Ms. Franco has done an admirable job in assembling a fabulous collection that is highly readable. The poems are well-placed to flow comfortably from serious to playful, heart-broken to deep in the thralls of burning passion. This is an honest, thought-provoking journey through the teenage heart that would be a good addition to a high school library.

Book Reviews
Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Sep. 15, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 2))
The teen poets in this lively anthology knock greeting-card clich├ęs even as they celebrate their romance and their passion (“I want to wrap around you / I want to get inside you”) and vent their hurt, anger, and longing.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2008 (Vol. 76, No. 20))
Romantic love brings out a whole range of emotions, and all are on display in this richly diverse collection of poems. Franco, editor of three other anthologies of teen writing, presents poets ranging in age from 13 to 18. Love, in all its raw, uncensored intensity is here wonderfully captured in verse by teens for teens.

Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Nov. 2008 (Vol. 62, No. 3))
Love in many forms—passionate, unrequited, defeated, hopeful, hopeless, straight, and gay—receives the poetic treatment in this collection of young writers’ works, all but four published for the first time here. Each entry includes the poet’s name and age (ranging from twelve to eighteen), and Franco’s introduction explains that though the poems were initially gathered blind, the young contributors represent various races, cultures, and regions of the country. The quality here is head and shoulders above most young writers’ collections, and in fact it’s well above many adult anthologies as well: though a certain eager amateur showmanship over-decorates the odd poem, there’s both terrific appeal and stellar artistry here. Recommended. A book of special distinction.

Best Book Lists
Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 2008 ; The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books; United States
New Romance Books for Youth, 2008 ; Booklist; United States
Pure Poetry, 2008 ; Voice of Youth Advocates; United States
Stuff for the Teen Age, 2009 ; New York Public Library; United States
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2009 ; American Library Association

Poetry Break!
Spotlight Poem
Pledge of Affection to a Nerd

I …

… drift, lazy, on the comforting breeze
as you rhythmically speak:
computer jargon.

… can’t get over how blue your eyes are:
talking about Star Wars.

… couldn’t be prouder of you as you recite:
forty-seven digits of pi.

… will listen, though I may never understand:
you beat the final level of Escape from Mordor!

… want to stay in your arms all evening while you talk about:
ancient war strategy, lunar eclipses, molecules…

whispering sweet algorithms in my ear.

Learning Extensions
·      Invite students to close their eyes and picture a “nerd.” Ask them to describe what their mind’s eye sees.
·      Read aloud the poem, pausing before the final line of each couplet to give students just a second to anticipate the “punch line” of the couplet.

·      This poem would be wonderful to read as a duet, with readers alternating couplets, or one reader take the first line while the other reader takes the second line of the couplet.
·      Encourage students to try their hand at writing a love poem to a particular stereotype, using situations particular to that stereotype (jock, musician, fashionista, cowboy, teacher’s pet, etc.)
·      Have students work in small groups of 3-5 to create a stereotype poem. Each writer would begin by titling the poem and writing the first couplet, each on different topics/stereotypes. Pass the papers to the left. Read the title and first couplet, then add another couplet specific for that stereotype. Continue this pattern until everyone in the group has a chance to write a couplet for each poem.

Other Books by Betsy Franco:
Author’s website:

Metamorphosis, Junior Year
A Curious Collection of Cats
Falling Hard, 100 love poems by teenagers
Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails
Counting Our Way to the 100th Day
You Hear Me? poems and writing by teenage boys;
Things I Have to Tell You, poems and writing by teenage girls

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