For ages I have been fascinated with language. Not just with
how words sound and what they mean, but how they came to be. For
example, why do we call a group of fish a school? Marjorie Maddox
grabs that notion and runs with it in her latest book of poems, A Crossing
of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry. She includes poems like “A
Rumba of Rattlesnakes” and “A Murder of Crows,” one of
my favorites in the book. Many of the poems in the collection rhyme, but
Maddox is equally at home with her free verse poems. Check out the fun
she has in “A Band of Coyotes,” a rousing multi-voice poem.
As a bonus, Maddox, Director of Creative Writing at Lock Haven University,
includes a helpful note explaining collective nouns, as well as a list
of books that explore that subject.
Buy the book, read it, enjoy it. Then bring it to the classroom and let your students marvel in the poems and Philip Huber’s scratchboard-and-colored-ink illustrations.
(If you’re like me, counting the days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, I recommend another book by Marjorie Maddox, Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems.)
Credit: "A Tower of Giraffes" from A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry by Marjorie Maddox; illustrations by Philip Huber. Published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc. Poem copyright c 2008 by Marjorie Maddox.