Poetry Reverse: Novels Written In Free Verse

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There are different forms of poetry in the literary form and one popular form is free verse. Free verse poetry is an open form, free from constraints of rules that deal with rhyme and meter. And the beauty of free verse is that it can turn into a narrative! Now all poetry somehow tell a story but with free verse novels, it is a novel length story told in prose instead of poetic form. You might have heard of them as “epic poems” such as The Odyssey by Homer and Beowolf. 

So for National Poetry Month, instead of reading the basic metered or rhyming poetry (beautiful as they are), why not branch out and try reading some free verse novels? Don’t know any? Don’t panic! Here are some suggestions that will definitely get you started and reading for the rest of the month:

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Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

Using the structure of a poetry slam, Nikki Grimes’ award-winning novel is a powerful exploration of self, an homage to spoken-word poetry, and an intriguing look into the life of eighteen urban teens.”

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Crank by Ellen Hopkins

In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the “monster,” the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or “crank.”

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Sold by Patricia McCormick

Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.

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Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff

“Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish leaps cities and decades as Rakoff, a Canadian who became an American citizen, sings the song of his adoptive homeland–a country whose freedoms can be intoxicating, or brutal. Here the characters’ lives are linked to each other by acts of generosity or cruelty. A critic once called Rakoff “magnificent,” a word which perfectly describes this wonderful novel in verse”

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Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes

In this winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor, bestselling and award-winning author Nikki Grimes uses free-verse poetry to powerfully tell the story of two boys, living in different times and lands, who both struggle with their faith as they watch their families fall apart.

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The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

“New York Times bestselling and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney’s powerful verse and Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist Shane W. Evans’s breathtaking illustrations combine to tell an inspiring tale of one girl’s triumph against all odds.”

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Audacity by Melanie Crowder

A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights.

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The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

Emma Karas was raised in Japan; it’s the country she calls home. But when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma’s family moves to a town outside Lowell, Massachusetts, to stay with Emma’s grandmother while her mom undergoes treatment.

Emma feels out of place in the United States.She begins to have migraines, and longs to be back in Japan. At her grandmother’s urging, she volunteers in a long-term care center to help Zena, a patient with locked-in syndrome, write down her poems. There, Emma meets Samnang, another volunteer, who assists elderly Cambodian refugees. Weekly visits to the care center, Zena’s poems, dance, and noodle soup bring Emma and Samnang closer, until Emma must make a painful choice: stay in Massachusetts, or return home early to Japan.

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Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

A heartrending, bold novel in verse about family, identity, and forgiveness

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The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

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