Paul Janeczko

Paul Janeczko, of Brunswick, Maine, passed away on Feb. 19, 2019. He taught high school English for 22 years before becoming a full-time author. During his career, he was named an American Library Association Notable Book author, published 50 books, including books of poetry, anthologies, teaching guides, fiction, and nonfiction stories. He shared his expertise in a series of enlightening and engaging workshops for kids. IRW was fortunate to bring him to schools on several occasions.

A Kick in the Head is a collection of 29 different forms of poetry, building from the more popular poetic forms, like the couplet and quatrain, to the more complex and exotic ballad, persona poem, and the puzzling pantoum. The book is the second in a trilogy by Janeczko and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator, Chris Raschka, preceded by A Poke in The I: A Collection of Concrete Poems and followed with A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. Each collection has a unique focus and subsequent lesson while all three maintain a spirited, celebratory approach to learning poetry enriched by Raschka’s whimsical character illustrations.

His latest book, The Death of the Hat, will be the focus of a program at Jonesport Elementary School in November 2015.

IRW creates worksheets to supplement the books we bring to life in the classroom, and provide these worksheets to teachers and students to use in preparation for their school visit. Here is a worksheet link for one of Paul's books:

The Death of the Hat worksheets

Past visits:

May 8-9, 2017: Whiting Village School, Fort O'Brien School (Machiasport)

November 16 - 18, 2015: IRW and Paul bring a love of poetry and his book The Death of the Hat to students in Jonesport, Lubec, and Charlotte. Read more about the three school visits here.

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems

It only takes a few words, if they’re the right words, to create a strong image. Whether listened to in the comfort of a cozy lap or read independently, the thirty-six very short poems in this collection remind readers young and old that a few perfect words and pictures can make the world glow. Selected by acclaimed poet Paul B. Janeczko and gorgeously illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems invites children to sample poems throughout the four seasons.

Paul's work on Firefly July has been described by Publisher's Weekly as, "A spirited anthology. Evocative and accessible."

Paul will be visited two schools in Fall 2014 with IRW, Vinalhaven and Swan's Island, to share with K-8 students the magic and allure of poetry.

Paul and his collaborator/illustrator Melissa Sweet received a New England Book Award for 2014. IRW is proud of our continued collaboration with Paul and congratulate him on his most recent honor. We are very excited to put this brilliant new collection of poems into the hands of over 100 youngsters this fall and to share Paul's enthusiasm and love of poetry with students.

When A Kick in the Head is inspirational

Baffled by a puzzling pantoum? Doubtful about a double dactyl? Do you know what a triolet is? If your answer is “no” you’re in luck! Paul Janeczko, poet and author extraordinaire will be happy to tell you all about these and other poetic terms.

“The kids are carrying their books around like highly valued prizes,” said one teacher after Paul’s visits to Pemetic Elementary School and Southwest Harbor Public Library, MDI in 2011. He had met with grades K-6 in the gymnasium at the Pemetic Elementary School to discuss his work, A Kick in the Head, an introduction to poetic forms. He and the students read and discussed writing poetry. Later, he hosted writing workshops and signed books with fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. His visit celebrated National Poetry Month. Teacher Carol Null said, “Paul’s poetry anthologies validated curiosity as a writing plan to my students. He seems to best understand how readers and writers need to crave the rhythms, quirkiness, and flexibility offered through words, sentences, and images. His warmness embraced my students and they fell in love with poetry in return.”

Other comments about his visit to Pemetic included:

“He was awesome, had all the students participating and kept them right on track. The kids wanted to write more after he left and loved working in small groups. They felt very special.”

 “Poetry, the way it sounds and flows, gives students a chance to read and reread text, promoting fluency.”

“To see this author as a real person, as model for the power of the written and spoken word, brings reading to life for kids.”

The following year (2012), Island Readers & Writers hosted Paul on a visit to Jonesport Elementary School. It was IRW’s first visit to Jonesport, where Paul discussed poetry forms using A Kick in the Head as a guide.

Paul also met with grades 2, 4, and 6 at the Conners Emerson Elementary School, Bar Harbor, MDI in 2013. He and the students discussed A Kick in the Head, reading, and writing poetry. He also hosted three writing workshops and signed books.

Later that year, Paul traveled to Deer Isle and Whiting to present a program on language and the different styles of poems to students in grades K-8. He also conducted workshops on writing poetry for the older grades. In a visit to Lubec Elementary School, he presented to students in grades K-8 and conducted poetry writing workshops for grades 3-6. Paul also shared helpful techniques for writing poetry at the Lubec Public Library and read a selection of original poems that had been written by Lubec students earlier in the day.  IRW provided all participants with a copy of Kick in the Head signed by Paul.