Cover image for The invisible ladder : an anthology of contemporary American poems for young readers
The invisible ladder : an anthology of contemporary American poems for young readers
Rosenberg, Liz.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt & Co., 1996.
Physical Description:
ix, 210 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Features such poets as Robert Bly, Allen Ginsberg, Nikki Giovanni, and Galway Kinnell by including photos, selections of their work, and comments on their poetry.
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS586.3 .I45 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS586.3 .I45 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



"Sitting by the barbecue"
"waiting for sausages and hot dogs"
"I see a tiny spider"
"a silver speck"
"at its mouth, "
"climbing the invisible ladder"
--from "Dinner Together" by Diana Rivera
This anthology of poems by America's best poets glistens too, and offers its own silvery ladder for readers to climb.
Liz Rosenberg, herself an accomplished poet, wanted to make contemporary poems for adults accessible to a broader readership. She searched for works which, in both feeling and expression, could reach from one age group to another. Then she asked the poets to write about the links between poetry and childhood, and to send photos that showed how they looked when they were young, and who they are today.
"The Invisible Ladder" is a gift from everyone who contributed to it: a hand extended from those whose art is crafting words to a new generation of readers and writers.

Author Notes

Liz Rosenberg is a teacher of children's literature at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She has published two collections of her poetry for adults, as well as a number of highly praised picture books for younger readers. She lives with her husband and their son in Binghamton, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. In the tradition of Paul Janezcko's Poetspeak (1983), this anthology combines modern American poetry with commentary by the poets and photos of them as children and adults. Rosenberg says that children don't need special poetry. Like Ruth Gordon, Naomi Shihab Nye, and other fine YA anthologists, she introduces many exciting new adult voices to young people. Some of the poets' commentaries are sophisticated, some are pretentious; but most are immediate and extraordinarily moving, nearly as powerful as the poetry they lead into. Sharon Olds writes exquisitely about the sound and rhythms that are part of her, and her poem "The Race" is breathtaking. Marvin Bell's poem "Being in Love" is funny and intense. The arrangement is alphabetical by poet, and other poets include Rita Dove, Allen Ginsberg, Galway Kinnell, Kyoki Mori, David St. John, and Alice Walker--38 altogether. Many talk about how poetry made them feel less alone when they were young. In an afterword, which may be used more by teachers than by kids, Rosenberg makes brief suggestions for using each of the poems, mainly as a stimulus for students' own writing. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Celebrated poets such as Rita Dove, Galway Kinnell and Stanley Kunitz preface their poems with commentary and black-and-white photos of themselves in childhood and adulthood in The Invisible Ladder: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poems for Young Readers, edited by Liz Rosenberg. The anthology introduces readers to an admirable range of poems written for adults but accessible to a YA audience. The poets' seductively personal and iconoclastic explanations of how they got hooked on their craft are likely to nab new converts. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up‘Rosenberg states in her introduction that she has drawn together this collection of contemporary American poetry to counter "peanut-butter-and-jelly anthologies‘books full of bouncy rhymes too stupid for any adult to put up with..." Her premise flies in the teeth of books by people like Nikki Giovanni (included in her collection), X. J. Kennedy, and David McCord, whose rhymes were never stupid, and results in a sophisticated and somber collection. The compiler has chosen strong poems with accessible images like Galway Kinnell's blackberries ("which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well/in the silent, startled, icy, black language/of blackberry-eating in late September") or Maurya Simon's night ("the moon in its chalky house/lights its translucent fire and swells./All the feathered songs are quiet..."). Several of the entries have purely adult viewpoints, such as Maxine Kumin's "The Retrieval System" ("Fact: it is people who fade,/it is animals that retrieve them. A boy/I loved once keeps coming back as my yearling colt"). Like Paul Janeczko does in Poetspeak (1983) and The Place My Words Are Looking For (1990; both Bradbury), Rosenberg pairs poems with that poet's personal reflections. Black-and-white photos of each poet as a child and as an adult add to the attractive format. However, unlike Janeczko's titles for adolescents, the offerings do not astonish readers with their freshness. These poems do not create the sense of discovery the compiler says she hopes for‘"the aha! of a friend unexpectedly met, familiar and surprising at the same time." This ladder has interesting rungs but does not reach the stars.‘Kathleen Whalin, Greenwich Country Day School, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.