Poems from SOCCERVERSE by Elizabeth Steinglass

It is always so gratifying to celebrate the successes and book birthdays of writers I’ve come to know in the cozy world of literature for young people, but I admit I get an extra twinge of excitement when those people are also critique partners. And I have to say that lately the writers in my crit groups have been knocking it out of the park.

I guess I should say kicking it out of the park in this case, because of course I am speaking of a mainstay of the children’s poetry community AND the author of …

…a pitch-perfect ode to the details and delights of playing soccer. (Kirkus)

Yes, it’s our own …

Elizabeth Steinglass

…and her energetic debut poetry collection …

Liz has given us twenty-two poems in this collection, celebrating everything about soccer from the field to the goalie to the shin guards that protect him/her. And she does it all with her signature lyrical style that makes these sports poems sing!

She also beautifully captures so many authentic kids’ voices:
*the two players who don’t let a language barrier come between them
and their love for the game
*the proud, ready-for-anything defender
*the apologetic carded kid who knows he went too far
*the girl who overcomes an inner struggle in the name of good sportsmanship
*the disappointed player in “Uniform Day,” which Liz shares in the video.

I have to give a shout out to Brazilian illustrator Edson Ikê’s digital art as well: those swooping lines full of heart and motion, and the bold color palette, are a feast for the eyes! (And that’s literal, because the colors remind me of sherbet and popsicles!)

Illustration © Edson Ikê, from Soccerverse (WordSong 2019)

Speaking of sherbet–um, I mean motion–that’s one of the things I like most about one of my favorite poems from the collection, “Passing” — with all that repetition, it’s full of fast action! As a mom to two boys who just started basketball this year, I also find this poem both amusing (because it’s true with the running running running!) and bittersweet, because it’s also true that when you’re new and still unsure, your teammates may not pass you that ball even when you’re wide open.

I think it’s kind of brilliant how Liz captured, in one short poem, that intense desire to give it your all and be an asset to your team and the disappointment when your best doesn’t seem to be good enough for them (yet).

With thirteen poetic forms, Soccerverse (isn’t that a great title, by the way?) gives students and teachers (and poets!) great models for writing different kinds of poems.

Mask poems are probably my favorite form ever (see aforementioned shin guard poems), but I’ve also grown very fond of reversos because they are such a challenge. So my other favorite poem in this collection (I have 22 favorites in all) is “Instructions to: Field Players / The Goalkeeper.” I’m pretty sure Liz nailed the reverso form in this poem! (The technical perfection makes me giddy, ain’t gonna lie.)

Am I right?

So congratulations to Liz on her stunning debut and a big THANKYOU-VERSE for stopping by to share it with us!

Need more Liz? She has many fabulous poems in these wonderful anthologies too!

HEY! So why are you still sitting there? Strap on the cleats and go score a copy of Soccerverse at your favorite bookstore or library! Go on now, get out of here!

You can also score some more poetry over at Buffy Silverman’s place, where she’s hosting Poetry Friday! 

See more poems in my poetry video library.
Poems © Elizabeth Steinglass. All rights reserved.
Soccerverse illustrations © Edson Ikê. All rights reserved.
Other post content © 2019 Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.