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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Friday--Happy Centennial, John Ciardi

Poet John Ciardi was born on this day in 1916. He died in 1986, three months shy of his 70th birthday. Ciardi capably wrote for both adults and children. On our adult shelves you'll find The Collected Poems of John Ciardi [811 CIA], a weighty tome at 618 pages, and in our children's section, You Read to Me, I'll Read to You [J 811 CIA] (illustrated by Edward Gorey). You Read to Me was originally published in 1962, but we obtained our copy in 1994. It shows little wear, which is surprising since Ciardi's poems are so very similiar to Shel Silverstein's work. You'll find them a little bit unsettling, a little bit naughty, a little bit truthful, with a whole lot of word play--just right for kids!

It is obvious to me that Ciardi was a cat lover, so, I'm sharing two cat poems from the book. The first is "My Cat, Mrs. Lick-a-Chin":
Some of the cats I know about
Spend a little time in and a lot of time out.
Or a lot of time out and a little time in.
But my cat, Mrs. Lick-a-chin,
Never knows where she wants to be.
If I let her in she looks at me
And begins to sing that she wants to go out.
So I open the door and she looks about
And begins to sing, "Please let me in!"

Poor silly Mrs. Lick-a-chin!

The thing about cats, as you may find,
Is that no one knows what they have in mind.

And I'll tell you something about that:
No one knows it less than my cat.

The second I'm posting with the Edward Gorey illustration that accompanies it. Gorey was the perfect choice of illustrator for this book!

Click on the image to enlarge.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ciardi! The poetry celebration continues at Random Noodling where you'll find more Ciardi as well as this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.


  1. I love those, Diane! And you're right, Edward Gorey was purrr-fect! I wonder if I can get a copy from my library... :-)

    1. If not, there's always ILL!

  2. Mrs. Lick-a-Chin sounds like my dog. We often say he is more cat than dog. This poem just proves it further. :) Love both these poems.

  3. Love these, Diane, perfect cat bios. And the Gorey illustration is terrific. His work always has just a bit of bite to it. Thanks!

  4. My cat would be Mr. Lick-a-Chin, because he does exactly the same thing! It's so frustrating! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Appreciations for YOUR appreciation of the cat-loving Ciardi.
    I am all-in with these selections, Kat.

  6. delightful. I'm a sucker for a cat....or, poetry about them! Thanks for introducing a new poet

  7. I enjoyed this poems, Diane. They have a nice rhythm to them and the illustration on the second poem is interesting because it allows me to wonder. Is the fat cat waiting for a mouse to fall so he won't have to do the work of the mouse chase.?

  8. What fun! Ciardi sure did a good job of getting into his cat's head.