Spreading Poetry and Why We Love YA Fantasy

If you haven’t checked out Greg Pincus‘s Kickstarter project Poetry: Spread the Word, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to help support poetry in California schools, at a time when we’re continuing to see funding dwindle and kids’ access to the arts curtailed. Has there ever been a time when arts funding for schools hasn’t been dwindling? Not in my lifetime, but if Greg’s project succeeds, it will be a small beacon of hope that individual grassroots efforts can help combat what sometimes seems to be an inevitable slide toward seeing arts curriculum and creativity as optional and unimportant.

If Poetry: Spread the Word meets the $5,000 fundraising goal, Greg will do 40 or more school visits at no cost to schools and make original poetry available for free on his blog. If you’ve ever read Greg’s poetry, you’ll know that this is a real treat. There are 3 weeks left to pledge, and the more you pledge, the more goodies Greg will give you…

Franny Billingsley is the author of the new fantasy novel Chime. In the latest Horn Book e-newsletter, Mr. Read Roger asks her about YA fantasy vs. adult fantasy, and her answer really resonated with me:

I do read some adult fantasy, but I find it often lacks the intimacy I crave from any novel. Either the cast of characters is too large, or the landscape is too big, or the stakes are too broad (I’d rather read about saving the character’s soul than saving the character’s kingdom), or the protagonist feels somehow distant. This last is probably a function of one or more of the foregoing, all of which add up to a kind of psychic distance from the character that in turn, distances me from the story.

I feel like this answer applies in a much larger sense to the question I often get asked, which is “why YA?” Adult fiction really can be distant and lack intimacy with the character. A character-driven book becomes a dry study, observing from above, rather than delving deep into the heart of the character. Thanks to Franny for articulating some of the reasons why I love YA so much–as a reader and as a writer.

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