Poetry Friday: CYBILS Shortlists announced!

Well, the new year is fully underway, and if you haven’t yet made your resolutions…don’t sweat it. Neither have I! And I don’t intend to. If you’re wondering why, I encourage you to check out this post from a couple of days ago – a re-post from five years ago – about the value of NOT resolving to do things at such an arbitrary time as a calendar date.

With the new year comes CYBILS Awards nominees! The official shortlists have been announced by the first-round judges, and these books are now heading to the second-round panelists, who will decide the winners. As a first-round judge in the Poetry Category, I helped narrow down 48 nominated titles to the following shortlist:

(click to enlarge)

You will notice there are only three verse novels listed; two are geared to Young Adults (YA) and one is Middle Grade (MG) or YA.  Two other books are poetry collections for younger readers; there is one collaborative collection with a narrative; and one is a MG-leaning anthology featuring multiple poets.

We were very deliberate in which books we chose to shortlist, evaluating each nominated title based on quality of poetic writing, substance, and the level of interest a potential reader might have in reading it. We tried our best not to allow other lists and reviews to influence our decisions.

The one disappointment we all felt was that verse novels continue to be included in the Poetry Category, when they are in actuality a genre unto themselves. Comparing Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X to David Elliott’s In the Past is like comparing Moby Dick to The Giving Tree. Yes, they are both prose – but their similarities begin and end there.

So we felt we had a responsibility to provide as well-rounded a sampling as possible, while maintaining the integrity of the list. One of the books we included, H is for Haiku (Penny Candy Books), was reviewed here at the ol’ Triple-R earlier this year, when it first came out, so I thought I’d share one of the poems from the book today:

©2018 Penny Candy Books, all rights reserved, reprinted with permission

Looking for more poetry? Head on over to Poetry For Children, where Sylvia Vardell is hosting today’s Poetry Friday roundup!


Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!

  Coming July 2, 2019!

You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!


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14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: CYBILS Shortlists announced!

  1. lindabaie

    Thanks, Matt, I guess all of us on the committees wish there could be two groups. We take the challenge every year & struggle in the analyses. You & the group have made beautiful selections. I’ve really enjoyed this haiku book this year.


  2. Kay Mcgriff

    Thank you for all the work you and your fellow judges put into narrowing down to the finalists and congratulations to those finalists!


  3. Michelle Kogan

    This is going to be a hard choice, what a rich collection, thanks for all your’ve done Matt! Looking forward to seeing what comes next…


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