Cover image for Falling hard : 100 love poems by teenagers
Falling hard : 100 love poems by teenagers
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2008.
Physical Description:
144 p. ; 24 cm.
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 811.608 FAL 0 1
Book 811.608 FAL 1 1
Book 811.608 FAL 1 1
Book 811.608 FAL 1 1

On Order



"The teen poets in this lively anthology knock greeting-card clichés even as they celebrate their romance and their passion...From the pain of breakup and denial to affection and desire, the feelings in these poems will ring true to gay and straight teens alike." -- Booklist

"But what I'll really mean is
are you ready to dive in?
This is not falling,
this is landing."

-- From "Gift" by Portia Carryer, age 16

The poets are straight, gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender. They live next door or across an ocean; they are innocent or experienced; their lyric explorations range from new love to stale love, obsession to ennui, ecstasy to heartbreak, and every nuance in between. Whether the romantic escapades described are touching, comical, or tragic, whether the feelings expressed are tender and sweet or brutal and biting, readers will find the love these young poets openly share to be exquisitely, excruciatingly, endlessly fascinating. Here is a collection to turn to again and again, because life and love keep on changing.

Author Notes

Betsy Franco has published more than eighty books, including three previous anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Falling Hard was compiled mostly by email from teenagers from many different backgrounds, and with different sexual orientations. Only their names and ages are given. The poems are written in free verse and are honest, sometimes explicit, and creative (there is an ode to a piano, and a "Pledge of Affection to a Nerd"). Love is variously compared to a psychic leech and the sting of a bee. Some of the poems have strong language. Interracial relationships, being gay ("Kiss a guy, get a man/Be a bi, lend a hand"), sex, break-ups, flirting, the intensity of love ("blinding flashing lightning in my guts") and jealousy are among the topics addressed. "Blackberries" by Emma Marlowe, age 17, uses vivid images of "flying on wings of hemp and silver/waxing sunlight crackles through dust/gold glass on a poisoned oak" and "I had to brush my taste to keep the teeth of him/out of my head."-Ann Nored, Wilson Central High School, Lebanon, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Romantic love brings out a whole range of emotions, and all are on display in this richly diverse collection of poems. Franco, editor of three other anthologies of teen writing, presents poets ranging in age from 13 to 18. They are gay, lesbian, straight, transgender and bisexual. Most of the poets represent a diverse America, but some are from other parts of the world. There are poets who are clearly experienced writers and others who are obvious novices. A lustful 17-year-old writes: "I want to sin in the hottest loins of the fire / nestle down its downy flames..." A girl writes to her ex: "Don't tell me we're as close / as sand and water on the beach. / Now it's war: broken glass." Love also brings out some goofiness: "Your hair is a chicken salad / Your forehead, an apple, extra fancy / Your nose, a flat steak / Your ears, paper plates of a stegosaurus..." Love, in all its raw, uncensored intensity is here wonderfully captured in verse by teens for teens. (Poetry. 13 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

The teen poets in this lively anthology knock greeting-card clichés even as they celebrate their romance and their passion ( I want to wrap around you / I want to get inside you ) and vent their hurt, anger, and longing. Most poems were submitted to Franco by e-mail from the U.S., but some also came from abroad. Just the teens' names and ages are given, but their writing reveals a wide diversity of race, sexual identity, maturity, and lifestyle. With a spacious open design, the poems are not arranged in any particular order, true to the way readers will dip in and browse. Some of the simplest lines say the most: I want you less than I thought I did. / And I love you more than I ever knew. From the pain of breakup and denial to affection and desire, the feelings in these poems will ring true to gay and straight teens alike.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2008 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

SOME of us may remember with embarrassment those lines of poetry, typed, single-spaced, urgent, blazingly original, that we stayed up late writing when we were 16. Poetry is a perfect medium for adolescence: it lends itself to the fierce dramas and false clarities of those years. I remember highlighting, for 10th-grade English, the Wallace Stevens lines "Knows desire without an object of desire, / All mind and violence and nothing felt. . . ./ Like the wind that lashes everything at once," and thinking no one would ever again so completely understand me. Assimilating the concision of poetry can be a useful exercise for the excesses of the teenage mind. How do you condense a conflicting and unmanageable universe into a simple line, or make sense of the rush of feeling? With its inherent, formal claim to importance, its pleasing aphoristic effect, the sheer drama of the wide margin, poetry offers a natural language for coming-of-age, which is probably why teenagers everywhere write lots of it. In "Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers," edited by Betsy Franco, some of the contributions are predictable, some are clever, some show a flash of true gift, but what comes through the book as a whole is a surprisingly clear picture of the peculiar trials and exhilarations of teenage attachments. There is an energy running through these poems that brings back the intensity and bewilderment of those first few forays into what you might at the time have thought of as love. "Let me assure you / That it would be acceptable for you to eat my leg / I want to sneak you into my ginger ale," a 16-year-old, Seph Kramer, writes. Emma Marlowe, 17, writes: "I don't care what they tell you girls - / sex is sex / and you can't make love." The book conjures living, theatrical teenagers, lurking in their rooms, texting their best friends. Here we recognize the contempt for nearly everybody under the sun: Unquestionable intelligence is certainly A most rare trait in this bleak Seascape, the mass of grey humanity, And certainly why I love that man. Or the self-hatred mingled with pretension: "Metaphysics was my topic dear. / Who am I? Who are you? / Why the monkey, and not I, in the zoo?" Or the high of first attractions ("I still can't imagine / Why he won't believe me / When I tell him / All I've had to drink tonight / Is you") and all the ambivalence and need rolled up in physical encounters: In Walter Dean Myers's AMIRI & ODETTE (Scholastic, $17.99), illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, the legend of Swan Lake moves to the projects, in scenes full of desire and menace for Amiri and a girl he glimpses by the basketball court. As a mother laments: "These streets are wild. These streets have mouths. They'll eat you, child!" I grit my teeth and think to myself 'so this is how it's lost' and 'when will he be done?' ... then calm a hot shower steamed mirrors those hands suddenly so soft an embrace like crutches keeps me up. "Tell the World," with a foreword by Sherman Alexie, is a less sophisticated and more varied collection from poets as young as 12. They write about everything from homelessness to police harassment to a dance lesson in Chinatown. In an excellent poem, "Learning English Is Like," Luany Teles, 18, writes about the arduousness of life in a new language: trying to see something in the darkness seeing your boyfriend with another girl standing in the rain without an umbrella your house burning down. All the poems in this collection are gathered from literacy workshops run by WritersCorps, which teach students, often from schools in poor neighborhoods, how to use poetry to write about their lives. Again one sees the benefit of writing as a way of defining and mastering and clarifying. These kids are using the verse form, stripped bare, to communicate, using the silences and emphases of a single line on the page to get through the tangle of an emotion. As a talented 12-year-old named Kionna McCurdy writes, "Poems say stuff like her eyes are like the sky or / Her skin is like concrete / But it's supposed to clear your chest." SARA HOLBROOK and Allan Wolf, adult poets writing in the voices of teenagers, have written a lively verse novella in "More Than Friends" - essentially a conversation between a boy and girl written in poems ranging in form from free verse to villanelle (there is a guide to the poetic forms they use in the back of the book). The poets present the his-and-her sides of a fairly banal and universal teenage-type relationship. They are just friends. They are more than just friends. They are just friends again. The intimate, chatty poems have titles like "You Think I Dressed Myself for Him Today?" and "Veggie Panini Is the Answer to Everything." These are not great or even good poems; and yet the book is as vivid in chronicling teenage relationships as many of the trendier novels written for those years. If you are like me you may entertain fantasies of your children curling up in their bunk beds with John Donne, but it may be refreshing and kind of useful for them to consume their slightly junky young adult stuff in verse. The advantage of all of these books is that poetry is taken out of the realm of homework and meter scanned on blackboards and made approachable, fun, easy, readable. Especially in the work written by teenagers themselves, one gets the sense of reading someone's journal, glimpsing a private universe. There is an honesty and life to the poems, in all of their poses and self-consciousness, that raises them above more polished adult attempts to recollect those years in tranquillity. These books could also inspire our disgruntled or confused young Wordsworths and Blakes to take out their spiral notebooks and white MacBooks, and write, in wide margins, their latest laments. There's plenty of time to be embarrassed later. Katie Roiphe teaches in the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University and is the author of "Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages."



Sitting on the porch swing amidst the sea of suburbia where cookie-cutter souls come home every day at 5 to the raised ranch she strolls on by in her arcane soignée style playing her saxophone to a haunting melody so the whole wide world can hear her her motives, an enigma yet she charms us all with her sophistication her difference in this world how I long to meet her get whisked away by her song yet mother says I'm still too infatuated to cross the street and far too young for jazz JOSEPH LINDBLAD, age 14 Tilt the halo over my head I don't care what the caution tape read It's time to get a little dangerous Let's fall in love. Forget the scriptures, forget the past Conscience and common sense never last It's time to get a little curious Let's fall in love. RACHEL McCARREN, age 15 At work There's actually only one thing I care about. It's a girl with brown hair and brown eyes She's short, she comes up to my shoulders or my chin Today I was going to ask her a question, has anyone ever fallen in love with you while you work? Because, I wanted to tell her, I always fall in love with girls like you. She called my name from the other room I was washing dishes She asked me if the music was alright, it was Simon and Garfunkel -- here's to you Mrs. Robinson. When she came in, soapy handed I mentioned that I needed to see The Graduate again She'd never seen it she said. Who's in that? Dustin Hoffman. NICK ROSS-RHUDY, age 17 Gift I would break you make you breathe hard for me, take in more air, as if I was there to breathe it too. Nonsense nonsuchaswe could survive this journey. I would score you bleed you scream you, find you unwanting, unlacking, in everything I want. You are a thesaurus with no words, book of my heart and sickened stomach. I would ask you where you stand, if I did not know you better I would say you float: Delicate. Your name spells ornate strength. You are the castle I point for, gaining power as I go up the clouds, out of breath: Keep breathing for me breathe harder, take in more air, as if I was there to breathe it too. Lost maps and a few countries later I could drive under your window, Couldn't I? And ask how have you been have you got enough time to go for a drive? But what I'll really mean is are you ready to dive in? This is not falling, this is landing. PORTIA CARRYER, age 16 _______ FALLING HARD by Betsy Franco. Copyright (c) 2008 by Betsy Franco. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Somerville, MA. Excerpted from Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers by Betsy Franco All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.