A Star in the Literature World—Myra Cohn Livingston

What you are going to read is about a famous children’s poet—Myra Cohn Livingston. This includes her life, the style of her poems, and one of her poems named “The Tape”. You will also read an interpretation written by me.

Myra Livingston was born in 1926 in Omaha, Nebraska. She spent most of her childhood in her birthplace, and then moved to California. Myra graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, and became a professional French horn musician after. She also worked for the Los Angeles Newspapers and a few musicians. But she was determined to write poems. Myra’s first book of poetry, “Whispers and Other Poems” was published in 1958. As she continued to write poems for children, she received certain awards such as the Texas Institute of Letters award, and the Parent’s Choice Award. She published eighty-three books of poetry throughout her lifetime. Myra Cohn Livingston passed away in 1996 in California. Before her death, she was a member of the Children’s Literature Council. The council set up the Myra Cohn Livingston Award to remember the contributions she made to children’s poetry. It is now handed to outstanding poets every year.

Myra Cohn Livingston wrote poems for children. The poems she wrote were all about things around us, which include themes about music, nature, and people. The author usually uses short lines, simple words, and proper spellings in her poems in order to make them easier for children to understand. Most of her poems rhyme.

The Tape

Poor song,

         going around in your cassette

         over and over again, repeating

         the same old tune,

         can you breathe in there?

Come, song,

         going around in your cassette

         over and over again, break out!

         let me play you

         fresh on my guitar!

                 Myra Cohn Livingston

The poem, “The Tape” is about a song inside the tape. The author was listening to it, and thought that it’s boring because the song just plays over and over again. She then decided to “free” the song from its “cage”, so she played it on her guitar to make the song more interesting. The poem is divided into two stanzas. She arranged the first lines of the two stanzas apart from the other lines to show that things were going to change in the lines the readers are going to read.

The first stanza seems to express a boring mood. It talks an ordinary scene in a house, which was the author listening to music on a tape. It makes me feel a bit depressed since the tone was so plain and simple. The punctuations she used were commas that give me a dull impression, but the question mark at the end gives a sign that something would happen next.

The second stanza expresses a happier mood. The tone was clearly brighter than before. She used the same words in line 2-3 and line 7-8, except the ending words “repeating” (line 3) and “Break out” (line 8). Using this method, readers can feel the swing in the mood immediately. These words stand out and made a huge contrast comparing to the first stanza. She put exclamation points to make the stanza sound more cheerful.

The author used personification in her poem; we can see this from words like “breathe” (line 5). This is a really simple poem and it’s easy to understand. The theme she chose is also close to our own life.

Although Myra Cohn Livingston is not with us anymore, but the poems she wrote will be always by our side. What she gave to the literature cycles will never be forgotten.


  1. http://www.childrensliteraturecouncil.org/myra_cohn_livingston_award.htm
  2. http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/birthbios/brthpage/08aug/8-17lvngstn.html
  3. http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2007/08/hail-myra-cohn-livingston.html
  4. http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/About/Awards/Livingston.pdf




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