A book of poetry is not the easiest thing to review, and honestly, I was a little worried when I saw this on the list for 2002. I have been known to bounce off of poetry in the past…but it’s National Poetry Month, and this turned out to be just the right thing for me to try to read when I unexpectedly found myself in a hospital room last week. (Don’t worry, everyone and everything’s fine.)
I ended up enjoying this quite a bit, at least partly because of the concept. The poems were written in reaction to or inspired by or about pieces of 20th Century American art. I felt like this made the poetry very accessible, seeing the artwork and reading the matching poetry made it easy to understand and relate to them.
This is not a very long book of poems, and I will likely read through again before I return this to the library, to see what i missed my first time through.
I think my favorite is the poem “The Poppy of Georgia O’Keeffe” inspired by O’Keeffe’s 1927 Poppy. (Link shows the picture)
In the carmine extravagance
the skirts of a Spanish dancer swirl
flamenco rhythms, castanets
drumming her heels on a wooden floor
staccato barks, deep intricate guitars
the energy pulsing from the dark
surrounds and enters
The poppy is wide open
her petals curve
like the skirts of a mountain
filled with the morning sun
and reaching the pinnacle shout
like the flower
in strict discipline, in eloquent sartori
in the wild grace of black and red.
Because the poetry is very accessible and includes the visual aspect of the artwork, I think this is a good way to try to get a kid reading poetry. The collection includes lots of different forms of both poetry and art, from free verse to sonnets, sculpture to oil paint, abstract to representational.