Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Poetry Review - Poetry Speaks Who I Am edited by Elise Paschen

Poetry Speaks Who I Am
Ed by Elise Paschen
March 2010
176 pgs ARC
5 stars

My Thoughts
Poetry Speaks comes with a CD that includes poets reading their own works.  The table of contents lets you know which poems are on the CD, since only about half of them are included.  The ARC also included a little 1/2 sheet with the selections listed on it.  That was really helpful since I didn't have to turn back to the beginning to check on a poem, I could just consult the sheet I was using as bookmark.  The poems looked like I might have typed them out on recycled paper and then added a design.  Spare but creative and encouraging.  Not a normal standoffish type of poetry book at all. There are even lines in the back to write your own poems.

I am not a huge poetry fan but this book spoke to me.  I loved the mix of contemporary and classic poets, the mix of ethnicities, the well-known with the not-so well known.  We had works from Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, Maya Angelou, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sherman Alexie and Billy Collins. Some of my favorites were SEDNA by kimiko hahn, WHAT YOUR MOTHER TELLS YOU NOW by mitsuye yamada, and

kim stafford

At the dinner table, before the thrown
plate, but after the bitter claim,
in the one beat of silence
before the parents declare war

their child, who had been temporarily
invisible, but who had from school
a catechism, speaks: "Would you like me
to help solve the conflict?"  Silence.

They can't look at each other.  A glance
would sear the soul.  A wall of fire seethes,
Maginot line through the butter plate,
split salt from pepper, him from her.  Silence.

So the child speaks: "Three rules, then:
One--you have to let each other finish.
Two--you have to tell the truth. Three--
you have to want to solve the conflict.

If you say yes, we will solve it.
I love you.  What do you say?"

Another one I enjoyed

mary jo salter

Much less
the slam
than the slalom
gives me a thrill:
that solemn, no-fuss
Olympian skill
in skirting flag after flag
of the bloody obvious;
the fractional
while speeding downhill,
at the key
in a sort of whole-
body trill:
the note repeated,
but elaborated,
more touching and more
for seeming the thing 
to be evaded.

You can read these for fun as well as teach them.  So many terms you can define: metaphor, simile, enjambment, litote, rhythm, rhyme scheme, free verse, etc.  I think both teachers and students will love this.  I already bought some for our school library! I give this 5 stars because it's not one to be read in a normal lit circle but to put in your pocket and carry around with you.  My only issue is they printed it in hardcover. This needs to be paperback for portability and usability. 

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