In the new issue of PaperTigers, poet Debjani Chatterjee gives a list of poetry books in the Personal Views section entitled Borderless World: Multicultural Poetry for Children and Young Adults. I found one of her suggestions at my local library. It was Around the World in Eighty Poems selected by James Berry and illustrated by Katherine Lucas (Macmillan Children’s Books, 2001.) This wonderful book contains 80 poems of differing forms and origins. A map at the beginning of the book shows where all the poems come from, and the poems are organized in the following index by their culture of origin.
My daughter and I have been reading this book together. Since poetry is a short form, I like to have my daughter read the poems to me. She sometimes takes issues with the metaphors; often she is quite literal in her interpretations, and yet other times she enjoys the sounds of the poem or the subject (of course, she picked a poem “All the Dogs” to read as dogs are her current obsession!). I liked the way we browsed through the book together, looking at the illustrations and titles to figure out which poem we wanted to ‘encounter.’ Poetry books are special that way; they are not necessarily meant to be read in a linear fashion. A poet I once read, talked about poems in a book being like pictures in a gallery — the poems are self-contained units of art meant to be appreciated in a singular way as one would gaze on a painting. Around the World in Eighty Poems is the kind of collection one can browse through and select accordingly. Katherine Lucas’ illustrations in soft dreamy pastels supplement the poems beautifully.
Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Liz at Liz in Ink.