I’ve just bought my first e-book. I realise that might fill some people with horror at how long it’s taken me to jump on the bandwagon, but it was always going to have to be something special that would propel me into action. Perhaps if I spent more time on public transport, I might have succumbed to an e-reader by now, but as it is… Anyway, I’ve just downloaded the free Kindle for PC and have taken the leap, tempted as I was by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong‘s e-book p*tag. It’s an exciting anthology of 31 poems newly written and published to coincide with National Teen Read Week this month in the US: “the first ever electronic poetry anthology of new poems by top poets for teens” – and wow, what a roll of poets it is: check it out here.
Following on from the success of their PoetryTagTime project of children’s poetry in April during the US’s national poetry month, this game of poetry tag includes some simple rules to connect the poems – each one had to include three words from the previous person’s poems. And an added twist is that the poets chose an image from this selection of photographs taken by Sylvia Vardell, as the inspiration for their poem. Each poet then also provided a short introduction to their choice of photograph. All this makes for a very exciting, energetic mix of poetry that can be read and enjoyed in many ways. I loved the added dimension of the word tag used in the cover photograph and to good effect in Janet Wong’s own poem “p*tag” – it rounds off the collection beautifully.
What’s really great is that the conceit of the tagging in no way defines the quality of the individual poems. From Marilyn Singer’s opening reverso poem “Time and Water”, you know you’re in for a treat. The array of names included several I’ve “met” through Poetry Friday, and others who are new to me – what a wonderful way for teenagers to encounter poetry; and the interactive nature of the e-book invites readers to explore each poet’s work more deeply. I was intrigued by Arnold Adoff’s introduction (as much a poem as his actual poem): in it he invites readers to email him so he can send the “original” in its, well, I’d like to say real format, but I’m not sure he would allow the word “real” to slip by – and it’s already on shaky ground in a discussion of e-books. Hmmm! Let’s quote then:
“this poem is in a format to fit the machine you are using now…
but feel free to be in touch [...]
and i’ll send you the “original” and we can talk about:
style and substance and the poet’s hard(est) head….
I’d like to think there’ll be some young poets getting in touch…
With so many ways to find a route into the collection (photographs, the three linking words, each poet’s introduction), not to mention the variety of viewing possibilities for its e-format, these exciting poems touch on so many emotions. From humor to deep pondering, there’s something here for every teen – even the so-called “Reluctant Reader” (Jaime Adoff), and like the goose (or is it a swan?) in Julie Larios’ “Walking, Waiting”, there’s the possibility of ‘a wild honk or two / or three that might surprise you.’