The last time I wrote a Poetry Friday post, I featured a book for young adults by Dennis Lee called SoCool. While I was in the UK this spring, I found another great book of poetry for teenagers called Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah. Zephaniah is a rap poet. His poems are a wonderful zany treat of language served up colorful, tasty, and rich. In “Vegan Delight,” you can really hear the sound of the words in a multicultural stew of rhyme:
Dumplins an nan
Channa an rotis
To give you a ‘flavor’ of this rap poet’s performance, you can see him recite the title poem of this book on video. Many of Zephaniah’s poems have a satirical, slightly polemical, edge to them but not without being entirely entertaining at the same time. Textually, on the page, the poems sing and laugh the same way they are read aloud, utilizing funky fonts and pictures to accompany the lines. There are some wonderful examples here of concrete poetry at its most accessible.
I have to say my favorite poem of all was “Who’s Who” with its wonderful ending stanza “I used to think poets/Were boring,/Until I became one of them.” Zephaniah is definitely one poet that is NOT boring, and as such is the perfect poet to introduce to teenagers. My son giggled and snickered through “Talking Turkeys,” enjoying its humorous rhyme. If the young adults in your household think poetry is the stuff and nonsense of boredom, give them a little taste of Zephaniah and they’ll be sure to change their minds.
This week’s Poetry Friday host is Sara Holmes at Read, Write, Believe.