Saturday, August 15, 2015

501 (2015 #58). Talking to the Sun

selected and introduced by Kenneth Koch and Kate Ferrell

I needed to read a poetry anthology for the Hood County Library's Summer Reading Challenge, and I chose this one because I liked the idea of pairing poems with works of art.  It's supposedly an anthology for "young people" and shelved in the juvenile nonfiction section of the library, but at 112 pages with about 177 poems, I feel it qualifies for this challenge.

I also think that's part of why it's not appropriate for its supposed age group of ages 3-8.  At those ages, I'd want to read more kid-friendly poems to my children.  I'd target this anthology at ages 10 (grade 5) and up.  The poems selected are representative of many cultures (including ancient and native peoples), but that also contributes to its appropriateness for an older age group.  Some well-known poets are represented, but others are overlooked in favor of lesser-known poets of the same "New York School" as selector Kenneth Koch - at least 15 of the poems fall in this category.

The poems are grouped into ten sections that, according to co-selector Kate Farrell in an introduction, "suggested by the history of poetry; the book starts with ancient and primitive poetry, and ends with modern poetry."  Poems in each section generally address a common topic or are of a certain type, such as nature, spring, children, love, nonsense, animals, the universe, ordinary things, and dreams.  While the introduction and appendix (also by Farrell, on helping young people like poetry) and section introductions are good, and some of the commentary on individual poems is helpful (such as definitions of words no longer in common use), other commentary is superfluous.

Poems in the book are paired up with works from New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art (which co-published the book). Sometimes the connections are obvious, sometimes they are not, but they should spark good discussions.  I loved the idea of doing this. The cover photo is detail from the image of one of those works, The Repast of the Lion by Henri Rousseau, with the book title strategically covering the lion eating his prey.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This book was borrowed from and returned to the Hood County Library.]

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