CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002
Poetic forms and devices come alive in these two intriguing and appealing books. With great skill and obvious delight in the English language, the author creates a unique collection of poetry which can be appreciated by readers of all ages. A variety of poetic techniques, arranged alphabetically, are presented through illustrative examples and brief definitions. In each of the two books, twenty-six types of poems are included, one for each letter of the alphabet. The structures and devices range from the more commonly known, such as limerick, haiku, and epitaph, to the more obscure but fascinating: gradatio, kyrielle, and rhopalic verse. Each entry includes the name of the form or device, its definition, an original poem which applies that form creatively and effectively, and an illustration. The poems are invariably imaginative and entertaining, and challenge readers to recognize the related poetic structures and devices. Even without making explicit such connections to form, the poems bear re-reading repeatedly, as new layers of interest emerge in the use of language. The definitions of each form are clear and concise, and well-illustrated by the associated poems. The numerous illustrations are colourful, support the content of each poem, and add interest for younger readers.
Fly With Poetry covers a wide range of subject material, including sleep (a doublet), felt pens (a nonsense poem), procrastination (a quatrain), and phosphorescence (a triolet). This volume concludes with brief explanations of fourteen additional poetic forms. The author carries the alphabetical organization to a more challenging level in Leap into Poetry, for not only are the poetic forms organized alphabetically, but also each is linked with an insect or spider which starts with the same letter. Hence, readers can enjoy "Ants," a poem to illustrate alliteration, in which every word starts with the letter A, and "Underwing Moth," written in univocalic verse. In this poem, amazingly only the vowel "I" appears throughout all thirty-six words. Children interested in knowing more about each insect can turn to the final four pages of the book to read short notes.
These two books fulfill multiple purposes: an alphabetical reference source of poetic forms, a teaching resource both for language arts and (in the case of Leap into Poetry) early years natural science, a collection of unique and imaginative poems, and a source of inspiration for young poets' own writing. Students and teachers of all elementary grade levels will find much material of interest in these delightful books.
Sheila Alexander is a recent graduate of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.