Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poetry Friday: Paint Me a Poem

Paint Me a Poem by Justine Rowden. Wordson, 2005
(1-59078-289-5) $16.95

My first reaction to this book was to wish for a control knob so I could turn it down a bit. It may be illustrated with "Masterpieces of Art" but there is nothing sedate or dignified about it: the design roars at you with images and fonts, insisting that you must, you will see what the poet was trying to achieve. Luckily, what the poet achieves here really is worth seeing.

Looking at various works of art, Rowden has written poems that find a special essence in each one and draw it out for us to enjoy. A portrait of a woman by Renoir leads to a memoir about a little girl's special days with her father, perfectly matching the pleased, yet slightly wistful nostalgia in the woman's face. The poem on a box of plums painted by Jospeh Decker finds the movement inherent in the picture, seeing the plums as "rockin' and rollin'... Ready to swing their stems,/Moving in rhythm/To a juicy tune." My favorite poem-picture combination is a portrait of a young man by Goya, accompanied by a poem which talks about secrets and surprises... like that of a black silk hat which is unexpectedly red on the inside. Suddenly, in this thoroughly realistic portrait, we see a hint of anthropomorphism--just a suggestion that the hat is gently laughing to itself.

Enjoyable though they are, most of these free-form verses don't read aloud as well as they read silently, so it's best to look at this book primarily as a visual experience. Maybe it doesn't need that control knob after all. (6 & up)


Anonymous Anonymous bligged...

Thanks for that very generous review, WEB. It is heartening when a reviewer really 'gets' what the writer was seeking to achieve.

Justine Rowden

6/25/2006 5:29 PM  

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