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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Firebly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, selected by Paul B Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Stewart. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $ 19.00 ages 6 and up

"A wild winter wind
Is tearing itself to shreds
On barbed-wire fences.
-Richard Wright

Rain beats down,
roots stretch up.

They'll meet
in a flower.
-Raymond Souster"

What a perfect way to begin April Poetry Month, with this celebration of words and seasons!

300 years of poetry, and this practiced poet and anthologist is content to choose 36 poems to take his readers through the four seasons. It must have been a daunting task; he has chosen admirably and with clear attention to what is sure to captivate a warm and welcoming audience.

It is not a traditional collection. Each section explores the many subtle signs of the seasons in short, spirited choices. Some will be familiar, others will not be. Some have only a few words, but each evoke an image that is made even clearer with Melissa Sweet's brilliant mixed-media collages.


Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.

- Carl Sandburg"

If you have experienced travel on a night train, you will know exactly what Mr. Sandburg imparts in his short poem. Melissa Sweet illustrates it with eighteen train window panels, showing the ever-changing muted moonlit sights, alongside brilliant flashes when the sun rises, when the moon glows brighter, or even when city lights offer glimpses of an urban landscape.

What makes a season memorable to you? There are poems here that will help you describe just exactly what that is. There are many lovely poems chosen. Each artistic interpretation offers a changing view and perspective. The design is beautiful, and varied. Meant to be read by everyone, it is a terrific collection.  Enjoy!                                                                        

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