Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems. Written and illustrated by Bob Raczka. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $20.50 ages 8 and up
A short introduction lets his readers know why Bob Raczka wrote this marvelous collection of concrete poems:
"In this book, I've done both. In the title of each poem, I've
created pictures with letters. In the poems themselves,
I've created pictures with words.
I hope these poems make you smile. I hope they make
you look at words in a fresh way. Most of all, I hope they
make you want to play with words yourself."
As he has in his other books, Guyku and Lemonade, Bob Raczka makes me believe that I should try to write some poetry. He certainly makes me think about words, their meanings and the ways they can be manipulated to create word pictures. So, I came to this book with much anticipation and was prepared to be awed once more by his skillful word choice. He never disappoints.
There are 21 concrete poems in this new collection, and he shapes them to help his readers clearly understand the meaning of the title for each one. He begins with a Table of Contents formed in the shape of a table, and goes on to surprise and motivate us to take up pen and paper to try some of our own 'word paintings'. The poems themselves are short; their meanings extend our thinking and cause us to look thoughtfully and deeply at language. Consider a thunderstorm as a 'cloud tantrum', or a hanger that hangs out 'in blue jeans and comfy old shirts'.
Inspired and inspiring, this is a book that helps us understand why celebrating poetry for one short month each year may not be nearly long enough at all. I love it, and you will, too!