In honor of the day of love, I’m celebrating Dizzy in Your Eyes; Poems About Love, Pat Mora’s new collection of poetry (Knopf, 2010). Don’t miss this innovative anthology of nearly 50 poems about all kinds of love, a chocolate box of many flavors and forms of poems (clerihew, tercet, list, dialogue, blank verse, tanka, letter poem, pantoum, sestina, villanelle, sonnet, cinquain, anaphora, haiku, acrostic, triolet, blues, couplet, lyric, ode, and song) with brief notes on each form in the “wrapper.”
There is clearly a youthful point of view and voice, but the poems reference love of parents, friends, family, pets—acknowledging the depth of feeling in many relationships and at many stages of life. (“Old Love” about an uncle’s mourning his wife’s passing is especially beautiful and poignant.) Besides the variety of forms and voices, many poems also incorporate Spanish words, always in a clear and musical context that adds another layer of sweetness. “Ode to Teachers” is particularly special to me and appears twice, once in English, once in Spanish.
I predict these poems will really resonate with young readers in middle school through high school, although older elementary school age readers will enjoy and understand the poems, too. There is great sensitivity and heart, without being explicit or scintillating (read: safe for school libraries), yet the emotions are often intense and authentic. And the look of the book is so accessible and inviting. The “psychedelic” cover in black/white/red circles and swirls is crazy-fun and a parallel grayscale geometric design of patterned circles and stripes decorates the book throughout giving it a strong, graphic impact. In fact, there is no poetry on the pages on the left side throughout the book—every poem begins only on the pages on the right-hand side—which I think kids will love. Plus they’re placed perfectly on the page, in an inviting font in this small trim size (5x7) volume. Congrats to the book designer for these judicious and effective choices!
Finally, I think the kids will also enjoy performing many of these poems, particularly since the voices and points of view are so strong and varied—that would come alive when read aloud. “Doubts,” for example, is constructed with a series of questions, which would be so powerful read aloud with a different person reading/reciting each question, beginning:
Doubts, p. 11
By Pat Mora
What if guys think I can’t kiss because I can think?
What if I ask her out and she laughs?
Believe it or not, that poem reminds me a bit of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Whatif” that I’ve used with many, many groups of kids for reading aloud and it always gives me gooesbumps (and the kids respond strongly too) when hearing the different “worry” lines voiced by the kids who FEEL those worries. Powerful stuff!
I’d also like to showcase one whole sample poem to give you a feel for Mora’s fine walk between romance and reality, love and heartache. (Plus the title of the book comes from this quartet.) Here’s her haiku series on love. She writes in the accompanying note, “Since haiku traditionally contain a seasonal reference, I decided to use the four seasons as the settings for four haiku that chronicle a relationship.”
By Pat Mora
Everything’s in love.
Birds, butterflies, and now me,
dizzy in your eyes.
Love blooms in hot nights.
Under stars, hand-in-hand strolls.
Kisses like star sparks.
Now I walk alone.
Did autumn wind cool our love?
No hugs warm me now.
Snow, advise my heart.
White whisper, “Friends. Books. Patience.
Bright new year’s coming.”
Mora, Pat. 2010. Dizzy in Your Eyes; Poems About Love. Knopf, p. 123.
This is a lovely collection about love, about relationships of all kinds, with a variety of poetic forms (and notes) to guide aspiring poets. It’s gentle and reflective, without being overly sweet, realistic and descriptive, without being overly graphic, and completely captivating. Great “occasional” poetry, too-- perfect for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other occasions —the final poem, “My Song” would even be perfect for a graduation or commencement ceremony.
FYI: Be sure to look for Pat's previous collection of poetry for young people, My Own True Name: New And Selected Poems For Young Adults, which has one of my favorite poems about learning English, "Elena."
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2010. All rights reserved.
Image credit: patmora.com