The prolific American poet W.D. Snodgrass, in his book De/Compositions, asks the question: What makes a good poem good? and what happens when you remove that quality? The short answer is that you spoil the poem, but the particular ways of spoiling poems are what make this book so intriguing. Snodgrass takes poems by W.H. Auden, … Continue reading How to ruin a perfectly good poem, and why
It’s been a long time since I read Ray Bradbury’s novel Dandelion Wine, but one short episode sticks in my mind. An old woman, Mrs. Bentley, begins chatting with three children who pause by her yard on a summer afternoon. One is Tom Spaulding, one of the main characters of the novel; the others are … Continue reading Odd notions
I was prompted to get back to this too-long-neglected blog by a friend’s posting on Facebook, a link to a site called Awful Library Books. It has an amusing selection of truly odd titles that were actually found in real libraries. Good books tend to survive, one way or another, but unfortunately bad ones do … Continue reading Lame literature
Struwwelpeter is a classic example of the cautionary tale. It’s a collection of illustrated stories in verse showing misbehaving children and the dreadful consequences they suffer. First published in 1845, its original title was Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder mit 15 schön kolorierten Tafeln für Kinder von 3-6 Jahren (Funny Stories and Whimsical Pictures with 15 … Continue reading Cautionary tales
I’ve been roaming through this old anthology, published in the 1920s and entitled, with great simplicity, The Canadian Poetry Book. Without even looking at the preface or the endnotes you can tell it’s a school text. The names of Doris Morgan and her sisters from Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan are written on the cover and flyleaf. One … Continue reading Discoveries
I just re-read My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell for at least the fifth time. It’s an account of the time his family spent on the Greek island of Corfu when he was a boy. My husband and I both enjoy this book, but have discovered that we can’t read it at bedtime, … Continue reading All there is to see
This spring, for some reason, I’ve been noticing birds more than ever before. Their sounds, their colors, their omnipresence. And that reminded me of Barbara Reid’s lovely illustrations for the children’s book, Have You Seen Birds? It’s worth a look even if you don’t have a child to read it with. Reid’s Plasticine illustrations are … Continue reading Have you seen birds?