Writing and Ruminating

Thoughts on writing, reading, and poetry. With the occasional diversion, bien sûr.

Monday, February 20, 2012

BookSpeak!: Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas

A few weeks ago, I attended the launch for Jenn Hubbard's new book, Try Not to Breathe, at Children's Book World in Haverford, PA. I consider CBW to be my "local" indie, despite being the better part of an hour's drive from my home in New Jersey, since it really is the closest independent children's book store to where I live. But I digress.

While at Jenn's party, I purchased a copy of BookSpeak!: Poems About Books by my good friend Laura Purdie Salas. It was cleverly illustrated using original artwork and collage by Josée Bisaillon.

I bought the book because Laura is a good friend, and I wanted to support her.

Having read it, I can assure you that, based on the quality of the poems and the wonderful illustrations, I'd have bought this book anyway, even if I didn't count the author as a personal friend. It contains 21 poems about books, many written in rhyme (mostly couplets or cross-rhymed quatrains). Some are lyrical ("Skywriting", which compares the writing on a page to "inky black birds/forming the flocks that shift into words"), some are funny (such as the poem for three voices, in which the middle of the book laments being the middle). Some are from the perspective of a book ("Lights Out at the Bookstore" and "The Sky is Falling"), and some from only a part of the book ("Book Plate", "Index", "I've Got This Covered", or "Picture This"). Heck, one of the poems is about the plot element known as conflict, and is (quite appropriately) entitled "Conflicted".


(Two-page spread showing "Written in Snow" and "Book Plate")

One of my favorite poems in the book is "This Is the Book", a poem that describes what various people in the book-making process do (writer, editor, designer, illustrator, publisher, and buyer), but I love it for the ending, which is consumer-oriented. Here are the first and last stanzas:

She is the writer
  with dreams in her head
  who writes them down
  so they can be read.

. . .

And she is the reader
  who browses the shelf
  and looks for new worlds
  but finds herself.
My favorite poem/art pairing in the book might be the last poem, "The End", which features a collage-strip infinity symbol composed of chapter excerpts on which children stand and run, set against a brilliant red background. The illustration perfectly reflects the poem, which is written by "The End" of the book, which concludes:

I am not so much
The End
as I am an
invitation back
to the beginning.

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