Friday, March 04, 2011

Poetry Friday: Dizzy in Your Eyes

For today's Poetry Friday, I have a book review. Except...it feels funny calling it a book. I haven't actually held this book; instead, I downloaded it onto the Kindle which I got for Christmas. I have enjoyed reading on my Kindle much more than I thought I would. I've already read two complete books on it. But reading poetry on it is just not the same experience.

I have two books of poetry on my Kindle. The first is the complete works of Emily Dickinson. This was one of the first things I downloaded, and I even paid for it. And I was a little disappointed. I wouldn't have expected that the appearance of the page would matter much to me; it's all about the words, I would have said. But I find the layout of the book annoying. I don't like it that one line of a poem is on one page, and then I have to turn the page (this is an expression which will soon be gone, I guess, or just persist in the way we still say "dial a phone number") to see the rest of the poem. The great Emily's words are still fabulous, and I love having all of them at my fingertips, but I think I'd rather see them on an actual page.

I can't resist sharing this Emily Dickinson poem, by the way, which I just read while looking at the Kindle and composing the above paragraph:


We play at paste,
Till qualified for pearl,
Then drop the paste,
And deem ourself a fool.
The shapes, though, were similar,
And our new hands
Learned gem-tactics
Practising sands.


Sigh. Isn't it wonderful? But it did annoy me that the last line was on the top of the next page.

So, anyway. The second book of poetry which I downloaded for my Kindle was one which I had seen reviewed on someone's blog and put on my wish list. I'm always looking for poems that my students will love and relate to. I give them lots of classic works, but it's always fun to introduce them to something a little more accessible. So when I got a gift certificate for my birthday recently, I used part of it for Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love, by Pat Mora.

As I said, I haven't held the actual book in my hands, and perhaps in the book the form descriptions actually are on the page preceding the poem itself. But I doubt the last line of the first page of the preface is on a page by itself. These things are small annoyances but they do affect my pleasure in the poems, even if only slightly.

However, I did find pleasure in the poems. They are all about love, but many different kinds of love. We see the boy hedging his bets by courting three girls at the same time, with disastrous results. We listen in on the self-doubts of adolescents struggling to figure out how life works and how to love themselves. A girl writes to her father, remembering dancing with him at her cousin's wedding. Another watches her brother's best friend from afar and muses:

I watch Billy's hands
hold the basketball, and I imagine
my hand in his, my eyes
floating in his brown eyes.

No one has felt like this. Ever.


That poem captures some of what I love about teaching middle schoolers; it's such a privilege to get glimpses of the experiences they are having for the first time, when it really does feel as though nobody, ever, has felt the way you do.

Other poems in the book talk about the loss of a friend, misunderstandings, breakups. And Mora plays with forms: a sonnet, a sestina, haiku, and more. These will be fun to share with students.

Ultimately, the poems are about the words, and I enjoyed these. I'll probably swallow my petty annoyance and keep downloading poetry to my Kindle.

Others are posting poetry on today's roundup here, at The Small Nouns. Take a look!

3 comments:

B.C. said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you. The Dickinson poem was perfect and I'm a huge Pat Mora fan. Usually love poems don't do much for me, but I like the Mora love poem so much that I just might read that book (the actual book, I don't have a Kindle!). Thanks for sharing!

laurasalas said...

Dizzy in Your Eyes is just a lovely book, and I love Dickinson. One of the things I would love about an e-reader would be the ability to store tons of poetry. Interesting to hear the formatting issues, though. That would bother me too, I think!

Sarah SSM said...

I will never like my Kindle as well as I like a real book. There are all those reasons above. There is the inability to climb a tree with it or leave it on a beach towel and come back later. At least, if you have any sense. However, I got it for Haiti and was so glad. I had no place for books there and little suitcase room, either. This was the only way I could bring lots of books with me. Also, what I most love is that my oodles of books were all the free ones because I don't really have money to buy real ones. It means I can't buy things like Dizzy in Your Eyes - though I may eventually buy a few - but all the classics that are in the public domain are enough to keep me busy and happy for a long time.