If you’re still looking for holiday gifts or start-the-year-with-a-treat gifts for your home, classroom, a host present, something lasting … consider this book.
The Poetry of US
edited by J. Patrick Lewis
National Geographic Partners, 2018, 192 pages
Not everyone can travel to all the dots on our country’s map, but this book transports us throughout America with the power of poetry, engaging all our senses. There are more than 200 poems that celebrate the taste, smell, weather, people, colors, and feelings of our United States.
Patrick Lewis has gathered thought-provoking, inspiring, sometimes funny, always evocative poems from past and present, featuring Robert Frost and Naomi Shihab Nye, Gwendolyn Brooks and Victor Hernández Cruz, Bill Holm and Joseph Bruchac. Current poets are well-represented, giving this book a timely presence.
Published by National Geographic Partners, the photos are as appealing as the poems … together they create a book to savor and return to again and again. The design is so well done that I’ve begun to take note of which designer is responsible for which book at NatGeo. Thank you, Kathryn Robbins, for this gem.
Helping readers, you’ll find a Table of Contents by location, a subject index, a list of books about types of poetry, and a final note by Mr. Lewis that invites you to write your own poetry about the places you love.
To convince you, I’m including very brief portions of the poems so you will acquire this book. You will find the poems and photos irresistible.
From “New York Notes” by Harry Shapiro (page 40)
- Caught on a side street
In heavy traffic. I said
To the cabbie, I should
have walked. He replied,
I should have been a doctor.”
From “Asian Market” by Linda Sue Park (page 42), in both English and Korean Hangul
“Sweets in a pink and green box
with a secret. You can eat the wrapper.”
From “Ode to a Knish Shop” by Lesléa Newman (page 43)
“Mrs. Stahl’s sold kasha knishes
Boy oh boy, were they delicious!”
From “El Paso’s Light” by Pat Mora (page 127), translated into Spanish by Dr. Gabriela Baeza Ventura.
“El Paso: even in the desert cold, a city of warm smiles.”
“El Paso: aún en el frio del desierto, una ciudad de sonrisas cálidas.”
Every page turn pulls me on, finding the unexpected:
From “Marion Mitchell Morrison,” by John Barr (page 128)
“The words he would like to be remembered by:
‘Feo fuerte y formal,’ by which the Mexicans mean
‘He was ugly, strong, and had dignity.’
Even his critics agreed, the man on screen,
and the man you met were one and the same John Wayne.”
“Silence in North Dakota,” by Bill Holm (page 110), caused me to stop breathing. Read the entire poem, a smidgen will not have the same effect.
I resonated deeply with a reading of “Sacred Land” by Laura Purdie Salas (page 93). I live in Minnesota and it’s about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It’s perfect.
You’ll find the poems that connect you to your own experiences.
This book is not only about the places, it’s about the events that connect the living and the dead, the people who provide the color and the texture of our surroundings.
(Do take a peek beneath the dust jacket — what a treat!)
The book begins with this quote: “All poetry begins with Geography.” (Robert Frost).
This book emphatically does.
What a great review. I haven’t made it to all the poems you cited, yet. I’m reading a poem or two at a time, really soaking each one up. I feel like I’m on a tour of my country, getting to know the behind the scenes bits that they don’t necessarily show you on the tourist sites:>) I’m so pleased you liked “Sacred Land”! Thanks, Vicki.
Same here, Laura. I’ve enjoyed each poem and don’t want to reach the end.