Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not "A-Verse" to Jack Prelutsky

While savoring the works of poets like Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, both Brownings, Basho, Seamus Heaney, and Yehuda Amachai, I also have a fondness for  ... Jack Prelutsky.

Yeah, the children's poet.

I love children's poetry.

I have a whole shelf of children poetry books. A big shelf.

And one of my favorite writers is Prelutsky, the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate.

Really. There is such a thing as a Children's Poet Laureate. They just announced that the new one is another of my favorite childrens' poets, Kenn Nesbitt.

But back to Prelutsky.

He has published some 50 collections of poetry (I only have a few of them).

The most recent one in my collection is 2012's I've Lost My Hippopotamus.

I just finished reading it.

The book contains some 100 poems. This book follows the two that came out in 2010, and he published another one this year. Talk about high volume.

The amazing thing is that so much of his poetry is good. Not Frost or Heaney English professor good, but it's still good children's verse. It's full of puns and word plays.

"When you use no herbs in cooking
Do you hope you're saving thyme?" ("When")

"It's noisy in my garden
And my ears are getting sore -
My tulips talk incessantly,
My dandelions roar." ("It's Noisy in My Garden")

I think some of his poems will be in children's poetry anthologies for many years to come. I bet more people will read his poems than some of the "serious" poets I'm also fond of reading.

As you can imagine, when someone is turning out so many poems in such a short time, the quality sometimes varies. There's a couple in I've Lost My Hippopotamus that are weaker than the others - but only a few. (My least favorite one is about pigeons on a statue).

And he gets into formulas/patterns. In this collection, he's got a lot of poems about mythical creatures based on combining names or words - Penguinchworms, the Spotted Pittapotamus, Flamingoats, Pelicantaloupes, and more.

But hey, when you turn out so many verses you need a few tricks up your sleeve.

So if you like children's poetry and if you like Prelutsky's verse, this is a great book to read. It gets a thumbs up from me.

Pax et bonum

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