Thursday, April 21, 2011

M6 Blushing Expressions of Love in Poems and Letters

Janeczko, Paul B. 2004. Blushing. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN: 0439530563.
     In this collection of poems, Janeczko organizes the poems to follow the rhythm of love: Beginning of Love, In Love, Alone in Love, the End of Love, and Remembering Love. The poets represented range from the past (Shakespeare and Bradstreet) to the current (Angelou and Merwin), representing the timelessness of love and the feelings associated with having and with losing it.

     As Janeczko writes in the introduction, “only the intensity of poetry could convey the intensity of what I was feeling, of what I had experienced” (x). While prose has more words to express the feelings and thoughts of a character, the brevity of poetry often speaks louder. The author chooses the style, the rhythm, and even the length and spacing to express an exact emotion or feeling. Each poem is unique just as each love is unique yet similar.

     The combination of old poems with new ones bridges a gap in poetry and thus in poetry lessons. With the common theme of love, teachers and librarians can pair read a poem by a nineteenth century poet and one from recent years. For example, “Time Does not Bring Relief” by Edna St. Vincent Millay’s powerful final lines and “Separation by W.S. Merwin are written in different time periods but reflect the same sorrow of lost love.

“Time Does not Bring Relief”

And entering with relief some quiet place

Where never fell his foot or shone his face

I say, “There is no memory of him here!”

And so stand stricken, so remembering him.


Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle

Everything I do is stitched with color.

     The book is a beautiful look at love, both the passion and the pain of giving your heart to another. It’s a great resource for a teacher or librarian to have to pull poems for class discussion or analysis. For poetry lovers, reading the book is like reuniting all your old friends (Langston Hughes, John Donne) with your new friends (Angelou and Lady Sono no Omi Ikuha).

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