Monthly Archives: February 2015

Up, Down, Up!

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Don’t see staircase,
Take first step.
See more steps,
Jump, jump upstairs!

Stumble,
Stumble,
Down, down,
Down!

Crash!

Back on step
I have climbed.
Go more slowly
Next time.

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Chicken Roasting

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I can smell the chicken roasting,
I can smell the skin get crisp.
I can smell the juices dripping,
As with olive oil they mix.
Now the pan is a tub of warm juice.

Review Of Barbara Wyn Klunder’s “Other Goose: Recycled Rhymes For Our Fragile Times…”

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I really liked “Other Goose: Recycled Rhymes For Our Fragile Times” by Barbara Wyn Klunder. Its poems are clever, and they all address important social issues. They’re funny, but in a very dry and sarcastic way. I also love how they’re all retellings of nursery rhymes. I’m a big fan of rewriting classic poems and stories with modern twists, and these poems remind me of the attempts I’ve made at retelling fairy tales in a way that addresses modern social issues. Maybe someday I’ll post my modern, almost futuristic, retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
While I like all the poems in this book, an issue I have with some of them is that they do not maintain the essence of the original nursery rhymes. I think any kind of retelling, whether it’s a parody or something more serious, should maintain the essence of what it’s retelling. This is one of the issues I have with my least favorite poem, “Blow, Blow, Blow Your Nose.” This is a retelling of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” but it has nothing to do with the lyrics of that song. In addition, the social issue it’s about (seasonal allergies) is not very serious compared to the other issues addressed in this book. This makes it seem kind of out of place in this book.
I have a similar complaint about “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.” Sure, it’s about an environmental issue (running out of natural resources like oil and gas), and I like most poems in this book (and elsewhere) about environmental issues.  For this issue, though, Klunder should have based it on a nursery rhyme about running out of something or not having enough, like “Old Mother Hubbard.” The retelling of “Old Mother Hubbard” in this book is good, though. It’s about poverty and relying on food banks. I understand Kunder’s decision to have her “Old Mother Hubbard” retelling be about poverty, since there are already lots of environmental poems in this collection, and since she made the decision to have only one retelling of each well-known nursery rhyme.
If she had decided to write multiple retellings of the same nursery rhyme for this book, though, there should have been one “Mother Hubbard” retelling about poverty and one about dwindling natural resources. It doesn’t make sense to have the poem about dwindling natural resources be a “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” retelling, because that poem is about the opposite; the black sheep has plenty of wool. A retelling of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” should be about an issue related to excess, like a child having lots of toys but not enough time with his or her parents, or a rich person having plenty of money while everyone else is starving. In fact, maybe I’ll try rewriting “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” in a way that deals with one of those issues.
“Jack and Jill” is a nice example of an environmental poem (this one deals with urban water pollution) that does a good job of maintaining the essence of the original nursery rhyme. Another is “Humpty Dumpty,” which also deals with water pollution, except for this poem, it is the illustration that draws the connection between the original rhyme and its retelling. It shows Humpty falling into the polluted lake.
Some of these poems, like “Old King Cole,” “There Was An Old Woman,” and “Hey, Diddle, Diddle” are positive. I like how Klunder was able to include these poems alongside all the grim ones dealing with serious social problems. I especially like “Hey, Diddle, Diddle,” because it’s based on the nursery rhyme of the same name, one of my childhood favorites. The last poem in the book is also one of my favorites, because it’s based on one of my favorite nursery rhymes and it’s about a social problem I am very passionate about solving. The nursery rhyme is “Starlight, Star Bright” (also the name of the retelling), and the social problem is air pollution.
“Little Bo Peep” is one of the few poems in the collection that addresses an issue specifically about the teens and tweens reading this book: dressing to be clones of one another, always following someone’s lead like sheep instead of making one’s own decisions. Even the poems that aren’t directly about them, though, will most likely get teens and preteens thinking about important social issues. They might even do the same for adults.  That is the main reason I think this book is great.  For those who are interested, here is a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Other-Goose-Recycled-Rhymes-Fragile/dp/0888998295

Tall Nature

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Each turn of the head
I see mountains,
Each turn of the head
I see trees.
Much taller than houses,
Much taller than cars.
Maybe Man won’t beat Nature.