“It feels weird smuggling something about poetry up to my room like it’s the new Penthouse. / But I don’t want Dad to know what I’m doing yet. Even th “It feels weird smuggling something about poetry up to my room like it’s the new Penthouse. / But I don’t want Dad to know what I’m doing yet. Even though I’m not doing anything. Not really. / I’m just going to fool around a little, see what’s what poetry-wise.” - from “Inquiring Minds Want to Know,” by Kevin Boland
Up until now, Kevin Boland’s life has been pretty simple, fairly straight-forward. He goes to school, plays baseball. He’s even kissed a couple of girls. Except now, he can’t. He can’t do any of those things - no school, no baseball, no kissing girls. Fourteen, and stuck in bed with mono. It’s the baseball he misses the most, but there are other things, too. When his Dad, who is a writer, gives Kevin a blank journal, it’s just so he can write a few things down if he gets bored. You know, something to take his mind off the fact that he’s stuck in bed. And at first it seems kind of crazy, but Kevin decides he wants to experiment a little bit with poetry. After all, it’s just in the journal - it’s not like anyone will ever know.
Through couplets and free-verse, sestinas and a pantoum, Kevin uses poetry to reflect on his friendships, his love of baseball, his relationships with girls, and the still sharp grief he feels after the death of his mother. At first, he’s most concerned with how rotten it is to have mono and how much he misses baseball but, as the days pass, Kevin finds that poetry allows him to think and feel in a way that nothing else can.
I love novels in verse - the way they use words economically, the way a poem can sometimes say so much more about a person or a situation than prose can. I especially love novels in verse when they are as thoughtfully written as this one by Ron Koertge. Kevin isn’t an angsty, emo teen or someone with a dark and tortured soul, he’s merely an average eighth grade boy interested in experimenting with the power of language and the varied ways a poet can express what’s inside himself. Like most novels in verse, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup reads quickly, but it is worth savoring, too. The forms and power of poetry deserve at least that much....more
"I like Amy already, if she can write a sestina, I'm gonna love her madly. Admire her, I mean. I'll admire her madly." - Kevin Boland
Since his bout with"I like Amy already, if she can write a sestina, I'm gonna love her madly. Admire her, I mean. I'll admire her madly." - Kevin Boland
Since his bout with mono, Kevin Boland's life has been more or less back to normal. Now Kevin's dad has given him a new journal, so Kevin's decided to mess around with poetry again. He's not sick anymore, he has plenty of other things to do, but writing poetry fills a need for Kevin - it gives him an outlet for whatever is percolating inside his mind. For the most part, what's percolating seems pretty good. Kevin's girlfriend, Mira, is still a part of his life and his baseball team has made the playoffs. It's a shame that those two things have to be separated, but Mira doesn't really know anything about baseball - or poetry.
It turns out there are a few darker things under Kevin's skin as well. His dad is ready to take the first few tentative steps away from grieving for Kevin's mother and Kevin isn't really sure he's okay with that. Then there's Mira. Yes, she's still really cute, but she's not always all that fun to be with. And would it be so hard for her to learn about either baseball or poetry? They are the two most important things in Kevin's life right now. It's while Kevin is musing on these thoughts that he meets Amy at an open mic poetry night. Amy, who is everything that Mira isn't. Kevin has a girlfriend. Amy has a boyfriend and she only wants to be poetry buddies anyway. So why can't Kevin get Amy off his mind?
This follow up to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup has all of the wonderful qualities that made that novel about Kevin's first forays into poetry such an interesting read. Kevin's journal (which he calls "Shakespeare's Secret Diary" is full of free verse, couplets, ghazals, a villanelle and one memorable sestina. Using poetry, Kevin is able to sort through his emotions and be completely honest with himself, at least, about how he really feels. As with Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, Mr. Koertge has delivered an engaging and entertaining novel in verse that perfectly captures the inner musings of a thoughtful fourteen-year-old boy....more