Patrica Vecchione’s, Revenge and Forgiveness An Anthology of Poems, is geared toward a young adult and o...moreReview pertains to the hardcover 2004 edition.
Patrica Vecchione’s, Revenge and Forgiveness An Anthology of Poems, is geared toward a young adult and older audience. Inspired by the events of 9/11 Vecchione (as noted on the back of the book) wanted to create something tangible, to help frame who we are as a country and individuals in light of the horrific events that terrorists brought in our lives. She felt these poems would help illuminate the dark feelings we have. She asks, “Can beauty be made out of ugliness and fear? Can it rise from the ashes?” The theme is how individuals deal with anger and grief when dealing with painful situations: revenge or forgiveness?
Interestingly, the poems about revenge took up at least 60 pages of the book. Poems dealing with forgiveness comprised only 12. Vecchione included authors from different time periods: Shakespeare, Frost, Dickinson, Gaius Valerius Catulus as well as contemporary poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Diane Thiel. The subjects of the poems include marital relationships, war, terrorism, friends, slavery, and god. Francisco X. Alarcon’s poem Prayer was thought provoking. “ I want a god as my accomplice who spends nights in houses of ill repute and gets up late on Saturdays….. a god who spits blood from tuberculosis and doesn’t even have enough for car fare.” Other poems such as A Curse On A Thief are lighthearted and resembled Irish curses.
I am not a lover of poetry. I just don’t seem to “get it” but find myself at a time in my life when I strive to be more forgiving of others. So I found the title and theme of this book interesting. I would have liked to see more poems about forgiveness included or at least an equal distribution. However the author’s inclusion of biographical notes with comments from some of the authors on why they wrote the poems was a welcome addition.
Novelist Plus suggests a grade level of 6th -12th grade. I feel in order to be truly understood and appreciated an older audience of 9th grade to adult is more appropriate. For example, the poems Why People Murder and A Note From a Loving Wife deal with martial relationships and might not be understood by younger readers. High school students might enjoy reading these poems to see how others dealt with anger and grief. Poems selected by the instructor could be used for discussion groups about how the students feel in similar painful situations and how would they deal with them: revenge or forgiveness? Additionally students might discuss what is meant by the phrase, “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness” (Josh Billings). Writing lessons would include writing their own poems about revenge and forgiveness. (less)
Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, what an intriguing title! Joyce Sidman’s poetry and Rick Allen’s illustrations capture the reader’s atten...moreDark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, what an intriguing title! Joyce Sidman’s poetry and Rick Allen’s illustrations capture the reader’s attention from the front cover and every page there after. As the title indicates each poem eloquently describes the nocturnal creatures we daytime creatures don’t often pay attention to (snail, owl, eft and even a tree).
Sidman chose her words wisely to convey the beauty of the night. The twelve poems starting with sunset and ending with sunrise are written in various poetry forms, some in rhyming couplets and others in free verse.
“The night’s a sea of dappled dark, the night’s a feast of sound and spark, the night’s a wild, enchanted park. Welcome to the night!”
The poetry is written on the left page of this landscape-style book. Illustrations are wisely placed on the right page along with additional interesting information about that creature. I especially enjoyed Night-Spider’s Advice. Sidman captured the voice of the wise orb spider, “Use what you have. Rest when you need to. Dawn will come soon enough. Someone has to remake the world each night. It might as well be you.” I learned from the additional information that most orb spiders eat their damaged webs. There is a helpful glossary of terms at the end of the book. It is clear how this book won the ALA Notable Book for 2011. However, I feel there should be an author’s note that gives additional information about what poetic form each poem is. I feel this was a missed opportunity to inform readers new to poetry with her beautiful examples.
Allen’s gouache illustrations are so well drawn the reader can almost feel the texture of the owl’s fur or the bark of the trees. Each illustration was colorful but set in heavy dark trimmed outline contrasting the dappled blue night.
Novelist Plus suggests a Lexile reading rate of 1020 (6th grade) and a grade level of K-3rd grade. The classroom uses of this text are numerous. It could be read aloud to younger children and the term nocturnal discussed. In addition, the habitat of the creatures discussed can be drawn as a response to reading. Students could use this text as a culminating study of poetry forms. After reading each poem aloud a discussion of it’s form can be discussed and the class as a whole can determine what form it portrays. Additional lessons can be found on the author’s webpage http://www.joycesidman.com/darkempero...
Students’ interested in the poetry and science facts might also enjoy, Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems also by Sidman but illustrated by Beckie Prange. (less)