Lindsey's Reviews > Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers: The Life of Marc Chagall in Verse

Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers by J. Patrick Lewis
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's review
Apr 08, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: biography-memoir-picture-books, esl, illustrations, picture-books, read-alouds, ya-poetry, world-war-2, verse-novels
Read in April, 2012

I didn't know who Marc Chagall was before reading this book. Yes, shame on me. For other ignorant folks, Marc Chagall was a Russian Jewish painter, who lived a good portion of his life in Paris, but escaped to the U.S. during WWII. He was known for the surrealism in his work. He mostly worked with stained class in the latter part of his life.

Anyhoo...I thought it was okay. I mean I was ready to love it, but the poetry just didn't do it for me. I found the little nonfiction blurbs about Chagall's life at the time of the painting more interesting. The poetry tries to explain each piece of work in verse, but IMO it just didn't work. Here's a sample:

Over Vitebsk

When I was nine and ten,
I tried to catch the moon,
Not as a fiddler on the roof
like my grandfather
or Uncle Zoussy,
But as an artist in the sky.
My cloudy chariot was bound
to glimpse the grandeur,
though i was nothing more
than a tattered sack
of brushes making short
journeys into wonder.

So there it is. They all sound pretty much like that one. If you like that poem and it makes you want to see the corresponding painting, then this is the book for you. If you were like me, I wanted something more like Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath, which was excellent.

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