105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: Dizzy in Your Eyes

It doesn’t feel like Valentine’s Day is this weekend. I mostly blame the snow, because it has taken up most of my mental energy. The storm also canceled school for the week, meaning no classroom parties with cupcakes, candy, and cheap cards. The sales hype hasn’t gotten to me because the only store I’ve visited in weeks is Ross, where in a fit of snow-crazed boredom I encouraged my teen to try on dresses for a dance in May.

We took home two that both looked amazing on her and spent thirty bucks total. I love Ross.

This outing came back to me as I was looking for a poem to share from Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love, by Pat Mora. In fact, this is probably the poem that I like best from the collection because it so clearly captures a teen’s insecurity and a relative’s unconditional love.
Mirrors

Grandma makes me mad.
    “You’re beautiful. Tan linda.
when I’m studying my face,
boring as old bread,
my wide waist,
    “Tan linda,”
my hard-to-hide hips,
my too-flat chest,
my eyes that won’t open wide
and round like my sister’s,
that hypnotize guys.
    “Tan linda.”

What does Grandma see?
This poetry collection features a fair share of romantic love for teens, involves asking for dates, holding hands, kissing and missing, but love is also expressed for Papi, sisters, grandparents, and the family cat. And there are love poems for swimming, writing and music.

Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about LoveI really wanted to love this collection of love poems. But I have to be honest and say that the some wasn’t enough. Some of the poems had Spanish words that gave the work a sense of culture and place. But far too few. Only one poem was translated in Spanish after the English version, and I don’t know why more poems weren’t done this way. Some of the poems had footnotes about poetic structure, but where this could have been a useful learning tool expanding the reach of this book, it wasn’t used very often. Most of the poems were free verse with no footnotes. Some of the poems had engaging phrases, like the above sentiment of the teen seeing her face as “boring as old bread,” or the “dizzy in your eyes” haiku that gives the book its name. But more often I felt like I was reading sentences broken apart in phrases for emphasis.

I was most disappointed by the use of space, or rather the lack of use. Except for the few with footnotes, each poem faced a page with a light gray pattern of circles or rectangles. So the page count is at least twice what it needs to be, making it seem like a more substantive collection than it is. The format was particularly irritating when the poems ran onto the next page, but only for a few lines.

So, I have to say that I’m torn. The book captures a middle-schooler mindset and showcases a variety of types of love. And yet, it didn’t give me enough. As a special offer, I’d be willing to give this book a chance in the hands of another reviewer. If you’d like a nice hard-copy book to read and possibly review, leave me a comment and I’ll choose a winner at random.

Lee Wind has the Poetry Friday Round-Up today, so head over there and see what’s cooking.

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7 comments:

Bill said...

Wait... Valentine's Day is this weekend?

tanita davis said...

*snorting at PapaReader*

Love that poem, and love that you honestly and critically describe what the book is lacking. Poetry collections are tough for me to like sometimes for just some of these same reasons.

Mimi Five said...

Cool title, I have to ask my husband who's Dominican if he knows that phrase. It's one of those that catches your attention because it sounds so odd in English, yet we get the meaning. It's interesting what you said about not seeing enough Spanish. I'd love to see more writing for kids in English with Spanish artfully laced in. I think young readers can handle it and it gives poetry and prose a great cultural context. btw, I was excited to find your blog and will look forward to checking in. Take care and stay warm and dry in all this snow!!

Peaceful Reader said...

You are right-some is not enough! Too bad. I liked the poem you shared though.

Mary Ann Scheuer said...

Pam, I really enjoyed your review - very thoughtful. I'm intrigued by this collection. I read several of the poems on Google Books, but wanted more. Let me know if you can send it - I'm happy to pay for the shipping, or send something in return. Mary Ann

MotherReader said...

Mary Ann, I'd be happy to send it your way. Send me your address to MotherReader AT gmail DOT com and I'll get it out to you as a late Valentine's Day present.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I like your approach to an unsure response - pass it on and continue the conversation! We should do more of this with more books we read/review.

We are making our own V. party with paper hearts, mom's special flannel pj pants for all, and a gluten free choc. cake for dessert. Sweets for the sweet! Hope you find some shared joy today.