Friday, April 18, 2008

Book Review: Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World

Jan Greenberg's ambitious poetry anthology Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World is an excellent poetry choice for readers ages ten and up. Greenberg explains her goal is to share the tradition of ekphrasis, "poetry inspired by art," practiced by poets from all over the world. To this end, each poem (all by living artists except one--"The Girl with the Pitcher," by Aleksandr Pushkin) is presented in its original and in translation. Accompanying each set--the original and the translation--are reproductions, or photographs, of the famous works of art that inspired them.

Greenberg divides the book into four sections: Stories ("the poet looks at an artwork and imagines a story"); Voices ("the poet enters the canvas and speaks in the voice of the subject depicted there"); Expression ("the poet is interested in the transaction that takes place between the viewer and the art object"); and Impressions ("the poet identifies the subject of the artwork and describes what he or she sees in the elements of the composition..."). Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, the book is beautifully produced and will draw the young reader in.

Language Geeks--I use the term lovingly, as I am one myself--will particularly appreciate Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. It's a thrill to see the Polish, and the Russian, and the Arabic, and the Japanese there before you on the page. Art lovers will be drawn to this volume as well and will delight in the poetry that paintings and other works of art brought forth. Side by Side is a sophisticated work, but one artistic teens will find motivating. It's perfect for Middle School, Junior High, or High School English and Art classes.

Today's Poetry Friday entry is the Pushkin poem included in Side by Side. First the Russian, and then the English translation (in part) by Carleton Copeland:

Царскосельская статуя

Урну с водой уронив, об утес ее дева разбила.
Дева печально сидит, праздный держа черепок,
Чудо! не сякнет вода, изливаясь из урны разбитой;
Дева, над вечной струей, вечно печальна сидит.

A Statue at Tsarskoye Selo

How did she let the jug slip? Now, alas, on the rock it lies broken.
Sorely the maiden laments, futilely lifting a shard.

Other Blog Reviews:

A Fuse #8
And, hey! Jan Greenberg blogs at I.N.K.
This week's roundup is over at The Well-Read Child. The schedule for the rest of April, May, and June will be up this weekend!