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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This is Just to Say

A lovely gift arrived in my mailbox today: the new paperback version of Joyce Sidman's This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Only the covers are different, and I like each one for different reasons. The hardcover version's raised line of stitching draws my fingers to up and down the edge, and I often find myself contemplating the apologies I should give and forgiveness I need to grant. The art on the paperback cover is from the CIP page of the book, and it - along with that blue sky and sea - brings to mind the contentment of having asked for forgiveness or of having been given that gift from another person.

For those unfamiliar with the book, I should explain the format. The poems in the first half are poems of apology for the wrongdoings of sixth graders, expressed in their voices and directed at a person or thing. The second half of the book features poems that express forgiveness (or possibly just understanding or acknowledgment) from the recipients of the apology poems. Some make me laugh. Some bring a cringe of remembrance of something I did at the same age. Some cause me to wonder that children worry about such things as they express. Reading the collection is akin to getting to know the writers in that imaginary classroom...and imagining what the writers I know might write. All the poems are excellent examples of voice.

My favorites tonight were composed by a daughter and mother. Maria apologizes to her mother for creeping into the kitchen and cutting a "warm, thick brick" from the center of the brownie pan. Even the gaping, accusatory eye in the middle of the pan could not erase Maria's heavenly thoughts about the brownies. Her mom apologizes for creeping into Maria's messy room and accidentally reading a note from Bobby (which is another part of the class story and involves two other poems), and straightening just a bit. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a book I love. I must say I prefer the green cover for a cover, sweet simplicity, but I like both. You are receiving some wonderful gifts!