Friday, April 10, 2009

Poetry Book Review

STEADY HANDS: POEMS ABOUT WORK. Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, 2009. Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN 978-0-618-9035-1.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stacie Vaughn Zimmer last week at the Texas Library Association’s annual conference in Houston. She autographed her latest poetry collection, Steady Hands: Poems About Work, with these words: “Lynda, May your steady hands always find poetry in them!”

The poems in this book cover a gamut of professions, both blue collar and white collar, and there is no stereotyping since Ms. Zimmer intermingles the masculine and feminine pronouns in her poems. There are a few surprises – the dog walker suffered a nervous breakdown in his previous profession of attorney, the organizer conducts her own interviews instead of being interviewed, and the cafeteria cook looks like Elvis.

The first poem is titled “Morning,” and describes the frantic pace of getting ready on a normal workday. It ends with the lines “Engines hum/heels click/and doors thud/behind ambitions.” The last poem is titled, “Night,” and ends with the lines “Then the moon/unlocks the door/for the night shift.” The illustrations for both these poems depict the exact same little boy in his bed; the few things that are different are the lighting in the room, the time on the alarm clock, whether he’s pulling the blanket off or on, and the sky in the window behind. Otherwise, the same little boy gazes at the camera in silent contemplation of his future – which job will HE choose?

The illustrations in this book are by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy and include a multiple of media, such as collage; ink-line, pastels, and water color drawings; and photography. My favorite illustration is the one that accompanies the poem “Flight Attendant.” It shows a little boy about 7 or 8 on his bicycle, smiling up at 3 airplanes flying overhead in a pastel blue sky. This illustration matches the last 6 lines of the poem perfectly:
    “where, as a child,
    he would stop
    (even on his bicycle)
    and dream
    about the planes he saw
    Skimming through the clouds.”

Of course, my favorite poem in this collection is “Librarian.”

Logging onto his blog,
the librarian reviews
a graphic novel he scored
at a conference in Toronto.
He edits
a podcast interview
with a new voice
in the poetry slam scene,
adds friends to the teen library
Internet café.
Then he grabs some sodas and bags of snacks
and heads downstairs
to open the all-buy book club
that meets just after school.

Graphic from: Accessed 4/10/2009

No comments:

Post a Comment