DEAR MOM, DEAR DAD: POEMS FOR EVERYONE
Graphics by Valerie Sinclair.
Volume 11 Number 3.
The cover is inviting: a crumpled sheet of three-ring binder paper with the title, Dear Mom, Dear Dad, neatly written, a Pink Pearl eraser and a yellow Venus pencil—instant recognition by any older school kid, instant curiosity about the messages promised within. But "Poems for Everyone?". Surely not for children under the ages of eleven or twelve. Searching for the authors' ages, one discovers the back blurb: "YoungCanadians age 13-17 share with us thoughts and feelings.... of growing up." Meant, tlien, for teens and those interested in how teens perceive their world.
I asked my thirteen- and sixteen-year-old daughters to read the book and comment. The younger liked the poems by Alistair Someone, the older found the poem "I Never Say Sorry" (by the same Alistair) talked directly to her. Did this author appeal because of his age? Nowhere in the list of authors found at the end do we discover it. A pity. The thirteen contributors are from British Columbia, the Prairie Provinces, Ontario, and Quebec. Why no Maritimes or northern writers? The collection was supported by the Canada Council and the Government of Ontario, we find, but no mention anywhere of the circumstances. Was it a contest? How was material selected? This, plus the lack of an index, are the two irritants regarding format. Line sketches are effective.
But what of the poems themselves? They reflect needs: for love, freedom, independence, understanding, acceptance, pretty well the normal teen-age "bag." They range in quality from poor to exceptional. Most impressive are "Summer in Matsqui," "I Have Seen This Woman" and "Growing Up Crippled." Others, such as "But That's Not How I Feel," "I Never Say Sorry," and "Stuck" appeal because of the sincerity of the message. And in the end, it is the communication from these young people that will offer their reader a worthwhile source of "somebody else feels the way I do." Children from upper elementary through high school will find at least one poem they can relate to. For the price, that is a good buy.
Fran Newman, Spring Valley P. S., Brighton, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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