________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 3 . . . . September 18, 2015


Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agricultural Poems.

Carol-Ann Hoyte, ed. Photography by Norie Wasserman.
n.p. , carol_ann_hoyte@hotmail.com, 2015.
69 pp., trade pbk., $10.00.
ISBN 978-1-5027-0588-4.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4



Compost Bin

for husks,
pips and peels -
a splendiferous feast of


Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems is a collection of 51 poems by 34 writers, with 28 of the volume's poems being contributed by poets from the United States, 10 from England, 9 from Canada and singles from Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Wales. The book's editor, Carol-Ann Hoyte, earlier co-edited another collection of poems, And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems.

      In the main, the rural/urban, farming/gardening, growing/harvesting/eating poems that appear in Dear Tomato are quite short, with only seven extending to a second page. Just two of the book's poems have been previously published. Although each poem can stand on its own, in seven instances a poet has added a clarifying note. For instance, the American poet April Halprin Wayland, who wrote "Frog in a Bucket", states, "I really did buy a frog at a farmers market!" while the Welsh poet Kate Williams provides the answer to her riddle poem, "Who's the Unclucky One?". The book's poems are well-illustrated by 20 of Norie Wasserman's black & white photos with some of the photos sharing a page with a poem while, in other cases, the photo appears separately on a facing page.

      The volume's poems are quite varied in their perspectives, tone and mood. The opening poem, Robert Heidbreder's couplet, "A Farmer's Prayer", is told from a human's point of view as s/he prays for weather conditions that will lead to a good crop. On the other hand, a hoe is the narrator of April Halprin Wayland's mask poem, "Hoe Observing the Farmer". Some vegetables are adored, as occurs in Philippa Rae's quatrain, "A Potato's Valentine", while others, like Brussel sprouts, find less favour in J. H. Rice's free verse "Baby Veg". There are poems for vegans, such as Ann Malaspina's free verse poem, "My Brother, the Vegetarian", as well as poems for those who support Fair Trade (Matt Forrest Esenwine's quatrain "Fair is Fair") or the ethical raising of animals as is found in the couplets of Carl Scholz's "A Tale of Two Hens". There are just-for-fun poems, including Conrad Burdekin's "Peas" that begins: "I will not eat those yucky peas, / not even if you say, 'Oh, please', / not even if you scream and shout, / not even if you dance about." Though the limerick is often associated with humour, there is nothing funny to be found in the content of Michelle Heidenrich Barnes' "The Plight of the Honeybee". One of the sad realities of today's world can be found in Bridget Magee's free verse poem "Food Bank Withdrawal" in which a child and his/her mother are forced to use a food bank while the father/husband awaits employment news from a factory. And if anyone has been concerned about what happened to the remains of Humpty Dumpty, they can turn to Catherine Rondina's septet, "A Famous Egg" for the answer.

      English teachers will especially appreciate "Poetry Forms" (p. ix), a page which identifies 17 poetic forms from Acrostic to Septet and places each of the volume's poems into its appropriate category, with a majority of the poems falling into just four forms - Free Verse, Couplets, Quatrains and Haiku. A class in Roman history could be enriched by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes' "The Emperor's Greenhouse" in which readers will learn that Emperor Tiberius had to be served fresh cucumbers every day of the year. And a math class could be enlivened by one of the unusual equations found in Mary Lee Hahn's "Gardener's Math Poems":

20 mph breeze
x1 dandelion gone to seed
20 hours of pulling weeds

      Though promotional material accompanying the review copy describes Dear Tomato as "A fun and enlightening read for kids eight to twelve years of age...", these poems really have no upper audience level and will be equally enjoyed by adult readers.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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