Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poetry + teenage boy + baseball = great

Books in verse by a male teenage narrator that are fun, funny, and sometimes touching: that's what Ron Koertge's Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs bring to the reading table.  Novels in verse are starting to gain momentum in the YA market, and I find them fascinating.  They're a different kind of poetry collection, one driven by narrative in a different way.  Koertge's books seem particularly valuable because, not only are they entertaining, they can actually be educational.

For the poetry fan, they introduce the place of formal poetry in a poet's life.  They're mostly in blank verse, but there's a lot of conscious experimentation on the narrator's part and a realization of the challenge and value of formal poetry to present day writers.

For the non-fan who thinks poetry is irrelevant and has nothing to say that's as good/deep as prose, there's a lot of thoughtful, realistic work being done here.  How poetry can help us shape and process things is an important theme and one that rings true to my own experience as it's presented here.

I just wish this stuff had been around when I was a teen.  Maybe I wouldn't have avoided modern poetry for the better part of a decade if I'd seen how relevant, useful, and beautiful it could be.  Thank you, Mr. Koertge, for two most excellent books!  I'm looking forward to re-reading them the next time I need some inspiration.

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