Bob Raczka seems the kind of poet and artist who loves taking the phrase “playing with words” and turning it on its head. In his newest, WET CEMENT, he writes:
I like to think of poems as word paintings. A poet uses words like colors to paint pictures inside your head.
In concrete poems, or shape poems, the words also paint pictures on the page…
But here’s what’s really cool: by cleverly arranging individual letters, you can also paint a picture on the page with a single word… the letters become your colors.
Suffice to say that, in this collection, Razka plays with words in a whole new way.
I’m allergic to cats so can’t consider myself a fan of the living, breathing animals, but, oh – how I LOVE this collection of 30 original visual poems! Celebrating cats in all their feline fickleness, this collection of part shape poems, part graphic celebration, is a delight. Two of my favorites? “Shadow’s Dream” and “A Question for Scooter About Squirrels.” Do check out A Dazzling Display of Dogs and A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters.
Shape poems about all things water – “Clouds”, “Ocean”, “Dew”, “Hail”, “Steam” and so much more. Here’s a peek at the opening poem:
Water is a magic potion
It can fill a glass, an ocean….
rain and snow, ponds and brooks,
water has so many looks…
These one word per line poems move vertically – sometimes up the page, sometimes down – to capture small moment images in ways that inspire the reader to look at the world with new eyes. Can you imagine a giraffe with a neck so long it seems it could make a meal of the stars? How about a grandfather’s grandfather clock that is taller than grandfather? Or the bongs of far-off bells that float and touch us with song?
Share these poems with students and then have them brainstorm their own list of words from which to write a poem in the style of Jensen.