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On Our Bookshelves: Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle…and Other Modern Verse

BOOK: Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle…and Other Modern Verse

EDITORS: Stephen Dunning, Edward Lueders, and Hugh Smith

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1966

REVIEW:

When I was looking for a birthday present for a friend last year, I was absolutely delighted to find that this collection was still in print. I still have my copy (received as a gift when I was a child) and decades later, it still makes a good gift.

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Conceived as a collection of modern poetry for youngsters who had had their fill of “verse about galoshes, bunny rabbits, and ‘what I want to be when I grow up,’” selected by poring over recently published books and magazines, and test marketed on young people (who helped the anthologists narrow down the selections), the compilers did, in fact, produce an excellent informal introduction to the poetry of the mid-twentieth century.  Meant for children not yet ready for a formal study of literature, to encourage a fresh and individual response to the poems, it’s actually a startlingly good intro for adults as well. (I remain convinced that the absolute best of children’s literature is also perfectly well suited to the adult reader. Great books remain great books, and do not discriminate based on age.)

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So what will you find here? Poems about poems, poems about animals (crows, lions, cats, bats), poems about sports, building things, fishing, summertime, modern life, kindness, memory, H-bombs, sin, getting older, mortality, school, history, science, machinery. Dorothy Parker, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes.   Theodore Roethke. Robert Frost. Edna St. Vincent MillayCarl Sandburg. E. E. Cummings. Also a host of less well-known poets, all with intelligent and striking language. It’s accessible and immediate, but not in any way simplistic.

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Buy a copy for yourself. And one for a friend of any age.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 5 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

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The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Image Courtesy of alfaori / Shutterstock.com