This Poem is a Nest by Irene Latham, illustrated by Johanna Wright

    This Poem is a Nest by Irene Latham, illustrated by Johanna Wright, Wordsong (an imprint of Boyds Mills & Kane), 978684373635, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Poetry

What did you like about the book?  Another entry in the found poetry genre, this ingenious book demonstrates how to find “nestlings” within your own work. Wright opens with the poem “Nest”, describing both an actual nest, and her parent poem, through four seasons. Then the fun begins as she combs through the original piece to find nestlings, which are grouped by topics, including “Time”, “Animals Among Us”, and “For the Love of Words”. Some of the found poems are as short as haiku while others stretch out a bit, but they’re all diminutive. Small and very sweet ink wash sketches decorate some of the pages to illustrate the poems. “All You Need, According to a Snail” reads “tiny home — floor roof walls heart.” It’s accompanied by a picture of a contented-looking snail; his shell shows a cozy little bedroom, complete with a fireplace and a quilt-covered bed. The book ends with step-by-step instructions for how to write your own nestlings. The advice is very practical and could definitely help coach would-be poets through the process: select your “nest” with care, choose a subject first, use a highlighter to identify words you like, use verbs as nouns or vice-versa.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The nestling poems are clearly derivative and not as memorable as the nest, but I guess that’s inevitable. I think the book would have been stronger if it was larger, with a bigger and more easily read font, and the drawings rendered in color. Maybe fewer and stronger nestlings? Also, I was initially confused because the titles of the nestlings are not words found in the original poem (I went back to look in vain for “octopus”), but I get it, her book, her rules.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This could be a great start to a found poetry lesson. Adults who want to try leading this activity would appreciate the examples and directions.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? In your poetry section

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: February 10, 2021

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