Friday, November 05, 2010

Poetry Friday: Roots and Blues A Celebration

Roots and Blues: A Celebration. Arnold Adoff. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2011. January 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages.

Arnold Adoff explores the roots of the Blues through poems in his newest book. It's rich in African tradition, and firmly rooted in American history--culture. The words themselves are lyrical--very beautiful. Everything you could want or need. But the format I found to be tricky. (The book jacket calls this format Adoff's "signature shaped-speech" style. ) I found that the poems worked better when read aloud. Some poetry just does, you know. Some are just meant to be read aloud, spoken, performed even.
Chained in rags in blood in dark death of daylight. To survive the passage across the ocean from life to living hell to life in hell means silent singing of old songs. Behind the eyes the fingers strum homeland strings and memory of my history remains as strong as steel. Always: this melody of words is journey home. (10)

The imagery is beautiful, powerful. There are poems that just resonate.
If the chain breaks
before the rock breaks
still not free.
When I finish this road
still can't ride.
When I finish that road
still step aside.
When I build that house
still not for me.
If the chain breaks
before the rock breaks
still not free.
Not free.
Free. (35)
I liked this one. I thought the poems were done beautifully. They were complemented nicely by R. Gregory Christie's illustrations.

Perhaps this one might pair well with:

Wynton Marsalis' Jazz ABZ.
Walter Dean Myer's Jazz

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Kristi's Book Nook said...

This sounds like a fantastic book. Great review.