Wednesday, June 21, 2017

One Last Word

One Last Word. Nikki Grimes. 2017. Bloomsbury. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I was thirteen years old when I read my poetry aloud in front of an audience for the first time.

Premise/plot: Nikki Grimes shares some of her favorite poems from the Harlem Renaissance in her newest book. After sharing the original poem, she follows it with one of her own. All of Grimes' poems are written in the poetry form Golden Shovel.
The idea of a Golden Shovel poem is to take a short poem in its entirety, or a line from that poem (called a striking line), and create a new poem, using the words from the original.
The framework for this poetry collection is a brother and sister discouraged by watching the news come to find hope and inspiration from reading poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. The introductory poem asks, "Can I really find fuel for the future in the past?" In the last poem, we return to the framework. He has found his answer: "The past is a ladder that can help you keep climbing."

The collection includes poems from Gwendolyn Bennett, Countee Cullen, William Waring Cuney, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Clara Ann Thompson, and Jean Toomer. (Biographies for each poet can be found in the back matter.) Each poem features an illustration. So many illustrators contributed to this book.

My thoughts: I really LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I was unfamiliar with the Golden Shovel form before picking this one up, but, WOW what an incredible idea. I imagine it is very challenging yet extremely satisfying to write. I loved the poems Grimes shared. I was familiar with some of these poets, but, not all of them. I think I'll have to seek out more Georgia Douglas Johnson. I also loved Grimes' new poems. What this collection does really well is show how timeless poetry is, and how relevant it remains in our lives.

If you read only one poetry book this year, I'd recommend it be this one. It's SO good.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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