Sunday, April 18, 2010

Poetry and Childhood

One of the books I best remember from my childhood is Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig.

This story is about Sylvester, a curious donkey who manages to turn himself into a stone. His parents search high and low for him but are unable to find him, as they don't recognize him now that he is a large stone. Don't worry though the story ends with Sylvester being restored back to his natural state, and back in the arms of his parents who never doubted that they would find him.

Steig's book has been around for almost 40 years so it has been a bed time classic for a few generations. Drawing inspiration from this beloved children's book is poet and Paris Review poetry editor Dan Chiasson whose latest collection features a long poem that the collection is named after. Where's the Moon, There's the Moon is centered around Chiasson's experience of being read Sylvester by his father.

Here is a selection of the poem from Chiasson's new book:


And the child's attention fixed upon the animal book,
and all the animals in the book intent upon dinner
or eyeing some harbinger cloud forever, permanently
dejected because of some little stone turned their child
to stone, weeping big mule or owl tears as though
the child never turned the page, the sun never shone
again bringing larkspurs, gentian, and the mule-boy
reunited with mule mommy and daddy just in time to end,

Where's the Moon, There's the Moon is the third poetry collection by Chiasson, an Amherst College alumnus. The poems' themes vary from parent-child relationships to life and death. It is an insightful collection from a fairly local author.

To order your copy of Dan Chiasson's new book of poems from the Odyssey click here!


1 comment:

Jeannine Atkins said...

I liked reading about the connections between those two books. Thank you!