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Archive for February 9th, 2018

by Sam Juliano

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets is a picture book, much as Paul B. Janeczko and Melissa Sweet’s Firefly July of a few years back also begged that categorization (seasonal theme rather than individual poets), where it was being touted as a strong contender for that year’s Caldecott Medal. I also feel that Out of Wonder is one of the most spectacularly beautiful picture books of this or any other year and that the extraordinarily gifted Ekua Holmes has eclipsed her superlative work for Voice of Freedom, a book of course that won her a well-deserved Caldecott Honor.  The subject matter of Voice called for somber tones, textures and colors, and a sustained earthiness that called attention to the difficult life of its noble protagonist. With this book, it seems clear that Holmes is equally adept at pictorially transcribing life’s more sublime themes, fully attuned to each of the magnificent poems she interprets. For utter color-swirling resplendence it is comparable to this year’s Muddy, but Holmes’ daunting task was to change course for every turn of the page, and what she has done here translates to a staggering achievement.

Out of Wonders celebrates the joy of the poetic form, featuring twenty seminal figures, from four different eras, gathering together in three parts, “Got Style?,” “In Your Shoes” and “Thank You.”  The poetry interpreters are Kwayme Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, who strive to capture the spirit, themes and feeling in some of the most venerated poets with the spectacular collage accompaniment by Holmes who beings astonishing diversity to this wide-reaching tribute.  From the 1200’s when the Persian Rumi (1207-1273) plied his craft through the 1600’s in Japan with Matsuo Basho up to the present day where the still living Mary Oliver, Naomi Shihab and Billy Collins are active the three exponents of the renowned free spirits chosen work to bring lyrical kinship within the most soulful of forms. (more…)

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