Why Wait for National Poetry Month?
For some strange reason, people don’t think of reading or reviewing poetry until National Poetry Month in April. People should keep a book of poetry on their bedside table along with the month’s magazines and whatever fiction or nonfiction they are currently reading. Poetry isn’t meant to be read cover-to-cover like other books. It is meant to be read in bits and pieces, savored, skipping around in the book like one might skip around in a file of saved songs, going back to favorites over and over. Poetry is the dessert of reading—a bit of sweet or tart at a time, not to be binged upon. With this in mind, here are two poetry books for readers to consider.
Review by Deborah K. Frontiera
Elizabeth Prechtel McClennan has divided Making Music with Words—a collection of poetry–into six themed sections, each with its own brief introduction. The first section, “In the Beginning”, contains poems she wrote as a young person. The importance of the section, as the poet states, is to show how one’s poetry, or any writing, matures with age. These are carefully rhymed and metered (the way we are taught poetry “should” be), but except for the last two or three, lack depth. But remember, these were the poems of McClennan’s youth.
The second section, “Music,” is full of wonderful lines filled with imagery, sound, onomatopoeia, alliteration, metaphor and other wonderful poetic elements. Here are some examples:
“By an artist whose fingers caressed the strings.”
“Sweet sounds of guitar, mandolin or lute/ Invite us to hear the words that they speak/ the poetry of life and heartstrings.”
“Rays of early morning sunshine/ Sneak through my bedroom window/ Prying open the shutters of my eyes and mind.”
Section three celebrates everyday life with reminiscences of school days, the hope of young people beginning their lives, while section four, the longest and subdivided into seasons, takes the reader through a year with “teacup flowers” in spring and “crickets chirp to keep sunset at bay” as we all want to hold onto summer and push inevitable fall away. Everyone will find a favorite to come back to and more luscious lines with multiple elements of personification, alliteration, taste and smell melded together making me think of chocolate.
The fifth section, “Caring and Feelings,” is a tribute to those who take care of ill family members and does so with much justice. The final three poems in this section stir the mind to ponder what we might face one day when someone has to take care of us and pays wonderful tribute to those who are in that situation now.
Over all, Making Music with Words is a sweet collection of poetry for “ordinary people” and not so abstract that only the poet knows the meaning. It’s the vanilla sunday with sprinkles on top of poetry, a sweet and tasty treat.
Making Music with Words
Poetry by Elizabeth Prechtel McClennan
Gold Leaf Press, 2019
ISBN 978-1-886769-55-7, retail $14.95
About the Reviewer
Deborah K. Frontiera grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. From 1985 through 2008, she taught in Houston public schools, followed by several years teaching in Houston’s Writers In The Schools program. A “migratory creature”, she spends spring, summer, and fall in her beloved U.P. and the dead of winter in Houston, Texas, with her daughters and grandchildren. Four of her books have been honor or award winners. She has published fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books. She edits the newsletter for the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association. For details about her many books and accomplishments, visit her web site