A light poetic survey of the animal kingdom and then some.
Posing the question, “If I weren’t a human, / what else could I be?” Evans playfully answers with possibilities ranging from the “one-celled amoeba” and exotic narwhal to the fanciful jackalope, unicorn, even a vampire. As he curates his menagerie, Evans takes occasion to employ a variety of poetic forms in portraying both the common and the unusual, with mixed results—going so far at one point as to both use and invoke the ghazal form to describe the gazelle: “I’d live like a poem, headlong and heartstrong, / and wear a ghazal, if I were a gazelle.” Throughout, Pope’s bold, directly expressive pen-and-ink illustrations amplify Evans’ wry message, as in “If I Were a Hippo,” where Pope underscores Evans’ apt depiction with a sketch of a hippo holding a wee umbrella that barely shields its eyes. Evans’ humor, while silly and offbeat, often relies on rather refined wordplay (“If I were a polar bear, / … / I’d go with the floe”) or, as in the case of the albatross, on sophisticated literary and cultural allusions: “Of course I’d be cross / if I were an albatross! / What did I do? What the heck? / Why hang me around your neck?”
Kids after some highbrow ha-ha’s will find them here. (Poetry. 8-14)