Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SIDE BY SIDE by Jan Greenberg

SIDE BY SIDE

New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World

By Jan Greenberg

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8109-9471-3
Publisher: Abrams

Unlike Greenberg’s companion volume, Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art (2001), this compilation lacks cohesion. Poets from six continents ponder an art object, usually from their own culture. Though arranged like Heart to Heart, in sections according to the poet’s approach, too many new variables dilute the whole. Poems presented in their original languages (if other than English) are translated by professionals with varying approaches. Some poets write in English and translate their poems into their first language. Reproductions—from an ancient Egyptian coffin to Munch’s The Scream—rest against pastel pages that often reduce their effect. Many pairings sparkle, such as Navajo artist Nanezbah Nora Yazzie’s meditation on her own sculpture “Corn Mother.” Luis Martinez de Merlo’s “Portrait of Prince Baltasar Carlos de Caza” slyly imagines the subject plotting the painter’s future imprisonment: “When I am older… / …I’ll be able to send to a dungeon this Master Velásquez, who criticizes me with his Andalusian accent every time I move…” Readers will need to flip back and forth from the backmatter’s two biographical sections to decipher the lineage of poets, translators and artists. Ambitious but muzzy. (introduction, map, credits, index) (Poetry. YA)