MY KIND OF VERSE by John--Ed. Smith


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John SMith does not have a John Doe taste but an attraction to the slightly (or very) bizarre, sometimes to the lesser known poems of familiar poets, sometimes to those from unfamiliar names. His poem ""A True Story"" is representative of one kind of quiet oddity. An elderly uncle had a habit of turning beautiful girls into birds and caging them. It all sounds droll, consistent and humorous until the unexpected chill: one bird escaped, and ""after a night of fantastic alarms./ He was found in a park, a naked dead girl in his arms."" Vachel Lindsay is often anthologized but rarely for ""The Daniel Jazz,"" a sing-along which will give kids a roaring good time. Ruth Pitter's ""The Weed"" is a Cockneyed, cockeyed view of life with the constant threat of being uprooted, but it had its moments: Mum told ""That bees what come when flowers blow/ Are like a weddin to each one,/ And ow she thought a peony/ Ad bin the pa of Sis and me."" Some of the images are simple and worth saving--""Spider webs are very delicate/ And to remember."" Most are twentieth century but Shakespeare, Dekker, Keats, Tennyson and others are part of his stuff and the few primroses are sturdy. (Even those singled out in the Introduction--which says that he just happens to like these poems--are as good as promised.) His Kind of Verse won't be everybody's favorite but it is an ambitious complement to the Standard (Read, de la Mare, et al) anthologies on the shelves.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1968
Publisher: Macmillan