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Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World Hardcover – April 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up—Continuing in the vein of Heart to Heart (Abrams, 2001), Greenberg invited poets from around the world to identify a work of art and create a poem about it. In doing so, she not only gathered poetry and art, but also connects readers to global cultures and traditions. Many of the selections were written in languages other than English, and the original and translated poems share center stage, side by side, with the artwork that inspired the verse. This stellar anthology is arranged in four categories. In "Stories," the poet looks at art and imagines a story. In "Voices," the poet speaks as a subject depicted in the poem; "Expressions" explores the process of looking at, asking questions, and interpreting the art, and in "Impressions," the poet describes the artwork and elements of the composition. The careful arrangement seamlessly draws readers' focus to the themes of art and literature, as in Günter Kunert's poem "Der Schrei/The Scream" (translated by Gerald Chapple) about Edvard Munch's painting. Poets and artists who are familiar to Western readers, such as Pat Mora, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso, appear side by side with poets and artists who are less widely recognized. The book includes biographies of all the poets, translators, and artists and a world map that identifies each contributor's native country. This sophisticated book is ideal for literature, art, and foreign-language curricula. It creates cultural bridges and celebrates the genius of inspired translation.—Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Following a similar format to her 2002 Printz Honor Book, Heart to Heart, Greenberg offers another anthology of accomplished poems inspired by artworks. In this volume, Greenberg extends the book’s geographical reach beyond the U.S., bringing together the work of poets and artists from around the globe. As in Heart to Heart, the poems are grouped loosely into categories, defined in Greenberg’s inspirational introduction. Some tell stories; some speak in the voice of an object in the artwork; some explore the interaction between a viewer and an art object; and some focus on the elements of an artwork’s composition. Each spread features a poem in its original language, the English translation, and an artwork, usually from the same country or culture as the poem. With a few exceptions, the reproductions of the art, which ranges from ancient to contemporary work, are sharp and clear, and the moving, often startling poems invite readers to savor the words and then look closely at each image. Teens will easily connect with the poems’ universal themes, including identity, childhood memories, nature’s mysterious power, and the powerful emotions and experiences that link us all. Biographical information about both the poets and the artists concludes this welcome title, which makes a natural partner to Naomi Shihab Nye’s This Same Sky (1992). Grades 8-12. --Gillian Engberg
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810994712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810994713
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ekphrasis. The word doesn't fall as trippingly off the tongue as you might wish, eh? Ekphrasis has actually become my favorite new vocabulary word of the day. In ekphrastic poetry a poet looks at a piece of art and writes a poem inspired by the experience. In college I did a Senior photography project based on the idea of how titles affected your perception of a work of art, and I had different poets write poems inspired by what they saw in the images. Never on earth would I have dreamed that there was a term out there for this idea, nor that it should have such a long and venerable history. Unlike me, editor Jan Greenberg is well and truly familiar with ekphrasis and she makes it useful. Her book Heart to Heart : New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art paired poets with American works, and displayed the poems they wrote as a result. It was a good idea, if a bit limited from a national perspective. Greenberg has just rectified that situation though with Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. Now we've Germans defining Norwegian paintings, Vietnamese paints, and cool Turkish words. Greenberg has spanned the globe to bring you works and words from Bhutan, Belgium, Guyana, and Japan. The mix of art and text may work to inspire and aid teachers of poetry and their inspiration-bereft student population. Failing that, it's a cool idea in a pretty nice package.

The book is split into four parts; Stories, Voices, Expressions, and Impressions. These define how each poet has chosen to interpret the work before them. Stories are tales inspired by the work before you.
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