Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by Pat Mora

I think that picking up a book of poetry can be hard. I relate better to poems when they are in a different sort of context, when someone tells me why he or she likes a poem. This is why I often try to frame the poems I post here, so that people will know why a poem connected with me rather than just posting a poem in isolation. But my interest in poetry and my specific interest in helping students connect with poetry in a meaningful way made me very interested to see what Dizzy in Your Eyes had to offer. The day that it came in the mail, I came home and Mike had already opened it, and while I worked on dinner, he read the first couple of poems to me because he had enjoyed what he read and wanted me to read it, too.

This is a book about all kinds of love: romantic love, parents and grandparents for children, sisters, friends, and even teachers. As it moves through different aspects of love (infatuation, losing a loved one, moving on, and learning to love again), the book also experiments with different forms of poetry. The poems are all on the right side of the page, and any explanation of form is on the left so as not to distract.

It can be difficult for students to relate to poetry like they relate to songs, but I think this is a great book of poetry for teens and preteens. It’s about topics they are familiar with and it discusses those thoughts and emotions without talking down to teenagers. When I worked in a public library, we constantly got questions from teenagers who wanted love poetry. If I was still there, this is a book I would try to get in the hands of those interested teenagers, because I think it would be exactly the sort of thing many of them were looking for. I enjoyed many of the poems, but this one, close to the end, was my favorite.

“Mysterious”

My paper shines
white, like snow,
but the paper looks empty.
I could decorate it
with tiny spiders
or stars or sketches of me
looking at a blank page,
but the clock ticks, and
somehow I must write.

I like the sight
of untouched snow.
Gentle, slow, silent,
it drifts and swirls,
layers itself, and I see
a new world of mysterious,
inviting shapes. I walk in its white
whispers, susurrus.
                                 I drift
back to this paper that feels
hard on the desk, and I begin
         to listen—
to the story I tell myself.

The paper is a white, patient place,
my private space
for remembering,
          saving: spring sun on my face,
venting and inventing,
          arguing with my mother,
wondering: who am I,
          wandering through cobwebs of old dreams,
crying, sighing at people who don’t see me,
          hoping to write music so blue
                   listeners forget to breathe,
playing the sounds, jamming with myself,

changing
          into the me I can’t quite see.

I liked Dizzy in Your Eyes best when it didn’t rhyme, but I will admit that my personal preference is for poetry that doesn’t rhyme. I am going to add it to my school’s collection and show it to some of the teachers who may be talking about love poetry for Valentine’s Day or National Poetry Month in the hopes that they will be able to use it to help students see that the best sorts of poetry are about things that are meaningful to you, no matter how big or small they might seem to other people.

Random House provided me with a copy of this book to review.

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