Book Review: Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems, Marjorie Maddox

Book Review: Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems, Marjorie Maddox

 

inside out

Poetry/Nonfiction: Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems, Marjorie Maddox

 

Inside Out is absolutely delightful. I truly wish that someone had written this book 40 years ago when I was in junior high school. Of course, Marjorie Maddox was not writing amazing books of poetry and teaching poetry 40 years ago. This book makes me regret the unfortunate absence of a time machine. Younger me could have used a teacher like her.

 

Marjorie Maddox is a professor of English at nearby Lock Haven University. Despite her usual work with young adults, she has written several books of poems for younger readers. This book is also aimed at younger readers with the goal of creating younger writers.

 

The first part of Inside Out is a series of poems about poems. Rather than talk about a sonnet, or a villanelle, or how to allow a poem to imbue your senses, she writes poems about it. Encouraging readers to listen to the world around them, demonstrating how sight can impact a poem’s interpretation by writing one in a spiral form, describing the iambic pattern by using a poem written in iambic meter. Maddox writes beautiful poems even when her end goal is demonstrating the techniques used by poets. Far from being dull or didactic, these poems bring the forms to life with metaphor and wordplay, sensory expression and expressive rhythm.

 

The second part of the book is a series of exercises meant to move the reader from merely reading to actually writing poems. The exercises are aimed at middle grade readers. From expanding their use of personification by imagining they are a piece of popcorn talking to the person about to eat them to writing poems using onomatopoeia as the center of their poetic experimentation, the exercises are fun and imaginative.

 

Although the book is meant for classrooms and workshops aimed at tween and teen readers, this significantly older reviewer wanted to try some for himself. It is easy to see students of any age delighting in this book. The poems are fun, the exercises are smart and enjoyable, and the goal of sharing her love of poetry has been met entirely. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go write a poem of my own.

 

Our thanks to Marjorie Maddox for the invitation to review this wonderful book and for a copy in order to do just that. The opinions are solely those of Scintilla.

 

inside out

Book Review: Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems, Marjorie Maddox

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