Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reader's Diary #206: Dennis Lee- Riffs (FINISHED)

I'm not sure if I have a favourite children's poet, but I know for many it's Dennis Lee. Unmistakeably, his work for children (Garbage Delight, Alligator Pie, etc) has overshadowed his more mature work, but it shouldn't. From what I've read, he's gifted no matter what he writes.

Riffs is a fantastic piece of poetic fiction. While it would be trite to say it's a roller coaster ride, the more accepted cliche for this book seems to be jazz music. Both comparisons work. The story behind the poems is a love affair- the beginning, the middle, and the end. And Lee takes you through all the beautiful and sordid details while capturing the emotions of such a tale as only a brilliant poet can. When he's ecstatic the poems are erratic. When he's contemplative, the poems are structured. When he's horny, he's heavy on the "h" words. I can't stress enough how much I loved this book.

Occasionally, it was easy to conjure up images of Mike Myers in So I Married An Axe Murderer with his cliched jazz/hip lingo (jive, hot potato momma, cosmos, and so on) and I'm sure some people might find it distracting or annoying, but to me, it just gave the voice a character, or maybe it gave the character a voice, ya dig?

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