Friday, February 20, 2009

Reader's Diary #456- Sara Holbrook and Allan Wolf: More Than Friends

In More Than Friends Holbrook and Wolf respectively adopt the voice of a teenage girl and boy as they become "more than friends." Told in various form poems and free verse, the production goes the extra mile by adding notes about the forms (unobtrusively) at the end.

It is a short book, but then, so are most teenage romances. However, the poets are able to pack a lot of emotion and "typical" teenage drama into the pages. It's not Degrassi-esque; AIDS, suicide, drugs, pregnancy, etc don't fill every other page, but the authors are careful not to patronize or trivialize the love story. Even if you've never had a highschool sweetheart, there are moments here almost anyone could relate to.

Of course, there are other moments that some people surely can't relate to. It's a Westernized slant on teenage love, on teenage heterosexual love, on teenage middleclass heterosexual love... and while I could go on categorizing this couple, what would be the point? Every book has its biases and besides, they never pretend to be every couple, just a couple. I stick by my assessment that there's at least a moment or two that anyone who's ever been smitten, or in love or whatever you want to call it, can relate to. Take one of the strongest poems in the book, "Veggie Panini Is The Answer To Everything" in which the girl's simple answer to what she's eating isn't an everyday sandwich, it's a veggie panini:

"A veggie what?" I ask and smile
as wide as a door on well-oiled hinges.
And you smile back the same and answer,
"Paah-NEE-nee. Paah-NEE-nee. A veggie panini."
  In English class I even look it up.

"Paah-NEE-nee. Paah-NEE-nee. A veggie panini."
I whisper it into the electric air and picture
your lips, your smile, your look, your lunch, your hair.
I mutter it all the way home:
"Veggie panini. Veggie panini."
I hug my mom (first time in like a year).
"And how was your day?" my mother asks.
"Veggie paah-NEE-nee" is my answer.

(Read the entire poem here.)

Yes, it's told as through an adolescent's lips, but we've all convinced ourselves that veggie paninis are more than just sandwiches, haven't we?


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Is it wrong that I really want a veggie panini now? I'm sure there was more to the story than that nut that was all I could focus on. Sorry.

Wanda said...

Enjoyed the entire poem (as well as the others posted) except, what teenager do you know in this day and age who would use the word "smitten"? Brings to mind Sonya Sones' 'What My Mother Doesn't Know' this one though, is told entirely from the girls point of view.

Not about teenage love but one I'd highly recomend is 'The Crazy Man' by Pamela Porter. A beautiful story told in prose-poetry, my son loved this book about a 12year-old girl growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, 1965. I tell everyone who has pre-teens who don’t like to read about this one (moms and dads like it too)!

John Mutford said...

Barbara: When you're hungry, you're hungry.

Wanda: I agree with your "smitten" comment. A few times it did come across as adults posing as teens, but fortunately not often. Then, you never know what words might fly in and out of popularity or what word a particular teen might fixate on. I remember writing a piece for my highschool newspaper way back in the day and one teacher commented that he was surprised I used the phrase "hunky-dory."