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Book Review: “Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25"

Updated on April 2, 2011

Book Review: “Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25”

Lovingly selected by prize-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye, I found this collection of poems by young poets very enjoyable and worthwhile. Considering the source of this review (me), it is true that I love young voices, as they represent the future of poetry. While some of the emotions expressed may gain more weight and meaning with maturity, these poems of early adulthood bless us with their freshness and bring those of us who are older memories of our own years of jagged growth during our ‘tweens’.

For starters, this collection contains the work of twenty-six poets, not twenty-five as advertised, because Ms. Nye is “good with words and bad with numbers,” but in this case I think we get a bargain and a claim of false advertising would be spurious at best, disingenuous at worst.

The title of the collection itself is poetic, taken from a line of one of the poems in the collection, “Rootless” by Michelle Brittan. Here it is in context:

“Though I never learned

the purpose, it’s a habit that reminds me

of a time you let me in.”

Naomi shows her stuff by excising the line from the poem to use as book title and simultaneously and subtly turning the meaning. When I read the line in context it made me smile.

According to one of the contributing poets, Nicole Guenther, “the most beautiful words ever uttered ” are, “I had never thought of it that way.” Ms. Guenther states thus in her poem, “Photons,” a basic benefit of reading poetry – to encourage oneself to think in new ways. Several poets in the collection will encourage just that.

Mackenzie Connellee, for example, when she takes us on a lightning tour of her universe in four poems, and when she writes about poetry not stepping

“delicately into the world, pink shoes

treading softly over the white horizon.”

but instead

“… slops lazily over the couch

of a page and dangles while i remove its muddy

shoes and rearrange the pillows, all the while

muttering something about Frost and how maybe

his comments against free verse were right…”

captures the sense every poet has of being trapped between yesterday and today, tradition and innovation, form and freedom.

The wealth of experience and wisdom of the young can be humbling, as I learned in Emma Shaw Crane’s poems of her times in a war zone. Inspiration in the midst of tough times is illustrated in the work of Lauren Eriks. Wisdom is shown in Amal Khan’s poem, “Listen with Care”:

“In chronicles of sorrow, too, there are joys,

In lesions of silence, immeasurable noise.

And certainly in the very pit of the heart

Beneath the trouble in the valves

There is kindness.

Certainly in the ruby heart of the plum’s seasons,

A silent reason for hope.”

Throughout this book you will find inspiration, insight and wisdom – a fine menu for your literary, mental and spiritual nourishment.

“Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25”, Ed. Naomi Shihab Nye, Copyright 2010, Glenwillow Books

$16.99 hardcover


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