This Is a Poem That Heals Fish

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic

27 de março, 2017 0 Por Artes & contextos
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“A poem … is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.”


This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish“Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating the cultural power of poetry. But what is a poem, really, and what exactly is its use?

Every once in a while, you stumble upon something so lovely, so unpretentiously beautiful and quietly profound, that you feel like the lungs of your soul have been pumped with a mighty gasp of Alpine air. This Is a Poem That Heals Fish (public library) is one such vitalizing gasp of loveliness — a lyrical picture-book that offers a playful and penetrating answer to the question of what a poem is and what it does. And as it does that, it shines a sidewise gleam on the larger question of what we most hunger for in life and how we give shape to those deepest longings.

Written by the French poet, novelist, and dramatist Jean-Pierre Simeón, translated into English by Enchanted Lion Books founder Claudia Zoe Bedrick (the feat of translation which the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska had in mind when she spoke of “that rare miracle when a translation stops being a translation and becomes … a second original”), and illustrated by the inimitable Olivier Tallec, this poetic and philosophical tale follows young Arthur as he tries to salve his beloved red fish Leon’s affliction of boredom.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish1

Arthur’s mommy looks at him.
She closes her eyes,
she opens her eyes…

Then she smiles:

— Hurry, give him a poem!

And she leaves for her tuba lesson.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish20

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish2

Puzzled and unsure what a poem is, Arthur goes looking in the pantry, only to hear the noodles sigh that there is no poem there. He searches in the closet and under his bed, but the vacuum cleaner and the dust balls have no poem, either.

Determined, Arthur continues his search.
He runs to Lolo’s bicycle shop.
Lolo knows everything, laughs all the time, and is always in love.
He is repairing a tire and singing.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish3

So begins the wonderful meta-story of how poetry comes into being as a tapestry of images, metaphors, and magpie borrowings. Each person along the way contributes to Arthur’s tapestry a different answer, infused with the singular poetic truth of his or her own life. Lolo offers:

— A poem, Arthur, is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.

— Oh…? Okay.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish21

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish4

Next, he visits his friend the baker, Mrs. Round, who echoes Thom Gunn’s insistence that “poetry is of many sorts and is all around us,” rather than something reserved for the special formal class of “poets.”

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish5

Mrs. Round tells Arthur:

— A poem? I don’t know much about that.
But I know one, and it is hot like fresh bread.
When you eat it, a little is always left over.

— Oh…? Okay.

Arthur turns to his neighbor next, “old Mahmoud who comes from the desert and waters his rhododendrons every morning at 9 o’clock.”

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish6

Mahmoud offers his answer with easeful conviction:

— A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.

— Oh…? All right.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish22

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish7

Arthur hastens home to check on poor Leon, who appears to be asleep, “floating gently amidst the seaweed as if thinking.” And because this is the sort of story in which a canary can only be named after an Ancient Greek comic playwright, Arthur next seeks an answer from his canary named Aristophanes, “who is no bird brain.”

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish8

Our imagination is left to ponder why, on the next page, the cage contains not the yellow canary but a red-haired woman, who sings Aristophanes’s answer. Perhaps she is a visual allusion to Aristophanes’s play Assemblywomen, or perhaps she represents a muse, whom Tallec invokes to remind us that the muse hides in many guises and reveals herself in the most improbable of places.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish23

— A poem is when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.

— Oh…? Okay.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish9

Just then, Arthur’s grandmother arrives and is met with the same question, which she answers after thinking hard, evidenced by the way “she always smiles a silly smile when thinking.”

— When you put your old sweater on backwards or inside out, dear Arthur, you might say that it is new again.
A poem turns words around, upside down, and — suddenly! — the world is new.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish24

But grandma encourages Arthur to ask his grandfather, too, who “often writes poems … instead of repairing pipes.”

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish10

— A poem? grandpa says, tugging on his mustache and looking worried. A poem, well… it’s what poets make.

— Oh…? All right.

— Even if the poets do not know it themselves!

Frustrated with the multitude of confounding answers, Arthur returns to Leon’s fishbowl only to find him sound asleep beneath his large stone, enveloped in seaweed.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish25

— I’m sorry, Leon, I have not found a poem. All I know is this:

A poem
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.

A poem
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.

A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new.

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish13

Leon opens one eye, then the other, and for the first time in his life he speaks.

— Then I am a poet, Arthur.

— Oh…?

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish11

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic Artes & contextos poem fish26

Complement the almost unbearably wonderful This Is a Poem That Heals Fish with other poetic and profound Enchanted Lion treasures: Cry, Heart, But Never Break, a Danish illustrated meditation on loss and life, What Color Is the Wind?, a French serenade to the senses inspired by a blind child, and Pinocchio: The Origin Story, an Italian inquiry into the grandest questions of existence, then revisit poet Elizabeth Alexander on what poetry does for the human spirit.

Illustrations courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

 

O Artigo: This Is a Poem That Heals Fish: An Almost Unbearably Wonderful Picture-Book About How Poetry Works Its Magic, foi publicado em Brainpickings.org
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