Academic journal article Language Arts

The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects

Academic journal article Language Arts

The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects

Article excerpt

The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects Edited by Paul B. Janeczko Illustrated by Chris Raschka Candlewick, 2015, 77 pp., ISBN 978-0-7636-6963-8

In their fourth collaboration, Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka team up to tell a history of poetry in 50 snapshots, each a poem about an object in time, selected by anthologist Janeczko and accompanied by an expressive Raschka watercolor. This is also Janeczko's 50th book, a fact he mentions at the opening of this title. Nine sections highlight the Early Middle Ages (400-1000), High Middle Ages (1000-1500), Renaissance (1500-late 1600s), Enlightenment (late 1600s-1785), Romantic Period (1785-1830), Victorian Period (1837-1901), Modern Period (1900-1945), Postmodern Period (1945-present), and Contemporary poetry. Eloise Greenfield's brilliant "Things" sets a reflective-even ironic-stage for the historical foray across poeticized objects, with its valuing of poems over things. Poets highlighted include famous White males most often included in schools (e.g., Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare) and poets from underrepresented groups who are sometimes leftout (e.g., Phillis Wheatley, Rita Dove).

In his introduction, Janeczko describes his selection process, including challenges he faced. …

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