I’ve always been a writer and reader of poetry. It stared in middle school for me, and the hey day of my poetry passion came while working in an online forum for teen poets. Out of that came this collection of poetry by many of the people I was spending time with every day. If you can get your hands on a copy of it, I highly recommend it. The writers in it will blow your mind, and many of them are still writing and publishing.
When I saw Time You Let Me In highlighted in a recent review journal, I knew I would find some real gold in here (especially given the respect that editor Naomi Shihab Nye commands). And let me say, this collection does not disappoint.
Nye brings together 26 poets, all under the age of 25, in a collection of moving, insightful, and beautiful poems that cover the spectrum of topics, styles, and voices. Each poet and each poem is unique, with the sort of artistic eye only people who are under 25 can bring. I say that as a 25 year old, which makes it legitimate, right?
A review I read of this title criticized the voices in Time You Let Me In as “young.” I would hope so. The insights one gets in poetry from the youth perspective is just as important as the “established” poet (i.e., your old white men to whom you are comparing these poems to). I’ll be honest in saying I never once felt I was reading teen angst poems.
Highlights for me included Chase Berggrum’s short and pointed pieces, Gray Emerson’s disregard for traditional stylings and zesty word play, Margaret Bashaar’s treatment of humor and romance (perhaps one in the same), and — perhaps my favorite — Kayla Sargenson’s grandfather memories. Sargenson has a very powerful poem equating rape with New Orleans that will haunt me for a while, and thanks to the masterful editing job by Nye, I was able to read the next selection of Sargenson’s “The Happiest Moment of My Life was When I Realized I was Happy” a little bit differently.
Anyone who has a background in poetry knows one of the biggest challenges in collecting works is exactly how they will progress within a volume. It is a struggle, as your reading of one poem will inform, enhance, or detract meaning from poems following. Nye deserves the highest praises for balancing the order with meaning.
If you haven’t gotten your poetry reading in for the month, pick this one up. While it’s a quick read, you will find yourself lingering over passages, words, images, and sheer use of language and space. Here, you’ll find both the humorous and lighthearted and pieces crying out for understanding and explication.
Read this one for yourself, then pass it on to your biggest teen poetry fanatics. This is one you’ll be eager to share and discuss.