friday feast: some poetree from douglas florian’s new book!


Happy Book Birthday to Douglas Florian!

His latest collection of poems, Poetrees (Beach Lane Books, 2010), was just released on Tuesday, and it’s simply tree-mendous! But of course! This poet-painter (or authorstrator, as he calls himself) creates such consistently excellent work, that each new book is a big cause for celebration.

On the heels of his much lauded Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings (Beach Lane Books, 2009), Poetrees is a paean to Florian’s longstanding tallstanding love of trees:

I grew up in a neighborhood in Queens, New York, that was filled with young sycamore trees. In the summer, when my mother wasn’t looking, my friend and I would climb those trees and enjoy the view from high above . . . although I no longer climb trees, I do still love to draw them, paint them, study them, write poems about them, and enjoy their beauty and shade with my children.

This collection contains 18 poems — five are about tree parts (seeds, roots, tree rings, bark, leaves), while the others describe 13 different species (baobab, coconut palm, oak, monkey puzzle tree, banyan, paper birch, dragon tree, giant sequoia, scribbly gum, bristlecone pine, Japanese cedar, weeping willow, and yew). Quite an eclectic treet featuring Florian’s signature wordplay and uncanny ability to serve up fascinating facts with verve and humor. I daresay he’s captured the very essence of these trees — their personalities, in some cases, from his vantage point of child-like, sophisticated pooh-bah, employing to brilliant effect his reverent irreverence.

This poem goes with the cover illustration:


Lobed leaves.
Oval leaves.
Smooth leaves or jagged.
Leaves eaten ragged.
Light leaves.
Leaves in a park.
Two points.
Ten points.
Points like a saw.
Lovely leaves
Leave me in awe.

I love the art in this book — mixed media (collage, gouache, oil pastels, colored pencil, rubber stamps) on primed brown paper bags. The primitive style, earth tones and textures perfectly complement the poems, giving the whole an organic feel. Poem and painting engender a complete emotional experience, with the book opening vertically to emphasize the trees’ towering height. There’s also an interesting Glossatree with thumbnail sketches, an Author’s Note, and a list of sources.



From the acorn
Grows the tree —

S l o w l y ,
S l o w l y .

Finally, my favorite poem. This painting always makes me smile and think of Hawai’i.



I’m nuts about the coconut.
I’m cuckoo for the coco.
I’m crazed for this amazing nut.
For coco I am loco.
I’m never calm to climb this palm.
I scurry up and hurry
To knock one down onto the ground,
Then eat it in a flurry.

Let’s celebrate Douglas’s new book with some creamy, moist haupia cake (recipe is here). Better have two pieces, since next Thursday, March 18th, is his 55th birthday. Many happy returns, Mr. Florian, and thank you for another wonderful book ☺!

photo by colleeninhawaii.

Today’s Poetree Friday Roundup is at Becky’s Book Reviews. Be sure to sample all the cool poems on the menu. I’ll leaf you with this snack for the road:

Green Tea Cupcake by Cupcakes Central (Sheryl).

More poems from Poetrees can be found at the Florian Cafe: Paper Birch, Dragon Tree, and Giant Sequoia.

Faboo Douglas Florian interviews at 7-Imp, The Miss Rumphius Effect, and Wild Rose Reader!

His official website is here.

Have a great weekend (climb a few trees, branch out, go loco)!

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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