cover image Touch the Poem

Touch the Poem

Arnold Adoff. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47970-7

Adoff and Desimini (Love Letters) salute the senses, especially touch, in this well-balanced collaboration. Written in Adoff's familiar ""shaped speech"" style, the initial title poem depicts a girl caressing her face: ""As I Look At The O p e n Book/ On My Table:/ Each Poem/ A Gentle/ Touch."" The poems describe physical sensations (""I/ .../ Rub/ The Palm/ Of My Hand/ On/ Daddy's/ Stubble/ C h e e k"") and sensuous contact (""F u z z/ Of Peach Skin/ Round/ R u b s/ My Upper Lip Just/ B e f o r e/ First/ Bite""). Although the language is sometimes repetitious, the accumulation of detail evokes the sensation of the described activity. The shaped speech, however, seems random rather than integral to the rhythm of the poems. Desimini's striking mixed-media collages, on the other hand, make consistently pertinent use of off-center techniques, their ability to startle an effective contrast to Adoff's low-key approach. The girl of the title poem, for example, is shown in a photo superimposed onto the page of an open book, which in turn is shown held by a pair of hands placed where the reader's own hands would be, creating a book-within-a-book telescoping conceit. Illustrations are turned sideways, a reflection of a child's face is tipped into a drop of water, outsize images confound viewers' sense of scale. All in all, a tactile and visual treat. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)