cover image Love Letters

Love Letters

Arnold Adoff. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-48478-7

Not just the run-of-the-mill Valentine's Day sentiments find expression in 20 poems, styled as anonymous notes. Each epistle begins with a ""Dear ---"" salutation; Adoff (Slow Dance Heart Break Blues) fills in the blank with terms denoting school crushes (""Ms. Back Row,"" ""New Boy""), family members (""Hard Working Dad,"" ""Little Sis""), pets and fairy-tale figures (""Dear Prince:... We can chase those dragons together. Your Potential Princess""). Most of the letters show kindness, but some allow for mixed feelings: one spread, illustrated with mirror images of a teacher, includes notes to both ""Mrs. Nicely"" and her apparent alter-ego, ""Mrs. McNasty."" Replies seldom appear, although a smitten ""Frosty the Snow Boy"" receives a chilly rejection from ""Your Not-Yet Friend: Icicle Eyes""). Desimini (My House; In a Circle Long Ago) contributes inventive, moody collages of found objects, handmade paper, fuzzy cloth, photos and paint. In these soft compositions, faces are often obscured or eyes averted; Desimini's artwork, like Adoff's poetry, suggests secrecy and shyness. The letter-writers here are alone with their feelings, and much of the pleasure of this volume arises from Adoff's and Desimini's abilities to evoke not only these everyday feelings but the more complicated sense of privacy and mystery they summon. All ages. (Jan.)