cover image Love: Selected Poems

Love: Selected Poems

E. E. Cummings, , illus. by Christopher Myers. . Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0796-3

In this astonishing picture book about sensual love, Myers (Black Cat ) combines evocative photographs of people and paintings to create collages that match the startling imagery in cummings's poems. Focusing primarily on the kind of breathless love for which "feeling is first," and a lover can render "death and forever with each breathing," the intense poems are made even more powerful by Myers's brilliant artwork. Each illustration translates the emotions behind cummings's quicksilver metaphors into unforgettable visual imagery. A description of the separation of lovers that "whittles life to eternity/ —after which our separating selves become museums/ filled with skillfully stuffed memories" takes visual form with an arresting image of a person's bare back and shoulders covered with butterflies. Myers unifies the book thematically with repeating images. "Birds who are the secret of living" appear in one poem, escaping a door that covers a young man's heart; and in another, creamy doves circle a nude woman to "cover her briefness in singing/ close her with intricate faint birds." However, despite its formatting as a picture book and its listing as appropriate for "all ages," the book's emphasis upon erotic love makes it more suitable for sophisticated teens and adults than for children—especially the inclusion of a bantering seduction poem—"but it's life said he/ but your wife said she/ .../ (cccome? said he/ ummm said she)." All ages. (Dec.)