WORLD MAKE WAY, a Poetry Collection for the Eye and Ear

Lynn: Renowned editor Lee Bennett Hopkins opens World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2018) with this important thought from Leonardo da Vinci: “Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett HopkinsThis book, a glorious new celebration of art and poetry, perfectly reflects da Vinci’s thought. The Metropolitan Museum of Art commissioned 18 contemporary poets to respond to 18 works of art from their collection. Both the beautifully reproduced art and the poems span many periods, cultures, styles, and media, adding greatly to the book’s richness.

Each pairing is in exquisite dialogue. The poets include contemporary writers such as Marilyn Singer, Marilyn Nelson, Charles Ghigna, and Julie Fogliano, with paintings from artists like Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Henri Rousseau, Jose Guadelupe Posada, and Oide Toko.

This is a book to savor, as each page reveals a new treat. I couldn’t pick a favorite, and challenge you to choose the one you love best!

Cindy: This book brings to mind a favorite collection of mine, 2002 Printz Honor title Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth Century American Art, edited by Jan Greenberg. Both books pair poems with beautiful works of art. Greenberg’s focuses more tightly on American art from the 20th century, while Hopkins takes a wider view of both time and place.

Lynn is right: It is hard to choose a favorite. I thought I could pick just two: a Posada skeleton work with a poem by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Kerry James Marshall’s “Untitled (Studio)” with verse by Marilyn Nelson. Both of these pairings capture the dedication and courage of the artist—so fitting for this collection. But then I turned another few pages, and Naomi Shihab Nye pierced my carpé diem soul with her poem about time and control: “It’s All Magic,” inspired by “The Elephant Clock,” a 1315 Syrian painting of a mechanical Rube Goldberg-like clock. Get your hands on this book and try to pick your own favorite.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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