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Is This Forever, or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas
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Is This Forever, or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas

by Naomi Shihab Nye, Various (Illustrator)

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The state line stretches for 2,842 miles. There are coasts and mountains and rivers and lakes and cities and towns and disappearing towns and fields of wildflowers and hills and wide-open places.

The state of mind has no borders. And the 140 Texans in this book are about to show you why.



The state line stretches for 2,842 miles. There are coasts and mountains and rivers and lakes and cities and towns and disappearing towns and fields of wildflowers and hills and wide-open places.

The state of mind has no borders. And the 140 Texans in this book are about to show you why.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A collection as diverse and voluminous as the state that inspired it, Is This Forever, or What? Poems and Paintings from Texas, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye, brims with intense verse and artwork from 140 Texas writers and artists. The compilation's scope is not limited to merely reflecting on Texan life but instead mirrors that which binds all people together as human beings. Nye puts together poems that cover the gamut, from tactile details about the Lone Star State, as in Beverly Caldwell's "And Every Town Its Dairy Queen ("In Texas, every podunk town/ has a Dairy Queen,/ where old men in Stetsons/ or John Deere caps/ gather between naps") to Jacinto Jes s Cardona's "Avocado Avenue," which takes readers from the specific to the universal. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A talented poet in her own right, Nye turns her hand in this glossy and colorful volume toward showcasing the talents of 140 Texan artists. Although the collection is not explicitly aimed at a young adult audience, the images and themes that surface repeatedly-cars and driving, memories of childhood, romantic love, summer pastimes-will easily appeal to teenagers. The paintings in this volume do not necessarily illustrate the poems with which they share a page, but close observers will often find an evocative connection between the two forms of art. And the opportunity to shift back and forth from a consideration of color and form to one of word and line gives the book an appealing pacing and an accessible feel. The poetic offerings range from carefully structured gems like Edward Hirsch's "At Sixteen" to Marissa C. Martinez's free-verse poem "Shelling Pecans." Similarly the artistic styles represented in the volume range from a formal still life titled "Green Pears and Tree Frog" by Andrea Peyton and the loose watercolor called "Barton Springs" by Malou Flato to the abstract image "Red Constellation" by Reginald Rowe. Although this collection is not one of the most important books of recent poetry, the variety it presents makes it a valuable addition to any library seeking to make poetry and painting tangible and contemporary forms of artistic expression. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2004, Greenwillow, 164p.; Index. Illus. Source Notes., Ages 15 to Adult.
—Megan Lynn Isaac
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-These contemporary poems and paintings (by poets and artists who will be largely unfamiliar to readers) are grouped into sections and "interludes" that revolve around universal themes. In the section titled "Is This Forever, Or What?" the pantoum, "At Sixteen," by well-known poet Edward Hirsch is followed by Travis Ian Smith's "Giant, Red Hibiscus," an instantly recognizable love poem that revolves around a very Texan image: "And I would like to watch you watch the hibiscus/in early morning,/how it changes from some seemingly red, dead-looking thing/into the most beautiful bloom on earth./I'm sorry, I forgot. I meant the second most beautiful thing." The large, square book design is similar to that of Nye's The Space Between Our Footsteps (S & S, 1998) and gives plenty of space to the poems and vibrantly reproduced paintings; it also makes this a book more likely to be picked up by adults than by younger readers. The subtitle may also make readers suspect this collection isn't for them; they'd be wrong. Nye has brought together a circle of friends as expansive as her state, and as particular as a well-honed friendship. This collection is actually less about Texas than it is about place and voice, and how creative individuals who love their home and people can show strangers the beauty and oddity they see each day before them. Place this title in poetry sections for browsing, or wherever you have fans of Nye's work.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This sumptuously designed gathering of poetry and paintings from 140 Texans (or former Texans) will lead readers not so much to that state specifically, as to a state of mind: a "sense of generous horizons and spaciousness," to quote the much-honored editor. Ranging in style from abstract to photorealistic, the 44 paintings include still lifes, landscapes, portraits of people or wildlife, evocations of folk art, pop art, or expressionistic studies in color. The poetry, being all free verse and, with a single exception (plus scattered phrases), in English, is less varied in voice or imagery, but flows smoothly from one selection to the next. Despite recurring references to snakes, heat, pecans, and the sound of running water, it deals less with distinctively regional topics than with such universal themes as the immigrant experience, small-town customers at the Dairy Queen, vivid childhood memories, personal reflections, absent friends, or contemplations of nature. Except for Pat Mora, Sandra Cisneros, and a handful of others, these poets and artists have had little or no exposure nationwide; Nye has done them a real service with this deep (though not wide) cross-section. (biographical notes, indexes) (Poetry. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Naomi Shihab Nye has received a Lannan Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and four Pushcart Prizes. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her collection Honeybee was awarded the Arab-American Book Award. She is currently serving on the Board of Chancellors for the Academy of American Poets. Naomi Shihab Nye has edited several honored and popular poetry anthologies, including Time You Let Me In, What Have You Lost?, Salting the Ocean, and This Same Sky, and she is the author of the novels Habibi and Going, Going. She lives with her family in San Antonio, Texas.

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