Mora, Pat. Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. ISBN 978375945656
Dizzy in Your Eyes is a collection of teenage love poems that has both structured and free verse poems. The poems are always on the right hand page with the facing page either having a definition and explanation of the form of verse or some abstract art.
While some of the poems are silly, others approach love from a more serious angle. Perhaps the most refreshing view of love in this collection is that while many are about romantic love, there are also poems about things like familial or even the more generic love like loving animals.
The main cultural marker is language. While some bilingual poems lament misunderstanding between languages, others incorporate Spanish smoothly letting the reader understand just how comfortable the speaker is with the language. However, while language is the most obvious marker, several poems including “Mariachi Fantasy” include others. “Mariachi Fantasy” includes Hispanic music and clothing.
Perhaps the most powerful poem in the collection is the one that appears twice, back to back, at the end, “Ode to Teachers/Oda a las maestras.”Part of the power of this poem comes from the fact that Mora chose to put the English and Spanish back to back. Another thing to note is that, if read aloud, both translations flow well. This pair serves as a reminder that poetry itself is multicultural.
Spotlight Poem (excerpt)
So many memories,
and I’m still young.
So many dreams,
my song’s just begun.
Sometimes I hear
my private melody grow,
then the sound vanishes,
but returns, I now know.
I’ve heard my heart break;
wounded, I’ve felt alone,
but slowly I learned
to thrive on my own.
I want to keep learning,
to deepen my song;
in whatever I work,
may my best self grow strong.
It’s still the morning,
the green spring of my life.
I’m starting my journey,
family and friends at my side,
my song inside,
and love as my guide.
This poem continues in this matter, speaking of not only hardship and loss, but also joy and learning. The stanza starting “It’s still the morning,” is actually the refrain of the song. This is a great opportunity to encourage teens to write their own songs, whether they are ever actually put to music (perhaps in an open mic) or not. Often people don’t think of lyrics as poetry, so to some, writing a lyric may be less intimidating or embarrassing than writing a poem.
Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature-2011
Pure Poetry-2009 (Voice of Youth Advocates)
Booklist—“ Mora writes in free verse, as well as a wide variety of classic poetic forms including haiku, clerihew, sonnet, cinquain, and blank verse and for each form, there is an unobtrusive explanatory note on the facing page. The tight structures intensify the strong feelings in the poems, which teens will enjoy reading on their own or hearing aloud in the classroom.”
Kirkus—“ Mora explores the first love between a girl and a boy, the filial love between a daughter and her father, the fraternal love between sisters, the love of family, friends and teachers, picturing each variation as a strong force that strikes, blesses, empowers and beautifies the lives of the ones touched by its light. The poet’s voice is multifaceted: tender, humorous and joyful but also profound.”
Kirkus. Kirkus Reviews. December 2009. (Vol. 77, No. 24). Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=0&isbn=9780375843754
Rochman, Hazel. Booklist. November 2009. (Vol.106, No. 6). Accessed via CLCD at http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/jbookdetail/jqbookdetail?page=1&pos=0&isbn=9780375843754