Mosquitoes and Mexican Free-Tailed Bats [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

Marilyn Singer blog tour

This week, I’m delighted to share Marilyn Singer’s new poetry collection, Wild in the Streets: 20 Poems of City Animals! (ill. by Gordy Wright, published by Quarto Publishing)

I’ve been a fan of Marilyn’s poetry for such a long time. She writes in such a wide variety of styles and on so many different topics. She has a wicked sense of humor and a deep sense of fun and wonder at the world. And she and her husband Steve smash it at social dance!

I love her topic here–so much so that I have my own rhyming nonfiction manuscript on a similar vein making the rounds. This survey of animals gives Marilyn ample opportunity to try on different tones and voices. My favorites are the ones that really capture the WILDness of the animals. In the last four lines, the coyotes ask,
“So, come on, give us welcome
to rid you of your mice and rats.
Can’t you forgive our taking
those few occasional cats?”

Yikes! I also adore the pythons “Stopping hearts and traffic,” the water monitors chanting, “We want fish, we want meat,” and the rhesus monkeys’ sly insistence: “Give us/ give us/ Give up/ Give in.” She read the rhesus monkey one at the ALA Poetry Blast, and she gave it a scary sly dramatization!

Another thing I enjoyed about this book is that the poetic form isn’t specified until the end of the book. When I opened the Monarch butterfly spread, my heart sank a little at the amount of text. (I love short poems.) But what a delicious surprise to get to the second stanza and realize it was a reverso, the form Marilyn popularized in Mirror Mirror. The absence of a form listing forced me to just pay attention to the poems themselves and discover their beauty line by line. (But the forms are identified and explained in the backmatter, which is great.)

Most of all, though, I love the really brief poems in this collection–the haiku and cinquains. Even those, Marilyn puts her own twist on with the inclusion of some rhyme. The honeybees and pigeon poems especially drew me in. And the poems I chose to share here relate an experience I had hoped to see at TLA this year in Austin, TX. But the bats didn’t really swarm that night. :>(

Mosquitoes and Mexican Free-Tailed Bats

Calm rivers, still lakes.

Nine months of warm. Night draws near.
Mosquitoes soon swarm.

Over the wide bridge,

people passing. Underneath,
spry bats, amassing.

–Marilyn Singer, all rights reserved

Isn’t that lovely?

The poems are accompanied by prose sidebars with lots of great details–one of my favorite formats for a poetry book. This will be great for classrooms as well as for anyone curious about animals and their city lives.
And for lots of wonderful poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with the wonderful Linda Baie at Teacher Dance! She’s revealing the cover of Irene Latham’s and Charles Waters’ next collaboration, which looks just amazing.


15 Responses

  1. I love that bat poem, have the book coming from my library & know it will be good. As you wrote, Marilyn Singer’s book are all delightful & varied! My son & family saw those bats “amassing” in Austin one year & sent me pictures. It must be amazing! Thanks for sharing this book, Laura!

  2. This looks like such a wonderful book! Ruth,

  3. Terrific review, Laura! This book got me thinking about so many other wild animals that have been my neighbors in various places I’ve lived. (Enough for many more books on the subject, I’m sure!) Among my favorites were the fruit bats (flying foxes) who congregated in the Sydney Botanical Gardens and dined throughout the city and suburbs each evening.

    1. I have a manuscript making the rounds on a related topic–not a poetry collection–and it’s a topic I love. It’s cool to think about how much wildlife is really all around us…

  4. I adore the cover of this book. It sure is getting a lot of hype today. Here where I live we have coyotes living in the local park. Racoons and skunks are regular visitors to our neighbourhood. I’m just happy that we don’t have those huntsman spiders around here.

    1. Cool, Carol (as long as people aren’t letting small pets wander, of course). I hear ya on those spiders!

  5. Such a delightful and informative book. I think we need to stay one step ahead of those clever and ingenious rhesus monkeys or perhaps they’re ahead of us… “Give us/ give us/ Give up/ Give in.” I’m looking forward to Marilyn’s book, thanks Laura!

  6. I am enjoying the blog tour of Marilyn’s book. I have a Netgalley copy and didn’t realize the monarch poem was a reverso. Oh, my, she is a master of that form. Thanks for your attention to the details. I need to read closer.

    1. She is! I find it hard to read poetry and picture books on screen. I do, when it’s all I have, but I know I miss more!

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