Today’s poem is Names for Twins, taken from Ounce Dice Trice by Alastair Reid, illustrated by Ben Shahn. You can listen to a recording of this poem on Spotify here.
This is one of my favourite poetry collections for its sheer revelry in linguistic fun and games. Indeed, we’ve found it works really well as a family game – reading one of the poems out loud and then extending it with our own word play. I also chose it as it’s a collection of curious and rare words, and in its way I felt it sat very nicely alongside yesterday’s choice, The Lost Words, and Robert Macfarlane’s love of unusual vocabulary. Both Reid and Macfarlane encourage us to pick up words, dust them off and treasure them.
Shahn’s black and white varied illustrations give a zine feel to this collection. There are scratchy drawings, prints, and a lively interplay between word and picture. Even though this collection was first published nearly 60 years ago it still feels full of spunk and originality. You can see some examples of Shahn’s illustrations over on Brain Picking’s review of this book.
Liberating, rule-breaking, and full of wonder and gems, this off-beat poetry collection is a delight.