A nature poem for every day of the year
Poems selected by Fiona Waters
Illustrations by Frann Preston-Gannon
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Every now and then a book comes along that takes your breath away because it is so gorgeous, that makes you thrill to turn every page because every page is a delight, that makes you want to run outside and read an extract to everyone you meet. Such a book is I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree.
It is based on the simple idea of having a nature poem for every day of the year, including leap years. The poems are short and simple in language although not necessarily simple in concept. It is after all the nature of a good poem that it expresses the ineffable. There are plenty of funny rhymes and familiar lines but, as Fiona Waters has chosen from a wide field of contributors there are also many beautiful unfamiliar little masterpieces scattered in the collection.
Contributors include William Blake, Emily Bronte, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Ted Hughes, Roger McGough, William Butler Yeats and many more. There are also poems in translation from many sources. It is a rich collection indeed.
Frann Preston-Gannon has used each page to create colourful atmospheric landscapes populated with the animals and plants mentioned in the poems. Most of the animals seem to be looking directly at the reader and many have quiet little smiles, so the overall impression is friendly and inviting. The artwork is lush and expansive, the colours rich and bold.
Each month of the year is treated as a chapter with the poems of that month listed in a generous double page spread. The poems are arranged thematically to coincide with the season of the Northern Hemisphere so little Australians will have to adjust their expectations and expand their horizons to accommodate new information. The intrinsic value of this collection is in the range and variety of the poetry and a reader can dip into any section, any page and find a little treasure.
It would be a marvellous resource in a classroom. Perhaps with this in mind the designers have created a sturdy book, stitched and bound to last for many years of intense use. It comes with an index of poets, an index of poems and an index of first lines to help you find your favourites. I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree will grow a love of language and poetry in every child fortunate enough to have a copy in their home or classroom.
Allen & Unwin 2018 hardback 336 pages $49.99 ISBN 9780857637703