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Objects in the Ashmolean: An art and poetry resource Paperback – 23 Mar 2017
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It's rare to find a poetry book that appeals to 10-year olds as well as adults. The humor and sense of fun won't be lost on anyone.
"Objects in the Ashmolean" occupies a special place on my shelf. As a poet and artist myself, I flip through the pages and think, "I ought to try that in my next book of poems! Ooh, and that too! What an innovative idea - oh, how funny! And that layout....!" I basically want to copy the entire book, from the words to the layout to the imagery.
The poems, narratives, and hilarious one-act plays will make you chuckle. For instance, there's a particularly witty exchange between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon!
This is nothing like an ordinary book of poems, which - and as a poet I can say this - are too often predictable and tiresome. Moore's book pairs artwork from the famous Ashmolean museum with her poems, creating a clever and surprising interplay across the page.
The book is intended for all ages. I imagine it would be an incredible resource for teachers, libraries, and home educators, as there are thoughtful prompts and questions to explore, as well as suggestions for singing the poems aloud.
This slim volume contains multitudes; it's a terrific launchpad for teaching history, religion (though it's not at all religious - but much Renaissance artwork was), music, and poetry.
Aside from the short and chuckle-inducing one-act play between Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, there's a mermaid who sings the blues ("I've Got the Silver-Finned Blues"), a "menu" poem that offers ancient Green cuisine replete with "Mid-Winter Warmers" and "Kiddie Menu" - so clever!
Moore's little asides and suggestions are brilliant. For example, a poem paired with a religious painting by Lelio Orsi - which depicts St Michael subduing Satan - can be sung to the tune of Offenbach's "Infernal Galop," more popularly known as the can-can!
These are just a few examples of Moore's playfulness. It's refreshing to find a book of poetry that doesn't take itself too seriously. If this book were a person, they'd be a great date: full of surprises, witty quips, and casual references to myth and literature thrown in for good measure.