Poetry Friday: The World According to Dog

Poetry Friday is hosted by JoAnn at Teaching Authors

As a dog lover of long standing, I am a sucker for any book with a picture of a woofie on its cover, especially one that looks like this:

...even better, it’s a book of poems about dogs and reflections by teens about the dogs in their lives. Heaven!  In her “Note to the Reader”, the poet Joyce Sidman writes:

  “This book started with a dog – my dog.  I began writing poems about him in a dark time, when I needed comfort and he was there.  Friends, reading the poems, told me their feelings about their dogs, which spurred me to create more poems.  When my editor read the collection, she asked a “What If?” question: “What if we were to ask teens to write about their dogs, and include those stories with their poems?”

The result is a marvelous volume of moving, whimsical and oh-so-true poems that capture the essence of dogginess and why it is that dogs really are “man’s best friend”: The World According to Dog.    Here is one of my favorites:
Dog in Bed

Nose tucked under tail.
You are a warm, furred planet
centered in my bed.
All night I orbit, tangle-limbed,
in the slim space
allotted to me.

If I accidentally
bump you from sleep,
you shift, groan,
drape your chin on my hip.

Oh that languid, movie-star drape!
I can never resist it.
Digging my fingers into your fur,
kneading,
            I wonder:
How do you dream?
What do you adore?
Why should your black silk ears
feel like happiness?

This is how it is with love.
Once invited,
it steps in gently,
circles twice,
and takes up as much space
as you will give it.

The essays are equally wondrous – especially because these young writers capture so much of the quirky, loving and joyful nature of he dogs in their lives. Here is Arielle, 14, writing about the dog her family rescued – Ninja:

“I wake up every morning and know if we had not saved him that day he surely would have died.  Now, Ninja claims our brick bench outside as his throne, sitting like a gargoyle atop an ancient castle wall, ever vigilant, protecting the family he loves, and his princess – me.”

Doug Mindell’s extraordinary photographs set these poems and essays off perfectly – I found myself gazing into soulful eyes of all sorts of dogs and being grateful for loving dogs and always having had the companionship of one (or two and three at a time)  for as long as I can remember.
You can visit Joyce Sidman’s website to learn of her other, equally enjoyable, works, where you can also   listen to her reading some of her poems.

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8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The World According to Dog

  1. Really looks like a wonderful book, Tara. I wish I had known about it before Christmas because there are several I would have bought it for. It's on my wish list to remember for school too. What a project it would be for students! I loved that I know about Joyce too & the poem shared is so sweet–"Once invited,it steps in gently,circles twice" – beautiful!

  2. Thanks for this new-to-me book by Joyce Sidman! I'll be searching it out!All she says in her poem about a dog is true of our dog-sized (18 lb) cat's way of taking over the bed…and our hearts.

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