April 12, 2016

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Reads: Chapter & Verse (Enthusiasm)

Happy last Poetry Friday of August.

Despite having one child back at school, and the other starting on Tuesday, I am -- like many of you -- hanging on to summer. Hanging on as in, you could not pry my fingers off of Labor Day weekend or even bribe me with chocolate. If summer were coffee and we were down to the grounds at the bottom of the cup, I would drink it and savor every little nib of coffee bean.

Recommended end-of-summer read.
This re-issue of the book, signed by
Stephen King and Ray Bradbury,
is available for £375.

But before I lick the bottom of the cup of delicious iced-coffee that is summer, let's visit Jone at Check It Out! She is hosting today's Poetry Friday round-up.

This is the seventh post in a series called Summer Reads: Chapter  Verse. Guest bloggers and I are pairing books we've read this summer with a poem that complements the novel.

So far, we've paired:

Shared by guest blogger Janet Wong

with blackberry poems by Galway Kinnell, Sylvia Plath, and Crescent Dragonwagon

I'm really excited about today's post. We have a guest blogger visiting. And her summer read? I don't know how I missed this book. It's got romance! It's got intrigue! It's got poetry! And it features a character who is an enthusiastic Janeite (as in Austen).

A little bit of back story. As you know -- because you heard me screaming with joy back in June -- my middle grade novel-in-verse is being published in spring of 2016 (read my announcement here). One of the best perks of being a debut author is meeting other debut authors. Today's guest blogger, Kathy MacMillan, is coordinator of The Sweet 16s. We are a group of middle grade and young adult authors debuting in 2016. You can visit our website-in-progress here.

Lucky me, not only was I invited to be one of the administrators for the group, but Kathy lives in nearby Baltimore. We are planning to meet for real and in person this fall.

I am so looking forward to working with the wildly creative and funny people in The Sweet 16s as we all finish up our edits, commiserate about our hopes and fears, and prepare to publicize our books. I hope to introduce you to more of the gang in the coming months.

Welcome, Kathy, to AuthorAmok!

My Book: ENTHUSIASM by Polly Shulman

"There is little more likely to exasperate a person of sense than finding herself tied by affection and habit to an Enthusiast."  But that's exactly Julie's lot: her best friend Ashley is a decided Enthusiast, with passionate interests running the gamut from canning to fashion.  But when Ashley's fancy lands on Julie's own passion—the novels of Jane Austen—Julie finds herself swept along on Ashley's quest to find True Love worthy of an Austen heroine.  Whether crashing a dance at a local prep school (in vintage gowns, of course) or untangling the misunderstandings wrought by the objects of their affection, these smart and funny heroines star in an engaging and satisfying read.

Doesn't the title invoke Jane Austen?
Read a review at TeenReads.
Paired with:

Sonnet III
from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese

Unlike are we, unlike, O princely Heart!
Unlike our uses and our destinies.
Our ministering two angels look surprise
On one another, as they strike athwart
Their wings in passing. Thou, bethink thee, art
A guest for queens to social pageantries,
With gages from a hundred brighter eyes
Than tears even can make mine, to play thy part
Of chief musician. What hast thou to do
With looking from the lattice-lights at me,
A poor, tired, wandering singer, singing through
The dark, and leaning up a cypress tree?
The chrism is on thine head,—on mine, the dew,—
And Death must dig the level where these agree.

I chose this sonnet for several reasons:

1) It *had* to be a sonnet. One of the plot points in ENTHUSIASM centers around the identity of the writer of a certain (wildly romantic, take-your-breath-away) sonnet that appears tacked to the tree between Julie and Ashley's houses—but which girl is it meant for?

2) The poet sees her beloved as someone who is far above her, and is amazed that his attention would turn to her.  In ENTHUSIASM, Julie's insecurity lends her the same attitude—even when the proof of her beloved's affection is right in front of her.

3) Both the sonnet and the book remind us that the art forms we often think of as old, dusty, or stodgy are actually capable of conveying deeply felt passion, and that those passions have been felt by human beings across time.

Portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Michele Gordigiani.
Source: The Guardian

Kathy MacMillan is a writer, librarians, storyteller, interpreter, and Enthusiast.  Her debut YA fantasy novel will be published by HarperTeen in 2016.  Find out more about her work at  

Thanks for the great recommendation and pairing, Kathy.

Do you have an idea for Summer Reads: Chapter & Verse? I'm still looking for guest bloggers. The series will continue until summer ends on Monday, September 22. For more information, find a full explanation of this series and a sample Chapter & Verse pairing at this post.

I'll see you next week, everyone, when Poetry Friday is HERE.


Linda B said...

I have a former student who studied Jane Austen all year her final year with me; she is now a junior in high school-will share this post with her, Laura. I don't know the book either, but it sounds like a fit for some older girls at school. Your group also sounds wonderful; what a boost for each other! Thanks to Kathy for the pairing, & sharing the sonnet, although with more formal language, shows the thoughts of many an adolescent. Although they may never tell!

Tara said...

Another, wonderful pairing, Laura. This book is unfamiliar to me, but the paired poem, which I love, had me intrigued.

jama said...

So nice that you've hooked up with the Sweet 16s and will get to meet Kathy in person.

Enthusiasm sounds like a fun read. Wonderful poetry pairing. Thanks, Kathy!

Marisa Reichardt said...

Love these pairings. And really love this oh-so-true statement: "Both the sonnet and the book remind us that the art forms we often think of as old, dusty, or stodgy are actually capable of conveying deeply felt passion, and that those passions have been felt by human beings across time."

Bridget Magee said...

These pairings are so much fun, Laura! Inspired by last week's pairing, I am reading Walk Two Moons with my 11 year old. She is loving it - giggles every time Gram says, "Peeby". = )

Violet N. said...

How brilliant that your publishers are linking you with like authors. You'll have twice the fun.

The novel and the poem sound like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing this pairing.

GatheringBooks said...

Very excited about your debut novel-in-verse - a genre which I positively love. I think it's very nice how YA/children's authors come together so beautifully in friendship, encouragement, and support of one another. Love the pairing, and enjoyed reading this sonnet aloud. :)

Mary Lee said...

Another great pairing! (Writing a Chapter & Verse post is still on my to-do list, but it threatens to be drowned by school work and other prior commitments. Stay tuned.)

Karen Edmisten said...

My teen Janeite will be looking for Enthusiasm, methinks.

And Dandelion Wine? Swoon, ever-swoon.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

A perfect pairing! Elizabeth Barrett Browning is looking particularly goth in that portrait, though, don't you think?