“A poem … is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
“Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire,” Adrienne Rich wrote in contemplating the cultural power of poetry. But what is a poem, really, and what exactly is its use?
Every once in a while, you stumble upon something so lovely, so unpretentiously beautiful and quietly profound, that you feel like the lungs of your soul have been pumped with a mighty gasp of Alpine air.
This Is a Poem That Heals Fish (public library) is one such vitalizing gasp of loveliness — a lyrical picture-book that offers a playful and penetrating answer to the question of what a poem is and what it does. And as it does that, it shines a sidewise gleam on the larger question of what we most hunger for in life and how we give shape to those deepest longings.
Written by the French poet, novelist, and dramatist Jean-Pierre Simeón, translated into English by Enchanted Lion Books founder Claudia Zoe Bedrick (the feat of translation which the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska had in mind when she spoke of “that rare miracle when a translation stops being a translation and becomes … a second original”), and illustrated by the inimitable Olivier Tallec, this poetic and philosophical tale follows young Arthur as he tries to salve his beloved red fish Leon’s affliction of boredom.
Arthur’s mommy looks at him.
She closes her eyes,
she opens her eyes…
Then she smiles:
— Hurry, give him a poem!
And she leaves for her tuba lesson.
Puzzled and unsure what a poem is, Arthur goes looking in the pantry, only to hear the noodles sigh that there is no poem there. He searches in the closet and under his bed, but the vacuum cleaner and the dust balls have no poem, either.
Determined, Arthur continues his search.
He runs to Lolo’s bicycle shop.
Lolo knows everything, laughs all the time, and is always in love.
He is repairing a tire and singing.
A wonderfully illustrated, almost heart-achingly beautiful work of art. Find it here..