Between the covers

Untangling Spaghetti

Steven Herrick

I like our teacher

Ms Ginola.

She tells us about her husband Tony,

how he brings her breakfast in bed on Sunday

and flowers on Monday night

and on Tuesday they go to the movies

on Friday he cooks dinner

and every day he kisses her

when she goes off to school.

Over dinner, I tell Mum and Dad

all about Ms Ginola and Tony.

Mum doesn’t say a word,

and Dad

offers to wash the dishes.

He’s never done that before.

Steven Herrick’s latest offering, Untangling Spaghetti – a collection of his most popular poems so far – is as funny as ever and a welcome addition to any library. A prolific writer of poetry and verse novels for children and young people (and even adults), Herrick has that uncanny ability to underscore sensitive issues with humour, leaving his readers laughing and thinking at the same time. It comes as little surprise then to realise that Herrick has regularly been shortlisted for Children’s Book Council of Australia awards, and has twice been awarded the NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

Poetry is a rare find on most bookshelves, especially poetry that has been specifically written for younger audiences. Herrick’s brand of poetry is even rarer still in that he manages to touch on mature issues with sensitivity, insight, and a serious dose of humour, as well as being capable of making us laugh just for the sheer fun of it. Take House rules for instance:

When my dad heard my brother call me

‘A dork!’

he said,

‘Jack, we don’t say that word in this house’.

So Jack walked quickly out the back door

stood in the yard

and yelled at me,

‘You dork!’

in his best older brother voice!

And then consider The television news:

On the television news

last night

we saw a man dying of hunger.

His eyes scared me

they were the same colour as mine

then he died, right there.

The reporter came on

standing in front of the crumpled man.

The reporter didn’t look hungry at all.

This book of poems covers every issue from family to falling in love to travelling to sports and work and school. It’s easy to read and fun to leave lying around the house, waiting to lure the unsuspecting. Untangling Spaghetti is highly recommended, especially for those who think they hate poetry.

Books reviewed are available at the Book Warehouse in Keen Street, Lismore, and at Lismore Shopping Square.

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