“To Face the Lions”

h1 September 26th, 2013 by jules

From “Sleep Charm”: “This bed is the perfect bed. / Sink into its healing /
cloud-softness, / cheek against cool pillow-white. /
Forget anything you ever wanted, / hoped, or feared. …”


Last week, I chatted here at Kirkus with author and poet Joyce Sidman about her newest poetry collection, What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings (Houghton Mifflin), to be released in early October. The book is illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Pamela Zagarenski.

Today here at 7-Imp, I’ve got two spreads from the book (including the poems), as well as some details from some of Pamela’s paintings. I thank Pamela for sharing them.

Also below is one question for Joyce I didn’t have room for in last week’s column, as well as a trailer for the book, which features even more of Pamela’s artwork.

*[This post’s title comes from “Song of Bravery,” one of my favorite poems in the collection: “…But here I go— / bones clicking quietly together, / blood flowing dutifully / from heart to hands and back again— / here I go, stepping out / through the door / of my own shadow: / into the glare of the arena / to face the lions.”]


“You don’t want my heart? / Fine. I will climb a hill / where the sky is wide. /
The sun will be setting / and the wet grass will drag at my feet. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see poem in its entirety)

“Come, friend, forgive the past; / I was wrong and I am grieving. /
Tell me that this break won’t last— / take my hand; forgive the past. …”

(Click to enlarge spread and see poem in its entirety)

From “How to Find a Poem”: “Wake with a dream-filled head. /
Stumble out into the morning, /
barely aware of how the sun / is laying down strips of silver /
after three days’ rain, / of how the puddles / are singing with green. …”


Jules: What’s next for you, Joyce?

Joyce: I’m excited about my next book, Winter Bees and Other Poems Of The Cold (Fall 2014), which is in the process of being illustrated by Rick Allen, who did Dark Emperor. He lives even further north than I do in Minnesota and is creating lush, snowy linocuts of moose, tundra swans, and chickadees. It will be a gorgeous book.

Beth Krommes has started work on the following book, tentatively titled Slow and Delightful and White (Fall 2015), a picture book about waiting for snow.

So, things are getting chilly!

* * * * * * *

WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHANTS, CHARMS & BLESSINGS. Copyright © 2013 by Joyce Sidman. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Pamela Zagarenski. Published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher and the illustrator.

2 comments to ““To Face the Lions””

  1. Pamela Zagarenski is just magnificent!
    The textures she has in her paintings just make me want to reach out and touch all her books. 🙂

  2. lOvelOvelOve ~ magical artwork melded with mystical poetry ~ a must to add to my poetry collection ~

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