I had dinner with a bunch of poets (A gaggle? A murder? A pod? A pride? A pentameter?) last night and while I was shuttling between the Academy Awards and the living room I was thinking about Marsha’s YA/Not YA dilemma.
It’s barely a question in poetry. Verse can be light, but nobody I asked thought of poetry for, say, high school students vs. poetry for adults. Billy Collins did “Poetry 180” and literally everybody in the book was a poet-for-adults who’d written poems that a kid would like. You know that’s true for most of my poems, and it’s just as true for a lot of my friends. People like Barbara Hamby and David Kirby.
Really dense and difficult poetry isn’t so much for adults only as it is for people who like puzzles. A smart kid would get a kick out of someone like John Ashberry who has an enormous wingspan that casts a giant shadow but is also very playful.
The funny thing about YA fiction vs. poetry is that I’ll usually give a generic kids’ novel set mostly in a mall frequented by vampires a few pages to get going but when I read a line of poetry like this — “Even if the gust that undoes us/is dimmed in oblivion” — that’s it for me.
Having said that, now I’m wondering if patience separates Fiction/YA fiction. I tend to be patient with Fiction, less so with YA novels. I have a feeling that the former could go anywhere but I usually know right where the latter is headed.