Firefly July – A Year of Very Short Poems

Bright blocks of colour on the patchwork-style cover announce this as a warm blanket of a book, and the blanket is by turns one of stars, of flowers and of cloth. Sweet’s watercolour, gouche and mixed media illustrations draw on nature, with birds, insects and trees reinforcing the mostly outdoor feel of the book.
The 36 short poems get plenty of breathing space, with a haiku on the first double-page spread and the other poems given one or two full-colour pages each. The longest poem has ten short lines, while most range from three to six.
The book has four sections, one for each season. Spring opens with Cid Corman’s haiku, ‘Daybreak reminds us/the hills have arrived just in/time to celebrate.’ The word ‘Spring’ has been incorporated into the illustration with the ‘S’, ‘R’ and ‘I’ as flower-stems, a recurring feature of the book. The closing poem, by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, points the way to sleep with, ‘A welcome mat of moonlight/on the floor. Wipe your feet/before getting into bed.’
Published in the US by Candlewick Press, the book has a strong American feel, with poets ranging from William Carlos Williams (with his iconic ‘red wheelbarrow’) to Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.
For reluctant readers of poems, this could be a good introduction, showing that it takes only a few well-chosen words to paint a picture. Those who already enjoy poetry will also find much to appreciate in these word-pictures and the accompanying images.