Wednesday 28 August 2019

100 Ways to Fly

100 Ways to Fly by Michelle Taylor (UQP) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN 9780702262500

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This third collection of poems from Australian writer Michelle Taylor is divided into seven sections starting with ‘The Word Zoo’ in which she plays around with words, for example ‘Catch’ in which every line begins with the word ‘catch’ as in ‘Catch a cold/catch a name/catch some ZZZs/catch a plane.’ There’s another poem titled ‘X’ where the letter can stand for a list of things such as ‘a kiss/a cross/a little/a lot’. Occasionally at the foot of her poems, Taylor includes a reference to the poem; in ‘X’ she’s written ‘After a circle an ‘x’ is one of the first symbols drawn by children around the world’.

Another section of the book is ‘Great Balls of Fire’, a collection of limericks, riddles and tongue twisters which includes poems such as ‘The Lamington Thief’, ‘From Hair to Hong Kong’ and ‘Shauna and Shaun.’ Teachers might enjoy taking any of these poems and inviting students to write their own pieces based on them. Other sections in the book are ‘The Time of Our Lives’, ‘Spooky and Sick’, ‘How many noses in a nostril?’ ‘Coming to Your Senses’ and ‘A Pocket Full of Poems.’

Certainly, there’s a wide range of poetic styles and subject matter in this book but sadly very few, if any, lyrical poems. Some poems are very short (in ‘Swing: Funny how/just a simple thing/causes my tiny ear bones/to sing’), some are longer and more developed. It’s difficult to know what appeal most of the poems would have to the average child reader, but there are some poems which happily offer comfort. One poem is ‘Squeeze Cuddle: Hug me/Hold me/Squeeze me tight/Cuddle close/Grab my hand/Everything will be all right.’

To sum up this book: eclectic and aimed at readers aged 8 to 12 years.

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