Imagine the look on a parent’s face to any child’s declaration that begins, “I know, I know. You’re really mad. But I can explain. See I was reading about Galileo…” and ends with, “so even though the car has a concrete block sticking out of the roof, technically, it’s not my fault.”
This is the beginning of Technically, It’s Not My Fault, John Grandits’delightful book of concrete poetry that explores wordplay through the perspective of an adolescent boy. Who else would write poems about the perfect roller coaster (complete with flames and spiders), a triangular poem titled “My Sister is Crazy,” or the quintessential adolescent poem: “Autobiography of Murray the Fart.” The voice is so distinctively middle-school that it is hard to imagine the author is an adult. I love the quirky views of the world almost as much as your students will—especially the ones who view the world with their own flexibility.
Concrete poems, poems in which the shape and arrangement of the words are as important as the meaning, is a format that is accessible for budding writers with a variety of strengths. Students with language skills might be more typically drawn to poetry, but concrete poetry appeals to more visual students as well. This volume, with its laugh-out-loud silliness, throws the idea of poetry as stuffy art out the window, and is just the thing to inspire student poets to find their own voices. Just don’t expect the results to be boring!