Spring refuses to visit Italy this year. As I sit in my kitchen on this last day of May, still in long pants and a sweater, I wonder if Summer will follow suit and stay away for good. I can see the sea from where I sit, but it’s still gray and too far away.
And it’s while in this suspended state that I recall a poem I found last year and think, what a perfect time to share it, now while my nose is pressed to the glass door.
I hope he fetches me the sun soon!
This lovely piece is from Night Guard, a collection of middle grade free verse poems by Norwegian poet, literacy educator, and environmental activist
The gorgeous cover in English and the original Norwegian.
The poetry in Night Guard is sophisticated, thoughtful, philosophical, and magical, with so many layers to peel away and savor. Indeed, I’ve picked up this book many times over the past year and I always discover something new to ponder in both the poems and the surreal and contemplative illustrations.
I’m so grateful that Synne took the time to read some of her exquisitely insightful poems for us.
A bit about the book from School Library Journal: This collection of untitled poems is an ephemeral, wandering journey from the perspective of a particularly observant (at times, anxious) child. There is a continuing mystery, and unease, surrounding night, sleep, dreams, and the power of trust in relation to family and strangers. Complicated concepts like the individual and personal identities of parents—beyond the roles of mom and dad—are introduced in subtle but thought-provoking ways (“When Mom’s asleep,/she isn’t/Mom anymore”).
My thanks to illustrator Stian Hole for generously providing these stunning and evocative images from Night Guard. The transparent tree girl is a personal favorite, one I’ve stared at long and long.
In addition to her poetry for adults, Synne has also written a novel for kids and a new picture book (Du og jeg/You and I) with illustrations again by Stian Hole.
Judging by this blurb on Amazon, it’s easy to see that Synne doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects, and the text of Du og jeg sounds as if it must be as meditative and beautiful as Synne’s poetry:
A grandfather and two grandchildren embark on a trip in a rowboat, where they in various ways process thoughts about the end of life. Memories lie beneath the surface, and the tension slowly builds from silent swell to dangerous ocean before things settle down for a while.
I certainly hope to see more of Synne’s work in translation one day soon!
About Synne and her writing journey, in her own words
When I was a kid, I found writing and reading difficult. But at twenty I got sick and had to lie in bed for a very long time. I could no longer do all the things I loved to do. That’s when I started writing. And those years I learned to love both writing and reading. It felt as if I got a new body, the language, that I could move with, feel with, live with.
I started out writing poems for adults, and my two first books where poetry collections. Very soon I knew that I wanted to write for children, but I found that a lot more intimidating than writing for adults, so I decided to learn more about children’s literature. I started at the Norwegian Institute for Children’s Literature, NBI, where I now work and have been working for several years.
My first book for children was a novel, Leo og Mei. It was nominated to Deutcher jugenderliteraturpreis. Then I wrote Nattevakt with Stian Hole. It was our publisher who asked us to write the book, and we started out together more or less with blank sheets. I had a wonderful time working with Stian. Afterwords I wrote yet another poetry book for adults, before Stian and I wrote Du og jeg (“You and I”) this year, a picture book.
I love the woods, nature. I am very much engaged in environmental work here in Norway, and so is my daughter, so the spare time I have is often used trying to make a difference for the environment. –Synne Lea
“Poetry is a place in literature where I don’t need to understand everything to feel them, to experience them. It’s a place that makes me feel free and a little less alone.”
Thank you, Synne, for adding your voice to No Water River’s poetry video library!
Mary Lee has the roundup today at A Year of Reading.
See more poems in my poetry video library.
Poems © Synne Lea. Illustrations © Stian Hole. All rights reserved.
Other post content © 2019 Renée M. LaTulippe. All rights reserved.
Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing Synne’s work…it’s so insightful and perceptive for a child’s level of understanding. Really quite incredible!
Agreed, Matt! I see new things every time I read these poems.
Oh, my husband has asked how many children’s poetry books I think I purchase in a year. (A lot.) I love being surrounded and sharing and savoring. Thank you so much for introducing me to Synne. I know I am going to enjoy and ponder this a lot. No Water River has always been a favorite as you know. Good to see you sun-searching, too. We have had rain in the last 25 days or so maybe 21 of them. Grey and damp, but always there is hope. Waiting to play fetch on my own these days!!!!
I think this is one you’ll really sink your teeth into, Janet! SO much to savor here…
Thanks Renee for introducing me to this sensitive and keen poet. The poems and art are married well— I’m intrigued by the cover art that appears pealed back. I especially liked her poem about mother’s who you have to sit very still and wait to catch. Thanks for all here!
That’s one of my favorite poems, too, Michelle! So perceptive, I can imagine a child trying to “catch” her busy, distracted mother.
Thank you, Renee for introducing me to this collection. The illustrations drew me in. Fortunately my library had a copy available.
Oh, I’m glad to hear your library has this! Yes, those illustrations are mesmerizing…
Like Kathy, my library also has a copy! I am excited to read, and see, more, Renee. When I read poems like this, it is exciting, to find a new way to view feelings about weather. We too seem to be far behind our spring into summer. We’ve had more rain, some hail, even snow in the past week. Now it’s supposed to be in the upper eighties by Monday! Mercurial is the only response to me. Thanks for sharing this lovely new book. I too hope there’s more translated!
Yay for library copies! I think you’ll particularly like the whole arc of this collection, Linda.
Thank you for introducing us to Synne’s poetry. I can’t wait to check out more poems from NIGHT GUARD.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 🙂
I love her magical voice and what she has to say about reading poetry!
Right??? Her readings are so zen … 🙂
This was worth the wait, Renée. Dreamy, as you say—especially listening to Synne read them. Miranda is going to swoon over the art!
Dreamy is the right word for ALL of it — poems, illustrations, Synne’s readings.
Thanks for sharing Synne’s compelling poetry with us, Renee. I can’t wait to get my hands a copy of NIGHT GUARD.
Ah, “compelling” is the word that wouldn’t come to me. A perfect description for Synne’s work!
Thank you for this rec! I had not heard of Night Guard. I will be looking for it. My love for points of view from outside the boundaries of my nation grows with every passing moment.
Oh, I feel you, Linda. We need more POVs, especially in children’s lit.
Thanks for sharing this! I put it on my wish list!
Yay! So glad you enjoyed it!
Thanks for sharing Renee. I’m going to track down Night Guard at the library. I hope that dog fetches the sun for you soon! 🙂
He did, Kimberly! Now we are enjoying beautiful days (thanks, Dog!). 🙂
Holy Carumba! I didn’t even finish reading your whole post before going and putting a hold on Night Guard at my local library.
Wow, I’m glad the poems struck you so strongly! (And that your library has it too!)
Thanks for the introduction to this wonderful poet, Renee. The way she got into writing and reading was mine, too. She certainly has a knack for noticing and paying attention to cadence!