The Recorder – Book reviews: ‘Chrysalis’ and ‘Have you seen the ghost of Jean?’

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Published: 02/02/2022 14:09:24

Modified: 02/02/2022 14:07:55

The two books I’m reviewing today don’t have much in common, but I always write about them together. Both are short and reflect the creativity of their authors and editors.

“Chrysalis” is a charming but unconventional haiku book by Vincent Tripi, a Greenfield resident and poet who died in 2000. Inspired by the author’s habit of typing his brief poems on 3-by-5-inch cards, Swamp Press of Northfield printed them on cards and enclosed them in a beautiful laminated cork sleeve.

There are 63 poems. As the title of the collection suggests (and following the haiku tradition), most haiku consist of short lines that evoke nature in some way. Each short poem is simplicity itself, and each sets a mood and makes the reader think.

I already have several favorites among the collection. Here’s one, reproduced with permission from Swamp Press:

“Summer solstice ….

The long wait for

The grasshopper not to jump”

The poem brilliantly expresses the suspended nature of that June day when time seems to have briefly stopped before the earth begins its descent into fall and winter.

Haiku are best enjoyed one or two at a time. I keep the collection on my bedside table and read one each night to fall asleep with vivid images and thoughts.

“Chrysalis” can be ordered from Swamp Press at 15 Warwick Road, Northfield, MA 01360 or by email at [email protected] The $25 cover price includes postage via media mail. The book is also on sale at Federal Street Books in Greenfield.

“Have You Seen Jean’s Ghost”

The second book comes from writer and illustrator Christine Copeland of Northfield and is also published locally, by Brook Hollow Press of Hatfield.

“Have You Seen the Ghost of John” takes as its starting point the folk song of the same name. Copeland begins with the music for the song, which can be sung in the round. Her book is designed for children ages 5 and up.

The author goes on to make the song local with a fictional story set in Deerfield in the mid-19th century. Newlyweds Abigail and Peter Williams visit their family in the village. They sense a frightening presence. That presence, the illustrations reveal, is their great-uncle John, who strolls through the historic village.

Copeland’s watercolors are beautifully rendered and a lot of fun. Their hues reflect the colors of New England in the fall. This is the first of a planned four-part series that will explore local history and seasons through song and imagery.

Young readers and their families will have fun singing the song (Copeland has added some lyrics to the traditional lyrics) and looking for John’s ghost among the homes and streetscapes of historic Deerfield.

“Have You Seen John’s Ghost” can be purchased at Historic Deerfield in the museum gift shop or at the Deerfield Inn. (Both structures appear in the book.) It can also be ordered directly from the printer at Agawam using this link: https://bit.ly/3nX6ul2

It is also available as an e-book using this link: https://bit.ly/3IJrcgn. The e-book features a track of the author and his son singing the round so young readers and their families can learn the music and sing along.

Tinky Weisblat is the award-winning author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook”, “Pulling Taffy”, and “Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb”. Visit his website, TinkyCooks.com.


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