Top 10 of 2020
(in alphabetical order)
"Invincible One" by Dan Szczesny is a poetry volume expressing a solo mission that reaches worldwide.
When the author's daughter was an infant, he and his wife brought her on a life-changing journey from New England to Northern India.
Peppered with prose and personal photographs, the author's adventure is one we all share: one of searching for connection. Close by and world-wide, the author's words have captured the human longing for family and identity.
One of my favourite poems, that I think exemplifies the flavour of this book, is "Grace."
"Grace" by Dan Szczesny
India, beautiful madness,
India, harsh, abrupt, relentless,
raw and alive with living,
gorgeous sin, wrapped in tikka, fire, and aluminum.
And she does not care what you think of her.
India scoffs at New York City or Paris,
makes you question everything you think you know.
And in the end, at the edge of your ability
to comprehend your place here, India is a baby and a great-grandmother laughing.
"Santa and the Ho-Ho-Ho Zone, How the Children of the World Saved Christmas" by Brothers Payack is a modern masterpiece. Part Dr. Seuss, part Aesop's Fables, this poetic story reminded me also of another brother team: the Brothers Grimm.
While one brother, Peter, playfully and poetically expresses the effects of global warming through this tale of Santa and his elves and community, the other brother, Paul, has created whimsically old-fashioned looking collages to illustrate the story.
The tale begins:
"An oft' overlooked fact
that needs to be said,
is the effect of global warming,
on Santa's sled,"
This straight to the point tone, mixing fantasy with non-fiction, creates a deep allegory of our current global crises. In the end, as the world pulls together to better themselves, communities strengthen around the globe, to the North Pole and back.
Entertaining for adults, and a nimble lesson for children, "Santa and the Ho-Ho-Ho Zone" is a brilliant little story with a big message.