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Continued: Joyce Sidman casts spells with poetry

  • Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 17, 2013 - 2:57 PM

The first poem was “Chant Against the Dark,” written in 2008, in which Sidman implores the darkness, which leaves us alone with our mind, to keep its distance.

Don’t single me out/don’t make me answer your questions.

“When I needed a poem, I wrote it and they accumulated,” she said, so there are poems about repairing a broken friendship, about a thirst for freedom, about regret and illness. But there also are poems about the smell of a dog, the curl of a cat and riding a bike at night.

The book was conceived for teenagers for times “when they need a little magic,” she said. “And I hope teens will read it.” Then she laughed: “I know that middle-aged women are reading it, because they’re buying it and giving it to each other!”

She’s between projects right now, but has manuscripts in the hands of the superbly talented illustrators with whom she’s been paired, such as Pamela Zagarenski, who drew the fanciful images of “What the Heart Knows.”

Next up is a book of poems about the cold, illustrated by Rick Allen of Duluth’s Kenspeckle Press, inspired by the behavior of bees in winter.

Did you know, she said, that bees gather tightly together in a ball for the winter to keep the queen warm, slowly rotating from the center to the perimeter of the ball and back again, ensuring that all have a shot at survival?

“I get interested in something, then I do the research,” she said of her seemingly random cache of curious knowledge, which led to her mentioning that you can distinguish tundra swans from Canada geese because they fly higher, “and they sound demented. If you hear what you think are demented geese, they’re tundra swans.”


Kim Ode • 612-673-7185

  • related content

  • Joyce Sidman’s latest book of poetry, “What the Heart Knows,” has a theme of chants, charms and blessings.

  • Joyce Sidman writes poetry for children but that appeals to all ages, if her latest book, “What the Heart Knows,” is any proof. The Wayzata writer has won many awards; one of the more meaningful is the biennial Award for Excellence in Poetry by the National Council of Teachers of English, noting lifetime achievement.

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