'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 10 July 2023

Review: It's The Sound Of The Thing: 100 New Poems For Young People

This collection of 100 new works from much loved poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke, will be a wonderful addition to bookshelves and classrooms the world over.

A rumination on life as we know it, it covers dreams, hopes and aspirations that are familiar to most young people, and will touch something in every reader.

The breadth and content of the poems is vast and satisfying, slipping as they do from pandemic to flirtation, from school to racism and gender to gender, with as much ease as a cat finding that sweet warm spot on the couch.

The variation of form and style is dazzling enough to hook even the most reluctant reader. 

There are acrostic (where you spell out a word and write a line of poetry for each letter in the word) poems, haiku (my personal favourite), limericks, rhyming and non-rhyming poems, tongue twisters and poems with numbered lines that are startlingly effective. Something for everyone.

Currently the first ever Poet-In-Residence at the University of Melbourne, Beneba Clarke takes us into new worlds where anything is possible and where poems don’t have to rhyme but sometimes do. She covers the hard subjects and the cool subjects, the ones that nobody else wants to touch, and the crowd pleasers. Heck, she’s even written an ode to peanut butter.

Here are some gorgeous samples of her haiku with their 5-7-5 syllable form and sheer beauty:


Mugs of hot chocolate.
A loose windowpane rattles.
The rain, seeking gaps


A slow green unfurl:
New life wakens everything.
Hope is in the air.

Encompassing complete worlds in few words, the possibilities of poetry are boundless and limitless. They allow for perfect freedom of expression within specific boundaries, and thus they bring a sense of liberation and flow to both reader and creator. An essential part of social and emotional development, along with empathy and insight, it’s never too early to introduce children to a sonnet or a limerick.

Poetry breathes life into words, in mysterious and satisfying ways. This new collection is the incredible result of hard work and letting an imagination run free. If it doesn’t spark a poetry party and make kids fall in love with the artform, then nothing will!

Highly recommended.

Title: It’s The Sound Of The Thing: 100 New Poems For Young People
Author: Maxine Beneba Clarke
Publisher: Hardie Grant, $22.99
Publication Date: 7 June, 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781761212123
For ages: 9 +
Type: Poetry