This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Poetry 5663 Zombie Haiku

Zombie Haiku
By Ryan Mecum

Retrieved February 25, 2013 from

Mecum, Ryan. Zombie Haiku. Cincinnati, Ohio: HOW Books, 2008. ISBN 9781600610707

Critical Analysis
A book completely comprised of haiku, that tells a running story similar to a verse novel, arranged chronologically, almost in a diary entry format. Can one book achieve all of that without seeming to be forced, but instead remain true to the poetic form and be entertaining? Surprisingly, yes! Ryan Mecum takes haiku to another level in this book of fresh, if sometimes gross, poems chronicling the “zombie-fication” of someone caught up in a zombie takeover.

Sensory imagery runs strong in this original book. From confusion to disbelief to the mindless quest to consume flesh, Zombie Haiku captures the full spectrum from human to zombie. Illustrated with a mix of “photographs,” doodles, varied fonts, and blood splatters, the story plays out in word and image. Poems are scattered about on each page, adding to the unpredictable, sometimes uncomfortable, imagery. While the narrator seems unaware of what is going on around him, the reader catches the meaning perfectly.
Much to my surprise
when I get to the office,
the place is empty.

Beth from accounting
is just sitting in her car
eating spaghetti.

Odd that Beth won’t speak.
Odder that Beth is eating
without utensils.

The rhythm of the poetry is never forced to achieve the typical 5-7-5 syllabication of haiku. Readers will find the book an easy read, even with hidden meanings and revealing doodles that inspire one to linger over each page to take it all in. While the subject matter and illustrations are not for everyone, tweens and up who are not offended will find this an intriguing read. Imaginative and innovative, Zombie Haiku carves out a new niche for the often-maligned haiku format. Expanding the horizons of a new generation of poetry readers, Ryan Mecum accomplishes a rare example of guts (all the zombies) and glory (new lovers of haiku!)

Billy Collins, Former US Poet Laureate
I have a copy of Zombie Haiku in my bathroom. Brilliant!

David Wellington, Author of The Monster Island Trilogy
The most inventive zombie book in years!

Rue Morgue Magazine
Ryan Mecum obviously knows his zombie movies well, and his book tells a gory, violent story that will warm the veins of Romero fans.

Poetry Break!
Spotlight Poem
You’d think I’d get full
eating so many people
but really, I don’t.

We all stand and wait
for the bus to stop burning
before we can eat.

I roam the forest
hobbling for days and nights
with no one to eat.

Learning Extensions
While this book may be offensive or unappealing to many due to the imagery and subject matter, the selected poems for this Poetry Break could be used with any group of students, Middle School and up.

Introducing the poems:
·      Ask students who watches The Walking Dead or is a fan of zombies in general.
·      Invite a discussion of characteristics of zombies; summarize, with the last quality mentioned being their insatiable quest to eat more human flesh.

Share the selected haiku above orally, or by displaying it via document camera and asking for a volunteer reader for each of the poems.

·      Allow students to share their reaction to these poems.
·      Ask students to make predictions about what the rest of this book will be about. In small groups or with partners, have students brainstorm words and phrases they might expect to find in a book of zombie poetry.

Other books by Ryan Mecum
Ryan Mecum’s website

Dawn of Zombie Haiku
Werewolf Haiku
Vampire Haiku

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