The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

another fore-parent of the work we are doing

Author Karla Kuskin dies

New York Times
Posted: 08/22/2009 07:06:07 PM PDT
Updated: 08/22/2009 08:50:36 PM PDT

Karla Kuskin, a noted children's author and illustrator whose work combined sly wit and propulsive vitality with deep thoughtfulness about the essential natures of people, animals and things, died Thursday at her home in Seattle. She was 77.
The cause was cortical basal ganglionic degeneration, a neurological disorder, her son, Nicholas Kuskin, said. A longtime Brooklyn resident, Kuskin had lived in Seattle in recent years.
The author or illustrator — often both at once — of more than 50 books for young people, Kuskin was known in particular for the volumes of rhymed verse she wrote and illustrated. They include "In the Middle of the Trees" (1958); "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ" (1963); "The Rose on My Cake" (1964); and "Soap Soup and Other Verses" (1992).
Ideal for reading aloud, Kuskin's poems are known for their stealthy humor, deceptive simplicity and unforced though carefully worked-out rhymes. The listener is buoyed along on a flowing metrical current, as in this verse, from her collection "Near the Window Tree" (1975):
When a cat is asleep
There is nothing asleep
That is quite so asleep
As a cat.
She has finished with darting,
Careening and leaping
Now even the soft air around her is sleeping.
As a writer, Kuskin worked with some of the country's best-known artists. Among her most widely praised books are two she did with the noted illustrator Marc Simont, "The Philharmonic Gets Dressed" (1982) and "The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed" (1986).

In both books, Kuskin describes in spare, lyrical prose things that happen when we are not around to see them. In the first, members of a symphony orchestra prepare to go to work. In the second, football players divest themselves postgame of layer upon layer and then, looking "like small wet whales," shower.
Kuskin also collaborated with the American painter Milton Avery. Avery, who died in 1965, left behind a series of enigmatic paintings he had done to illustrate a children's story by a friend, the writer H.R. Hays. Deemed too expensive to produce, the project was abandoned, and Hays' original text was lost.
Karla Seidman was born in Manhattan on July 17, 1932, and reared mostly in Greenwich Village. She attended Antioch College before transferring to Yale, from which she received a bachelor's degree in 1955.
Her first book, "Roar and More" (1956), was born of her senior graphic-arts project at Yale, for which she had to design and print a book on a small press.
Kuskin's first marriage, to Charles M. Kuskin, ended in divorce; her second husband, William L. Bell, died in 2006. She is survived by two children from her first marriage, Nicholas, of Pelham, N.Y., and Julia Kuskin of Seattle; and three grandchildren.
Her other books include "Jerusalem, Shining Still" (1987; illustrated by David Frampton); "The Upstairs Cat" (1997; illustrated by Howard Fine), a verse parable about a long-running feline border dispute that emphasizes the futility of war; and "Moon, Have You Met My Mother? The Collected Poems of Karla Kuskin" (2003; illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier).

Not familiar with this person’s work, guess I have some research to do!

1 comment:

Poet said...

That is an excellent piece of poetry. Good rhythm, great imagery, very nice. Thanks for showcasing it.