The Poetry: The long poem that makes up the pages of A Poem for Peter "employs a form known as 'collage verse,' 'bio-poem,' or 'tapestry narrative' in which factual components are layered with a mix of elements" (49). As Pinkney explains, "the use of a verse narrative to present Keats's life echoes Keats's use of collage to tell a story" (49). In addition to these formal attributes, Pinkney also employs anaphora, lyricism, rhythm, and rhyme to tell the story of Keats's life. For example, in the spread on pages 40-41, the reader sees Peter gazing out the window at the tops of buildings and a flock of birds. The last two stanzas on the page read:
forging your path in knee-deep wonder.
welcoming us into your play.
marching out in a whole new way.The final stanza is bolded for emphasis (as many are throughout the picture book): "With you, Ezra tore off the blinders. / Yanked up the shades. / Revealed the brilliance / of a brown-bright day" (41).
The Page: As Pinkney emphasizes in the end pages (which include a section on "Ezra's Legacy," "Keats, the Collage Poet," acknowledgements, and sources consulted for the creation of the book), Keats's choice to include a young African American child as the main character in his picture book in the early 1960s was groundbreaking: "as an artist who had grown up surrounded by poverty and anti-Semitism, Ezra understood what it was like to be excluded" (46). Pinkney further notes the reasons behind her enthusiasm for this project in her bio: "as an African American child growing up in the 1960s, at a time when I didn't see others like me in children's books, I was profoundly affected by the expressiveness of Keats's illustrations." A Poem for Peter is a complex and striking verse narrative that would pair nicely with The Snowy Day. I give it five stars.