Happy early Halloween! I wanted something other than pumpkins or vampires to feature today, and was lucky enough to have my book club friend, children's author Jacqueline Jules, offer me the chance to feature her poem about Harry Houdini.
Houdini, if you don't know, DIED on Halloween. (Cue the spooky music.) More than that, in this poem, Jackie manages to illuminate a little-known side of the great escape artist: he loved books. Yup. Carted hundreds of them around with him everywhere, in a special traveling bookcase.
You can visit Jackie's web site to find out more about Houdini and her process in writing this poem, including pictures and links to original Houdini letters at the Library of Congress.
And, now, the main event!
ENCHANTED BY BOOKS
by Jacqueline Jules
A teenager nicknamed “Ehrie,”
raised by a scholar skilled at Torah,
but not English or earning a living,
and a mother, who more often
than not, had only love
to serve her son at the table,
opened a book one day
and pulled a new persona
from its pages.
He became “Harry Houdini,”
borrowing his idol’s name
the way a ravenous child
swipes an apple,
and taught himself to
escape handcuffs, hunger,
with books collected by the hundreds
and kept as close as the buttons on his shirt
through years of traveling from stage to stage.
The Great Houdini,
who freed himself from locked trunks,
milk cans, straitjackets, and jails,
never tried to escape
the charm of a book.
(© Jacqueline Jules, 2009, all rights reserved
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Jennie at BiblioFile