Welcome to Wild Town: Poems by AF Harrold and Dom Conlon

Otter-Barry. Mar. 2024. 96p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781915659125.
Gr 2-6–A feral beauty lurks in the pages of this fanciful collection. Harrold and Conlon join forces with Paul to produce a guidebook, equal parts cautionary tome and manifesto, beckoning readers through the offbeat menagerie of Wild Town. The book wanders neighborhood by neighborhood through the fictional territory; each section title, with names like “Herbivoreville” and “The Carnivore Quarter,” establishing theme and mood for the poems within. The structure of the writing bounces between formal classicism and modernist experimentation. Lines sizzle with metaphor, simile, and personification. Paul’s loose, prickly grayscale art, effortlessly expressive, infuses the atmosphere with a joyous irreverence. Differences in the authors’ sensibilities do sometimes cause the tone to vary abruptly. Harrold’s Ogden Nash–style light verse occasionally tends toward frivolity, veering from the banal (“Let us have lettuce this day./ Let us have lettuce tomorrow./ Let us have lettuce every day/ and carrots, please, to follow”) to the downright saccharine (“the wolves on the bus go,/ rarr! rarr! rarr!/ till all the kids are gone./ HOWL!”). Conlon more often exhibits a thoughtful restraint, both in his metered pieces (“Even the clocks run wild here,/ leaping over the-time-is-near”) and free-form ones (“and my boat-dip back was a place/ where lake and sky could rest.”) There are more than enough compelling entries from both poets to fill the book with a palpable sense of wonder. Readers departing Wild Town may not be surprised to find themselves circling back to begin exploring the terrain once more.
VERDICT A recommended purchase for poetry collections.

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