#ReadIntl2020 Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Picture Books Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] The Physical And Poetic Link Between The Universe And You

.. in Ray Jayawardhana's "Child Of The Universe" with art by Raul Colon.

Myra here.

Thank you to Laura Salas of Writing The World For Kids for hosting this week.

For our year of international literature, we are not just featuring translated literature, we are also sharing books written or illustrated by people of colour. I am glad to chance upon this gorgeous picturebook in verse on Overdrive.

Child Of The Universe (Amazon | Book Depository)

Poetry by: Ray Jayawardhana Illustrated by Raul Colon
Published by Make Me A World (2020)
ISBN: 152471755X (ISBN13: 9781524717551). Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

The premise of the book is deceptively simple but also infinite in its scope and poetic attempts to reach the divinity within each reader.

Told in verse, it is a message that young readers will be able to easily grasp. The art is stunning, and I suspect that my appreciation of it is largely diminished by the fact that I am not physically holding the glorious pages in my hands.

Yet, regardless, it has managed to make me gasp aloud in all its psychedelic brightness. It was like seeing a glimpse of that which is immortal and undying within each one of us – splattered into rhyming text and brilliant, vivid colours.

I was especially struck by Christopher Myers’ epilogue describing the astoundingly important work that Ray Jayawardhana does:

Ray Jayawardhana is one such dreamer, an astronomer at the top of his field, who has literally discovered new worlds. Like all astronomers, he thinks of time in ways that could seem incredibly abstract to us. Words like “billions” and “light-years” flow through his vocabulary, almost like a song. He looks through telescopes on the tops of mountains in Hawaii and Chile, and he is looking back in time, at starlight that has outlasted the stars themselves. That night sky, sending messages from millions of years ago, is where his dreaming started, walking with his father in a moonlit garden in Sri Lanka when he was a boy.

Thus, my Poetry Friday offering to you all today is Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock which was mentioned by Ray Jayawardhana in his Author’s Note, reminding us all that “we are stardust, we are golden.”

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm *
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden

#ReadIntl2020 Update: 31 (of target 30): Sri Lanka (Ray Jayawardhana is originally from Sri Lanka but now based in the US.

32 (of target 30): Puerto Rico (Raul Colon is from Puerto Rico but now based in the US).

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Poetry Friday] The Physical And Poetic Link Between The Universe And You

  1. haitiruth

    I’m so thankful for the technology that keeps us accessing books! Thanks for sharing this one!
    Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks like a beautiful book, Myra–I love “splattered into rhyming text and brilliant, vivid colours.” My library has the ebook available, but the print book is on order, so I put it on reserve and will wait to see “the real thing!” Thank you for the book rec and also the Joni Mitchell lyrics. I’ve never heard her sing, though I’ve heard lots of terrible singers cover her songs on American Idol–ha! These lyrics–especially the chorus–are stunning…

    Liked by 1 person

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