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Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems    by John Grandits order for
Blue Lipstick
by John Grandits
Order:  USA  Can
Clarion, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Are you tired of the same slant on reading prose and verse? If so, John Grandits has devised the perfect book for you! Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems twist and shout, turn in circles, squares, right-about, left-about, and all over the pages. That's right - you have to rotate the pages (even the cover) to read star Jessie's verses. (But you don't have to stand on your head - that is, unless you really want to!)

Jessie is an average fifteen-year old high school student. She has strong opinions, but is 'never boring nor predictable', has blue lipstick, a new hairstyle, and talents ranging from playing volleyball and cello to designing her own clothes - she even pens poetry to her cat! Jessie makes her school and home life punchy and funny, via poems that are 'inventive, irreverent, irresistible, and full of surprises - just like Jessie!' Titles range from Bad Hair Day and How I Taught My Cat to Love Poetry to Poems Inspired by the Free Perfume Samples at Carson's.

The first page sports a milk carton in blue, from Stupor Farms 2% Awake, including a Missing notice, asking 'Have you seen Jessie's brain?' Stats on the carton are as follows: 'Last Seen: 2:45 this morning. Last Known Activity: Staying up all night instant-messaging Lisa. If you find this missing brain, contact Jessie immediately!' Talking to My Stupid Younger Brother (now doesn't that sound like typical sibling-speak?) continues 'Is Like Swimming Upstream in a River to Nowhere'. The interchange between sis and bro flows: ''BURP' Robert! Say 'Excuse me.' What? Say 'Excuse me.' When you burp, you're supposed to say 'Excuse me'. Why? Because that's what you're supposed to do. Right. Like you always to everything you're supposed to do.'

My favorite structure verse is A Chart of My Emotional Day, written on a graph, like the stock market going up or down. The chart ranges from Ridiculously Happy through Shaving My Head and Running Away - one moment please, reader, I have to adjust the page layout direction after each sentence. 'Woke up felling pretty good. Realized it was Saturday ... Lugged cello to the car and saw my neighbor Katrin. Swapped gossip. Cello lesson even worse than I expected. Bummed.' I'll end the twisting for now, got a neck cramp!

Grandits allows many more upbeat, really funky thoughts to flow from Jessie's mind. Like All My Important Thinking Gets Done in the Shower or Volleyball Practice (yup, you guessed it, the words travel like a bouncing ball!) Not to be missed is, Grownups: Talking A+, Listening D, or the elegance of Pocket Poem - picture it, sticking out of the rear pocket of your favorite jeans. 'It's a good idea to carry a poem in your pocket / in case of an emotional emergency. / Sometimes I carry around 'The Cremation of Sam McGee.' ... Some days I need a sonnet ... Yes, It's a good idea to carry a poem in your pocket. / It's a little snack for your soul.' I wholeheartedly agree!

John Grandits' awards include ALA Notable Book, A Book Sense Top Ten Poetry List, and VOYA Poetry Pick. Grandits' first book of concrete poetry was Technically, It's Not My Fault, starring a boy named Robert 'in conflict with his older sister, Jessie'. Sound familiar? As the author adds, ''Blue Lipstick' gives Jessie a chance to tell her side of the story.' Fair is fair! Grandits' book is deliciously delightful from cover-to-cover.

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