From Poetry Magazine

Join Us This Friday for Lemony Snicket: All the Wrong Questions

By Lindsay Garbutt


Last month, we had the pleasure of publishing a special portfolio of "Poetry Not Written for Children that Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy," curated by Lemony Snicket. We liked the portfolio so much that we invited Lemony Snicket to Chicago. On Friday, November 1, we are pairing up with the Chicago Humanities Festival for a very special live Lemony Snicket event at the Francis W. Parker School. What will happen is mysterious, like the author himself, but it's sure to be a good time. Snicket will be signing books after the reading, while Chicago author James Kennedy keeps the energy going with an interactive presentation of his 90-second Newbery films and games. Tickets are available through the Chicago Humanities Festival web site.

For those unfamiliar with the author, Lemony Snicket has written over a dozen young adult novels, including A Series of Unfortunate Events, and his newest series, All the Wrong Questions. But as fans of his books or the portfolio know, his writing is enjoyable for readers of all ages. Snicket elaborates on this in his introduction to the portfolio:

If you are a child, you might like these poems. Of course, you might not. Poems, like children, are individuals, and will not be liked by every single person who happens to come across them. So you may consider this portfolio a gathering of people in a room. It does not matter how old they are, or how old you are yourself. What matters is that there are a bunch of people standing around in a room, and you might want to look at them.

Scroll through the portfolio to read poems by Dorothea Lasky, Lorine Niedecker, Richard Brautigan, Henry Parland, Sherman Alexie, Eileen Myles, John Ashbery, and a dozen others. The poems are accompanied by occasional notes (“which may or may not be appreciated”) from Snicket, as well as watercolor illustrations by Caldecott Medal-recipient Chris Raschka.

If you’ve been reading Poetry for awhile, or have been diving into the archives, our interest in Lemony Snicket may not surprise you. Snicket is the pen name of Daniel Handler, who wrote an essay for Poetry’s “The View From Here” series in January 2011:

I’ve never had any of the problems with poetry that most people do, i.e., that it’s boring and/or incomprehensible. A voracious reader, I spent my childhood reading things for adults, and learned early to find peace in the stasis of literature. Having read The Rainbow at fourteen (I’d heard D.H. Lawrence was dirty), a Robert Hass poem feels action-packed. And as far as comprehension goes, I find poetry actually has very little mystery compared to anything else.

We could quote the whole essay, but we’ll let you read it yourself here. If you are looking for still more poetry insights from Daniel Handler tune into the September 2013 Poetry magazine podcast to hear how he put the portfolio together.


Or even better, hear him in person on Friday! Don't forget to buy your tickets for the event—they're going fast. Every attendee will receive one of the buttons above, designed by Ana Benaroya and created by Busy Beaver Button Co. We'll see you there!

Originally Published: October 29th, 2013