Book Talk: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

8:30:00 PM

I'm not familiar with the majority of T. S. Eliot's work - I really only know The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock - but I do know that the Nobel Prize winning poet is typically remembered for his deep and thoughtful compositions - that's why it was such a shock to read this book of poems. It is a complete departure from his "identity" as a writer, and it was only after reading the book that I did some research and discovered why.

Initially written in letters to his godchildren, T. S. Eliot, aka Old Possum, discusses (in verse, and at length) the personality and philosophy of cats - there are many different kinds, and they have many different names!

This was a whimsical and delightful read. Although it's clear that the poems were originally intended for a younger audience - they are reminiscent of both Dr. Seuss' books and Lewis Caroll's "Jabberwocky" - I still enjoyed reading them, and found that there is a great deal that a more mature reader could take away from the poems in this collection.

I stumbled on this book completely accidentally while I was browsing in my favorite used bookstore, and I was absolutely fascinated by it! I had never heard of the collection of poems before (as it turns out, it is the source material for the musical Cats) and I was completely sucked in by the cover, illustrations, and premise - hello, poems about cats? It was just a few bucks, and totally worth it. I'm already brainstorming ideas for a lesson incorporating one or more of these poems - they're too silly not to share!

If you want to hear T. S. Eliot himself narrate the first (and most famous) poem in the collection, you can listen to "The Naming of Cats" below:



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