Friday, June 16, 2017



God got a dog with poems by Cynthia Rylant and illustrations by Marla Frazee
(Beach Lane Books, New York-New Delhi, 2003)

This charming book is the type to create new poetry fans—accessible but with hidden depths, humorous, and gentle with its use of hints versus didacticism as regards some substantive points the poems make about the human condition. 

All of the poems are as endearing—some highlights are “God went to beauty school,” “God got cable,” and “God got a cold.” It’s clear that Cynthia Rylant’s story-telling abilities, for which her novels have received Newberry awards, put themselves to good use in these poems. 

Yet there’s a courageous depth throughout the work—a depth that makes a “She” about the traditional “He” Christian God (“God got in a boat”), inserts Buddha who obviously is from a non-Christian faith (“God woke up”—and do note the light touch gleaned from the title and the “enlightenment” of Buddha), and is generous about showing how God, despite being God, contains various insecurities.  Ironically, this depth may fail to create fans despite the poems’ lighthearted approach, but that’s on the reader(s)’s limited empathy, not the talents of the poet and illustrator.

God’s insecurities are laid out in more than one poem--they "humanize" (if you will) God in charming way.  Here’s “God took a bath”:
(click on images to enlarge) 

Marla Frazee’s illustrations work well with the poems. I am particularly appreciative with this coupling—poems face illustrations—of “God got cable” with the illustration of God playing poker with the angel Gabriel.


While known as a novelist, Rylant also previously created the fabulous poetry-photograph collaboration, Something Permanent, with photographs by Walker Evans (Harcourt Brace, Hanover/London, 1994). This line of work, so to speak, is a nifty way to showcase her talents.

RECOMMENDED, and not just for Christian households.


Eileen Tabios is the editor of Galatea ResurrectsHer 2017 poetry releases include two books, two booklets and five poetry chaps. Forthcoming later this fall is a new poetry collection, MANHATTAN: An Archaeology (Paloma Press). She does not let her books be reviewed by Galatea Resurrects because she's its editor, but she is pleased to point you elsewhere for a recent review of her work: Dina Paulson-McEwen reviews AMNESIA: Somebody's Memoir for WALK THE LINE!  More info about her work at

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