Poetry Book Review: Mirror Mirror (A Book of Reversible Verse)

I had never heard of Reverso poems before a colleague came in and dropped Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse in my lap, saying he thought I would like it “since they seem like those two-voice poems you like so much.” Well, the poems in this collection by Marilyn Singer had me hooked, and quick. She calls them “reverso” poems, in that you read the poem top to bottom for one meaning and then bottom to top for another meaning. The one thing that can change is the punctuations. But not the words in each line. The lines are the same, just flipped.

Got that?

In her lively picture book, Singer tackles fairy tale characters, cleverly twisting lines to show views and perspectives from opposite characters. Each page has both poems written, so you don’t really need to read from bottom to top (which might confuse some readers) and it did remind of that video The Lost Generation, where the text circles back on itself in an ingenious way to make a point about young people today.

Of course, I could not let the book go without trying my hand at it, too, right? So, here goes.  My poem is about writing.

I am embedding the poem as a podcast from top to bottom first, and then showing the poem, and then embedding the poem as podcast from bottom to top. That way, the audio at the top is heard first, and then you listen to the audio at the bottom and flip the text in your head. Reader, stay with me here, if you can. It’s fun stuff. (And before I forget to say it, get Mirror Mirror for your classroom and see what your young poets can do it with. I’m going to use it later this year, too).

Here is the poem read top-down.


These lines define me
by scribbling, scratching. Singing,
I transform symbols into meaning
with a simple gesture as smooth as ink.
Consider me
ever hopeful; a sign of my imagination
immersed in words.
I breathe in ideas.
I breathe out stories.

Here is the poem read bottom-to-top.


Peace (in the poems),


  1. Or as T S Eliot said in East Coker, ‘In my beginning is my end, in my end is my beginning…’ The words on the plaque on the church wall in that village (which is in next county from where I live – and gave a talk once to the poetry society)!

    Thanks for alerting readers to the book. – Tony. (My website: http://www.poemsplease.me )

  2. Pingback: Make Friday Write | Jessie Carty

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