Chapbook Review, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” By Caroline Simpson. Panoplyzine. Submitted by Ryn Holmes, June 21, 2019.
For a novel and humorous take on that old, old story, male and female, one must jump in and sail away to the Galapagos Islands. It is there that Caroline Simpson cleverly draws upon the courting behavior of its native life to provide us with an analogy of both touching and ridiculous human romance in seven chapters of narrative poetry form.
As she compares and contrasts our behavior with such wild life as that of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, giant tortoises, etc., the writer also links them by offering options; if the courtship style of one creature doesn’t suit your needs, jump backwards or forwards to a different poem and try out something else. Intriguingly, the seventh and final “chapter” relates the seductive behavior between an Ecuadorian sailor and a single American woman aboard a cruise ship bound for the Galapagos Islands. They try out many actions, such as various facial movements, touch, language, etc., to draw in each other with success.
She rounds out the chapbook with poems that continue the dance between men and women while still utilizing animal life in the opposite of anthropomorphizing, In “The Scent of a Man,” she effectively relates her interactions in various scent, becomes a snail in “A Snail’s Life,” youthful in “The Fawn,” and so on, wrapping it all up in the graceful, “Love Story.” Ms. Simpson’s language is provocative, approachable and well-suited to the topic and the “primitive” life of the Islands.
Review of Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems on Goodreads. Submitted by Nina Bennett, March 5, 2019.
Caroline Simpson, a two-time Pushcart nominee, is an adjunct assistant professor in Delaware State University’s Department of English and Foreign Languages. I was fortunate to meet her and purchase her chapbook at a reading. Some readers may be familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galapagos Mating Dance, from the October 2018 issue of Rattle.
Caroline Simpson took a trip to the Galapagos Islands, which proved to be the inspiration for her wonderful book, Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems. In an interview on Delaware Public Media, Simpson shares: “ our particular tour guide was very keen on teaching us about the mating rituals of these animals. So, as we’re learning about the sex lives and romance and patterns of commitment and gender roles of all these creatures, I couldn’t help but relate it to some of the partnership patterns I’ve seen in humans.”
She then set up her writing in a unique format, that of the choose your own adventure series many of us bought for our children. This lengthy poem, divided into seven chapters filling the first sixteen pages of her chapbook, while not x-rated, is certainly not for children. Simpson compares and contrasts the animal mating rituals with those of humans. She offers her reader an opportunity to alter an unappealing behavior by “return to Chapter One,” or “skip to Chapter Six.” There is a great deal of humor in these well-crafted poems.
From Chapter Six:
If you cannot handle
the emotional complexity
of an open relationship,
refer to Chapter Four.
If only relationships were that easy!
Radio interview: “DSU adjunct professor writes book of poetry” By Kelli Steele, Delaware Public Media, 91.1 Dover. Aired on Dec. 31, 2018.
Delaware State University adjunct professor Caroline Simpson has written a book of poetry relating the mating habits of exotic animals with those of humans.
Caroline Simpson’s new book is called Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems.
She describes how she came up with the idea for the book.
“In December 2016 my mom and I took a trip to the Galapagos Islands. My mom is a research biologist and this was one of her bucket list trips. What’s unique about the Galapagos Islands is that the animals have evolved into very unique species on each Island,” said Simpson.
Simpson says while she was there with her mom, their tour guide was keen on teaching them about the mating rituals of all the animals.
”And so while we were there, our particular tour guide was very keen on teaching us about the mating rituals of these animals. So, as we’re learning about the sex lives and romance and patterns of commitment and gender roles of all these creatures, I couldn’t help but relate it to some of the partnership patterns I’ve seen in humans,” Simpson said.
Simpson went on to say that the poems contain a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor.
University adjunct publishes book of poetry, Delaware State University, Dec. 13, 2018.
Caroline Simpson, an adjunct assistant professor in the University’s Department of English and Foreign Languages, has authored a book of poetry that relates the mating habits of exotic animals with that of humans.
Ms. Simpson, who arrived at the University for the fall semester 2018 to teach African American Literature and English as a Second Language, says her book Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems was inspired by a trip she took to the Galapagos Islands, which is part of and off the coast of Ecuador in South America.
“(The Galapagos Islands) is known for animals that evolve into unique breeds of species,” Ms. Simpson said. “The poems are about the mating rituals of animals there and likening them to the mating patterns of humans.”
She said the poems contain a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. “But the poems have a lot to say about how humans partner up,” the author said.
A native of Rochester, N.Y. and raised in New Jersey, Ms. Simpson lived and taught at Edmonds Community College in Seattle, Wash., for five years before moving to Delaware last summer. She currently resides with her daughter in Middletown, Del.
Choose Your Own Adventure and Other Poems can be purchased on Amazon.com.
A review of the long form poem, “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galapagos Mating Dance” by PMF Johnson, “Poetry Commentary: Commentary on poetry in current U.S. magazines,” June 21, 2018.
“Maybe the most original and creative poem in the [Rattle #60] issue is by Caroline N. Simpson. “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Galapagos Mating Dance.” “You are a single woman, about to embark upon your most challenging and dangerous mission.” The header explains what ‘you’ are to do — discover a useful mating ritual. Then it’s on to Chapter One: “You are a blue-footed booby. / A male approaches you… He offers you twigs and grasses.” The tone is so fun, the parallels with human rituals so apt. There are several chapters in this long poem, each describing the rituals of a different creature, with many laughs, but often rueful ones. There is such a loneliness underneath — they say true humor arises from the truth, and that is true here. Ms. Simpson is very much an ecologist of the heart. As the Chapters unfold, the reader is allowed at points to choose to move to a different section, depending on whether this current ritual appeals or not. What a genius structure. And the ending Chapter, Seven, has a most satisfactory conclusion. A poem worth hunting down this issue for.”