This is the second children’s poem book by Kārlis Vērdiņš; however, ‘Dad’ is a worthwhile read for grownups as well, offering in the form of poetry a critical and ironic social role play that encourages both children and parents to give some thought to the family relationships.
In a witty and poetic way, Vērdiņš depicts the ‘pain of this age’ ‒ the relationship between the parents, perplexed by the challenges of life, and their children, who comfort the grownups with their presence and give them a chance to be better.
The character playing a particularly significant role in this collection of poems is Dad, who is targeted with traditionally mocking arrows in many of the poems: a pub hero with ‘beer teeth’, showering others with empty promises; an aggressive driver… Vērdiņš could have contrasted him in an equally traditional manner with an image of a super loving and ‘correct’ mum. And yet the poet chooses to play by different rules: grotesquely exaggerated, these stereotypes transform into laughter and thus overcome ‒ even replaced by a touching warmth and mutual trust. With a smile, the author embraces the ‘changed role’ play: the loving Dad stays home to raise his son while Mum is the one who goes to work to earn their living.
The book was awarder with the International Jānis Baltvilks Prize 2016