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A POEM OF HER OWN by Catherine Clinton

A POEM OF HER OWN

Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today

By Catherine Clinton (Editor) , Stephen Alcorn (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-8109-4240-2
Publisher: Abrams

A powerful selection of 25 poems by American women ranges from Anne Bradstreet to Naomi Shihab Nye. One of the strengths of this collection is its time line, from 1678 to this very year; another is the energy that flows from the choice of poems; a third is that even the oldest of these still rings sharp and true. Young readers of any age and gender will be taken by Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book,” which begins “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain” and goes off from there, likening her publication to a recalcitrant child. Seeing all the verses of Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” set as poetry enables one to read it freshly; and all the verses that come after “Over the river, and through the wood” are quite charming in a delicious old-fashioned way. Sylvia Plath as a young mother, Lucille Clifton’s love song to her hips, and Nikki Giovanni’s giggling girls segue into Adrienne Rich’s paean to dream-bears (ideas? nightmares? uncloseted desires?) is the verso of Julia Alvarez’s lying awake, thinking of writing, to “the lonesome sound / of their sweet breathing as my sisters slept.” Alcorn’s bright, occasionally surreal casein paintings clearly use the poems as jumping-off places, sometimes they go to a slightly different place than the poetry does. There’s a long introduction by the editor and half-page biographies of each poet. (author, illustrator notes) (Poetry. 10+)