HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY by Marilyn Nelson

HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 10 - 18
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Multiaward-winning poet Nelson (A Wreath for Emmett Till, illustrated by Philippe Lardy, 2005, etc.) tells how growing up as a daughter of one of the first African-American career officers in the Air Force influenced her artistic development.

In its 50 unrhymed sonnets, the memoir reflects on Nelson at ages 4 through 14, as she and her family followed her father during the pivotal 1950s. Moving to 11 locations in 10 years, from Ohio to Texas, Maine to California, Nelson, her sister and parents crossed the country, repeatedly giving the speaker in these first-person poems the full-throttle experience of being not only the new kid on the block, but often the lone African-American in her class. Nelson grippingly conveys the depth of her resulting isolation, noting the strangeness of how in Kittery Point, Maine, “we’re the First Negroes of everything.” There’s also the bafflement of having meaning attached to simply being herself—for example, while standing in line to get a polio vaccine in 1955 Kansas, “Mrs. Liebel said we were Making History, / but all I did was sqwunch up my eyes and wince. / Making History takes more than standing in line / believing little white lies about pain.”

With sophisticated wordplay and poignantly spare description, this lyric bildungsroman creates as effective a portrait of race relations in 20th-century America as of formative moments in Nelson’s youth. (author’s note) (Memoir/poetry. 10 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3304-6
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2013




MORE BY MARILYN NELSON

ChildrenAMERICAN ACE by Marilyn Nelson
by Marilyn Nelson
ChildrenOSTRICH AND LARK by Marilyn Nelson
by Marilyn Nelson
ChildrenSWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM by Marilyn Nelson
by Marilyn Nelson

MORE BY HADLEY HOOPER

ChildrenA SMALL THING . . . BUT BIG by Tony Johnston
by Tony Johnston
ChildrenAROUND AMERICA TO WIN THE VOTE by Mara Rockliff
by Mara Rockliff
ChildrenTHE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS by Patricia MacLachlan
by Patricia MacLachlan

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenBROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
by Jacqueline Woodson
ChildrenI LAY MY STITCHES DOWN by Cynthia Grady
by Cynthia Grady