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How I discovered Marilyn Nelson

16 Apr

Until today, I didn’t know Marilyn Nelson existed. I’ve read her books, Carver: A Life in Poems and  The Sweethearts of Rhythm. Oh, and Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color that she wrote with Elizabeth Alexander.

But I didn’t really think about her.

Until today, when I read How I Discovered Poetry.


This is a semi-autobiographical account of her life, growing up in the 50’s, moving around the country with her family, as her father, one of few black Air Force officers, was transferred. Things struck me about her life, particularly how often they moved, and how she was treated in different places because of the color of her skin.

But the words moved me. Each poem is an unrhymed sonnet that sheds some light on the narrator and a new discovery she makes about the world. This is a lovely collection of poems. It has me thinking about ways I can capture aspects of my life in unrhymed sonnets.


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