Poetry Friday is here this week…
And I’m posting one day early with Jeannine Atkins

h1 April 15th, 2010 by jules

This is my first time hosting a Poetry Friday. Ever. Honestly, I’m rather embarrassed about this, that I haven’t done it yet, as I’m a big fan of the whole tradition. I truly and deeply always have wanted to host. Anyway. Better late than never, and I hope you all will acquaint yourselves with Mister Linky (dude, that’s his real name; I always thought someone make it up all jokey) at the bottom of the post and let all your Poetry Friday peeps know what you’re up to.

First things first, though: This morning, I’m celebrating Jeannine Atkins’ new title, Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters, released by Henry Holt in March (and which, it was recently announced here, will be receiving a starred review in the May/June issue of the Horn Book, another starred review in a growing list of them). Now, here’s the thing: I’m still reading it. Since I’m doing my own writing myself these days, my reading rate (anything other than picture books) is fairly slow. I started Jeannine’s book and absolutely fell in love with it, but that didn’t mean my little windows of time in life in which to get things done didn’t preclude me from just devouring the book, as I was wont to do.

I have managed to finish the first part, though, all about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her spunky, independent, world-travelling daughter, Rose, who both encouraged her mother to write her life story and helped her shape the novel into what we read today. And it blew me away. It made me wonder and laugh and cry and have goosebumps and sometimes simply put the book down and think for about an hour (or two or three) and ponder my relationship with my own daughters and much more. It’s truly beautiful — masterfully-executed, never giving in to excessive sentimentality, and powerfully-felt.

Let me back up a little to tell you a wee bit more about the book as a whole. It’s, as you can tell from the title, a collection of free verse poems about the three sets of mothers and daughters in the sub-title, all the mothers born in the year 1867. Atkins writes in the book’s introduction:

I borrowed names and old stories, taking a bit here, putting another impression aside, turning history into poems. What did each daughter see in her mother’s hands? I wondered: one pair worn by swinging hoes and holding back horses, another by scrubbing laundry and hair, and another by running scientific experiments. Details gathered meaning as I lingered over them, and I came to love what was small and tangible as much as the grand or public moments.

Here is one of my favorite entries in the Laura/Rose section, used with permission of the author. Enjoy…

“Teaching Her Mother How to Write”

Rose lifts the jar of daisies,
the salt and pepper shakers,
throws off the red-and-white-checked cloth.
The table is bare. The beautiful wood glows.
She sets her typewriter near a window.
Mama’s broom swings
to the rhythm of its ca-click-clatter.
Rose gets up for a drink of water, a look at the sky.
When she comes back,
Mama trails her fingertips across
the keyboard’s letters rimmed by silver circles.

Rose offers, I’ll teach you to type.

I’m sixty. Too old to learn something new.

Then use a pencil and paper.
I’ll type your stories when you’re done.

Who would care? You’ve seen the world,
but what have I got to say?

You cut down a patch of woods,
chopped logs, sawed lumber,
and built walls.
Not everyone can turn a square of cloth into a dress.
You and Pa made something from almost nothing.

It doesn’t mean I can put that on paper.

Pretend you’re talking to me when I was little.
Remember one thing—the price of wheat,
the scent of violets or vinegar pie—
and memories jammed behind may unroll
like thread off a spool.

Rose unties her mother’s apron.
Whatever happens now
here’s the grace:
A writer can change even a burning house,
depending on where she begins or ends her story.

Mama hauls out her old writing desk—
its wood worn, the green felt faded—
and sharpens a pencil.

Thanks to Jeannine for letting me share a poem from the book’s first section. To read more about the book from folks who have finished the entire collection of poems, visit HipWriterMama, Loree Griffin Burns, Jo Knowles, and Jama Rattigan — just some of many positive reviews of the title. I can’t wait to finish it.

Here below is how you can leave your Poetry Friday link for Friday (or Thursday, if you’re an early-bird). “Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets” sounds like a whacked up funhouse or something, doesn’t it? (Again, this is all new to me, and I can’t figure out how to change the wording.) And despite what it says below, you don’t really have to leave a comment. Just link away.

57 comments to “Poetry Friday is here this week…
And I’m posting one day early with Jeannine Atkins”

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for talking about this book. I think it is a wonderful premise — and about some of my favorite women. I will certainly check it out! Happy National Poetry Month!!

  2. Wow, I’m first!

    I’m reading this book right now, too! It’s a perfect read if you have constant disruptions in the house because you can read a little bit at a sitting. I keep asking myself, how does Jeannine know these little details? How is she able to step into the hearts of these characters?

    The book is such an enjoyable read, Jeannine. Congratulations on the reviews!

    p.s. I added my name to the linky thing but I confess, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do. 🙂

  3. This book looks fantastic. Thanks, Jules.

    Just getting the word out far and wide that I’m now blogging a time-travel adventure novel in blank verse. Read it or hear it read aloud at:



  4. LOVE LOVE LOVE this book.

  5. What a find! Thanks! (And thanks for hosting…I’m a day early too!)

  6. Wow, that is one BEAUTIFUL cover. And it sounds like a beautiful book. I definitely want to read it!

  7. Jules, I can’t wait to see this. It looks like a fascinating book. I never realized these women were all born in the same year.

    I reviewed/highlighted Where In the Wild and Where Else in the Wild, by David Schwartz. These volumes fly off our school library shelves whenever I show them. And I was excited to learn that he has a new volume due out late summer 2010: What in the Wild.

    Mary Ann @Great Kid Books

  8. I love books like this! Just gave the link to your blog to a friend of mine who loves Laura Ingalls Wilder. There seems to be a resurgence of interest in Laura-related material these days. Thanks, Jules!

  9. I have to get Borrowed Names a.s.a.p.!!

  10. Hi Jules,

    Thanks for hosting! I, too, am trying to get my hands on a copy of Borrowed Names. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    This week I offer an original poem for Poetry Friday:


    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  11. Stunning book. Stunning.


  12. Wow, I love this:
    “Whatever happens now
    here’s the grace:
    A writer can change even a burning house,
    depending on where she begins or ends her story.”


    My poetry Friday post is a poem I wrote last night — a rewrite of Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” … mine is Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Interruption.

  13. And thanks for hosting, Jules. I’ll sheepishly admit that I’ve hosted only once. :/

  14. Thanks, Jules! My newly posted poem here is a tribute to The Carpenter Bee I saw (and heard!) this week as he buzzed and chitted his way under our old cedar deck.


  15. Thanks for rounding us all up, Jules – I’m going to look for Jeannine’s book – it sounds wonderful! For Poetry Friday this week, I’m posting an original lipogram (thanks to Tricia’s Poetry Stretch) called “Body Knows” over at The Drift Record

  16. Thanks for the peek at Borrowed Names, and for hosting!

    Check out the fabulous poem on my blog which was written by a 4th grader!

  17. Thanks for hosting, and for the new title–looks like a great book for mothers and daughters to share together, just in time for Mother’s Day.

    For today I’ve got another poetry & music entry–Dylan Thomas & John Corigliano:


    Happy Friday!

  18. Thank you, Jules! This looks wonderful.

    Today The Poem Farm is sharing a powerful poetry video with Kyle Leonard’s fifth grade students – Olivia Brumsted (poet) and Marcus Middleton (ukulele). That, and I have posted my NaPoWriMo poem #16…it’s about our son’s new mohawk!

  19. […] It’s Poetry Friday! […]

  20. Thanks for hosting this week, Jules! I loved getting a peek at Jeannine’s book, BORROWED NAMES, and will have to pick up a copy ASAP.

  21. Thanks for hosting! I don’t want to overload Mr. Linky, but I did want to note that I’ve had previously unpublished poems by seven poets up since last Poetry Friday – Carmen Bernier-Grand, Charles Waters, Kathi Appelt, Kurt Cyrus, Arthur A. Levine, Eileen Spinelli, and Bobbi Katz. I hope people will come on by and take a look.

  22. Thanks for hosting!

  23. Thanks for hosting, Jules. I can’t believe you haven’t hosted before either. It certainly FEELS like you have. 🙂

    I’m in with another original poem in my series for the month of 30 poems about the father I have never known. This one is called SNAPSHOT

  24. Borrowed Names looks like a wonderful book for mothers and daughters. Anything in the works for those of use with sons? 😉

  25. I’m SO glad you shone a spotlight on BORROWED NAMES! Clearly, there are a BUNCH of people who need to move it to the top of their TBR piles. It is SUCH a fabulous book. I mean, if Jane Yolen called it stunning, what more do you need, really?

    Thanks for hosting the roundup! Better now than never!! (wink, wink)

  26. I love finding out about these ambitious poetry research projects. I’m rounding up some first-grade poetry action this week; thanks for rounding us up, Jules, and nice to meet you.

  27. I can’t wait to get this book and share it with my daughter.

    Thanks for hosting PF today, Jules. I’m sending my link early. http://authoramok.blogspot.com/2010/04/npm-50-state-tour-pit-stop.html

    I have a poem from my new chapbook, which debuts tomorrow at Baltimore’s CityLit Festival. It’s called, “Tomorrow is Going to Be Normal.”

  28. Well, you finally drew me out for a Poetry Friday. 🙂

    I’ve never read anything by Laura Ingalls Wilder but have to say this poem just killed me. Loved the whole idea behind Borrowed Names from the time I first learned of it here at 7-Imp, and the sample you offered here signals that Jeannine delivered on the premise. Woot!

  29. I can’t wait to read this book! This bit hooked me:

    Remember one thing—the price of wheat,
    the scent of violets or vinegar pie—
    and memories jammed behind may unroll
    like thread off a spool.

    Yes, isn’t that how it is?

    Today, I have a poem by Martín Espada, “Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper.”

  30. […] Poetry Friday is hosted this week by one of my favorite blogs in the whole wide world, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. […]

  31. Today I have an original poem about spring. I’ve been inspired by Mary Lee Hahn’s daily poetry writing.

  32. I forgot my blog…sorry.

  33. Jules,

    Thanks for doing tthe roundup this week!

    I got myself a copy of “Borrowed Names” recently. Have only read bits and pieces so far. I’m really looking forward to the Marie Curie poems. I’ve read a a number of biographies of Marie Curie over the years–very interesting life story.

  34. […] The poetry round-up this week is hosted at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. […]

  35. Thanks for hosting! I shared a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

  36. Today I have a surprise guest at my Poetry Potluck — Susan Rich, who’s sharing a poem from her new book, The Alchemist’s Kitchen. And she’s got a recipe for chanterelle and goat cheese pastry puffs!

    Hooray for BORROWED NAMES! Can’t say enough good things about it. 🙂

  37. This week on the Stenhouse Blog you can win a free book by writing your own “Where I am from” poem! Come on over!

  38. Here is mine:

  39. Thanks for hosting! Today at TeachingAuthors.com, JoAnn Early Macken shares an original Earth Day poem and a Writing Workout for creating lists poems:

  40. I’m touched and bowled over by all the kind words for Borrowed Names. Thank you so so much! I wrote about Joyce Sidman’s Ubiquitous on my blog at http://jeannineatkins.livejournal.com/

  41. Thank you for the book recommendation and for hosting today!

  42. Thanks for hosting! I’m in with another part of my daughter’s original poem about Wonderland.

  43. Hi Jules! So glad you’re hosting today!

    I’m in with a poem by X.J. Kennedy and some thoughts about poetry and math.

    Thanks for hosting this shindig!

  44. […] Poetry Friday is happening at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast today. Check it out. … other posts by Sherry […]

  45. Thanks for letting us know about this book. I am gong to buy two copies, one for me and one for my sister. We grew up in SD (where some of the Wilder books are set) and our Mom had to limit how many Wilder books we checked out from the bookmobile every week. We read them over and over again.

  46. At Blue Rose Girls, I have one of my favorite poems by Mark Doty–“Brian Age Seven.” I also have a video of Doty reading the poem.

  47. At All About the Books with Janet Squires, I’ve posted three of my favorite Spring-themed poetry books.

  48. My comment is: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know what a widget is! This feels dangerous!

  49. I posted Emily Dickinson’s words:

    Why can’t I find the future roundup schedule anymore? Help, pleas!

  50. LW, it should be at A Year of Reading.

  51. Thanks, Jules!

  52. […] Poetry Friday, I’ve missed you. Well, I hosted a couple weeks ago, but it still feels like forever since I’ve simply shared a poem I read and […]

  53. beautiful idea!

  54. Excellent blog post! Book marked!

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