Review: How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

how i discovered poetry

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

A celebrated poet and author of books for children and teens, Nelson tells the story of growing up in the Civil Rights era and her connection to poetry.  In fifty poems, several of which have been previously published, Nelson reveals her growing up from age 4 through 14 during the 1950s and 1960s.  The poems show her progression from child to a self-aware teen who is directly impacted by the changes in civil rights.  Nelson also touches on the Cold War and feminism along with race in these poems.  Each poem here is a gem, carefully crafted and firmly placed in its setting in the book.  Beautiful.

In her author’s note, Nelson mentions that she prefers not to see the character in the book as herself but rather as “The Speaker.”  The first person perspective though will leave readers assuming that this is Nelson’s personal story and journey and it’s difficult to change that perception after reading the entire book.  Perhaps even more than the historical period it is The Speaker’s love of poetry and writing that makes the connection to Nelson as that person ring so true.  It is that love of poetry and words that makes each poem so beautiful, but also makes the narrator come alive.

Beautiful and worth rereading and revisiting, this collection of poems that forms a story is deep and worth submerging yourself in.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I hope you find interesting:

-Madeleine L'Engle


6 Life Lessons from Laura Ingalls Wilder| Bich Minh Nguyen | #kidlit

Anne Ursu on ‘The Real Boy’ and writing for kids | MinnPost #kidlit

Children reading books to cats | Metro News #reading

Downtown Books: Five great children’s books about Harriet Tubman #kidlit

Glenn Close, Sophie Nelisse, Octavia Spencer Join ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’ | Variety #kidlit

Happy birthday, Charles Darwin! – The Horn Book #kidlit

J.K. Rowling Did Make a Mistake, But It Wasn’t the Ron-Hermione Pairing | BOOK RIOT- #kidlit

Pictures Of Babies As Book Characters Are Worth WAY More Than A Thousand Words #kidlit

Zita the Spacegirl faces her toughest challenge yet: Space Prison! #kidlit


As the line between platform and publisher continues to blur, who wins and who loses? #publishing

My favorite winter activity is going back inside and reading a book in my pajamas (and spring, summer and autumn...)


12 Jobs on the Brink: Will They Evolve or Go Extinct? See a smart take on libraries! #libraries

Best College Libraries: 12 of America’s Most Magical #libraries

Kyle Cassidy photographs librarians at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting (PHOTOS). #libraries



Beth Revis: Why is Diversity Important? #yalit

The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2014 #kidlit #yalit

Pete Hautman on the Book that Will Save Us (Writing for the Long Haul series)/ Desert Dispatches #writing #yalit

YALSA’s 2014 Hub Reading Challenge Begins! | The Hub #yalit