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My Seneca Village by Marilyn Nelson

My Seneca Village

by Marilyn Nelson

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Marilyn Nelson, former CT Poet Laureate and winner of the Frost Medal for lifetime achievement in American poetry, has proven once again that she is able to enter another place, another era, and take us along. Seneca Village was a real place located in New York City in the 1800s. The immigrants who lived there—African American, Irish, German—were forced to move to make way for what is now Central Park. Nelson imagines their lives, dreams, successes, and setbacks. She employs a number of poetic forms in the telling of their stories. The "About the Poems" section in the back of the book is an informative look into her creative process and will interest not only those who write and study poetry, but poetry lovers in general.

As for the poems, each reader will have his or her favorites. One of mine was "Counting Blessings" about those who left Ireland during the Potato Famine in search of a new home where they could feed their children. At four lines, it's one of the shortest in the book, but it spoke to my heart as did the story behind it. "The Deaf Boy" is a testimony to music's transformative powers; it gave me chills. And "Make-Believe" rearranged something in my brain, causing me to think about racism in a new way. "Uncle Epiphany" was the perfect way to end the book. The last stanza—and in particular, the last three lines—left me with a feeling of quiet contentment. History is often less than glorious (as witnessed in many of these poems), but sometimes, sometimes, we human beings get something right at last. ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | Jan 24, 2016 |
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"One of America's most honored writers--a Newbery Honor medalist, Coretta Scott King Medalist, and a three-time National Book Award finalist--draws upon history, and her astonishing imagination, to revive the long lost community of Seneca Village."--Jacket.… (more)

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