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My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States Hardcover – September 1, 2000
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From School Library Journal
Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
These two large-size poetry anthologies will get lots of use across the curriculum--in history, civics, literature, and American Studies classes.Katz has steeped herself in the diaries, letters, journals, and biographies of famous leaders and ordinary people through U.S. history and written more than 60 first-person poems in their individual voices. The collection, arranged in chronological order, includes Chief Powhatan's "Message for the Settlers," a Yukon gold miner's tale, and kids' e-mail messages to President Clinton on the edge of the twenty-first century. Immediate and colloquial, sometimes wry, sometimes solemn, the poems work well as dramatic monologues, whether it's Orville and Wilbur Wright telling the "First Airplane" in two voices, Roosevelt on the New Deal ("The people are no mob to me. I have met them face to face"), or a Japanese American child on being interned during World War II. Nina Crews uses archival images and photographs in three collages to express a sense of past and present.Hopkins' organization is geographical. He divides the U.S. into eight regions. For each, he includes a map, a page of facts about the states, and seven or eight poems. Even the selections from the famous, such as Langston Hughes and Carl Sandburg, are not the usual familiar choices, and several poems were specially commissioned for the anthology. Some poems are purposive, but the best (including X. J. Kennedy's "Boulder, Colorado," Nikki Giovanni's "Knoxville, Tennessee," Ruth Lechlitner's poem about "This Kansas boy who never saw the sea," and several by Hopkins himself) capture places and people in all their diversity. Stephen Alcorn's handsome, multitextured pictures are sometimes overwhelming, but they avoid literal interpretation and capture the sweep of the land and the rhythm of the words. Hazel Rochman
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