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She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections On Motherhood Paperback – May 15, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


She Wore Emerald Then is more than a collection of poems; it is a collection of life. Each, poignantly written, takes the reader to the brink of emotion and resurrects another time and place as the page is turned. Filled with beautiful words, She Wore Emerald Then is also filled with the complexities and challenges life visits upon us from conception to last breath; a verbal and visual experience from start to finish.


An exceptional read, I recommend this book to all who love the written word and the beauty of its gift.

~Reviewed by Jozette Aaron, editor of DeSilva's News

From the Inside Flap

She wore Emerald Then was honored for excellence by the Military Writers Society of America and was a finalist by USA Book News. It is second in the multi award-winning Celebration series of book by two poets working from two different hemispheres of the planet.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 60 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438263791
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438263793
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,211,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristin J. Johnson VINE VOICE on November 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
What relationship is more complex or more elemental than the mother-child bond? Abraham Lincoln said, 'All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.' Toni Morrison wrote, 'Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing.'

Both of those quotes, as well as one by Honore de Balzac at the beginning of SHE WORE EMERALD THEN, perfectly describe this collection of poems by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball---poetry that catches at your soul. Both of them reprise their poems from Ball's QUARK SOUP, Howard-Johnson's TRACINGS, and their joint collection, CHERISHED PULSE. Fans of CHERISHED PULSE will be pleased to learn that the poets continue to write poems that don't sound either like banal Hallmark cards or the bitter-at-dysfunctional-family jeremiads that habitually torture MFA writing workshop participants.

The two poets complement each other (with words accompanied by stunning photography by May Lattanzio). The opus covers both the grand sweep of the birth of all universal life and the private universe populated by only an adult daughter watching her mother struggle to eat dinner and remembering how her mother washed her one slip. While Ball explores the cosmic continuum and traces us all back to the mother spark that set the stars burning, Howard-Johnson concentrates her portraiture on the deeply personal. But Ball also talks about the oxytocin haze of giving birth and her mother vomiting from cancer drugs. To quote the last poem in the collection, 'Hallmark Couldn't Possibly Get This Right.' When you read about the tough love of the universe or Ball's sienna childhood photograph or Howard-Johnson's mother forgetting her name, you want to cry and hug your mother (and your children, if you have them), because they capture the eternal tug of war between joy and sorrow in the mother-child bond."
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of poetry that movingly illustrates many aspects of motherhood and, if you are a poetry lover, there is much that you will find appealing and thought-provoking. In the first half of the book, the poems by Magdalena Ball have a cosmic quality to them and some wonderful imagery. In the poem 'Coil of Life', for example, giving birth is described as the 'Big Bang' and in 'Assault by a Black Hole', the reader is taken on a journey from the sublime to the commonplace and you can't help but smile:

A powerful jet from a black hole
is blasting nearby galaxy 3C321
with outrageous galactic violence
x-rays, gamma rays
particles travelling the speed of light
tearing ozone layers
destroying alien life forms
and breeding new star systems
a million primordial sons
in the lethal pummelling.
Talk about tough love.

In the face of that million year
(a fraction of the system's lifetime)
I suppose I have no right
to complain
about one smart, sharp smack
sent my way
to facilitate a few manners.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's poems have, by contrast, a homely down-to-earthness which also appeals. I loved her description of dandelion petals in the poem 'Dandelions in Autumn':

Yellow petals, pollen-soft
like monarchs' wings.

Little lions' manes
like illustrations in childrens'

books, not like roaring
Serengeti cats

or the MGM logo lion, harmless
these. I pick them, bunch them,

hold them under Mama's chin
to see if they light her throat

yellow, and if they do, delight!
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Famolari TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 8, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
From the child looking up to her mother, to the young woman giving birth, to the grown daughter watching her mother die; these poems celebrate all phases of that most important mother-daughter relationship. Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdelena Ball show motherhood in different, but equally effective ways.

I love the images in Carolyn's poems. They feel warm; pictures you can almost touch. My particular favorite is "Dandelions in Autumn." I remember the same scene trying to see if my mother, or any other human being who would stand still long enough, liked butter by holding yellow flowers, buttercups in my case, under her chin.

Maggie's poems are starker, more cosmic. My favorite is "Oxytocin Flow." In recreating the experience of giving birth it evokes memories of the first relationship with the tiny person, "a high pitched croon of terror only a mother could love." I remember it well.

There are the painful memories too when a mother is the one needing care. The images of "Mother Daughter" are almost too painful.

This is a perfect collection to celebrate Mother's Day, or any day when we ponder our relationship to our mothers and remember being mothers and daughters ourselves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zoe Brooks on June 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read this collection of thirty poems slowly, allowing myself only a few at a time usually before I went to bed. The poems deserve such an approach, they need to settle in the mind and soul, to be savoured like a good wine.

The description (on the site only) says "Moods of Motherhood" but it is more than that. At it heart it is about a grown-up child reflecting on the elderly and dying mother and on earlier days when the mother was the strong adult and other. Maybe it is because I am at that stage of life (with a grown-up son and a frail mother) that the poems meant so much to me. The description also suggests that it would make the ideal Mother's Day gift, I'm not so sure about that, I certainly wouldn't give it to my mother, too close to home.

The two poets come at the subject from different points: Magdalena Ball talks about the cosmos before focusing in on the personal with her late poems, Carolyn Howard-Johnson starts with and continues with the personal. And it is the personal that catches the reader in the throat:

We all forget names, I say as numb
moves from hand to heart
because it is my name she has forgotten.
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