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Carver: A Life in Poems Hardcover – May 1, 2001
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up-By offering glimpses into George Washington Carver's life story through a series of lyrical poems, the structure of Nelson's book is as inspired as its occasional use of black-and-white photographs as illustrations. The poems are simple, sincere, and sometimes so beautiful they seem not works of artifice, but honest statements of pure, natural truths ("The Prayer of Miss Budd" and "Lovingly Sons," in particular). Ironically, the book's greatest strength, its writing, is also occasionally its weakness. In a few of the poems the language and the structure seem haphazard and these selections come across as underwritten ("Odalisque," "1905") or as little better than notes for selections yet to come ("Driving Dr. Carver," "Letter to Mrs. Hardwick"). Still, students will find much to glean from this volume and many of the poems will be perfect for reading aloud and make good monologues. A final grace note: the book will undoubtedly encourage some young people to learn more about this remarkable man.
Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
One of the very few black Americans accorded great respect before the 1960s was botanist and educator George Washington Carver (1864?-1943). In a fine biography in poems, Nelson beautifully and movingly revives his reputation, made to seem paltry compared with that of such resuscitated firebrands as Garvey, Robeson, and DuBois. She traces Carver from his recovery after being kidnapped in infancy to his death while the famous Tuskegee airmen fill the campus on which he had worked since 1896 with the droning of aircraft. The life in between is characterized by hard work, intellectual curiosity, personal humility, devotion to the betterment of black Americans, enormous self-possession, and practical Christian piety. Nelson stints none of those characteristics in depicting Carver as good but not self-righteous, dedicated but not monomaniacal, invaluable but not self-important. She also renders Carver's context nontendentiously, in some poems conjuring racism at its worst and in others showing that particular whites helped Carver throughout his life. Historic photos illustrate Nelson's work with modest beauty. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Darkness softens, a thin tissue of mist between trees.
One by one the day’s uncountable voices come out
like twilight fireflies,like stars.
The perceiving self sits with his back against rough bark,
Casting ten thousand questions into the future.
As shadows take shape, the curtains part
for the length of time it takes to gasp, and behold,
the purpose of his life dawns on him.
Each poem presents a day, time, or revelation in the life of a man we don't really know enough about. It was renewing and refreshing to read about the intricacies of his life, how he thought, felt, and reacted to nature all around him, even the people and the very challenging time periods through which he lived. He was a pioneer for sure and very inspiring.
Nelson has gone to great lengths and research to bring a superb book of poems to us, and I appreciate this work. I recommend this for poets, writers, educators, and students. I recommend it for my own three sons. This is biography at its poetic best! You can't read just one poem. You'll have to read them all. Together, they display and illustrate an amazing tapestry of a beautiful life. You will appreciate Dr. Carver in so many other ways after reading this book. He was so much more than an agricultural expert.
This book of poetry is a wonderful way to embrace the man and know of his gift to the world.
You will enjoy it as a book of poetry and as a way to understand the man.
Most recent customer reviews
In this book, we see how utterly horrifying it was to be a black child in the 1800 hundreds. George W. Carver was one of those kids.Read more