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A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems and Drawings Hardcover – October 28, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In this illuminating book, Pulitzer Prize?winning novelist and acclaimed poet Alice Walker reveals her remarkable philosophy of life. Curiously, this labor of love started with the author?s signature: Faced with the daunting task of providing autographs for multiple copies of one of her poetry collections, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth, Walker turned an act of repetition into an act of inspiration. For each autograph became something more than a name: a thoughtful reflection, an impromptu sketch, a heartfelt poem. The result is this spontaneous burst of the unexpected. A Poem Traveled Down My Arm is a lovely collection of insights and drawings?by turns charming and humorous, provocative and profound?that represent the wisdom of one of today?s most beloved writers.

The essence of Walker?s independent spirit emanates from words and images that are simple but deep in meaning. An empowering approach to life...the inspiration to live completely in the moment...the chance to nurture one?s creativity and peace of mind?all these beautiful elements are evoked by this unusual and original book.

About the Author

Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. Her other novels include By the Light of My Father’s Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar. She is also the author of three collections of short stories, three collections of essays, six previous volumes of poetry, and several children’s books. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker now lives in Northern California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400061636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400061631
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,672,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many book buyers prefer prose because poets often take two stanzas to say what can be said in a well-crafted phrase. The poetry section is usually one of the smallest sections in a bookstore. Poets often use substitution, excessive description, and analogy, when speaking directly may be more clear. But Alice Walker does not suffer from any of those poetic tendencies. Her poems are brief and plain speaking, but there is nothing plain about the extraordinary intelligence her words reveal. I'm an Alice Walker fan, but I wasn't looking to buy a book of her poems. I was actually scanning through different collections of poetry from another infamous and radical American poet whose last name also starts with "W." One of life's great gifts is that you often find some of the best treasures not directly where you are headed, but on the nearby paths.

The title "A Poem Traveled Down My Arm" reminded me of a good lyric "The movement you need is on your shoulder." The book is a "story about exhaustion. About deciding to quit. About attempting to give up what it is not in one's power to give up: one's connection to the Source. Being taught this lesson. Ultimately it is a story about Creativity, the force that surges and ebbs in all of us, and links us to the Divine." Here are a few lines to give you a sense of the book, first on the topics of love, human understanding, and relationships:

"Every time you die you live differently."
"Feed the stranger under your coat."
"She comes from heaven unannounced."
"What is a promise if not your hand in mine?"
"Release the tyranny of gender: Make love not programming."
"Man reborn as woman do not give in to fear.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Although at first glance this may seem like a thin gift book with only a few words per page and an occasional childlike drawing, it reveals a much greater depth of spirit and underlying thought than one might expect. The "poems" (all untitled) resemble aphorisms or zen koans rather than conventionally crafted poetry, and their cumulative effect, when read in sequence, is to connect into what feels like one larger poem, made from a free flow of ideas and emotions. This is a beautiful and intriguing distillation of Alice Walker's personal perspective. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Alice Walker's A Poem Traveled Down My Arm focuses on many issues, including her love for the Earth and her disdain for environmental change. In the foreword the author describes her volume of poems as "...a story about creativity, the force that surges and ebbs in all of us, and links us to the divine". I think the divine in Walker's case is to reconnect us back to mother Earth, which to her, is the creator and essence of life. The path civilization has taken seems to have become a disappointment as it has strayed towards compliancy of aggressive and destructive behavior. Alice Walker's poem on page 95 plainly asks "Don't you think they intend to incinerate the Earth who create a napalm to burn our flesh even under water?" She continues, "Do not be like cows grazing watching the butcher" (144). And goes on to tell us on page 148, "I will go on believing that even if provoked it is inappropriate to bomb teenagers." The powerful poems question our future and entice us to become active participants in a world that is quickly becoming unrecognizable. She urges us not to remain passive (grazing) while horrors (butcher) are taking place.

These poems also force us to see the logic behind becoming environmentally aware. She tells us "To live in this world is to accept torture even of tomatoes. Who knew" (80), and follows with "Strive to remember it is not normal to live in terror of the water in your glass" (142). Alice Walker is asking us to question our treatment of Earth and to remember that this is not how we have always lived, or is it a way to continue living. We have become accustomed to being afraid of where the drinking water has come from, and have been torturing vegetation through the ill treatment of our planet. Although these poems are not traditional in form, and read more like spontaneous thoughts (which I believe was intended), they are a worthwhile read that will leave the reader with many thoughts to ponder.
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Format: Hardcover
This is typical Alice Walker beauty and earthiness. The spare truth about life, love, loss and heartbreak. And of course, TRIUMPH.

I've never much liked Walker's poetry before. But this tome is more than worth your time and attention. She fills the pages with enough pathos, rain and sunshine for two novels--and all with spare words.

Great for reading in the park on somber days.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a true gem - although the words are few, the message conveyed is readily understood, if you are open to hearing it! At once sad, hopeful, and other honest emotions, the poems are quite lovely. The book is short, but you will want to read it again and again. As you read, listen to the Divine.
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