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She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections On Motherhood Paperback – May 15, 2012
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
I'd like this to become an audio book.
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."
Magdalena Ball's poems have a kind of boundless feel. Much of her writing comes from an expansive view, with the entire universe as her canvas. There is a literary beauty to her imagery, even when the words come from a place of pain.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson's poems feel more earthy. Her writing is rooted to a moment and a memory. They are personal stories she shares in the most intimate way.
I love the difference in the authors' styles. Admittedly, I know little about the specifics of poetic styles. But I do know what moves me. These poems took me on a journey from my own childhood, to becoming a parent, to now being the child of aging parents. While the authors' stories are not my own, they are journeys I understand and words I felt deeply.
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
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
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful and touching poetry. This would make a great gift for mothers everywhere.Published 21 months ago by Linda Morelli
These poems are thoughtful and accessible--two characteristics one doesn't always see in contemporary poetry. Read morePublished on May 7, 2014 by NM Reader
I read this collection of thirty poems slowly, allowing myself only a few at a time usually before I went to bed. Read morePublished on June 9, 2012 by Zoe Brooks