Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
I recently read Nikki Grimes’ Ordinary Hazards. This young adult memoir in verse comes out October 8 and is by turns harrowing and hopeful. Nikki has always been such a smart, strong poet and woman–it was both painful and illuminating to read about her childhood, which she’s alluded to off and on over the years.
There are so many poems I could share from this book: poems of family separation, mental illness, fear, abuse… My own childhood was fairly unhappy and included several of the same elements, but not nearly to the same degree. I’m so thankful Nikki is here to share her story. Anyway, I’m NOT sharing one of the poems mentioned above. I’m sharing a poem that I can totally relate to right this minute.
What Time Forgot
and street names
Blame it on
the Mad Hatter,
or the madness
of my every day.
climbed a horse
and rode out of town
–Nikki Grimes, all rights reserved, from Ordinary Hazards
I really don’t remember very much of my own childhood, and that’s been true for a long time. I just know I’m glad it’s over. And, reading Nikki’s poem, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in not remembering–and isn’t that the beauty of poetry and story? Knowing we are not alone.
For more wonderful poetry, don’t miss the Poetry Friday Roundup with the artistic and creative Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink! She’s unveiling a portion of her beautiful Embraceable Summer Gallery.
Janet F. says
It is so powerful, gut-wrenching at times, and yet hopeful. I don’t think I knew about your childhood pain. I am so sorry for that. So grateful for Nikki’s incredible strength, determination and talent.
Thanks, Janet. Many kids dealing with much worse than I did, but it’s sad how many children live in horrendous circumstances. We are not doing enough as a society to protect our kids…
Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself by sharing a bit of Nikki’s book. I’ll be looking for this one.
Thanks, Margaret. It’s painful but triumphant.
Laura, thank you for sharing Nikki’s latest book. Memoirs dig deep into lives and this one looks like it will do the same. Both you and Nikki have stories to tell and I am happy that they are being told. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Carol. I am so happy we ALL have chances to tell our stories, whether through books, blogs, poems, or in person.
Linda KulpTrout says
It sounds like Nikki’s childhood was much like mine. I’ve blocked a lot of it out. Lately, I’ve been trying to be grateful for the few good memories. I’m a huge fan of Nikki’s work and preordered this book as soon as I heard about it! I can’t wait until it arrives. Thanks for sharing one of her poems. : )
I know your childhood must reverberate throughout your adulthood, Linda, but I’m grateful that you turned out to be such a compassionate, beautiful adult. Hugs!
Linda Mitchell says
I so appreciate seeing your review of this book. I’ve been waiting for my turn to get my hands on it–have asked my library to get it. So many kids need to know that they aren’t alone. Terrible things can be written about beautifully. I imagine that’s how this book is.
“Terrible things can be written about beautifully.” Wonderfully said, Linda. You know, Nikki has said that this book is for ya/adults. I actually feel like it could be read by a fair number of readers younger than that. There is very little explicit violence/abuse. I mean, her overall situation is so grim, but there’s nothing gratuitous. There are definitely kids in uper elementary and junior high school who need to know they’re not alone in dealing with similar traumatic things. I don’t think every 10 year old needs to read it, but I hope counselors and other trusted adults will put this book in the hands of readers who need to read it.
Michelle Kogan says
What a magical and freeing way to write about mishaps, thanks for sharing Nikki’s new book, I’m looking forward to it! Interesting how we can get good at blocking certain areas from our memory…
It really is. The brain is amazing!
I have this on hold from my library, looking forward to it! Thanks for sharing a bit of your story connecting to Nikki, and then the poem, touching all of us I suspect in some way or another. Thinking of that horse galloping fast. . .
And faster every year! Hope you enjoy the book, Linda!
Kay Mcgriff says
Thank you for sharing Nikki’s book and poem and for being brave and vulnerable in sharing of yourself. I can remember the power of the first poem I read that I connected with – It was a Mary Oliver poem that seemed to read my heart in ways I couldn’t yet articulate myself. Such is the power of poetry.
Oh, you say it so beautifully, Kay. And I agree, Mary Oliver sometimes seems to be speaking the words I just haven’t quite formulated yet :>)
A perfect choice, Laura! My childhood was full of chaos and alcoholism. As I’ve gotten older and created a good life for myself, the vividness of those bad memories has faded- it’s a gift. I’m looking forward to reading Nikki’s book.
You know, I hadn’t really looked at my lost memories as a gift. Thank you for helping me look at it a different way. Hugs, Kimberly…
This is already on my want to read list. I might have to encourage my library to bring it in. My family went through a harrowing time. This poem resonates profoundly for me since there are years I have almost no memories.
Thanks for reading, Cheriee. I thought I might be copping out by NOT sharing one of the more harrowing poems, so I’m glad the book and even the individual poem are still connecting to people.