Growing up Poor: A Literary Anthology

Overview


In a land of seemingly endless plenty, Growing Up Poor offers a startling and beautiful collection of stories, poems, and essays about growing up without. Searing in their candor, understated, and often unexpectedly moving, the selections range from a young girl’s story of growing up in New York's slums at the turn of the twentieth century, to a southern family's struggles during the Depression, to contemporary stories of rural and urban poverty by some of our foremost authors....
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Overview


In a land of seemingly endless plenty, Growing Up Poor offers a startling and beautiful collection of stories, poems, and essays about growing up without. Searing in their candor, understated, and often unexpectedly moving, the selections range from a young girl’s story of growing up in New York's slums at the turn of the twentieth century, to a southern family's struggles during the Depression, to contemporary stories of rural and urban poverty by some of our foremost authors.

Thematically organized into four sections—on the material circumstances of poverty, denigration at the hands of others, the working poor, and moments of resolve and resiliency—the book combines the work of experienced authors, many writing autobiographically about their first-hand experience of poverty, with that of students and other contemporary writers.

Edited and with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning child psychiatrist Robert Coles, Growing Up Poor gives eloquent voice to those judged not by who they are, but by what they lack.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Robert Coles has devoted his professional life to listening to children whose voices are so often ignored and who tell stories many of us do not want to hear. He and Randy Testa have assembled a remarkable selection of these narratives—both fictional and all-too-real—in the challenging yet ultimately hopeful collection Growing Up Poor. Let us listen!"
—Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

"Wise poems, stories and essays about poverty and denigration, and the remarkable moments of determination and resolve experienced by some wonderful authors."
Chicago Tribune

"Contributors to this volume speak in crisp, clear voices that demand—and deserve—to be heard."
Time Out New York

Chicago Tribune
[R]emarkable moments of determination and resolve experienced by some wonderful authors.
Time Out New York
[C]ontributors to this volume speak in crisp, clear voices that demand—and deserve—to be heard.
Marian Wright Edelman
A remarkable selection.
Voice of Youth Advocates
A stirring and accurate portrayal.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stories, poems, essays and even a mock IQ test are included in Growing Up Poor, a worthwhile and varied anthology edited by Robert Coles, Randy Testa and Michael Coles. Its wide range of contributors includes icons of the past and present from Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison to Dorothy Allison and Richard Ford as well as a New York City high school student, the first female Navajo surgeon in the U.S. and three teens incarcerated in California detention facilities. It aims "to bring readers closer to understanding... a group so readily turned into a `they' in a world of shrill materialism," and hits its mark. ( Mar. 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
This collection of short stories, essays, and poetry illustrates the daily struggle to survive faced by many Americans. Betty Smith, Sandra Cisneros, Ralph Ellison, and Mildred Taylor as well as the young, strong voices of Young Tay B2 and Danielle Joseph create a stirring and accurate portrayal of the trials the poor must endure in America. The term "growing up" accurately describes the works included in this book. Childhood is an innocent word that fails to describe the life of Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, of Frank in The Optimists, or of Little Man in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. Francie learns that people talk about her in her presence without realizing that she can understand their insults. Frank sees his father kill a man with his bare hands. Little Man gets angry because the affluent white kids ride the school bus that intentionally splashes mud on the poorer kids every day as they walk to school. Poverty is often graphic, and so are these works. The editors not only attempt to describe children living in poverty, but they also offer the story of the strong personalities and successful people that have developed from it. Children of the ghetto who have succeeded are described as "the few who make it out." This anthology makes the point that being poor can help a person succeed, not in spite of their difficulties but because of their difficulties. This fact is worth learning not only by those struggling with poverty but also by those who have distanced themselves from it. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, The New Press, 304p, .Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Leann Niebuhr SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
KLIATT
For anyone interested in reading about real America, this book offers glimpses of what life is like at the low end of the economic spectrum. Though most of the excerpts are fictional, they are fiction based strongly in the reality of life for America's poorest citizens, and they ring as true as the biographical writings. From young to old, these voices illuminate the shadowy lives of our most marginal citizens, and show to readers pictures that are disturbing to anyone with a heart. Through prose and poetry, we see through the eyes of poor Hispanic children living in rough places and rural Appalachian children whose lives are just as tough, and hear black voices who show us not only poverty but ignorance, prejudice, and injustice. We hear from adults who have triumphed over many obstacles to become successful adults; we also hear from and about those who have been overcome by the obstacles, and defeated by the injustices that society heaps on the poor. We are saddened by the young voices who express much despair and little hope and by the older voices who look back on troubled lives filled with unsuccessful attempts to overcome the stigma of being poor. We read about the unheard pleas of foster children, losing out to a system that doesn't work for them and is sometimes fatal to their humanity. There are Native American voices, white, black and Hispanic voices, and gay voices. There are male and female voices, old and young voices. It is historical and it is current. This collection will move the heart of anyone who reads it, for it shows just how much our society is failing a great number of our citizens. It is especially heart-wrenching to see what our children must endure. For students(and adults) who want to make a difference in the world and don't know where the problems are that need attention, this is an eye-opening book. For any readers who care about our society and our world, this is a must-read. Even though parts are fictional, this book should be part of every sociology class, social issues class, American history class, or current events class. This book provides an excellent portrait of a part of America that is often ignored. Category: Collections. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Norton, The New Press, 279p., , Mifflintown, PA
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This anthology of stories, poems, essays, and excerpts from longer works offers cross-cultural commentary about growing up in poverty in the American land of plenty. The selections represent in part a "who's who" of 20th-century ethnic American writers, from Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston to Sandra Cisneros, Gary Soto, and Cathy Song. Lesser-known writers are also included. Sylvia Watanabe writes about growing up in the small villages around Maui's sugar plantations, and Andrew Lam writes from his own experiences as a Vietnamese refugee. Still other selections come from young people currently living in poverty in New York or behind bars in California detention centers. Short biographical sketches of the writers precede the selections and provide a framework for understanding their perspective. This is a powerful collection of experiences, insights, and emotions. Within these pages, the poor speak with a simplicity and eloquence that touch the soul. The book provides excellent selections to accompany American history and literature courses. In addition, the entries will provide powerful oral presentations as well as thought-provoking introductions to class discussions and debate.-Becky Ferrall, Stonewall Jackson High School, Manassas, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565847446
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 6/1/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 692,453
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Coles is a child psychiatrist, Pultizer Prize–winning author, and Harvard University professor. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his lifelong work on behalf of children, he lives in Concord, Massachusetts. Randy Testa teaches in the education department of Dartmouth College. He has written two books on the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Michael Coles is a documentary writer and photographer who has taught and coached inner-city children.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Mother to Son 3
From White Mule 5
From A Tree Grows in Brooklyn 15
From The House on Mango Street 25
Big Boy 37
From Invisible Man 51
No Way Out 69
A Question of Class 75
Who Will Speak for Lizzy? 87
From City Kids, City Teachers 93
From The Beat Within 99
Indian Education 105
Mother and Daughter 115
From Children of Crisis: A Study of Courage and Fear 123
Optimists 137
The Grammar of Silk 159
Cannery Town in August 163
Field Poem 165
Night Shift at St. Regis 167
Photograph of My Father in His Twenty-second Year 175
From Their Eyes Were Watching God 179
Doing What It Takes to Survive 193
From Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry 201
The Ghost of Fred Astaire 215
Full Circle 235
From Children of Crisis: Migrants, Sharecroppers, Mountaineers 257
Show and Tell 263
Permissions 277
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