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Roots and Flowers: Poets Write about Their Families

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Roots and Flowers reveals heartfelt truths about poets and their families.

"How Quickly, How EarlyThe fourth grader, his puffy down jacketblood-red as any cardinal,flies lightly up the path to school, skiddingwhen he gets to the open door.

Then, looking strangely like his father heading in to work,he stops; shoves back his hood,braces his shouldersfor the day, and trudges ...

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Overview

Roots and Flowers reveals heartfelt truths about poets and their families.

"How Quickly, How EarlyThe fourth grader, his puffy down jacketblood-red as any cardinal,flies lightly up the path to school, skiddingwhen he gets to the open door.

Then, looking strangely like his father heading in to work,he stops; shoves back his hood,braces his shouldersfor the day, and trudges forward.

How quickly, how early such lessons begin. "

—Liz Rosenberg

This companion to The Invisible Ladder, Liz Rosenberg's award-winning poetry anthology that deals with poets and their childhoods, explores the bonds between poets and their families. Framed by the poets' photos and statements about their families, here is an exploration of giving birth, raising a child, seeing a parent age and pass away. Poets such as Stanley Kunitz, Robert Bly, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Linda Pastan offer readers not only poems of startling beauty, but also a unique entry into the sources of their art.

Roots and Flowers is the perfect gift for a family that shares poetry, for fans of the many poets in this book, and for young writers whose own emotional life centers on their families. Liz Rosenberg's deep connection with the poetry community allowed her to get the personal and revealing contributions from the authors in this book. And the book is permeated with intimacy and celebration.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In another title that takes its inspiration from the family tree, Roots & Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family, ed. by Liz Rosenberg, 40 poets make a statement about family, followed by one to three poems. Perhaps the soul of the collection is best summed up by poet Stanley Kunitz, whose statement marvels at his mother's memory for detail, and whose poem, "My Mother's Pears," concludes (as mother and son plant a small pear tree beside the house she built), " `Make room for the roots!' my mother cries, `Dig the hole deeper.' " ( Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
Well-known young adult poet Rosenberg again gathers a unique collection of poems that should appeal to a wide range of young adult readers. Related to an earlier collection The Invisible Ladder (Henry Holt, 1996/VOYA February 1997), Rosenberg's latest anthology is a wonderful selection of poetry centered on the theme of family. There are poems by and about mothers, fathers, stepfamilies, sons, daughters, and grandchildren. There is a wide range of ethnicities represented by the poets as well, but they are all currently living in the United States, save one who died while the book was in production. An interesting introduction to this volume explains Rosenberg's motivation for compiling an entire anthology devoted to family poems. At the back is a list of further reading—and listening, providing a nice twist—an index of first lines, and extensive biographical information about the poets. Although the poems themselves are quite compelling, perhaps more interesting is the photograph and statement provided by each poet to accompany his or her selection. These statements place the poems in context or give the reader an idea of the poet's thought process in writing the piece. This information would be particularly useful in a classroom as part of a poetry unit to help aspiring young poets see how published authors get their inspiration and ideas. Roots and Flowers would be a valuable addition to a school or public library, but it would be particularly useful for a junior high or early high school English-writing class. Index. Photos. Further Reading. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined asgrades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Henry Holt, 241p, $18.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Dana Vance SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
Children's Literature
Poetry lovers will find a rich resource in this newest compilation from Rosenberg. She has pulled together personal statements and candid photographs of contemporary poets. The forty individuals featured range from those who may be well-known to young readers, such as Naomi Shihab Nye and Gary Soto, to many who may not readily come to mind. The focus is "an anthology of poems about "roots"¾our parents and ancestors¾and also about "flowers"¾children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. There are poems celebrating childhood and the first day of school, poems that reflect on the endurance of immigrant grandparents and others that marvel at the genetic and behavior traits that pass from one generation to the next. This is not a book that one would read from cover to cover; rather, one to pick up, open to a section, enjoy a brief glimpse into the life of the poet and sample a poem. Entries are arranged alphabetically. There are biographical notes, a suggested reading and listening list and an index of first lines in the backmatter. 2001, Holt, . Ages 14 up. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-A wonderful anthology from 40 contemporary poets (some famous, some lesser known), all touching somehow on the subject of family. As an added attraction, the poets have included a family snapshot and a brief note on their family and its effect on their poetry. The selections are well chosen, and the personal details in the notes may help to draw some readers more eagerly into the poems. The styles are diverse, and the poems vary in length from Naomi Shihab Nye's seven-line "How Far Is It to the Land We Left?" to the six pages of Stanley Kunitz's "Journal for My Daughter." Some are humorous, some confrontational, many are soothing, and at least one includes street language. This is a great picture of what's going on in contemporary American poetry.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rosenberg again brings contemporary "adult" poems to a younger audience, in an appealing and intriguing format. A "companion" to The Invisible Ladder (1996), this also introduces the reader to the poets through their commentaries, which precede each selection. A b&w photo of each poet with her or his family accompanies the commentaries, making vividly clear that there are many different kinds of people alive today who happen to be poets. Those that Rosenberg has gathered (40 in all) are all American, of various cultures and experiences. The poems are narrative and lyric in style, bearing on the infinitely diverse relationships in families. Though many of the poems are from a parent's perspective, they are accessible to younger readers, too. Stephen Dobyns writes, of his son, "Far from my house he will open his presents— / a book, a Swiss Army knife, some music. Where / is his manual of instructions? Where is his map / showing the dark places and how to escape them?" Other poets touch on feelings that many kids will relate to instantly: "When I see my father lying in bed, reading / I want to pass by and say, / be my happy father." Robert Bly, Naomi Shihab Nye, Stanley Kunitz, Gary Soto, Linda Pastan, Marie Howe, and Donald Hall are among the well-known poets here, and they are in the excellent company of others that Rosenberg has brought together in this engaging collection. (biographical notes, suggested reading and listening, permissions, index of first lines) (Poetry. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805064339
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.82 (w) x 9.98 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Liz Rosenberg

Liz Rosenberg is an award-winning anthologist, a published poet, a professor of children's literature and a critic whose reviews frequently appear in The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Her previous poetry anthologies include Light-Gathering Poems, The Invisible Ladder, and Earth-Shattering Poems. She lives with her family in Binghamton, New York.

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