Time for Childhoods: Young Poets and Questions of Agency

Time for Childhoods: Young Poets and Questions of Agency

by Rachel Conrad


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Poems written by children are not typically part of the literary canon. Because of cultural biases that frame young people as intellectually and artistically immature, these works are often excluded or dismissed as juvenilia. Rachel Conrad contends that youth-composed poems should be read as literary works in their own right -- works that are deserving of greater respect in literary culture.

Time for Childhoods presents a selection of striking twentieth-and twenty-first-century American poetry written by young people, and highlights how young poets imagined and shaped time for their own poetic purposes. Through close engagement with archival materials, as well as select interviews and correspondence with adult mentors, Conrad discerns how young writers figured social realities and political and racial injustices, and discusses what important advocates such as Gwendolyn Brooks and June Jordan can teach us about supporting the agency of young poets. This essential study demonstrates that young poets have much to contribute to ongoing conversations about time and power.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625344496
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 11/22/2019
Series: Childhoods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Children and Youth
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

RACHEL CONRAD is professor of childhood studies at Hampshire College.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Chapter 1 "The Busy Clock" Poetry and the Times of Youth 1

Chapter 2 "to bloom in its own time" Gwendolyn Brooks and the Poetic Vision of Very Young Poets 48

Chapter 3 "My future doesn't know / ME" Young Poets and Dynamic Temporality in Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets 85

Chapter 4 "My sole desire is to move someone through poetry, and allow for my voice to be heard" Young Poets, Children's Rights, and the Rattle Young Poets Anthology 106

Chapter 5 "We Speak to Be Heard" June Jordan, Terri Bush, and The Voice of the Children 125

Conclusion "Poems are voiceprints of language" 159

Notes 165

Works Cited 183

Index 203

What People are Saying About This

Angela Sorby

Well researched, clearly written, and bracingly original, Time for Childhoods is a model of interdisciplinary scholarship. I read it with excitement and delight.

Richard Flynn

A groundbreaking study of children's writing. This book will be widely read and discussed by all who are engaged with childhood studies.

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