Tag Archives: poetry

Celebrate Poetry Month!: Poetry by David Elliott and Patricia Hruby Powell

15 Apr

April is poetry month! This month, the Hoboken Public Library Young Adult Department challenges you to become more aware and develop an appreciation of poetry. Poetry does not always rhyme and is not just a couple of verses to put on a greeting card. What better way to celebrate poetry month than to check out poetry through the Hoboken Public Library? We have a variety of digital resources including Hoopla, eBCCLS, and eLibraryNJ. Through these online digital resources, you can access these fiction books that are written in verse. Whether it is an adaptation of Greek mythology or the telling of a true love story that changed the country, these books are bound to attract many readers. 

Bull by David Elliott
Any true fans of Greek mythology will love David Elliott’s adaption of the Greek myth of the Minotaur. A Minotaur is a half-human and half-bull creature. Asterion is a Minotaur, whose story started before he was born. His birth was evidence of the revenge and betrayal of King Minos. The mastermind behind everything is Poseidon, the god of the sea, because King Minos angered him. So, instead of directly taking out his revenge on the king, he instead inflicted it on his wife, Queen Pasiphae. He did this by sending a bull to seduce the queen and therefore produce Asterion, the minotaur. Asterion understandably grows up estranged from his family but is still able to build a bond with his sister, Ariadne. The book captures this Greek story through verse and freestyle rap. The reader gets to take in the story through the voices of seven characters that play out throughout the book. The reader gets to see whether the bond between a brother and sister is strong enough to fight fate.  This title is available from eBCCLS as an ebook and  digital audiobook, eLibraryNJ as an ebook, and Hoopla as an ebook.

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell
Loving Vs Virginia
Come and see how love conquered all and even changed a country in this historical verse fiction. Patricia Hruby Powell introduces Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving separately and together through her use of free verse. According to the law at this time, Mildred is considered “colored,” and Richard is considered “white” because of their skin tone. At this time, it is legal to keep people of different skin colors from loving or marrying each other. But this brave couple did just that through a legal loophole. They traveled from Virginia to Washington D.C. to get legally married. Trouble would not have been in the equation of their marriage, if they stayed in Washington D.C., but they went right back home to Virginia. Once they settled into married life, Richard and a pregnant Mildred were ripped apart and put in jail! Powell balances the external influences of Brown v.s Board of Education and the civil rights movement on the Lovings’ fight to live their lives as a married couple in the state they grew up in.  You can borrow Loving Vs. Virginia as an ebook or digital audiobook from Hoopla.

If you missed it, check out our blog post from last week with inspiration to write your own poetry.

Have a fiction book in verse to recommend?  Share it in our comments!

Written by:
Elbie Love
Young Adult Library Associate

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky

11 Jul

Deaf Republic
In school, we learned about history’s atrocities and I’m sure I’m not the only child who thought, “Why didn’t people do more? Why didn’t they stand up and fight?” As an adult, it has become clear that things are not always so simple.

All around the world, there are wars, there are atrocities being committed, but yet…people go on with their daily lives. And if the horror is not visible, if it is not directly affecting someone, then most people tend to shove it to the back of their minds. It’s normal, no one likes to feel disquieted and uncomfortable. But is our silence just? That’s another story…

Ilya Kaminsky’s “Deaf Republic” begins with the following poem, titled “We Lived Happily During the War”:

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

but not enough, we opposed them but not

enough. I was
in my bed, around my bed America

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house.

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

In the sixth month
of a disastrous reign in the house of money

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,
our great country of money, we (forgive us)

lived happily during the war.

Deaf Republic is a collection of poems woven together to form a narrative story, so those who usually aren’t too into poetry can still read this with ease. The story begins after the above poem: It is a time of unrest and violence in the fictional town of Vasenka. Soldiers come to town and kill a deaf boy. After the shot rings, the townspeople become deaf themselves. Consequently, they teach themselves sign language, which is illustrated throughout the book. The book is divided into two Acts. The first Act follows a newlywed couple, Alfonso and Sonya, while they are expecting their first child. The second Act follows Mama Galya, the head of the puppet theater, as she leads an insurgency against the military.

In “Deaf Republic”, we are confronted by silence in a myriad of ways. Silence in the face of oppressors can be powerful and defiant. (Citizens point to their ears as soldiers bark orders at them, they create their own sign language) Silence in the face of the oppressed can be devastating. (They take Alfonso / and no one stands up. Our silence stands up for us.)

“Deaf Republic” is a powerful read. It is a beautifully written piece with verses that will make you gasp in amazement. And yes, it is unsettling. But I would argue that more than ever, we need to learn to make peace with the feeling of uneasiness. We need to look inward, as painful as that may be, and use that uneasiness and discomfort to go about making change. And that’s something I’m still trying to grapple with: often, the right thing to do is not easy.

At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?
And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?

Besides being available in print, Hoboken and other BCCLS patrons can borrow “Deaf Republic” as an ebook from eBCCLS.

Written by:
Samantha Evaristo
Hoboken Library Outreach Assistant

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