Wednesday, November 25, 2015

George Washington Carver, A Life in Poems....

Last month, we read Carver, a life in poems by Marilyn Nelson as part of the Beautiful Feet Modern American and World History study.  It's a biography of George Washington Carver written as a collection of poems.

From the jacket flap...
Carver was born a slave in Missouri about 1864 and was raised by the childless white couple who had owned his mother.  In 1877 he left home in search of an education, eventually earning a master's degree... 
Carver was quite an amazing man!   In 1877, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to start the agriculture department at Tuskegee Institute.  It was here, that he spent his life seeking solutions to the poverty among landless black farmers.  He was a humble, yet determined botanist and inventor with a bent for art and music.  He was also a gifted teacher that touched the lives of many.

At first glance, one might think Nelson's book is simplistic or for younger students.  On the contrary, there is much depth here and the content in a couple of the poem's includes advanced topics, as in a scene from Goliath regarding a lynching that was particularly graphic.  The Sweet-Hearts also references a suicide.

I had never read a collection of biographical poetry before.  It was interesting.  Now, having read through it once and getting the hang of it, I think it would behoove me to go back and reread it at a later date for more understanding.

All in all, Carver, a life in poems, seems a fitting choice to learn about the life of George Washington Carver.  There are black and white photos throughout the book and dated historic notes at the bottom of several poems.  Carver grew up in a time of great racial injustice.  Throughout which, he made significant contributions to society.   Nelson's collection of poems shows the complexity of Carver's life and times.

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