Preface: So I did some individual breakdowns of the poems and that was actually a lot of fun to sit there and dissect each poem individually. But I’m a man who’s always looking for a way to switch things up. So what I’m going to do now is to look at some poems together and draw what themes I felt like were being talked about. Since I gave individual thoughts on ten poems, I’ll look at ten poems together. I think that’s fair enough.
Poems I read in sequence:
- Uncle Odell
- Good news
- My mother and grace
- Each winter
- Greenville, south Carolina, 1963
- The cousins
- Night bus
- After Greenville #1
- Leaving Columbus
The latter half of this collection really talks about family and where you consider somewhere to be home. Woodson’s Mother longs for the South and I think it’s because of the family she has there. I can attest to how lonely it can be moving to somewhere where you don’t know anyone. The dilemma faced by Woodson’s Mother makes me think of my own Mother. I’ve often wondered how strong she had to be to endure moving from place to place with her Army husband. Every couple of years, she had to pick up her life and move somewhere brand new with the only familiar faces being her children and husband. I wonder how much the distance of being away from her family bothered her.
My point of view is that of a child so I can’t really say one way or another if it put a strain on their marriage, like it did with Woodson’s parents. I think that speaks to the strength of their parenting skills in that our childhoods were happy enough to that we didn’t really notice those things growing up. I’ve never even really felt the need to inquire about that now. But I think Woodson handled the separation of her parents well. There were no blame games played and she told the story very objectively. I can’t help but to wonder if we’ll see some more of her own feelings as the poem collection continues.
That’s the major strength of this collection so far. Yes, it is poetry but it is most certainly telling a story. And it is telling that story well.