Friday, November 12, 2010

Poetry Friday and What I'm Reading Now: Borrowed Names

Finding a book to read while I'm revising is tricky. If I pick a compulsive page-turner, I'm tempted to not write but read in great gulps. If I pick a novel too close to my own attempt, I worry about confusion and undue influence. If I only read the Washington Post and my email, though, I get fiction-thirsty. I long for something that helps me remember why I'm doing this writing gig in the first place.

So it's with great happiness I report that Jeannine Atkins' verse biography, Borrowed Names, has come to my rescue.

The poems in Borrowed Names dive into the historically rich lives of three mother-daughter pairs (Laura Ingalls and Rose Wilder; Madame C.J. Walker and A'Lelia; Marie and Irène Curie) but they linger on the personal undercurrents, illuminating the ongoing push-pull of relationships where women both love and doubt each other's choices.

Borrowed Names is also an exquisitely honest account of how any creative endeavor, be it raising a daughter or writing or starting a business or exploring the scientific frontier, can be both richly rewarding and emotionally turbulent. While reading it, I'm reminded of how the right word can make me shiver, and how beginnings always affect endings, and how, when you read, you are hoping--- no--- NEEDING--- to have "the top of your head taken off" as Emily would say. It's exactly what my writing soul was thirsty for. Thanks, Jeannine!

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Terry at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub.


  1. This sounds amazing Sarah ... I love how the pairs come from very different "industries."

  2. Sara, thank you so much. It's an honor to feed your writing soul! Can't wait to see what is happening on those pages!

  3. Thank you Poetry Friday for putting me into the midst of blogs that introduce me to stuff like this book.
    This sounds tremendous. I'm adding it to my Amazon wishlist forthwith! Thanks so much! What an enjoyable and inspiring review.

  4. I am reading that book this week too. I almost posted about it but need to enjoy it more before I can do that. Your post has me thirsty for more if it!

  5. It's a great book, and fascinating to hear how it helps you to be a better writer!

  6. A verse biography! I'm in love.

    I have CARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS sitting on my shelf. George Washington Carver is my hero.


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