I believe that to focus on larger issues, we must sometimes narrow our frame to the specific. I respond very strongly to books that do not characterise the ‘major’, preferring to dwell on the minor. So a title like brown girl dreaming Jacqueline Woodson, would draw me almost immediately. That it is a memoir in free verse and every set of lines compel a response from me is sufficient to warrant the 2nd round of reading I am doing this morning.
What is it about brown girl dreaming ? At the depth of my reader response to books is my own dreaming and that I am brown ( or a shade of it) and a girl. The book speaks of a culture, place and time I know quite little of , the deep south of North America in the 1960 – 1970’s but the experiences are mine.
On page 5 the words are strung so
This is the way, my mother said,
of every baby’s hand.
I do not know if these hands will become
Malcolm’s – raised and fisted
or Martin’s – open and asking
or James’s – curled around a pen.
I do not know if these hands will be
and fiercely folded
calmly in a lap,
on a desk,
around a book,
to change the world …..
There are many references I do not get but the rhythm of the words draw me deep into the book, making me burrow more and more and read it again.
The book is poetry and as my inbox fills with celebrations in North America on April being National Poetry Month, I celebrate the find of this book, the gift of being able to read and to be a girl dreaming.