Mission Work: Poems

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Scorching, Sophisticated New Work From Two of America’s Leading Poets
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Stanley Plumly Foreword. In this prize-winning collection, a debut poet evokes his childhood as the son of missionaries in Papua New Guinea. Rich with Christian and Kuman myths and stories, the poems explore In this prize-winning collection, a debut poet evokes his childhood as the son of missionaries in Papua New Guinea. The images conjured in Mission Work are viscerally stirring: native people slaughter pigs for a Chimbu wedding ceremony; a papery flight of cicadas cuts through a cloud forest; hands sting as they beat a drum made of dried snakeskin.

Quieter moments are shot through with the unfamiliar as well. Aaron Baker's pressure on his language not only intensifies and elevates his memories of Papuan 'mission work,' it transforms it back into something very like his original childhood experience. Get A Copy.


Missionary Work - Page 6

Paperback , 80 pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 3. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. The answers might be painful. Much of her latest book is devoted to examining the history and legacy of slavery. The language of the documents can be stilted, even bureaucratic.

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She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. It was an unseasonably hot day in late February, and the white blossoms on the Bradford pear trees lining the straight, flat highway barely fluttered. Our destination, an unassuming brick Methodist church, was down the road from a nail salon and the El San Jose Mexican restaurant.

Her tour was planned by the local congressman, Representative James E. Clyburn, currently the third-ranking House Democrat, who accompanied Smith at each stop.

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Born in nearby Sumter and first elected to serve this district while Smith was still in college, Clyburn, who is African-American, greeted many in the predominantly black crowd by name. The town is home to Travis Air Force Base, where her father worked for much of her childhood; later he was an engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope. The youngest by far of five siblings, Smith grew up under the close supervision of her mother, a former schoolteacher and religious Christian.

Tracked into gifted programs early on, she was the kind of girl who asked other children if they had ever invited Jesus into their heart, but she also enjoyed watching sitcoms and listening to the Mary Jane Girls. This seemingly idyllic childhood was punctuated by racism — both implicit and outright. The very particular pain that was tied up in blood, in race, in laws and war. The real story of the book is the gradual dawning of difference and what it meant — to the outside world and to her.

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She was wearing a bright red blouse with a beige scarf and long, straight silver earrings. The audience greeted her with a standing ovation. She read:.


Smith began writing the poem, as she almost always does, by asking questions. How could she convey the way she felt when she heard it — as if a room shot through with light had opened up inside her? As the poem proceeds, it describes what she saw at the ring shout, enriched by the imagery she brings to it.

Missionary Work - Poems and Lessons

Then the poem pauses. The afternoon was drawing to a close, but sunlight still filtered through the tall windows of the old Summerton High School auditorium. The building is the last remaining of the schools associated with Briggs v. Elliott, one of the school-segregation cases heard by the Supreme Court that made up Brown v. Board of Education. The school closed after about a year of integration; the building currently houses the administrative offices of the school district, which is majority black. Who Are You? She answered, as she still does now, that African-American literature is American literature.

But if that argument is no longer considered controversial in the liberal academy, part of the reason is that Smith and other writers of her generation, building on the work of predecessors like Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin, have been working for the past 20 years to redefine the canon. At the reading series, which Ellis and Strange initially hosted in their Cambridge living room, she encountered the poets Rita Dove and Natasha Trethewey, both of whom would precede her as poet laureate.

CHRISTian poetry ~ by deborah ann

At Columbia, where she went for her M. In class, she would allow everyone else in the circle to speak, listening carefully to their comments, before she took her turn. Kevin Young, now the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the poetry editor of The New Yorker, selected it in for the annual prize given by Cave Canem, an organization that promotes and supports African-American poetry, to a first book by an African-American poet. The poem was inspired by an article in Nature magazine. Ever since her early moment of affinity with Dickinson, Smith has been attracted to poets whose plain language conceals a yearning for something metaphysical or eternal: Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Philip Larkin.

Someone else brought up Langston Hughes.

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