A Wreath For Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

XIV. A Wreath For Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson

Poetry, like Juvenile fiction, self help books, and mass market romance novels, is something I just don’t find myself reading a lot of. However, I did come across a few notable books this year, all of which fall under the category of Young Adult. The first? A Wreath For Emmett Till.

History Refresher Course: Emmett Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy from Chicago. On a vacation to visit relatives in the Deep South of Mississippi, he reportedly spoke inappropriately to a white woman in a store. Four days later, he was beaten and murdered, his body sunk into the Tallahatchie Rver.

This book is a collection of poems. To be specific, it is a heroic crown of sonnets in Petrarchan rhyme scheme. Maybe some of you know what that means, but it’s a complicated and highly structured form of poetry to be sure. The poems draw from Emmett Till’s life, the events that lead up to his murder, and the aftermath. His mother insisted on an open casket, to show the world the level of brutality that occured to her son, and this event helped to launch the Civil Rights movement. Needless to say, these poems warrant repeat readings, and will most likely move you. Don’t believe me? Ask the Prinz committee.

Buy this for: students of Civil Rights Movement classes or girls who read too many Shakesperean sonnets for their own good.

Amazon Link | NPR Interview & Excerpt


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