Friday, November 13, 2009

A Wreath for Emmett Till

A Wreath for Emmett Till
By Marilyn Nelson
Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 34 pgs. Young Adult Nonfiction

Marilyn Nelson weaves an intricate memorial for Emmett Till, whose murder in 1955 helped spark the civil rights movement. In fifteen sonnets, Nelson's haunting poetry alludes both to Emmett Till's tragic situation as well as other instances of discrimination and hate and wonders what Emmett Till's life would have been like if he'd been allowed to live, rather than dying as a teenager.

Although the book is short, it certainly packs a punch. The illustrations also highly enhance the content. A wonderful lesson about history, this book would also be useful in discussions of poetry. Nelson's crown of sonnets has each poem starting with the last line of the previous poem, and then the fifteenth poem brings together the first lines of each of the fourteen previous poems--and manages to have the first letter of each line come together to spell out RIP Emmett Till. An amazing example of poetry, as well as a moving examination of Emmett Till's murder.


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