Poetry Friday: Marilyn Nelson, Part II

Poetry pays homage to the dead, sheds light on crimes and injustice, and helps us to explore intense emotions.

In Fortune’s Bones: The Manumission Requiem (Front Street, 2004), Marilyn Nelson created a requiem to honor “Fortune,” an 18th-century slave who was owned by a bonesetter. Fortune’s bones were illegally preserved to create a skeleton for medical research.

Fortune’s family members were still enslaved in the same household in which Fortune’s skeleton resided.

Listen to Marilyn Nelson speak about her book and read “Dinah’s Lament,” a powerful poem in which Fortune’s wife must clean the room where her husband’s skeleton hangs.

An excerpt from “Dinah’s Lament”:

Through every season, sun-up to star light,
I heft, scrub, knead: one black woman alone,
except for my children. The world so white,
nobody no my pain, but Fortune bones.

The original book reading with Marilyn Nelson was created as part of the Coretta Scott King Book Award Curriculum Resource Center.

Poetry Friday is hosted at IreneLatham.com this week.

Posted by Danika Brubaker, MLS, Web 2.0 Content Producer

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One Response to Poetry Friday: Marilyn Nelson, Part II

  1. Jacqueline Jules February 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    Marilyn Nelson’s poetry is so powerful! Thanks!

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