Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson Biography

Marilyn Nelson (born April 26, 1946) is an American poet, translator and children's book author. She is the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks.
From 1978 to 1994 she wrote books as Marilyn Nelson Waniek.
Nelson was born on April 26, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio to Melvin M. Nelson, a U.S. serviceman in the Air Force, and Johnnie Mitchell Nelson, a teacher. She was brought up living on military bases, and began writing while in elementary school. She earned her B.A. from the University of California-Davis, and an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1979.
She is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut and the founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat. She was poet laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.
Her poetry collections include The Homeplace (Louisiana State University Press), which won the 1992 Anisfield-Wolf Award, and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award; and The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press), won the 1998 Poets' Prize, and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award. Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2012, the Poetry Society of America awarded her the Frost Medal. In 2013, Nelson was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

The Best Poem Of Marilyn Nelson

The House On Moscow Street

It's the ragged source of memory,
a tarpaper-shingled bungalow
whose floors tilt toward the porch,
whose back yard ends abruptly
in a weedy ravine. Nothing special:
a chain of three bedrooms
and a long side porch turned parlor
where my great-grandfather, Pomp, smoked
every evening over the news,
a long sunny kitchen
where Annie, his wife,
measured cornmeal,
dreaming through the window
across the ravine and up to Shelby Hill
where she had borne their spirited,
high-yellow brood.

In the middle bedroom's hard,
high antique double bed,
the ghost of Aunt Jane,
the laundress
who bought the house in 1872,
though I call with all my voices,
does not appear.
Nor does Pomp's ghost,
with whom one of my cousins believes
she once had a long and intimate
unspoken midnight talk.
He told her, though they'd never met,
that he loved her; promised
her raw widowhood would heal
without leaving a scar.

The conveniences in an enclosed corner
of the slant-floored back side porch
were the first indoor plumbing in town.
Aunt Jane put them in,
incurring the wrath of the woman
who lived in the big house next door.
Aunt Jane left the house
to Annie, whose mother she had known
as a slave on the plantation,
so Annie and Pomp could move their children
into town, down off Shelby Hill.
My grandmother, her brother, and five sisters
watched their faces change slowly
in the oval mirror on the wall outside the door
into teachers' faces, golden with respect.
Here Geneva, the randy sister,
damned their colleges,
daubing her quicksilver breasts
with gifts of perfume.

As much as love,
as much as a visit
to the grave of a known ancestor,
the homeplace moves me not to silence
but the righteous, praise Jesus song:

Oh, catfish and turnip greens,
hot-water cornbread and grits.
Oh, musty, much-underlined Bibles;
generations lost to be found,
to be found.

Marilyn Nelson Comments

Kiarra Smith 13 July 2007

I have occasionally been trying to get in contact with Marilyn Nelson just to tell her how much her books mean to me. I have only read three of her books which are for children. They are: 'A Wreath for Emmett Till' (I memorized that book) , 'Carver: A Life in Poems' and 'Fortune's Bones'. I know I have only lived on this earth 17 years and make rational decisions, but one thing I stand true on is the genius of Marilyn Nelson. The amount of research she does when writing and the illuminating power that radiates from each page gives me chills. Her books soar above many of today's children's books. They are so beyond well written, I would not be surprised if they become classics and part of the US reading curriculum. I love how Ms. Nelson preserves our Black heritage through prose and poetry and how she gives new twists to sonnet variations. This woman is my literary herione and that speaks for itself.

13 9 Reply
Kayleigh England 05 March 2013

I am a high school student in Connecticut. Right now, I'm working on a research paper on Marilyn Nelson. i am having a bit of trouble finding a thesis for this paper. I have read several of her book for children, such as ''A Wreath for Emmett Till', 'Carver: A Life in Poems' and 'Fortune's Bones'. I have been gathering information on her and I really admire her works and her views on the African American experience and on African American women. Mrs. Nelson uses history, prose, poetry and sonnets to share these experiences. I really hope to meet her one day and hope that in a couple of days i can get over to UCONN (My high school is right on Uconn campus) and maybe interview her as that will give me some new insight and be a good start and addition to my paper.

10 6 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 21 August 2021

Yes, indeed there is a kind of BLM in Indonesia, but in an entirely different way, most medical doctors with this background (like my background) may not become surgeons, that's why I went to the Netherlands and here based upon the brains, we may become medical specialists

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Sylvia Frances Chan 21 August 2021

I am Indonesian born, resides in The Netherlands and I am a Dutch poetess from Chinese ancester but already 4-5 generations in Jakarta but since a sort of BLM in my homeland, I am a Dutch citizen since years

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Sylvia Frances Chan 21 August 2021

I am not black, but Marilyn Nelson is my literary hero. Her poems will all become CLASSIC ONES, sure and since BLM most of all.

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Sylvia Frances Chan 21 August 2021

I want to wish you CONGRATULATIONS being chosen by PoemHunter and Team as The Poet Of The Day! Hoorray!

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Sylvia Frances Chan 21 August 2021

I really admire her works and her views on the African American experience and on African American women. Marilyn Nelson uses history, prose, poetry and sonnets to share these experiences.

0 0 Reply

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