Marilyn Nelson is the inaugural poet for the Double Ds!
Nelson is the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks. Her book The Homeplacewon the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award. The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poemswon the 1998 Poets’ Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. Carver: A Life In Poemswon the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Fortune’s Bones was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. A Wreath For Emmett Tillwon the 2005 Boston Globe—Horn Book Award and was a 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and a 2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. The Cachoeira Tales And Other Poemswon the L.E. Phillabaum Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Click here to read more about Marilyn Nelson and her endeavors.
In A Wreath for Emmett Till, you employ the sonnet with grace and expertise. To what extent did the use of form help you to deal with the subject matter?
The use of form helped a lot, I think. I don’t think I would have written the poem if I hadn’t imagined the form could be something I could hide behind in self-defense. I wrote that poem several years ago. I don’t really remember much about the composition experience, except for the frustration of looking for rhymes and the eager, sleepless period when I raced to finish it, because I couldn’t wait to see what was going to come next.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
My favorite place to vacation. I’ve had some wonderful trips, but I don’t usually think of them as “vacations.” One one trip I spent a couple of days lying in a hammock on the beach on Margarita Island, near Venezuela. On another trip, I spent a week visiting one of my college roommates, on Chiloe Island in Chile. Another time, hiked around Fuur, a North Sea island in Denmark. Another time, went on retreat in Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. I guess I have a weakness for islands. On the other hand, I’ve had a couple of wonderful road-trips in the Kalahari, in Botswana.