My Seneca Village

by Marilyn Nelson

The Seneca Village of the title was a predominantly African American community in... read more

The Seneca Village of the title was a predominantly African American community in New York City that was torn down in 1857 to build Central Park. Seneca Village emerges here through the fictionalized voices of characters whose names are based on real people Marilyn Nelson found in census records. Her first poem, titled “Land Owner,” is attached to “Andrew Williams, bootblack” and dated 1825, when Seneca Village was established. Her final poem, “Uncle Epiphany,” is dated 1855, just two years before the community would be gone. Nelson has imagined individuals of weight and heft and detail as she moves in and out of various lives and families. Brief prose narratives connecting the poems create a fuller sense of story. An opening note provides more information on Seneca Village, while a detailed discussion of the specific poetic form for each poem appears at volume’s end. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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