And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Reviewed by Ian Duncanson, Beaverton City Library

andwestayAnd We Stay is written in both verse and prose, with an emphasis on the latter. Emily Beam’s junior year of high school in the mid-’90s was cut short when her boyfriend Paul took a gun to school and committed suicide in front of her in the library. Traumatized from the experience and unable to return to her normal high school, Emily has enrolled in a boarding school in Amherst, MA where she seeks comfort in being alone, writing poetry, and bonding with her new roommate. She also throws herself into the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson, finding strength and hope in the works of the dark and enigmatic American literary figure who lived and attended school in Amherst. As the story progresses, we learn more details about Emily and Paul’s relationship and what drove him to suicide.

I’m normally not one for poetry in prose stories or novels written in verse, but I thought that the poems in And We Stay (written from Emily’s perspective) were strong and provided insight into the character and her coping with violent trauma. Even though the cliché boarding school setting might elicit an initial groan, it does not play a lot into the story. Hubbard focuses more on Emily’s thoughts, growth and literary interests than on the surrounding boarding school life and antics. With school violence in the news, And We Stay is a timely story about a broken person left traumatized in the aftermath of another’s actions and healing through the support of friends.

 

“Inspired by Poetry” times 30

I’m not a fan of poetry in general. I don’t really “get” it most of the time and I find a lot of poetry to be tiresome and pretentious.

So, naturally, I’ve devoted hours and hours over the last two years to planning and creating “Inspired by Poetry,” a 30-part display that celebrates how poetry has been integrated by young adult authors represented in the Teen Scene collection at Salem Public Library. As most readers notice from time to time, snippets of poems—some classic, some contemporary—are woven into many stories, inspire book titles, and appear as chapter headings. Usually, the story includes a piece, rather than the entire poem. Initially inspired by Ally Condie’s use of Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” in her book “Matched,” I got to thinking that it would be interesting to share the whole of the poems with our patrons.

April was the obvious time to do something about it, with it being National Poetry Month and all. I read and researched and poked around until I managed – in April 2013 – to create a “Poem a Day” display set up like a calendar by putting up a new poem each day from April 1-30. Then, I left it up for a week or so to give the poems at the end of the month a chance.

“Poem a Day” calendar display.

I so enjoyed watching patrons stop and read the poems. I enjoyed even more helping those same patrons find the books that included the poems. And I also read and thought about each poem myself and learned that I might, after all, be a fan of at least some poetry.

I’ve updated a bit since, as I continue to read and stumble across poetic inspirations in my collection. The poems currently included are:

• “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” (Dylan Thomas) used in “Matched” by Ally Condie
• “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (Robert Frost) used in “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton
• “Illusions” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) used in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
• “Invictus: The Unconquerable” (William Ernest Henley) used in “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare
• “I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone” (Ranier Maria Rilke) used in “Shiver” by Maggie Stiefvater
• “Ozymandias” (Percy Bysse Shelley) used in “Okay for Now” by Gary Schmidt
• “To a Mouse” (Robert Burns) used in “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck
• “Go and Catch a Falling Star” (John Donne) used in “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne-Jones and “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman
• “Stop All the Blocks, Cut Off the Telephone” (W.H. Auden) used in “Taking Off” by Jenny Moss
• “From a Distance” (Cliff Richard) used in “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” by Chris Crutcher
• “The Red Wheelbarrow” (William Carlos Williams) used in “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
• “I’m Nobody! Who are You?” (Emily Dickinson) used in “Nobody’s Secret” by Michaela MacColl
• “The Hollow Men” (T.S. Eliot) used in “Wither” by Lauren DeStefano and “The Compound” by S.A. Bodeen
• “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” (Robert Burns) used in “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
• “Psalms 147” (Holy Bible) used in “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry
• “Crossing the Bar” (Alfred Lord Tennyson) used in “Crossed” by Ally Condie
• “Paradise Lost” (John Milton) used in “The Golden Compass” by Phillip Pullman
• “How Do I Love Thee?” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning) used in “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
• “All is Truth” (Walt Whitman) used in “Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets” by Evan Roskos
• “Lady of Shallot” (Alfred Lord Tennyson) used in “Avalon High” by Meg Cabot
• “There’s a Certain Slant of Light” (Emily Dickinson) used in “Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things” by Kathryn Burak
• “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (John Donne) used in “One Piece: Volume 5” by Eiichiro Oda and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Earnest Hemingway
• “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” (T.S. Eliot) used in “The Shadow Society” by Marie Rutkoski and “Dreamland” by Sarah Dessen
• “Song of Myself” (Walt Whitman) used in “Paper Towns” by John Green
• “Morning Song of Senlin” (Conrad Aiken) used in “A Swiftly Tilting Planet” by Madeleine L’Engle
• “The First Day’s Night Had Come” (Emily Dickinson) used in “Recovery Road” by Blake Nelson
• “The Highwayman” (Alfred Noyes) used in “Mark of the Gold Dragon” by L.A. Meyer
• Monologue from “Hamlet” (William Shakespeare) used in “Perchance to Dream” by Lisa Mantchev
• “The Road Not Taken” (Robert Frost) used in “The Rhyming Season” by Edward Averett
• “The Old Church Tower” (Emily Bronte) used in “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

The display pages are designed in full color on 11×17 paper, but I have created a PDF that could be easily printed in “fit to page” mode on 8 ½ x 11 paper. I would be happy, nay delighted, to share this file with anyone who wants to share these poems with the patrons in their libraries. Just email me at ssomerville@cityofsalem.net to receive a copy.

Inspired by Poetry Display sheets 2014