Ode to the Unpraised: Stories and Lessons from Women I Know – Abena Beloved Green

Rejecting an easily definable genre or style, Ode to the Unpraised: Stories and Lessons from Women I Know by Abena Beloved Green blends poetry and interviews to tell the stories of women in Green’s life, ranging from reflections on their lives to practical advice for life. This is both experimental and familiar, pulling poetry from the stories of friends, aunts, mothers, and community leaders.

Green shares the stories of these women who have raised her and inspired her with great care. Each section opens with the woman’s name, a small biographical paragraph, and their answers to questions posed by Green. Each section closes with a poem or poems pulled from the words of the women, inspired by the women, or poetry Green previously wrote and reworked to better fit the stories she heard. This is a multilayered collection: the women are connected by their connection to Green, and while their stories are the ones that compose this collection, the choice of each woman, the locations they live in (Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Ghana) and the values each woman holds and shares in their interviews reveal Green’s own story.

In the introduction, Green reveals this work started in 2014, with her plan to interview her grandmother – a plan that was derailed after her grandmother died, taking the answers to the questions Green had with her. However, Green realized she could interview other members of her family and get their stories.

The women in this collection are inspirational, funny, and generous with their reflections and advice. The poetry Green creates from their words is varied, ranging from using the words the women used to describe their lives to be inspired by their stories, rather than directly pulled from. The approach is interesting, though at times repetitive: when Green’s poems were more directly drawn from the interview, it was a restatement of what I’d just read. However, this was an interesting and experimental way to take a look under the hood of writing a poem, and to honour the women who shaped the author.

Playing with form and honouring women, Green’s Ode to the Unpraised is a deeply personal, intimate work, full of striking lines of poetry and frank life advice. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

About the author: Poet, writer, and dancer Abena Beloved Green (Abena A. Tuffour) seeks to create, engage, and elevate through words and movement. She teaches people to write stories of their own through workshops and coaching. Her first book of poetry, The Way We Hold On, was published by Pottersfield Press. Raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Abena now resides in eastern Ontario with her family.

  • Publisher : Pottersfield Press (Nov. 24 2020)
  • Language: : English
  • ISBN-10 : 198972521X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1989725214

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Alison Manley bounced around the Maritimes before landing in Miramichi, NB, where she works as a hospital librarian. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. When she's not reading biomedical research for her work, she likes reading poetry, contemporary and historical fiction, and personal essays. Noted for a love of bright colours (and lipstick), you can find her wandering the banks of the Miramichi River with a book and a paintbrush.