Marilyn Nelson

Marilyn Nelson graduated from the University of California, Davis, and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (M.A.) and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D.).  Her books are For The Body (1978), Mama's Promises (1985), The Homeplace (1990), Magnificat (1994), and The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems (1997), all published by L.S.U. Press, and Carver: A Life In Poems (2001), published by Front Street Books.  Her honors include two Pushcart Prizes, two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, and a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation.  The Homeplace was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award and won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award. The Fields Of Praise was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the Pen Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize, and it won the 1998 Poets' Prize. Her rendition of Euripides' play, "Hecuba," appears in Euripides I, the first volume of the Penn Greek Drama Series. Carver: A Life In Poems won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, won the Boston Globe/ Horn Book Award, was named a Newbery Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and won the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award.  Nelson is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut.  

Unrhymed Peace Sonnet

Who are the Good Guys now? Who are the bad?
Nobody's wearing Stetsons, black or white.
Each has a history of evil deeds:
one individual, one centuries
of rapine and ideals. It's almost noon.
One leader straps on bombs. The armies mass.
We'll blow that s.o.b. to kingdom come,
everyone thinks; bring on Armageddon!
Yosemite Sam, frustrated and enraged,
jumps up and down, shooting holes in the clouds.
And Africa is dying out, of AIDS.
Why the hell doesn't the moving finger write?
What the hell are you waiting for, my God?
Why don't you tell those bastards not to fight?
For Pete's sake, send an angel! Burn a bush!

Questions for Reflection: “Unrhymed Peace Sonnet” 

  1. What confusion is expressed in the poem, “Unrhymed Peace Sonnet?” How is this addressed?
  2. How much do you know about the film, “High Noon?” Read up on it and relate it to the poem.
  3. How does the Looney Tunes character, Yosemite Sam, fit into this poem?
  4. Why does the poet talk about Africa in the middle of the poem?
  5. What are the answers being asked for in the poem?