Congratulations to Tricia Clark who won Letters from Space.
Six months ago, author Tammi J. Truax contacted me after reading my review of Orchards on Goodreads. She deduced that I liked free verse historical novels and offered to send me a copy of her book, For to See the Elephant (Piscataqua Press, 2019). Come with me into the pages of this amazing chronicle of the first two elephants who came to America, their keeper, and the people whose lives these honorable animals touched. This is a work of fiction, but as the author notes, "the found poems included in the work are taken from diaries, newspaper articles, advertisements, and songs from the time period." It is a saga of the enslaved.
For to See the Elephant is written from several different points of view including the men who purchased the elephants, the slave boy William who is their keeper, the elephants, and Hachaliah Bailey. A different font is used for each point of view and their voices are all distinctive. To best see the beauty of the poetry, I'm sharing excerpts from several different entries. The elephants' POV are written in narrative.
GAJA, At leaving Bengal, India, October 1795
My mahout was conflicted that day. I could tell by the silent language of his body. Further, I could tell that he needed me to go where he was leading me, but that in his heart he did not really want me to go. I also knew I had been sold...I let out a trumpeting roar, one I knew he could hear as his little bare feet flew across the wharf in the opposite direction that I was headed. I was but a baby and had never been left alone before. (p. 2, 5)
Captain Jacob Crowinsheild at sea. December 1795
I say with certainty
a sadder sound
than the cry of
Adding to the misery
of the cries,
the beasts thrusts itself
in rhythm with the rise
and fall of the sea,
against the pen
built to hold her.... (p. 9)
William at sea 1795