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A Poem Traveled Down My Arm
Cover of A Poem Traveled Down My Arm
A Poem Traveled Down My Arm
Poems and Drawings
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In this illuminating book, Pulitzer Prize--winning novelist and acclaimed poet Alice Walker reveals her remarkable philosophy of life. Curiously, this labor of love started with the author's signature: Faced with the daunting task of providing autographs for multiple copies of one of her poetry collections, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth, Walker turned an act of repetition into an act of inspiration. For each autograph became something more than a name: a thoughtful reflection, an impromptu sketch, a heartfelt poem. The result is this spontaneous burst of the unexpected. A Poem Traveled Down My Arm is a lovely collection of insights and drawings--by turns charming and humorous, provocative and profound--that represent the wisdom of one of today's most beloved writers.

The essence of Walker's independent spirit emanates from words and images that are simple but deep in meaning. An empowering approach to life...the inspiration to live completely in the moment...the chance to nurture one's creativity and peace of mind--all these beautiful elements are evoked by this unusual and original book.

From the Hardcover edition.
In this illuminating book, Pulitzer Prize--winning novelist and acclaimed poet Alice Walker reveals her remarkable philosophy of life. Curiously, this labor of love started with the author's signature: Faced with the daunting task of providing autographs for multiple copies of one of her poetry collections, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth, Walker turned an act of repetition into an act of inspiration. For each autograph became something more than a name: a thoughtful reflection, an impromptu sketch, a heartfelt poem. The result is this spontaneous burst of the unexpected. A Poem Traveled Down My Arm is a lovely collection of insights and drawings--by turns charming and humorous, provocative and profound--that represent the wisdom of one of today's most beloved writers.

The essence of Walker's independent spirit emanates from words and images that are simple but deep in meaning. An empowering approach to life...the inspiration to live completely in the moment...the chance to nurture one's creativity and peace of mind--all these beautiful elements are evoked by this unusual and original book.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book THIS IS A STRANGE BOOK

    This is a strange little book. It is like a plant in one's garden whose seed was blown in by the wind.

    The story of A Poem Traveled Down My Arm is this: After giving up writing altogether—after more than thirty years of writing, I thought it was time— I had written a book of poems, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth, while on retreat in Mexico. My editor asked me to pre-autograph "tip-in sheets" for the new volume, and sent me five hundred. Signing these sheets of paper, which would later be "tipped" into the book and bound, would save me time later on autographing copies of the book at bookstores; readers, I think, like to buy books that are autographed. So I sat down near a sunny window, and between cooking and gardening and traveling and so on, I signed all five hundred sheets. By now, my autograph has become a scrawl, illegible to anyone but myself, and so I've begun to think of it not as words, but as a design. I sent the signed sheets off. A few days or weeks later, I was asked to autograph another thousand. I came face-to-face with how boring it is to write one's own name. Unlike many people who are asked for autographs and who willingly give them no matter what else they might be doing, I will often refuse. Gently and graciously, usually. Or I will explain: No, I am on my way to the dentist, a funeral, grocery shopping, this is not a good time. By now I must have written my name a million times.

    As I began signing sheets of the quite high stack of blank paper, my pen joined me in boredom at writing my name. It began to draw things instead. I was delighted. There was an elephant! A giraffe! A sun! A moon! Hair!

    And at the same time, as if completely over the mundane task of writing my name, we, my pen and I, began to write poems.

    I was working in the dining room and keeping an ear open to things cooking on the stove in the kitchen. Sometimes I would rush to stir the soup, and a poem would bubble up so quickly I had to forget the soup and rush back to write the poem. For a while I simply signed the drawings and left them in the stack. I thought: How sweet to offer this signed drawing to the person who buys this book, rather than a scrawled signature. But the poems and drawings started to form something that I thought I might like to experience myself, so I pulled them out of the stack.

    I saw that the poems spoke a different poem-language than I usually use, which meant I was somewhere, within myself, new. The drawings reflected the fact that I don't know how to draw, and yet, like folk art all over the world, they had Life. Stuffing them under a cushion because they seemed awkward wouldn't work, because they did have this life; they would peek out.

    And that, dear reader, is the story. Not all of it, of course. Because. It is really a story about exhaustion. About deciding to quit. About attempting to give up what it is not in one's power to give up: one's connection to the Source. Being taught this lesson. Ultimately it is a story about Creativity, the force that surges and ebbs in all of us, and links us to the Divine.

    In A Poem Traveled Down My Arm there is a poem that goes like this:

    What hair
    we here!

    Mandela
    Douglass
    Einstein

    Between assassination
    suicide
    living
    happily.

    On the page following this poem there is a drawing of their hair. Mandela's is a mandala of curled and tightly spiraled rosettes, all happy to grow over and around one another. Frederick Douglass's hair, the mane of a man who would not be a slave and definitely would not be badly dressed once he was free, is an...
About the Author-
  • Alice Walker won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. Her other novels include By the Light of My Father's Smile, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar. She is also the author of three collections of short stories, three collections of essays, six previous volumes of poetry, and several children's books. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker now lives in Northern California.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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Poems and Drawings
Alice Walker
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