Marilyn Nelson Poems

Marilyn Nelson is an American poet born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1946. She has written numerous books for children and worked as a translator. She has been featured three times on the finalist list for the National Book Award. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2013. 

The Ballad of Aunt Geneva

by Marilyn Nelson

‘The Ballad of Aunt Geneva’ by Marilyn Nelson is about a Black woman’s life, relationships, and work. It is based on local rumors and assumptions about her character.

This is a lovely Marilyn Nelson poem that is as interesting as it is thoughtful. It requires readers to analyze the information they've bene given as well as consider the fact that most of it is based on rumors. The poem describes the life of one woman in vague, judgemental detail. It condemns her as a "tart" and "wild" based on what people have observed about her.

Geneva was a wild one

Geneva was a tart.

Geneva met a blue-eyed boy

And gave away her heart.


by Marilyn Nelson

‘Star-Fix’ by Marilyn Nelson is a poem that lionizes the noble role of the navigator onboard an aircraft.

This is one of Marilyn Nelson's standout poems. The combination of celestial imagery grounded in the heroic celebration of the navigator makes it a timeless ode to various themes. From the camaraderie people share when they're forced to rely on one another to the commemoration of qualities of leadership.

At his cramped desk under the astrodome, the navigator looks

thousands of light-years everywhere but down. He gets a celestial fix,

measuring head-winds; checking the log; plotting wind-speed,

altitude, drift in a circle of protractors, slide-rules, and pencils.

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