Free Range Kids. Peggy Trojan. Evening Street Press. Sacramento, California. 2017.
Winner of the 2017 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize.
In many of the best ways Peggy Trojan's Free Range Kids reminds Today's book of poetry of Saint Harper of Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. Both pull from a deep well of what we know to be good and true.
Much like Jebb's cigar box Boo Radley treasures, Peggy Trojan's poems reveal their magic, one subtle move at a time. And like Boo Radley's gifts of friendship, each of these little jewels can be savoured. Trojan has just the right tidy morsel when that tidy morsel is called for.
Today's book of poetry has had the pleasure of a Peggy Trojan book before. Back in November of 2016 Today's book of poetry looked at Homefront - Childhood Memories of WWII (Evening Street Press 2015). You can look at that here:
Clearly Today's book of poetry has a soft spot for the talented Trojan.
About a mile square
surrounded by woods
my hometown provided
a safe nest.
Anchored in the center
with a town hall,
one church, and one school.
We knew the names
of every person in every house,
and all the dogs.
Allowed to roam free,
we invented our days
with the resources we had:
the river, the backyards, each other.
None of us were ever afraid
to walk home in the dark.
A much simpler world perhaps. Trojan does paint a more bucolic scene than most of us have been privilege to but Trojan is still writing from a geographical/historical/time and context that Today's book of poetry understands. When very young, Today's book of poetry lived in a very small town, village. We did have the freedom to walk as far as we pleased in any direction but in truth we rarely moved out of earshot range.
Today's young heroes and heroines are much the same, masters/mistresses of their own small green universes.
It would be easy to see these poems as nostalgia for a time gone by but they ring deeper, more universal than mere nostalgia. Free Range Kids reminds us of a time before Trump and men and women like him.
These poems feel refreshing and hopeful at a time when some hope would be helpful. Peggy Trojan reminds us of how pure, simple and clean we are when we enter the fray, this mortal coil.
Pa switched me once.
Don't remember what for.
Made quite a show of it, though.
Went out in snow
for a willow branch.
Laid it on top of the heater
to thaw so it had a little spring.
Gave me a minute to rue my deed,
then, a couple stinging whacks
on the backs of my skinny legs.
Like I said, don't remember what for.
It never became a habit.
Today's book of poetry has been sporadically absent in recent months and we apologize. We buried a great man last week. James "Jimmy" Patrick Griffin. He was a good, good man. A great father and a great husband and a great Brother-in-Law. Jim didn't have much of an interest in poetry but always made it clear he was interested in me.
Today's book of poetry is getting old and tired and slow. But we will continue to post new blogs/reviews for the foreseeable future.
Peggy Trojan lifted our spirits and that's why we wanted to share her poetry with you. Trojan lived in a world that no longer exists but in giving us Free Range Kids we do get to take a look. Memory is the most beautiful part of being human. We get to remember what we love.
Lunch Guest, 1939
Mom, who's that man on the steps?
Just somebody passing through.
Why is he here?
Because he was hungry.
What is he eating?
A fried egg sandwich.
Yes, and coffee.
Why is he eating out there?
He said he liked it outdoors.
How did he know where we lived?
I guess they tell each other.
Where is he going?
Back to the train, I think.
Is he ever coming back?
Why did he call you "Ma'am"?
I think he was just being polite.
Perhaps it is my age and perhaps it is the season, Peggy Trojan's Free Range Kids made Today's book of poetry feel hope. And as Robin Roberston says in her poem "Cusp" from the excellent Swithering,
"Is there anything, more heartbreaking than hope?"
Today's book of poetry is back in the saddle. Hang on. It's going to be a bumpy ride.
ABOUT THE AUTHORPEGGY TROJAN and her husband live in the north woods of Wisconsin in a house they built not far from her childhood home after they retired from teaching. She is the mother of six, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of two. She submitted her first poem for publication when she was seventy-seven, and has been enjoying seeing her work in print. She has been published in the Boston Literary Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, Talking Stick, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, Thunderbird Review, Little Eagle's Re/Verse, Your Daily Poem, and many other journals and anthologies. Her chapbook collection of poems about her parents, Everyday Love, is available on Amazon. She is a member of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.
Young readers will be introduced to childhood without video games or cell phones, while seniors - especially those from small towns - will revel in memories of chores and the many ways children entertained themselves. The collection is as tasty as the potatoes retrieved from a charcoal fire after sledding in the snow.
- Wilda Morris, Editor, Wilda Morris Poetry Challenge
Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher. They are shown here for publicity and review purposes. For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
We here at TBOP are technically deficient and rely on our bashful Milo to fix everything. We received notice from Google that we were using "cookies"
and that for our readers in Europe there had to be notification of the use of those "cookies. Please be aware that TBOP may employ the use of some "cookies" (whatever they are) and you should take that into consideration.