Friday, November 25, 2016

Homefront - Childhood Memories of WWII - Peggy Trojan (Evening Street Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Homefront - Childhood Memories of WWII.  Peggy Trojan.  Evening Street Press.  Dublin, Ohio.  2015.


Homefront - Childhood Memories of WWII is a gentle beauty of a book.  Peggy Trojan's poems travel through time and take you with them.  In Homefront World War II is in full swing and the poems are homespun missives, community updates and emotional weather reports.

Trojan's world churns past with such sweet simplicity and genuine respectful wonder that you almost think you are inside an episode of The Waltons - but the hearty sensibility of our narrator/heroine does see the cost of battle, the horrors of war that men inflict upon one another.

Winter Hill, 1943

Ten or twelve,
we met each evening on the hill,
dragging our sleds.
Built a fire,
threw in potatoes
from pockets of wool parkas,
started sliding.

Across the sea,
a world was burning.
At school, we practiced hiding under desks,
scanned the skies for enemy planes.
Together, we felt safe.
We owned the moonlight and the hill.

Tired out, near curfew,
we retrieved our cache,
rolled them out to sizzle on the snow.
Now hunks of oval charcoal,
skins burned thick.

We held our potatoes with snowy mitts,
peeled off the black,
passed the wax paper packet of salt.
Innocent as starlight,
we ate the winter night.

Mothers called from the village,
voices thin as string
stretching across the frosty air.
Jaw--onn, Jer--ree, Bill--ee

Secure as the moon,
we kicked snow on smoldering embers,
gathered our sleds.
headed home to porch light beacons.


Peggy Trojan's Homefront is a book entirely devoid of guile or avarice.  These poems sound and feel as true as the day is long, they are written with a tenderness and affection of intention but they are never coy or affected.  

Trojan has a voice we immediately trust as a familiar and all of her stories, though new to us, sound and feel as though they are family lore.

Blue Star, Gold Star

Cousin Roy was the first one
wounded from this little town.
He recovered and was sent
back to battle.
When he was killed,
they couldn't find any part
of him to send home to bury.
His father always thought
he would come back
to take over the farm.
There was no memorial service...
No minister was available
out there in the country,
and his Pa said he couldn't take anymore.
His sister even had a Christmas present
ready to mail when the news came.
Nothing to do
but take down the blue service star,
and hang a gold star
in the window now.


As you all know Today's book of poetry has a reading every morning of the day's book, this morning's reading was a real tonic.  The poems brought forward our parents and our grandparents and played with memory so as to help us believe we know and understand them better.,  Homefront is not a historical document but it is true living history and here at Today's book of poetry we often feel that's the ticket.  

None of this would matter much if the poems didn't work as poems but this is solid, dependable, straight forward as the wheels on the front of a train engine stuff.  Today's book of poetry felt right at home.  

Roosevelt Dies

The day The President died,
Our President, My President,
the only President I ever knew,
they interrupted Tom Mix on the radio
with the breaking news.
I ran across the yard to the Co-op
and leaped the two steps
to my dad's office.

"Oh, my stars!" he gasped,
and yelled to the whole store,
"The President is dead!"
He turned his radio on, loud.

Everyone stopped:
the clerks filling orders,
shoppers with their ration books,
the butcher weighing hamburger,
the feed man in the back room,
kids eyeing the bulk candy.
All came in shocked silence
to the office door.

Quietly, like fog, reality filled
the room with genuine grief.
Then everything moved
in slow motion
as people went back
to finish what they were doing
while our whole world changed.


In November 2016 it is hard for many readers to remember how World War II shaped the modern world and all those who experienced it. Time has not changed this tapestry, Peggy Trojan has woven something wondrous here, a glimpse, a beautiful detail, of how community and family come together when united by purpose and fear.

Peggy Trojan's Homefront is tender testament to the determination of those left at home and to the unfiltered bright eyes of someone who remembers.

Peggy Trojan

PEGGY 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.

Peggy Trojan was there on the Home Front, an eight to twelve year old girl from northwest Wisconsin as “the world was burning” (“Winter Hill 1943”) thousands of miles away. We see through her eyes as she witnesses “the heroes at home” (“Home Front”), the rationing and the tragedy of neighbors switching the Blue Star for the Gold Star in the window. These are poems of great tenderness and simplicity, powerfully remembered… “the girls played house and the boys played war” (“Playtime”).
     --Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2011-2012) author of Small Talk, Little Eagle Press

Peggy Trojan's poetry is straightforward and focused, yet lyrical and poignant. Through clean images and sharp details, she takes us to a time when war was a daily reality. This book is both a poetic and historical treasure.
     --Jan Chronister, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College author of Target Practice, Parallel             Press

What a pleasure this collection is! Clear-eyed and perceptive, these narrative poems in Homefront by Peggy Trojan tell the story of a child in small Midwestern town during World WWII: the music, the girls playing jacks, the buttons on underwear, the ration books, the small town general store, and “for the first time/ questioning if man was kind.” It’s a chronicle of the war effort, and readers will be delighted with the sharp images of growing up, the privations and pleasures, the interesting portraits of people, and the news dispatches of the war and Holocaust seen through the eyes of a child. Every poem is necessary to this collection, and each captures a time and a place, returning to us the stories and strengths of our parents and grandparents. She paints with words, and her language is both plain-spoken and beautiful and full of pathos. These poems are lit with love.
     --Sheila Packa Duluth, Poet Laureate 2010-2012 author of Night Train Red Dust, Cloud Birds, and         Echo & Lightning 



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.

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