How Did This Happen? weaves the journey of all women, from every era, full circle and does it with poems and passages from classical writers, to the contemporary: Some famous, some not, but all sharing womanhood. Each chapter brilliantly set with a series of poems and an introduction which frames what the chapter intends. It reflects the burdens and delights put on women culturally, and the burden we embrace to self-impose them. It is rich with humor, some hilarious and some so touching one would think the writers may have once lived within our very own hearts—and through that you become aware women are connected just like the stars in the night’s sky: Each poem, like a constellation, shining down to tell a moment’s fortune. What we share, young and old; what we hold dear and work so hard to discard.
Its poems pinpoint Mothers, how we want to help our daughters and pass on what we know; it also articulates what the young would just as soon ignore from their feminine elders. It playfully shows the rewards of stepping out on our own path; from the time we consciously recognize women are different than men. How Did This Happen? surprises us with moments that many women, I being one of them, have what we believe to be our secrets. From the first blossom of womanhood to that first whisker, to the joy of undying wisdom; it poetically demonstrates moods and the journey of aging: The excitement and the pain of discovery; the humor in the failing and glory of achievement.
The book, aptly titled: How Did This Happen?Outlines a woman’s journey from all walks and ultimately ends up telling our stories from Insult and Injury to Grit and Grace, with a sterling string of poems describing poignant moments. The humor comes to the reader with surprise and genuine realizations. It reminds of what we know and what lies before us like diamonds in the rough, waiting eagerly to be mined. It doesn’t shy away from anything: it covers the aging process and “kids us on the square” with every milestone a woman comes to know.
I read excerpts of this book to my 91-year old Mother, and asked her what she thought. She likened it to a currency, paying women homage, while leading us to the understanding of how we journey along different paths; yet we are all connected and most often arrive at the same destination. Not just women who have lived a life, but in many ways, a roadmap for the young women starting, like a fledgling, not yet to understand she is about to fly an all consuming journey of herself. Each poem demonstrating we are not alone.
This couldn’t be a better gift for a Mother, or anyone in your circle of friends. It was my pleasure to read and review. I give it 5 stars in goodness; heart and inviting all women to enjoy their challenges and awkwardness in the unknown of what it is genuinely like to age; the hoops we jump through; and the images we keep, like sentimental souvenirs. With Mother’s Day coming up—this book may be the ticket to giving a heartfelt and quintessential gift. I found my heart curious; piqued and joyful, while reviewing this: with one foot in grit, the other in grace, I can honestly say, How Did This Happen? is a winner.
Note: The Editors of this book are Mary D. Esselman and Elizabeth Ash Velez: Best-Selling Authors of “The Hell with Love”. Elizabeth is the academic coordinator of the Community Scholars Program and professor of feminist theory at Georgetown University. Mary is a freelance writer and teacher currently working for the University of Virginia’s Women’s Center. Both are renowned for being contributors to several national and international magazines.
Top photo: Bigstock