Smoke at the Pentagon: ­Poems to Remember

Bushel & Peck. Aug. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781638191520.
Gr 1-6–How do we remember tragedy? Which moments do we carry with us, and which do we try to forget? Moreover, what do we preserve for history and teach to our children? With these powerful questions as its driving force, a new collection of poetry revisits the events of September 11, 2001 through the eyes of youth. The book’s 20 poems unfold roughly in chronological order, beginning in classrooms on the morning of the 11th and moving to homes and the surrounding community in the following hours, days, and weeks. Drawing from her experience as a school librarian in Arlington, VA, Jules inhabits an array of identities—mostly teenagers, with a few elementary-aged children and one young adult. Each poem’s first-person narration evokes a subtly different shade of emotion, ranging from shock to sorrow, from fear to anger, from uncertainty to resolve, honoring the complexity of the societal response to the attack. Potent simile (“He looks like a fish gulping air,” “the fear I feel inside,/ like a helium balloon slowly leaking”) and personification (“a building that’s bruised/ and burnt”) heighten the immediacy of the events. In expressionistic collage art, Rácz depicts a diverse cast of characters, their downcast faces and slumped body language suggesting a deep and heartfelt period of mourning.
VERDICT A powerful, humanistic look at the aftermath of a national tragedy, and an important purchase for modern collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing