Worlds Afire

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9780763622350: Worlds Afire

In his first full-length poetic work, celebrated poetry anthologist Paul B. Janeczko creates a stirring fictional account of the 1944 Hartford circus fire.

One summer afternoon in 1944, hundreds of circus lovers crowded under the big top in Hartford, Connecticut, breathlessly waiting for the show to begin. Minutes later, the event took a horrifying turn when a fire broke out and spread rapidly through the tent, claiming the lives of 167 souls and injuring some 500 more. Sixty years later, Paul B. Janeczko recalls that tragic event by bringing to life some unforgettable voices — from circus performers to seasoned fans, from firefighters and nurses to the little girl known as Little Miss 1565, a child whose body was never claimed. This spare, startling book uses the lyrical power of language to render historical tragedy with a human face, leaving an emotional impact young readers will not soon forget.

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About the Author:

Paul B. Janeczko is a renowned poetry anthologist who has edited more than twenty collections for young readers, including A POKE IN THE I: A COLLECTION OF CONCRETE POEMS, which was both a NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW Best Illustrated Book and a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Best Book of the Year, and SEEING THE BLUE BETWEEN: ADVICE AND INSPIRATION FOR YOUNG POETS. He is also a brilliant poet in his own right, and with WORLDS AFIRE removes his anthologist’s hat and assumes a full-fledged role as author and poet. He says, "More than anything else, I wanted to give a voice to the people whose lives were forever changed by the fire. And to give those who perished a chance to speak as well."

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

We laid nine hundred feet of hose

then another hundred and a half.

About a ton of hose.

But we all knew

we were too late.

There was no tent

just folding chairs

and bleachers blazing

like nobody's business.

Too hot to get close.

See, they dip

their chairs in paint

and hang them up to dry,

so as the years pass

they're adding another layer of paint

eager to burn.

But that's not half the problem

of the tent itself.

To keep the rain out

they coat the canvas

with paraffin mixed with gasoline,

laid on good and thick with stiff brooms.

Oh, that waterproofs it all right—

been doing it that way for years—

but what does it give you?

One huge candle

just waiting for a light.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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