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Penelope: The Story of the Half-Scalped Woman--A Narrative Poem (Contemporary Poetry Series)

Schott, Penelope Scambly

7 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 081301638X / ISBN 13: 9780813016382
Published by University Press of Florida, 1999
New Condition: New Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Penelope: The Story of the Half-Scalped ...

Publisher: University Press of Florida

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

About this title


"The poet’s journey into the past and another culture, fired by eponymous inspiration, leads to discoveries, a new appreciation of lost moments. To bridge three centuries and create a verbal portrait though a picture is lacking is quite an achievement. Naturally, this effort will be compared to John Berryman’s great poem about Anne Bradstreet, but to no harm."--David Ray

"In this fascinating sequence Penelope Scambly Schott poignantly re-imagines a devastating story in language that brings together the sensibilities of centuries distant in time but not, at their most intimate, in feeling. She invokes her namesake with urgency and tact, a remarkable combination."--Rosellen Brown

This brilliant tour-de-force narrates the life of a woman shipwrecked in the 1640s on the shores of modern-day New Jersey, axed in the belly, half-scalped and left for dead by the Lenape Indians, then nursed back to health by them and taken into the tribe. And that’s only the beginning.

 Penelope Scambly Schott has carefully researched the facts and woven them into a poetic page-turner. She cites her sources, provides a glossary and, best of all, indicates what is fact and what is fiction. Her technique is well chosen: the interior monologues, mostly of the heroine, Penelope Kent van Princis Stout, and, in a few poems, those of her namesake, the author. A more distant Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, is also invoked.

 The poems take us directly into the mind and heart of a strong woman, who is extraordinary partly because she thinks she is ordinary. With craftsmanship and feeling, Schott has limned unforgettable characters whose lives transcend the mostly ignoble history of settler-Native American relations.

Penelope Scambly Schott is the author of three previous collections of poems, most recently The Perfect Mother, which won the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry. She has also been awarded four fellowships by the New Jersey Council on the Arts.

From Kirkus Reviews:

paper 0-8130-1639-8 Convinced of her notion that each story is holy/to someone, Schott versifies a fascinating episode in colonial American history for this narrative sequence: an early settler of present-day New Jersey with the same first name as the poet is nearly killed, then is saved, by the local Lenape Indians. This slight fourth collection by Schott never overreaches, and it wears its historical learning lightlythe Indian words and customs are smoothly integrated into these short-lined poems with their rough rhymes and simple rhythms. Mostly in the voice of her 17th-century namesake, Scott follows her character from childhood as the daughter of a pious Protestant dissenter in England to her eventual flight to Holland, where she meets her first husband and poses for a graven image by a female Dutch artist. After a rough passage to America, Penelopes husband is murdered by Indians, and she herself is nearly eviscerated and partly scalped. Rescued by a sympathetic native, and stitched up by the Indians, Penelope rejoins the Dutch settlers and marries again, only to convince her new husband that they should take their large familyshe bears ten childrento live farther from the city and closer to her Indian friends. Breeding her own tribe, Penelope Stout abandons her faith and seems to go native in response to the generosity of the locals, who warn her family of impending strife. Schotts little poems, for the most part, tell the tale plain, and the author provides a welcome appendix of facts and sources. Some editorial intrusionsa poem, for example, in which Schott bonds with her colonial sistermar an otherwise modest exercise. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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