Friday, November 6, 2009

The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination

The Tree That Time Built
A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination
Selected by
Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston
Published by Jabberwocky/Sourcebooks, 2009

From The Evolution Revolution (Publishers Weekly): Mary Ann Hoberman, current children’s poet laureate, has witnessed firsthand the struggle to teach evolution in the classroom, or in some cases, to even allude to it. One of the poems that she often recites in classrooms contains a line about monkeys being almost like people. Hoberman stated that when she would often recite the poem, she began to notice “frosty looks” on the faces of teachers and parents. “I was getting fed up with what was going on in this country,” she says. And it was this frustration that led her to begin compiling, along with Linda Winston, an anthology of poems dealing with nature and the idea of evolution. The anthology, The Tree That Time Built, will be published in October.

Click here to read the rest of the article at PEN American Center (Posted may 7, 2009)

(I should note that there isn’t a line about monkeys being like people in the poem. There are lines, however about apes—chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans—being like us.)

Here’s the poem Mary Ann was speaking about:


The next time you go to the zoo
The zoo
Slow down for a minute or two
Or two
And consider the apes
All their sizes and shapes
For they all are related to you
To you.

Yes, they all are related to you
To you.
And they all are related to me
To me
To our fathers and mothers
Our sisters and brothers
And all of the people we see
We see.

The chimpanzees, gorillas, and all
And all
The orangutans climbing the wall
The wall
These remarkable creatures
Share most of our features
And the difference between us is small
Quite small.

So the next time you go to the zoo
the zoo
Slow down for a minute or two
Or two
And consider the apes
All their sizes and shapes
For they all are relates to you
To you.

Anthropoids is just one of the more than one hundred poems included in this fine anthology that connects poetry and science. The book truly is a celebration of our world, of nature and imagination—and of the “tree of life.” It exemplifies how poets who carefully observe the planet, its animals and plants, can bring their creative resources to bear in expressing their thoughts and emotions about such things in ways that help us to appreciate the wonder of it all.

From the book’s main introduction:

Have you ever wondered why there are so many kinds of living things in the world and where they come from? Or how and why some of them have disappeared? Or how people fit in with all the other forms of life? Scientists and poets alike ask these questions.

Scientists explore these questions through systematic methods and procedures, transforming their observations into ever-unfolding scientific knowledge. Poets, too, through observation and imagination, discover new truths about our world. But in their case they transform their insights into works of art.

The Tree That Time Built is truly a substantial anthology—and not just because it contains so many poems. It is the quality of its poetry selections, the thoughtfulness with which it was compiled and organized, the information imparted in the introductions to each section, and the notes included with some poems that help expound on the subjects addressed in them or touch on some poetic technique used by the writers, that make it such an exceptional book.

In addition, the anthology includes an extensive glossary that explains poetic as well as scientific terms and an About the Poets section with information about the writers whose poems are included in the book. But that’s not all! You’ll also find Suggestions for Further Reading and Research in the back matter and an audio CD with 44 poems read by 20 poets and artists.

Poetry books don’t get any better than The Tree That Time Built!!! It is truly a magnum opus. I know that it was a labor of love for both Mary Ann and Linda. The book was nine years in the making. It was a literary and science project to which these two intelligent women were truly dedicated. They were committed to seeing this project published. And I am grateful for their determination and perseverance—for they have given us a book that is sure to become a classic.
The Tree That Time Built is a book for people of all ages. It contains poems to delight and provoke thought in children and adults alike.
Here are the titles of the different poetry sections in the book:
  • Oh, Fields of Wonder
  • The Sea Is Our Mother
  • Prehistoric Praise
  • Think Like a Tree
  • Meditations on a Tortoise
  • Some Primal Termite
  • Everything That Lives Wants to Fly
  • I Am the Family face
  • Hurt No Living Thing

Just look at this partial list of the poets whose works are included in the book:
William Blake, Joseph Bruchac, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Emily Dickinson, T. S Eliot, Barbara Juster Esbensen, Douglas Florian, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Langston Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Maxine Kumin, D. H. Lawrence, Myra Cohn Livingston, David, McCord, Eve Merriam, Lilian Moore, Ogden Nash, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, Christina Rossetti, Carl Sandburg, Alice Schertle, Joyce Sidman, Wislawa Szymborska, Dylan Thomas, Mark Van Doren, Walt Whitman, and Valerie Worth.
Linda Winston & Mary Ann Hoberman

There is so much more I could tell you about this outstanding anthology--but it's 3:00 am. I must get some sleep.

Look Inside the Book
Click on the following link to look inside the book:

NPR Interview with Mary Ann Hoberman & Linda Winston
Listen to Mary Ann and Linda being interviewed on the Here and Now radio program on WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, on October 28, 2009. The interview is interspersed with poems that are included on the CD that comes with their poetry anthology The Tree That Time Built. Click here to listen to Mary Ann and Linda’s interview on Here and Now.

More Links
Just for Fun: Here is my unfinished tongue-in-cheek response to Mary Ann’s poem Anthropoids. I'm still working on the second stanza!

The apes aren’t related to me
To me.
They aren’t a part of
My family tree.
I am not descended from low level creatures
That didn’t have delicate humanoid features.
There is no resemblance. Oh can’t you see?
The apes aren’t related to me.
Missing second stanza
The next time I go to the zoo
The zoo
I’ll stop for a minute or two
Or two
I’ll look at the apes
All their sizes and shapes
And shout: “Darwin was wrong about me and you.”
I’ll shout: “Charlie was wrong!” And that’s true!


Mary Lee said...

Hey, Maryann -- YOU GO GIRL!!!

I can't WAIT to see this book. It will sit nicely next to Calpurnia Tate!

Mary Lee said...

Oops. As a person who is sensitive about her a two-part name, I'm ashamed I didn't double check before I hit "publish." Make that Mary Ann in my first comment...

Elaine Magliaro said...

Mary Ann,

It really is an outstanding anthology. I wish it was available when I was teaching. I love connecting science and poetry.

Elaine Magliaro said...

OOOOPPPS! I meant to address my last comment to Mary Lee. Sorry...I got to bed really late last night and haven't had my morning cup of coffee yet.

jama said...

Thanks so much for featuring this new anthology today. It truly looks like a magnum opus! Great, unique theme and what a list of contributors. *adding it to my Christmas wish list*

Elaine Magliaro said...


I was wondering if this book was ever going to get published. I was so excited when I found out that it was coming out this year.

Playing by the book said...

This sounds just perfect for us - I've added it to my wishlist at Playing by the book! Our favourite recent book with a science theme is Moonshot - it's inspired lots of play and lots of questions!

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