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AP Literature: Poetry: Woodson, Jacqueline


"Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of over 30 books for children and young adults, including From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), recipient of both the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award;  Miracle's Boys (2000), which also won the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book PrizeHush (2002), which was a National Book Award Finalist; Locomotion (2003), also a National Book Award Finalist; Coming on Home Soon (2004), a Caldecott Honor Book and a Booklist Editors’ Choice; and Behind You (2004), which was included in the New York Public Library’s list of best Books of the Teen Age. Three of Woodson’s books have won the Newbery Honor: Show Way (2005), Feathers (2007), and After Tupac & D Foster (2008). Her recent books include the young adult novel Beneath a Meth Moon (2012); and Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), a novel in verse about Woodson’s family and segregation in the South, which won the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor Award.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Woodson described how she wrote the book: “As I interviewed relatives in both Ohio and Greenville, S.C., I began to piece together the story of my mother’s life, my grandparents’ lives and the lives of cousins, aunts and uncles. These stories, and the stories I had heard throughout my childhood, were told with the hope that I would carry on this family history and American history, so that those coming after me could walk through the world as armed as I am.”" from Poetry Foundation

Poem: February 12, 1963

February 12, 1963

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I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital

Columbus, Ohio,


a country caught


between Black and White.


I am born not long from the time

or far from the place


my great-great-grandparents

worked the deep rich land


dawn till dusk


drank cool water from scooped-out gourds

looked up and followed

the sky’s mirrored constellation

to freedom.


I am born as the South explodes,

too many people too many years

enslaved, then emancipated

but not free, the people

who look like me

keep fighting

and marching

and getting killed

so that today—

February 12, 1963

and every day from this moment on,

brown children like me can grow up

free. Can grow up

learning and voting and walking and riding

wherever we want.


I am born in Ohio but

the stories of South Carolina already run

like rivers

through my veins.