How does anyone manage to live a life with all the violence, discrimination and vengeance going on? I sometimes retreat into a book and this week I have read two that speak to issues of today. Dori Ann DeJong Dupre’s novel“Scouts Honor” tells of the long-lasting detriments of one instance of childhood abuse, how the feelings of unworthiness and doubt can lead to more cases of abuse and how difficult it is to have a compassionate understanding of one’s own self. The tendency towards secrecy and mistrust must be overcome in order to truly love, yet it never goes away completely. Dori illustrates the tale with deep care and deft story lines.
In “Waterborne” poet Janet Joyner deals with several types of discrimination, especially racism and homophobia, which just as easily apply to any bias, whether obvious, entrenched or occasional and unexpected. On the back cover, one of the reviewers says “Joyner’s poems are political in the deepest sense, her emphasis on what we have in common as creatures . . .” Political yes, but told from the viewpoint of people she has known intimately such as Ma Caulder , a white Indian, whose very life had been sucked from her nipples, whose oldest son died in the river during wartime even though they all knew the river so well, who asked over and over for the telegram that told of his death to be read. The creatures, birds, insects, beech trees, or the ever-present, ever-moving-on water that witness all, are meticulously observed, and their voices shared.