silhouette of a child looking out through the hands of an enormous clock

Time for Childhoods

Young Poets and Questions of Agency

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Poems written by children are not typically part of the literary canon. Because of cultural biases that frame young people as intellectually and artistically immature, these works are often excluded or dismissed as juvenilia. Rachel Conrad contends that youth-composed poems should be read as literary works in their own right—works that are deserving of greater respect in literary culture.

Time for Childhoods presents a selection of striking twentieth-and twenty-first-century American poetry written by young people, and highlights how young poets imagined and shaped time for their own poetic purposes. Through close engagement with archival materials, as well as select interviews and correspondence with adult mentors, Conrad discerns how young writers figured social realities and political and racial injustices, and discusses what important advocates such as Gwendolyn Brooks and June Jordan can teach us about supporting the agency of young poets. This essential study demonstrates that young poets have much to contribute to ongoing conversations about time and power.

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