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Without Goodbyes, Poems by Ginny Lowe Connors
Without Goodbyes is a collection of poems based on a historical event: the infamous 1704 raid on the village of Deerfield, Massachusetts. More than 100 Deerfield residents: men, women, and children, were captured. Then they began the 300-mile trek to New France, the French colony, in Quebec. The poems, which trace a narrative but are lyrical in nature, focus on Joanna Kellogg, an eleven-year-old girl, and two of her siblings. They were adopted into Mohawk families in the village of Kahnawake, a Mohawk community centered around a Jesuit mission. The physical journey Joanna and her siblings took to reach Kahnawake was grueling; of even greater interest is the journey she took to truly become a member of the Mohawk community.
"Ginny Lowe Connors' Without Goodbyes is a book so right for our times that it is must-reading. It is the riveting story of a young woman's gradual realization that the word 'savage' is a racial slur so entirely unwarranted that it might better be applied to those who use it. But far more than a cautionary tale, the book is a wonderful read, the dramatic story of Joanna Kellogg, who becomes White Feather and slowly realizes that her new community of Mohawk people is in many ways more civilized and certainly more exciting than the community of Deerfield, Massachusetts, from which she was kidnapped during an 'Indian raid.' The stages of her realization are beautifully and realistically portrayed. She comes to understand that her journey to selfhood is like riding rapids: 'You have to plunge through and hope to make it / past the boulders and the churning, / though you don't know up from down, water from air // or where this perilous ride will take you.' Almost without realizing the change that has come over her, she finds her feet dancing to Mohawk music as its beat 'enters her body,' and before long she is fully immersed in her new and vibrant culture, marrying into it." - Rennie McQuilkin, CT Poet Laureate, 2015-2018
"Through the lens of historical imagination, Connors reminds us how crucial to survival is our ability to adapt. She deftly portrays the transformation of young Joanna Kellogg, Puritan girl, to White Feather, Mohawk woman, with language that strikes at the heart."- Phyllis Cole-Dai
"Carefully researched, deeply empathic, and convincing at every turn, this collection tracks the tensions and reconciliations that mark the transformation of a young girl kidnapped from her Puritan village and adopted by Native Americans in the early 1700's. It flows easily as a narrative but should be read slowly for its deft, graceful descriptions of the outer landscapes of tribal community, weather, and the natural world alongside the complex inner landscape of Joanna Kellogg as she experiences the fading of her old life and a new one sending out tentative new shoots that take root over the years and bloom, as she does, in unexpected ways."- Leslie Ullman
"In her new historical poetry volume Without Goodbyes, Connors plunges readers into her main character, the kidnapped adolescent Joanna Kellogg, as she transforms into White Feather, a young woman in the matrilineal Mohawk Nation. Connors captures the voyage in stirring imagery. In the beginning, the days loop between the past to 'days that can only be imagined,/ the way a wound imagines healing/into something strong.' Joanna finds solace in the 'river of stars' that is 'listening to all she cannot say,//answering in spark and flash.' Later, when White Feather is urged to marry someone she doesn't love, she fears becoming 'the darkness between the stars.' Young adults and adult readers alike will deeply feel the poignant tug between the Puritan settler life and the more permissive Mohawk ways, between Joanna and White Feather."- Pegi Deitz Shea