Book Review: “She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems” 

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She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems

Caroline Kennedy

Voice

$24.99, 352 pages

The idea behind this collection of women’s writings came to Caroline Kennedy while she was reading over the poetry friends had sent her on her 50th birthday. Intended to celebrate the stages of a woman’s life, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, is divided into several sections, including Falling in Love, Marriage, Work, and Motherhood. Among the works are offerings by San Antonio literary greats, such as Barbara Ras, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sandra Cisneros, and Rosemary Catacalos.

Barbara Ras’ Secret Lives describes a risqué journey mothers may embark on together. These mothers “that smear peanut butter on bread” are the ones who are “talking about their bodies and what they did with them in Portugal, Hawaii, the coast of France, it’s better than cards, it’s anatomy and geography…” A personal favorite, Naomi Shihab Nye’s My Friend’s Divorce is a rhythmic story about her friend’s garden, representing a fresh start. In Little Clown, My Heart, Sandra Cisneros captures the emotional tantrums that come with romantic love through the youthful voice the author is famous for (“Spangled again and lopsided, Handstands and Peking pirouettes”). And Rosemary Catacalos’ Crocheted Bag, featured in the chapter on “Beauty, Clothes, and Things of This World,” reminded me of Gertrude Stein’s high modernism.

However, perhaps the dearest passage of the entire anthology wasn’t a poem, but a few sentences from Kennedy’s reflective introduction, in which she offers, “Collecting these poems reminded me that when I was younger, I thought my task was to forge ahead and succeed as an individual. But growing older has helped me realize that our success lies in our relationships — with the family we are born into, the friends we make, the people we fall in love with, and the children we have.”

Kennedy has written and edited seven books on constitutional law, American history, politics, and poetry.

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