Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

David Elliott. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-328-98759-4
This collection of poems, each told from the perspective of Joan of Arc and the people and objects central to her life, creates a remarkable portrait of a person whose legend continues to fascinate. The narrative begins from Joan’s perspective as she stands bound to the pyre, awaiting her death: “And I will burn. But I have always/ been afire. With youth. With faith. With/ truth. And with desire.” Employing poetic forms prevalent during Joan’s era—ballades, rondels, sestinas, and villanelles among them—Elliott (Bull) builds the story of her visions and mission “to lift the siege at Orléans,” reactions to her wearing men’s clothing (“I was, they said, an/ aberration”), and sentencing. Concrete poems voiced by inanimate objects—candle, needle, sword, tunic, fire—reflect their speakers’ physical shapes. Also included are the voices of Joan’s accusers and defenders in direct quotes from the transcripts of her two trials: the first, in 1431, which found her guilty of heresy, and the second, which revoked that verdict more than two decades after her death. With stunning lyricism, these poems fashion an enlivened, gripping narrative that addresses themes of gender identity, class and vocation, and innocence and culpability, bringing fresh nuance to an oft-told story. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2019
Release date: 03/26/2019
Genre: Children's
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