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Prose and Poetry: What to choose?

My first vision of the book was one that integrated her prose and poetry chronologically.  In my original manuscript, if a poem was dated November 9, 1937 and there was a journal entry dated November 10, 1937, I transcribed the poem in the manuscript followed by the diary entry.  But what if she had written a poem and a journal entry the SAME day?

I consulted with two dear writing friends of my mother’s:  Marge Keyishian and Carole Garibaldi Rogers.  For years the three of them were in a women’s monthly writing group called Scribblers.  Only after Joan’s death and I was looking at her high school yearbook did I see the writing club was named….Scribblers! Here is a photo from the 1940 Yearbook at her high school, “U-High,” now the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  Joan is not in the picture.  Maybe she wasn’t a member of that group in high school.

But she remembered the name!  As she was a founding member of the Scribblers writing group in Morristown, New Jersey in the 1960s, I can only assume the name came from her and her high school memories.

I asked Marge and Carole:  if a poem and diary come the same day, which should come first?  They agreed that the poetry should come FIRST.  Then the reader could see the background for the poem in the subsequent journal entry.  As Chicago Review Press produces Young Adult History books, the poetry had to be eliminated from this volume.  But I hope to publish her poetry in the future.

The journals contain much more than what the reader sees in the published volume. How did I choose which sections to transcribe and make public? One of my goals in editing was to include passages I felt were of historical interest, but I also picked those that retained Joan’s humor and philosophical outlook. And, given Joan’s poetic temperament, I kept some that, quite simply, were stylistically beautiful.

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