Hidden in Childhood: A Poetry Anthology – preface by Gabriela Marie Milton
Release date: late January 2023
If you open the pages of this poetry collection, you will be mesmerized by the talent of the contributors, and by the range of stylistic approaches they use to recreate the world of childhood. It must be said from the beginning that this is not a poetry collection for children. The pages you will read memorialize the beauty and magic of childhood – remembrance of love and fairytales – as well as its ugliness – abuses, poverty – that unfortunately still exist in our world. Some of the authors of the poems included in this anthology were brave enough to talk about the pain they endured in childhood. I salute all contributors: those who tell the world that childhood is love, and those who still bear the wounds of a difficult childhood.
As the editor, curator, and publisher of this book, I am honored and humbled that so many poets entrusted me with their work. The poems I included in this anthology are stunners. They are magnificent in their wealth of emotions, and very diverse in style. It is the role of the editor to try – as much as she/he can- to stylistically unify the works included in poetry collections. To a certain extent, I decided against it. I allowed for English spelling, as well as for American spelling. I overlooked places where perhaps I would have used different words, in the interest of clarity. Why did I do it? Two reasons: (1) These breathtaking poems have their own energy, an energy that continuously echoes in one’s soul, and it sends shivers down the spine of the reader. There is a freshness about them, freshness in front of which the strive for better formulations ends up in patheticism. (2) Perfection is most of the time sterile. There are emblematic poets who sometimes consciously allowed for small degrees of clumsiness – here and there – in their poems in order to preserve the authenticity of the feelings. I hope I did that in this collection.
The themes and archetypes the contributors use are very diverse. You will find the father as the protector and/or as the abuser, the figure of the mother as the nurturer and/or as the monster, the loss of siblings, the heavenly paradise of grandparents, the fight with disease, and the list can continue.
To turn to a different idea, once Charles Baudelaire wrote, “The child sees everything in a state of newness… Nothing more resembles what we call inspiration than the delight with which a small child absorbs form and color.” No doubt, during childhood we are first and foremost the recipients of the sensory world.
The academic literature on childhood – as well as our common understanding – frequently defines childhood as a period of our lives that precedes adulthood. Whatever happens during our first years is formative and important to our becoming. However, we tend to dissociate childhood from maturity. Most people subscribe to the dichotomy of childhood/adulthood.
Indeed, the prima facie reading of the poems included in this anthology shows that the authors kept in mind the dichotomy of childhood/adulthood.
Yet, what strikes the reader during the second and/or third reading of these stunning poems is how present childhood is in the lives of the authors, now mature people. For these poets, whether they know it or not, childhood is not a simple memory filled with joy or pain. Childhood constitutes itself as an integral part of their poems, a part that continues to transform them as they write.
The strength of this poetry collection is the capacity of its authors to blur the line between childhood and adulthood. Whether the authors talk about joyful memories, or sadly abusive childhood, the effect is stunning. We do not know anymore where childhood stops, and adulthood starts.
Am I returning to Philippe Ariès and his Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life (1960), who put forward the idea – albeit controversial – that during medieval times childhood was not recognized as a distinct phase of human existence?
No. I am not. I merely claim that the idea of childhood is not as transient as authors such as Ray Bradbury claimed.
In many aspects, childhood never goes away. It stays with us forever.
This is what you will discover in this anthology, which contains the most beautiful, as well as the most heart-wrenching, verses one has ever read. And this is a phenomenal discovery.
Gabriela Marie Milton
author, editor, publisher