She Wore Emerald Then

She Wore Emerald Then
Reflections on Motherhood
by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson
with original photography by May Lattanzio

A beautifully presented, tender and strikingly original gift book, ideal for Mother’s Day or any day when you want to celebrate the notion of  motherhood in its broadest sense.  “Share this collection with someone you love…the reader is taken on a journey from the sublime to the commonplace and you can’t help but smile.” Helena Harper

She Wore Emerald Then was named a 10 Best Reads by Reviewer Jennifer Akers

USA Book News Finalist
Honorable Mention Military Writers Society of America 2010

A few reviews

“Beautiful and touching poetry. This would make a great gift for mothers everywhere.” Linda Morelli

“From the child looking up to her mother, to the young woman giving birth, to the grown daughter watching her mother die; these poems celebrate all phases of that most important mother-daughter relationship. Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdelena Ball show motherhood in different, but equally effective ways. I love the images in Carolyn’s poems. They feel warm; pictures you can almost touch. My particular favorite is “Dandelions in Autumn.” I remember the same scene trying to see if my mother, or any other human being who would stand still long enough, liked butter by holding yellow flowers, buttercups in my case, under her chin. Magdalena’s poems are starker, more cosmic. My favorite is “Oxytocin Flow.” In recreating the experience of giving birth it evokes memories of the first relationship with the tiny person, “a high pitched croon of terror only a mother could love.” I remember it well. There are the painful memories too when a mother is the one needing care. The images of “Mother Daughter” are almost too painful. This is a perfect collection to celebrate Mother’s Day, or any day when we ponder our relationship to our mothers and remember being mothers and daughters ourselves.” Nancy Famolari

“Simply put, read this and share this and buy it for every woman you know and love. She’ll thank you for it. On second thought, I suggest you also read this and share it with every man you know. He’ll thank you for it. Howard-Johnson gave me this book for Mother’s Day last May and I have been a changed person since I sat down with her words and experienced the read of a lifetime, or perhaps I should say, the read of many lifetimes. Somehow this gentle woman manages to harness the very essence of every person I’ve ever known and loved with a dignity and strength that comes from one who truly humbles herself to the magnitude of all that life has to offer. I’d like this to become an audio book.”  Just_Thea

“What relationship is more complex or more elemental than the mother-child bond? Abraham Lincoln said, ‘All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.’ Toni Morrison wrote, ‘Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing. Both of those quotes, as well as one by Honore de Balzac at the beginning of SHE WORE EMERALD THEN, perfectly describe this collection of poems by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball—poetry that catches at your soul. Both of them reprise their poems from Ball’s QUARK SOUP, Howard-Johnson’s TRACINGS, and their joint collection, CHERISHED PULSE. Fans of CHERISHED PULSE will be pleased to learn that the poets continue to write poems that don’t sound either like banal Hallmark cards or the bitter-at-dysfunctional-family jeremiads that habitually torture MFA writing workshop participants. The two poets complement each other (with words accompanied by stunning photography by May Lattanzio). The opus covers both the grand sweep of the birth of all universal life and the private universe populated by only an adult daughter watching her mother struggle to eat dinner and remembering how her mother washed her one slip. While Ball explores the cosmic continuum and traces us all back to the mother spark that set the stars burning, Howard-Johnson concentrates her portraiture on the deeply personal. But Ball also talks about the oxytocin haze of giving birth and her mother vomiting from cancer drugs. To quote the last poem in the collection, ‘Hallmark Couldn’t Possibly Get This Right.’ When you read about the tough love of the universe or Ball’s sienna childhood photograph or Howard-Johnson’s mother forgetting her name, you want to cry and hug your mother (and your children, if you have them), because they capture the eternal tug of war between joy and sorrow in the mother-child bond.” Kristin J. Johnson

“The mother-daughter relationship is a tangle of emotions both unique and universal. This poetry collection beautifully captures these moments of raw feeling, heartache, hope, and above all, love. Magdalena Ball’s poems have a kind of boundless feel. Much of her writing comes from an expansive view, with the entire universe as her canvas. There is a literary beauty to her imagery, even when the words come from a place of pain. Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s poems feel more earthy. Her writing is rooted to a moment and a memory. They are personal stories she shares in the most intimate way. I love the difference in the authors’ styles. Admittedly, I know little about the specifics of poetic styles. But I do know what moves me. These poems took me on a journey from my own childhood, to becoming a parent, to now being the child of aging parents. While the authors’ stories are not my own, they are journeys I understand and words I felt deeply.” Darcia Helle