The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis: Book Review

The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis edited by Caroline Kennedy Book Cover

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The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis edited by Caroline Kennedy Book Cover
Title: The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis

Synopsis from GoodReads:

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved literature, especially poetry. Once you can express yourself, she wrote, you can tell the world what you want from it. Now, Caroline Kennedy shares her mother’s favorite poems by such renowned authors as William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, e.e. cummings, and Robert Frost. The book also includes a poem written by Jacqueline Kennedy and is illustrated with photographs of the Kennedy clan. This is a wonderful volume for reading aloud or by yourself and a meaningful gift or keepsake for Mother’s Day.

My Review:

I don’t read a lot of poetry and don’t really feel that I have the tools to review it. All I can say is that I know what I like when I read it. I’m not someone who is going to devote a lot of time to dissecting a poem and wrenching every ounce of meaning from it. I had enough of that in school.

I can’t even remember what prompted me to add this title to my to-read list but it’s been on there since June 2007. I was excited to finally find a copy at the library.

I liked a little more than half the poems presented in this collection, at a guess. I was familiar with a few poets and even specific poems already (Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, etc.) but more of them were new to me.

There are seven sections in the book, each featuring poems fitting a theme. The sections were entitled America, First Poems (poems for children), Adventure, Escape, Romance and Love, Reflection, and In Her Own Words, which featured a couple of Mrs. Kennedy-Onassis’s own writings. Some of the selections seemed odd for the theme. For example, “Merry-Go-Round” by Langston Hughes is in the Adventure section. I read that as a condemnation of the Jim Crow South, not any great adventure. The Romance section consists almost entirely of Elizabethan poetry, based on an event held in JFK’s White House focused on that very theme. It seems odd to limit such a universal topic to such a very specific timeframe. But most placements did make sense to me.

There are casual photos of the Kennedy family scattered throughout the book. I’ve never been particularly intrigued with the family but those who are will surely enjoy these pictures as an added bonus.

This is a mixed bag for me, as most anthologies are, but it was nice to pick up this slim volume and read a few poems over breakfast. It’s inspired me to grab another poetry collection from the library and try to continue the practice.

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  1. For just a moment, I thought this book was a compilation of poems written *BY* Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis! I am no great critic of poetry either, but based on how they make me feel or what kind of things they make me visualize, I like collecting poems. Might as well look for a table of contents to see which poems she liked…

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