The poems in When God Was a Child by poet Annie Woodford explore the rural and mysterious allure of the Appalachian and Piedmont regions of Virginia and North Carolina. Throughout this collection, the beauty and pain of those geographies intersect with the speaker’s personal history as well as broader cultural histories. The landscape and all that inhabit it—the verdant plant life and animals, too—come alive in themselves and in community with each other, all in survival of difficult times, with the fraught and fragile pain and persistence of familial love. As Tayari Jones put it, these poems engage with how “our real human hearts intersect forces that are so much bigger and older than we are.” In the cadence and spirit of fellow North Carolinian poet A.R. Ammon’s work, Woodford’s collection is deeply lyrical and strikingly precise; these are poems that linger.
Includes the poems “I Was Neither Living nor Dead, and I Knew Nothing, “Make It Soft, Make it Low: A Poem for My Daughter,” “The Country,” “Soft, Softer,” “Sometimes There are No Good Choices,” “Ides,” “Old Christmas,” “Conjuring Spring in Wilkes County,” “Old Wives’ Tale,” “The Magic,” “A Tremor at the Edge of Vision: The Downy Woodpecker,” “The Source of Prayer Is Not Fear, But Delight,” “When God Was a Child,” “Carowinds,” and “Lovingkindness.”