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The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness Into Flowers (New Poems)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  399 ratings  ·  69 reviews
"Poetry is leading us," writes Alice Walker in The World Will Follow Joy. In this dazzling collection, the beloved writer offers over sixty new poems to incite and nurture contemporary activists. Hailed as a “lavishly gifted writer” (The New York Times), Walker imbues her poetry with evocative images, fresh language, anger, forgiveness, and profound wisdom. Casting her poe ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by New Press
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Emm C²
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, reviewed
"Dismayed we have turned to the sea. We encounter among others walking there a sense of what we have lost: the broad expanse of humanity's sensitivity to the oneness of itself."

There are many illusions which strain the world - the illusions of borders, of class, of control. The biggest illusion is one of disconnect. Even if you were more robot than human you would still be corded to the earth and everything on it through metal.
Illusions are just tricks. They can help and they can hurt, and in ti
Oswego Public Library District
Like many of Alice Walker’s works, The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers, is a book that’s good for the soul. The forward gives light to Walker’s encouraging perspective on life and sets the mood for the poems to follow; Walker writes, “The world – the animals, including us humans - wants to be engaged in something entirely other, seeing, and delighting in, the stark wonder of where we are: This place. This gift. This paradise. We want to follow joy. And we shall.” Walker’s ver ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Some of our best poets are aging, and this year I feel like I've read far too many poems that look back at life and reflect. This calmness and serenity, while a pleasant feeling, isn't necessarily the best fodder for compelling poetry. While I admire Alice Walker and have enjoyed her poetry in the past, this volume is just not my favorite. At the same time, I hope that when I am old and losing my sight, I have found ways to turn madness into flowers and violence into joy, the way she seems to ha ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The World Will Follow Joy by Alice Walker is a series of poems that display optimism and self acceptance.
"Don't waste one moment,
Trying to be someone different.
Or someplace other than where you are."
Another example that I enjoyed is Hope to Sin in the Service of Waking Up.
Walker has found ways to turn madness into flowers and violence into joy. Even though poetry is not my favourite genre, this was a nice diversion.
Hannah Moeller
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it's nice to take a step back and read good poetry. However, in this collection of poems, Alice Walker does not allow the reader to step back at all. Rather, she challenges us to step up and be good people who share joy and compassion with those less fortunate.
Steven Tomcavage
May 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
To me, creating well-written poetry takes more effort than putting your "Deep Thoughts" on paper and then inserting line breaks to make the line-lengths incredibly short. I guess what I'm looking for in poetry is the space to bring in my own interpretation, and then bring in another and another interpretation; with each successive reading bringing me closer to what I see as the "heart" of the poem. These poems don't provide that space. If you're looking for poetry that tells you how to think, th ...more
JoAnn Jordan
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful collection of poetry. It will touch your heart and move your mind. Many of the lines are short and quick, carrying you forward quickly to an epiphany. The work is eloquent and soulful. I loved these poems and they inspired me to write some of my own.

I highly recommend this beautiful volume.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A collection of poems that begin as good ideas and interesting titles, but ultimately fail to deliver. Lots of line breaks don't necessarily make for good poetry.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were parts of this book that I really loved. There were even more parts of this book where I agreed with what she was saying. She writes of love, of truth, of trying to make the world a better, more compassionate place.

There are some nuggets in this book that made me glad that I read it, but I felt like I had to sift through the chaff to get to them. For the most part, the book didn't feel like poetry to me. The lines were really short (oftentimes only one word per line), and the poems di
Vikki Marshall
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book of poetry by Alice Walker is filled with hope and the simplicity of joyfulness while also being cuttingly honest about situations that deplete the world of its true capability. Walker’s writing is grounded in the exposure of injustice yet somehow she manages to find a silver lining under, around and beneath the despair that others might wallow about in. Here we have 64 poems to relish where we may confront our inhuman natures while being encouraged towards a participatory activism goin ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really dissapointed with this collection, and I usually love Alice Walker. As much as I do see that she has plenty of important things to say in this, I feel like it read more like an essay or platitude collection than a poetry collection, tailored only to specific issues and not to any universal feelings or even unique takes on said issues. Not something I would want to buy (got from a library)
Anita J.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, spiritual, hopeful.
Smileitsjoy (JoyMelody)
I picked this book to read back in January of this year, long before we knew the damage Covid19 was going to cause. And by the time I read it I realized how timely it was and important.
Of course, anything Alice Walker has written is important
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What more needs to said than, "Poems written by Alice Walker, magnificent".

She is eloquent, earthy, loving, motherlove, progressive, wise and wonderful.

Oh if the world could only awaken to the healing power of love. She looks at the world and knows it could be better, that we could make it work well for all. Rather than seeing the future as only a apocalyptic nightmare, she knows, if we were to awaken, it could be heaven on earth.

She speaks of earth as our Mother. Which started me thinking----ma
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y-2013, poetry
I like Alice Walker's world view and admire her charitable work. Her poetry is worth reading, for these insights. I would not count her among the top poets of our day, but certainly as a top writer. I remember being influenced by her essay "in search of our Mothers' gardens" as an undergraduate.

I recall enjoying her poetry book "Horses make the landscape more beautiful," but will have to back and read that book again. Could it be that her poetry writing style has changed dramatically, or is it m
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The further I read, the more I got into the poems. Two of my favorites were "You Want to Grow Old Like the Carters" and the amazing "Democratic Womanism".

"Democratic Womanism.
Notice how this word has 'man' right in the middle of it?
That's one reason I like it. He is there, front and center: But he is surrounded.

I want to vote and work for a way of of life
that honors the feminine;
a way that acknowledges
the theft of the wisdom
female and dark Mother leadership
might have provided our spaceship
all a
This is not her best work. This reads more like a journal of rants and raves, love and love lost, and reflection, rather than a book of poetry. She is very clear on her position about world affairs, sometimes appearing forcefully preachy at times, and while I agree with her, I'm not sure this constitutes as "poetry". When I think of poetry, I think floral, deep, meandering thoughts. This work is very much targeted to specific events and themes that leave very little to the imagination of the rea ...more
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
With titles like: "Life Takes its Own Sweet Time", "Why Peace is Always a Good Idea", and "Every Revolution Needs Fresh Poems", Walker tackles all aspects of life - from the sacred to the profane - with her usually wit, wisdom, and profound brilliance and understanding of the world. While not every poem resonated (but in a poetry collection, how often does that happen anyway?), I found enough inspiringly tasty morsels to keep and re-read.
Walker's way of translating her view of the world into wor
Harry Brake
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
When you can read the calmness in the lines of a book, you also have, yes, winner...:) Seeing Alice Walker and talking with her, as well as having the chance for her to sign her book, I feel in love with the way she can gently present words and have emotions and connections easily spill out. The same is true of her book mentioning events that are occurring around us, yet having the talent to want us to read the selections over and over. It is not difficult to see what she has had a tremendous fl ...more
My two star rating may be unfair, because I'm not a fan of poetry and I only read this as part of the Read Harder Challenge. That said, I had high hopes for this book of poetry. I selected this collection based on the summary that said these poems would "incite and nurture contemporary activists". I found most of the poems easy enough to read, but I wanted more background information. I felt as if I were reading Walker's journal, since I knew very little, if anything, about many of her subjects. ...more
Karen Ashmore
I thought this was a new novel when I put it on my holds list at the library. I was slightly disappointed when I picked it up because I am not a huge poetry fan. But I read it on my deck and enjoyed several of the poems. I particularly liked "Democratic Womanism" (dedicated to my shero Wangari Maathai), "Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit (I re-read the Beatitudes just yesterday and asked myself that very same question - where was the comma), and "If I Was President (reminded me of Wyclef song).
Keondra Freemyn
May 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013
i love love love alice walker's work but have never gotten into her poetry. this is the third collection i've read by her and i still think her form is weak. this book is much more musings than poetry, i would say. in some ways, i love it for being just that. her sentiments are wondrous, as i've come to expect. i rated it a three because it didn't feel like a poetry book. i think it is definitely worth adding to the collection and reading when you have an extra 2-3 hours to spare.
A "token of gratitude, awareness, affection"
P. 183

Notable poems:
"Don't be like those who ask for everything"
"Knowing you might someday come"
"What it feels like"
"You want to grow old like the Carters" (
"She" (for Gloria Steinem)
"To change the world enough"
"Peonies" (for Oprah Winfrey)
"Life takes its own sweet time"
"This human journey"
"Hope to sin only in the service of walking up"
Anna Mosca
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! If I do not give it a five stars yet is because the first part was not ringing right with me, not sure if it was me or else: will have to read it over a second time in the future. But then the second part is just fantastic, as I was expecting Walker to be, some poems you want to read them over and over, so well structured, so filled with visions, so clear the vision and the wish for a better world! A book I recommend.
––––•(-•The Insomniac Book Hoarder•-
The long lull of my reading progress has been party due to my overseas holidays, and not because of this book's content.

This collection of poems by Alice Walker was written with a one track in mind; I must say that while she writes (as per usual) with such eloquence and descriptive words, the collections of poetry leaves little or none for interpretation. Nonetheless, as a not-so- much- fan of poetry, I find the style sometimes confronting but still somewhat entertaining..
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I kind of bumble about in the poetry world. I can only rate them by how they made me feel. Was the language beautiful - even if I didn't get the message? Then 4 or 5 stars. But if I close the book and feel like nothing touched my soul or at least made me want to read a couple over again - then - just not for me. Sorry Alice.
A few of these poems pack quite a punch; others read like political campaign literature with random line breaks thrown in. Nonetheless, it was nice to get reacquainted with Alice Walker, and good to read a poetry book all the way through. Pretty good little collection, and I'll be waiting eagerly for the world to follow joy!
Favorite Poems:
You Want To Grow Old Like The Carters
When You See Water
And Do You See What They Have Bought With It?
To Change The World Enough
Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
Life Takes Its Own Time
One Meaning Of The Immaculate Heart
In This You Are Wrong
Hope To Sin Only In The Service Of Waking Up
9/11: An Irrelevant Truth
We Pay A Visit To Those Who Play At Being Dead
Carolyn Hanson
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this collection; read each poem, some twice to savor the message or turn of phrase. Some stand outs for me were "The Ways of Water" & "You Want to Grow Old Like the Carters"...also "March Births" & "From Paradise to Paradise". Alice Walker made me think, made me feel; good poetry! ...more
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alice Walker's abundant human empathy is a character trait that should be emulated. If you have suffered physical or mental ailments her poems are like a soothing homeopathic remedy. She is a mother to our whole world with a concern for others hardly matched in our current literature.
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Alice Walker, one of the United States’ preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessi ...more

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