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Revolutionary Petunias

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  512 ratings  ·  43 reviews
These poems are about revolutionaries and lovers-about how, both in revolution and in love, loss of trust and compassion robs us of hope. They are also about (and for) those few embattled souls who remain painfully committed to beauty and to love even while facing the firing squad. “Quick, direct, witty, pungent” (DeWitt Beall, Chicago Daily News).
Paperback, 96 pages
Published March 21st 1973 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1973)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  512 ratings  ·  43 reviews

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Heather Fineisen
Walker at her best. Pensive. Strong. Unapologetic. Spin the wheel of African American History and her words fit, timeless.

This edition has additional biographical information on Walker. I really like the Open Road ebook editions with the extras.

And thank the publisher for providing copy for review. Note I have a hard copy on my shelf but this is a great book to have in both formats, as it demands dipping into throughout a lifetime.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful poetry collection.
*Dee Kaye's Book Bin*
Alice Walker's poems are magically simple. Some witty, some sad, while others just reflective of Walker's youth but all reminiscent of times lost but remembered!

"And for ourselves, the intrinsic
“Purpose” is to reach, and to remember,
and to declare our commitment to all
the living, without deceit, and without
fear, and without reservation. We do
what we can. And by doing it, we keep
ourselves trusting, which is to say,
vulnerable, and more than that,
what can anyone ask?"
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
so many good, deep and soulful poems. this is one of my favorites in this collection from Alice Walker.

He Said Come

He said come
Let me exploit you;
Somebody must do it
And wouldn't you
Prefer a brother?
Come, show me your
All scarred with tears;
Unburden your heart --
Before the opportunity
Passes away.
I think I like her poetry better. There is a beauty and harshness to it that is quite nice.
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I read this in Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965-1990 Complete.

This was not as good as Once, but it was a worthwhile read. Walker uses her time in the South and her activity in the Voter Registration campaign as a backdrop for this collection. She also draws on the early stages of her relationship with Melvyn Leventhal, whom she met at about the same time, and these two aspects combine into a focus on love and revolution and how they interact. The poems were heartfelt and ho
Kris - My Novelesque Life


(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).

This collection of poetry was first published in 1978 and these poems were written while Alice Walker was immersed in civil rights movement. In these poems you can feel the time and place of the speaker. There is passion behind the poetry that invokes feelings within you whether you know of the civil rights movement or just hear about it. There is love, hope, vision, anger, violence and a feeling of togetherness
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meen by: I love Alice Walker!
Oh, how I adore Alice Walker:

The Girl Who Died #1

"Look!" she cried.
"I am not perfect
but still your sister.
Love me!"
But the mob beat her and kicked her
and shaved her head;
until she saw exactly
how wrong she was.
Hannah Tay
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love Alice Walker and this book did not disapoint!! Beautiful x
Maughn Gregory
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I love Alice Walker the poet, activist, essayist, novelist. These poems from the early 70s are fierce and beautiful and wise.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good early poems by a great poet.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and easy read. These poems were beautiful and a necessary reminder in these times. So many gems. Alice Walker is a GOAT.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alice Walker is a longtime favorite, but her poetry is often lost on me as I don't typically enjoy the medium at all. This one, I liked a lot. It was a good one to marinate.

"To acknowledge our ancestors means we are aware that we did not make ourselves [...] We remember them because it is an easy thing to forget: that we are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die."

Expect Nothing — 
"Expect nothing. Live frugally.
On surprise.
Become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be fre
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, nonfiction
Lovely poems. Elegantly simple and straightforward. Timeless in the sense that they address suffering and the need, sometimes, for petunias (for beauty), and those are themes that will continue to resonate.
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
There are some poems for the ages in here. Some I have already forgotten, but several will stay with me for a long time.
Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet, funny and memorable collection of poems about a Black female speaker's experiences with love and revolution.
May 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Great poetry. Walker is amazing. This collection includes "Expect Nothing," my favorite poem ever.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
It’s been decades since I’ve read Alice Walker and I enjoyed this dip back into her world. There were some great moments in this one, subtle references to freedom fighters like Fannie Lou Hamer and literary giants like Zora Neale Hurston, and much exploration of Black funerals. So vivid were some of the pieces, like this stanza from a poem for a bully:

Here are the warm and juicy
vocal cords,
from my throat.

Also, loved her bio at the end where I learned that she worked for NAACP LDF takin
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
There's something so pleasurably unaffected about Alice Walker's poetry, in how she slips in a rhyme as if by chance, of how she focuses the lens -- tight and sharp -- if just for a second. Throughout this particular collection, I was drawn by how deftly she can draw a portrait in words ("The Girl Who Died #1") or rally the spirit ("Forbidden Things") or call on the legacy ("J. My Good Friend (another foolish innocent)"). This is a book that always feels good to pick up.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-poetry
An amazing poetry collection, the type that tackles complex topics while using impactful, beautiful, bare-bones language.


They dunked me in the creek;
a tiny brooklet.
Muddy, gooey with rotting leaves;
a greenish mold floating;
For love it was. For love of God
at seven. All in white.
With God's mud ruining my snowy
socks and his bullfrog spoors
gluing up my face.
Eric Susak
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like Walker's fiction more than her poetry, which, in all fairness, isn't saying much because I like all fiction more than all poetry. What makes this little book of poems good to me is Walker's attention to small gestures with big meanings, and to objects and places that carry part of the narrator.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this collection of poems is not as developed as her later poems, many of the themes of family and church, particularly in the first section, resonated with me. Walker's form uses short lines and short poems.
Emily Polson
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Favorites from this collection:
-In These Dissenting Times
-Expect Nothing
-Be Nobody's Darling
-While Love Is Unfashionable
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
3.5 stars
Jessi Neumann
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful work of art. I got a copy as a goodbye gift from a friend in college and cried reading it.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I love Alice Walker!
Reece B.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Remarkably heartfelt and immensely beautiful.
Stephanie Hempel
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a brilliant collection of poems. I recommend this book to any radical soul stirring in their passions.
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love Alice Walker but most of these poems just didn’t work for me. I did like these though:

Sunday school
Revolutionary petunias
New face
He said come
Lisa M.
This was a very simple and straight forward poetry collection. Unlike other poetry collections I have read, this was a really quick read!

Overall I enjoyed this collection. One of my major complaints was about Walker's line breaks, capitalization, and punctuation. There were some poems were each line was a single word; and of course, each line had to be capitalized. There were some poems were there was absolutely no punctuation. The lack of punctuation isn't necessarily a bad thing if it has been
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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
“I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart.” 177 likes
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