Amber Jenkins – Teacher, Upper School English

Amber Jenkins, Upper School English

Favorite adult book recommendation — The World of Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980–1990 by Charles Wright

I was introduced to the work of Charles Wright (who would later become the 50th Poet Laureate of the United States) in a poetry seminar during

my sophomore year at Johns Hopkins and found myself so excited and motivated by his work that I went on to pursue a graduate degree in Poetry Writing at the University of Virginia in order to study under and be mentored by him. This particular collection is, to my mind, the height of our contemporary American poetic voice: rich in its sense of place; fascinated by all alien, foreign, or mystical; steeped in doubt-plagued faith; formally experimental (while nodding at every turn to tradition); and relentlessly in pursuit of answers to the timeless questions that torture the greatest works of literature—What is Man? What is Art? What is Love? Why are we here? Does God exist? Where might Truth be found? Wright’s incantatory verses run the gamut of soul searching from the darkest of nights to revelation and joy and always push readers to look for whatever feint of light might reveal an angle of repose for the modern heart. This collection will be my desert island pick every time.

Favorite children’s book recommendation — Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

I was ten when I first read Where the Red Fern Grows, and it was the first book that ever moved me to tears. It’s a story about a boy named Billy growing up in the Ozarks and his hunting dogs Old Dan and Little Ann. It’s also a story about courage, friendship, love, devotion, grief, and resilience, and there was something about the age I was when I encountered this story—that middle age of not-quite-child, not-quite-teen—that led it to touch me in the deepest of ways. The line “You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over” still strikes me as one of the most tender and lovely expressions of friendship and love in the face of loss that I’ve encountered in literature. Of all the books I am looking forward to sharing with my sons, I am excited for this one most of all.

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