Under All Silences Essay - Critical Context


Critical Context

Ruth Gordon is a highly respected librarian who received her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. She spent her early years as a professional librarian in the eastern United States and eight years as a teacher for the Department of Defense in Aviano, Italy, and she eventually settled in California. She actively writes critiques in professional journals, but, most important to her, she anthologizes poetry for younger readers. She compiled the poems for Time Is the Long Distance (1991), in which she strives to link mortality and time; she expresses the human need for that connection. Some of these poems revolve around unimaginable circumstances in which people find themselves, such as a definite state of doom. Gordon’s Pierced by a Ray of Sun (1995) takes another step, another route to reflect the concern of time and timelessness. Again, she crosses cultural and time barriers and examines the spectrum of emotions—hope and despair, gain and loss.

Gordon merited mention as one of the Best of the 80’s by Booklist for both Time Is the Long Distance and Under All Silences. Under All Silences was chosen as a Best Book of 1987 by two prestigious organizations, School Library Journal and the American Library Association. Reviewers expressed an open-arms acceptance of her anthology, noting that the greeting card approach to love has little comparison to the genuineness expressed by true love poetry. Gordon is adamant that young people be able to read and learn of love through the beauty of poetry.

Gordon collected other poems in Peeling the Onion: An Anthology of Poems (1993). Although she also writes critiques, reviews, and professional papers, creating anthologies seems to be her forte. Gordon is a member of several children’s literature associations and has a strong commitment to the earth, as expressed in her association with Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club. Both of these positions, as well as her attraction to poetry focusing on love and youth, guide Gordon in her selection process.