When You See My Mother, Ask Her to Dance: Poems

When You See My Mother, Ask Her to Dance: Poems

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An intimate, autobiographical poetry collection from legendary artist and activist, Joan Baez.

Joan Baez shares poems for or about her contemporaries (such as Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, and Jimi Hendrix), reflections from her childhood, personal thoughts, and cherished memories of her family, including pieces about her younger sister, singer-songwriter Mimi Fariña. Speaking to the people, places, and moments that have had the greatest impact on her art, this collection is an inspiring personal diary in the form of poetry.

While Baez has been writing poetry for decades, she’s never shared it publicly. Poems about her life, her family, about her passions for nature and art, have piled up in notebooks and on scraps of paper. Now, for the first time ever, her life is shared revealing pivotal life experiences that shaped an icon, offering a never-before-seen look into the reminiscences and musings of a great artist.

Like a late-night chat with someone you love, this collection connects fans to the real heart of who Joan Baez is as a person, as a daughter and sister, and as an artist who has inspired millions.


Praise for When You See My Mother, Ask Her to Dance

“Joan Baez wraps her arms around the complexities of life: she writes from both bliss and grief; she embraces both the whimsical and the profound; she confronts the struggle to let go of the dichotomy black-and-white and revel in the gray. Baez’s poetry shows us that life itself means accepting both the lightness and the darkness.”
Richard Blanco, author of Homeland of My Body

“Joan’s ideas and musings ricochet from the profound and humanly factual to the observant and slyly humorous. Her words can be both poignantly executed and captivating in a colorful closeness that pin-points the chinks in our armor that mirror all facets of the world we inhabit. A national treasure she is indeed.”
Bernie Taupin, author of Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton, and Me

“In these courageous and soul-searching poems, Joan Baez reveals the joy and sorrow of a life lived fully. Her deceptively simple and elegant verses resonate with profound insight into what it means to be alive, looking Janus-like from past to present. Beautiful.”
Gabriel Byrne, author of Walking with Ghosts

“The artist’s urgency to account for ‘talents’ (see Matthew 25: 14-30), to complete the record and reckoning, informs this sumptuous debut collection of poems. To her work in song, on canvas, in advocacy for the human causes, this work in words claims its place among Ms. Baez’s free-range creations. Brava, is the thing I say, and write on!”
Thomas Lynch, author of Bone Rosary: New & Selected Poems

About the Author

Joan Baez is a dynamic force of nature. Her commitment to music and social activism has earned global recognition, ranging from induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, to the Ambassador of Conscience Award, Amnesty International’s highest honor. Retired from active performing since 2019, she has devoted much of her time to the “Mischief Makers” series of paintings, portraits that immortalize risk-taking visionaries she has known, who have brought about social change through history, from Dr. Martin Luther King and Bob Dylan to the Dalai Lama and Patti Smith. Ms. Baez’s acclaimed book of drawings, Am I Pretty When I Fly? was also published by Godine.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ David R. Godine, Publisher (April 30, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 120 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1567928013
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1567928013
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.25 x 1 x 8 inches

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