Thursday, July 18, 2019


I'm continuing my "Extra! Extra!" series, inviting poets to share a poem that did NOT end up in their published book-- and provide a bit of backstory about the choice not to include that particular poem. Did you know that poetry collections and novels in verse are often built upon large selections of poetry and the poet and editor OMIT some of those poems? Yes, indeed! And of course poems may also be edited, moved around, and expanded too. But I'm always curious about that initial selection of poems that MIGHT become a book and how that changes along the way. So, here we go

Here, Kip Wilson talks about her new book, WHITE ROSE, a moving novel in verse about a young girl and her heroism in standing up against the Nazis in Germany during WWII.

"A gorgeous and timely novel based on the incredible story of Sophie Scholl, a young German college student who challenged the Nazi regime during World War II as part of The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group. Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators. This debut novel recounts the lives of Sophie and her friends and highlights their brave stand against fascism in Nazi Germany."
Kip writes:
Photo credit © Rosanne Samson
I originally wrote White Rose from three main points of view (Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and their friend Christoph Probst), but my editor, Margaret Raymo, thought the story would work better if focused on Sophie alone, and she was definitely right. Back in high school German class when I first learned about the White Rose, Sophie had been the one to grab my attention, and she's been an inspiration to me ever since my teen years. I hope she inspires a new generation of kids now! But for author-me as an adult, Christoph's story really spoke to me as well. Just like Sophie's brother Hans, Christoph was a medical student who loved the natural world around him, who didn't want anything to do with the Nazi regime, and who wanted the war to stop, but unlike the others in the group, Christoph was married and a father of three small children. For the sake of his young family, the others tried to keep him out of their resistance activities. However, when he couldn't remain silent any longer, he wrote a leaflet condemning the German war machine and gave it to Hans, who had this draft in his pocket when he was arrested. This of course meant that it didn't take the Gestapo long to come for Christoph. 

[Here is her "extra" poem from Christoph's point of view.]

Photo of Hans, Sophie, and Christoph 

The black uniforms
of the Gestapo
stick out 
like giant crows
in a hayfield
when they arrive, 
even here
on a military base.

Their gazes scan
our ranks
our allegiances
our souls
and everyone
even the staunchest Party supporter
twitches with suppressed

But my fear 
bulges into terror
that traps my breath
in my throat
when one of them 
raises a terrible wing,
points it
in my direction.

            Christoph Probst

This beautiful novel in verse is a compelling read and a first-person window into the world of political protest. Rooted in a true story, Wilson channels the passions and dreams of a young woman who looks around her and sees a world that isn't working and knows she must act. It's inspiring and (sadly) relevant today, too. For a helpful educator's guide, White Rose and We Will Not Be Silent, go here

For more Poetry Friday posts, head on over to Carol's Place


Linda B said...

I've read other books about the White Rose & this is on my list, Sylvia. I'm sure I'll read it & find again how hard to imagine the time they were in, the courage they had. The poem is lovely though heartbreaking. Thanks for a glimpse of Kip's book.

Kay said...

Here's another book I want to read. Sadly, their story seems all too relevant today. I hope many of us are inspired by their courage to speak out.

Carol said...

I can't wait to get hold of WHITE ROSE. I'm a huge historical fiction fan and WHITE ROSE sounds phenomenal. I'm intrigued, too, by the idea that there are poems that actually don't make it into a novel in verse. (Not sure why this surprises me when I know revision in regular writing consists of cutting out huge chunks of writing but it does. I love the premise behind your EXTRA! EXTRA! series.

Linda Mitchell said...

I haven't gotten my hands on this book yet, but I aim to! Thank you for letting Kip fill us in on a bit more of this compelling story. I'm fascinated and want to know more, more, more!

Molly Hogan said...

Thanks for the fascinating glimpse into Kip's book and this piece of history. I'm so enjoying your Extra! Extra! series.

Carol Varsalona said...

Sylvia, I am glad to have found your Extra-Extra series. Kip's book sounds fascinating and I appreciate backstories.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Kip did such a fabulous job with this book. One of my favorite verse novels this year, for sure! This "extra" poem is so effective (and ominous) with the reference to the uniforms and then that "terrible wing" at the end. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Cheriee Weichel said...

Thanks so much for this. I'll be looking forward to reading White Rose. It reminded me of Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti. Have you read it? I'm thinking that it would be a brilliant way to set up the novel before reading it to a class.

Catherine Flynn said...

I added White Rose to my TBR list as soon as I first heard about it. Your post makes me want to read it even more. Thank you for adding Christoph's powerful voice to Sophie's story.

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you all for stopping by and reading a bit about WHITE ROSE and Kip's work on this powerful book. It is definitely worth seeking out! I look forward to sharing more "extra" poems from more excellent poetry books!