Conkling, Hilda (1910-1986) by Solomon, Susan

Hilda Conkling 1910-1986 By the age of ten, had composed enough poems to comprise a published collection, . Two more books– and –followed before she turned 14, after which she never published another line of verse. She claimed she didn’t know her mother was recording and publishing her oral compositions until after the fact. Nonetheless, Hilda had a sense of ownership over her words. When her mother repeated Hilda’s lines back to her, Hilda would correct her mother’s errors. Hilda Conkling Poems by a Little Girl Shoes of the Wind Silverhorn Her mother, the contributor , heard poetry in Hilda’s child-talk, which she began recording when Hilda was only four years old. Her verse first appeared in magazine, along with her sister Elsa’s, when she was six. In a 1980’s interview, Hilda reflected, (Shulins). Hilda’s published writing indicates the modernist interest in children’s literary creation, as exhibited in the sections of issues 8.4 and 12.4 of . Children’s verse represents or inspires an ideal of unspoiled, pure language arranged in the most innocent, but aesthetically pleasing ways. In actuality, the household in which Hilda was raised certainly had an influence on her talent. Her mother’s Northampton home provided a thoroughly literary environment, where verse was already written and read, and where visitors included poets, students, and teachers of poetry. Poetry Grace Hazard Conkling Poetry At 4, you are not yet influenced by adults. You go your own self-centered way, a clean slate, a blackboard on which nobody has written Poems by Children Poetry Hilda Conkling’s poems also appeared in and . In 1921 she beat accomplished adult poets to win a blind-entry contest sponsored by the magazine . Her first book, , included an introduction by , and in 1929 it was chosen among the sixty best children’s books by the International Library Congress. She and her mother both were frequently cited in newspaper columns about childrearing and the importance of reading with one’s children. The Nation Good Housekeeping The Touchstone Poems by a Little Girl Amy Lowell Accused by some as a fraud and labeled by others a child prodigy, Hilda escaped fame and attention in adulthood. She worked in education, managed a Boston bookstore for 20 years and then returned to work at a bookstore in Northampton, where she may still live. —Susan Solomon Selected Works by Hilda Conkling (July 1917) 10.4: 197-198. A Little Girl’s Songs. Poetry (July 1919) 14.4: 204-208. A Little Girl’s Songs. Poetry . New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1920. Poems by a Little Girl . New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1922. Shoes of the Wind (July 1916) 8.4: 191-194. Songs. Poetry Further Reading (Sept. 1919) 14.6: 344-346. Concerning Hilda Conkling. Poetry . Dec 26 1982: H18. Shulins, Nancy Looking Back at the Life of a Child Poet. Los Angeles Times

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