Monday, October 22, 2007

Nancy Drew: Literary Heroine

How can I resist sharing this poem about my favorite girl sleuth, Nancy Drew? (via today’s Writer's Almanac)

Yes, I was a major fan back in the day...I could never understand why the public library wouldn't stock the books, meaning I had to swap them with the neighbors, scour yard sales for old copies, and save up birthday money to buy them at WaldenBooks ($1.50 each plus 5 cents tax). I guess the library was afraid those genre series would rot our impressionable little minds. But once I got a little older I found the shelves and shelves of Barbara Cartland romances in the adult those are real mind rot (not that I noticed at the time). The librarians must have been fooled by the "historical" settings. Thankfully, Agatha Christie was shelved just down the way, and my obsessive reading shifted there in time.

Nancy Drew
by Ron Koertge, from Fever. © Red Hen Press.

Merely pretty, she made up for it with vim.
And she got to say things like, "But, gosh,
what if these plans should fall into the wrong
hands?" And it was pretty clear she didn't mean
plans for a party or a trip to the museum, but
something involving espionage and a Nazi or two.

In fact, the handsome exchange student turns
out to be a Fascist sympathizer. When he snatches
Nancy along with some blueprints, she knows he
has something more sinister in mind than kissing
with his mouth open.

Locked in the pantry of an abandoned farm house,
Nancy makes a radio out of a shoelace and a muffin.
Pretty soon the police show up, and everything's
hunky dory.

Nancy accepts their thanks, but she's subdued.
It's not like her to fall for a cad. Even as she plans
a short vacation to sort out her emotions she knows
there will be a suspicious waiter, a woman in a green
off the shoulder dress, and her very jittery husband.

Very well. But no more handsome boys like the last one:
the part in his hair that was sheer propulsion, that way
he had of lifting his eyes to hers over the custard,
those feelings that made her not want to be brave
confident and daring, polite, sensitive and caring.

(You can listen to the poem here. )


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.