I Lay My Stitches Down
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More About This Title I Lay My Stitches Down


This rich and intricate collection of poems chronicles the various experiences of American slaves. Drawn together through imagery drawn from quilting and fiber arts, each poem is spoken from a different perspective: a house slave, a mother losing her daughter to the auction block, a blacksmith, a slave fleeing on the Underground Railroad.

This moving and eloquent set of poems, brought to life by vivid and colorful artwork from Michele Wood, offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by America's slaves. Each poem is supplemented by a historical note.


Cynthia Grady is a poet and a librarian at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. I Lay My Stiches Down is her first published book. In her spare time, Cynthia quilts. Visit her website at www.cynthiagrady.com.

Michele Wood is a painter, illustrator, designer, and writer. She received the American Book Award for her first book,Going Back Home, and the Coretta Scott King Award for the illustration in her book I See the Rhythm. Michele lives in Georgia. Visit her website at www.michelewood.com.


"Each of [Grady's] free-verse poems about the African slave experience consists of 10 lines of 10 syllables that, as laid out on the page, mimic the square shape of a quilt block. They also include three references — to spirituality, music, and fabric arts — that reflect the three layers of a quilt. . . . Wood's intricate illustrations reflect folk art motifs and vibrantly express the rich culture of African American slaves."

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A powerful grouping of thought-provoking poems and brilliantly designed paintings."

School Library Journal (starred review)
"This ambitious work offers a bit of poetry, history, folk art, quilting, religion and more. It will definitely fill a niche in libraries."

The Horn Book
"A stunning achievement for both author and artist."

Publishers Weekly
"Newcomer Grady's compact poems about the lives of slaves cover an emotional range from gossamer ("Like the wren's/ song, she hits the grace note just so") to leaden ("drag my heart clean/ out of my chest"). . . . The notes anticipate classroom use, where discussion will arise from the varied aspects of slavery — companionship between the master's children and slave children, early horse racing's domination by slave labor, and more — that Grady covers in this well-researched collection."

Christian Library Journal
"Grady does an excellent job of sensitively portraying the harsh realities of slave life through the heartbreaking beauty of poetry that is simple on the surface but complex and purposeful in structure, content, and theme. . . . This compilation of poetry is moving and rich in substance."