Authors: Carolee Dean
If you had
looked a little
The inhabitants of the hallway all stand at the glass, watching. In the distance they see Ally sitting in a wheelchair with both of her legs in casts. Elijah pushes her to class. He pauses and kisses her cheek as a light snow begins to fall. The inhabitants of the hallway all share a smile, except for Darla.
What is this place?
The Hangman puts his arm around her shoulders.
There are some rules you need to know, Darlin’. You don’t mind if I call you Darlin’, do you?
What are you talking about?
We have a special job.
The Hangman points out the window.
Make sure none of them end up where we are. And if they do, and it’s not too late, we try to piss ’em off so they’ll go back where they came from.
Because anger is better than despair.
(stepping away from them)
Who are you people? What is this place?
Rotceo, the Hangman, Julie Ann, and the girl in black all look from one to another like they’re not altogether sure. Finally, the girl in black shrugs.
It’s the hallway.
I don’t understand.
Don’t worry. You have an eternity to figure it out.
Thanks to Stephany Borges, Dixie Colvin, and Pat Marsello for your willingness to tackle a verse novel and to my dear SCBWI friends, Lois Ruby and Kimberley Griffiths Little, for putting aside your ghost stories to take a look at mine.
This book would not have been possible without the generous support of my wonderful husband and children. You read multiple drafts of my book, introduced me to rap, and were willing to eat numerous frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s. PS The 2Pac poster proved quite inspirational. And thanks to 2Pac for the song titles found in “Dead Rapper Rap.”
Special appreciation goes to my amazing editor, Anica Rissi; publicist, Anna McKean; and the entire Simon Pulse team. I am so lucky to have you in my corner. Sara Crowe, I am fortunate to have an agent who helps get my stories into shape before the rest of the world sees them.
Lynne Ortiz, workout buddy, friend, and school social worker extraordinaire, you help keep me on track in so many ways. David Gonzalez, custodial foreman, thanks for the bird tales. I didn’t know ravens ate pigeons and inhabited schools. Your anecdotes inspired some of the darker characters of this narrative.
Finally, to my parents. Thanks for naming me after the dead girl in “The Raven” and encouraging a lifelong love of Poe (and ominous black birds).
My gratitude to all of you,
Carolee Lenore Jochens Dean
Not everything is a poem.
Not everything should be.
Several sections of this novel are written in screenplay format. For me that is the best way to capture conversations between multiple characters. However, it should be noted that screenplays are never written in first person (Ally’s point of view) as they are in this story.
Many of Ally’s poems are written in free verse, but I did use several other forms such as the villanelle, because of its hypnotic, repetitive quality (see the poem entitled
). Pantoums are also repetitive, but to me they feel constricting since the beginning comes around again at the end. I used that form when I wanted to convey a sense of being stuck, like when you need to make an important decision, but the same thoughts keep circling back round again.
“Just Fall Again”
is an example of a pantoum.
Other forms in Ally’s voice include a cinquain chain, shape poems, a spoof of Poe’s “The Raven,” and several poems inspired by renga. Renga are strings of tanka inspired by an old Japanese party game.
“Elijah Wears Black”
is an example.
When Elijah comes home from the psychiatric hospital, he spends an entire month speaking in iambic pentameter, a form popular with Shakespeare. Iambic pentameter has a rhythmic structure of duh-DUH / duh-DUH / duh-DUH / duh-DUH / duh-DUH. Many of Elijah’s poems are written in iambic pentameter. My friend Caroline Starr Rose, teacher and verse novelist, likes to tell her students that
iambic pentameter mirrors the beat of the heart. Perhaps that is why so many forms of poetry are based on this basic rhythm.
Blank verse is a form of iambic pentameter that doesn’t rhyme. A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem, typically in iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme that usually ends in a couplet. This novel contains several random sonnets by Elijah—random because the rhyme schemes don’t follow a standard pattern and often contain lines of blank verse.
is an example.
One form I used quite often for Elijah was terza rima, incorporating iambic pentameter in three-line stanzas with an interlocking rhyme scheme of
aba bcb cdc,
etc., and ending in a couplet. Elijah has six poems written in this form, including
Dante Alighieri once created an entire verse novel in terza rima (though he used a slightly different meter).
The Divine Comedy,
written in the fourteenth century, is his most famous work. Some people think verse novels are a fairly new phenomenon. They are actually one of the oldest forms of literature.
was written by an unknown Anglo-Saxon poet using alliterative long lines somewhere between the eighth and eleventh centuries, and Homer created
using dactylic hexameter around 850 BC.
What all verse novels have in common is that the poet first establishes a set of rules for the story. Sometimes these rules are quite loose and sometimes quite strict, but it is the poet who makes them.
And how often in life does a person get to do that?
For more details about the poems used in
Forget Me Not
and for ideas on how to create your own poems, visit
lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and teenage kids. She works in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist, where she finds inspiration from students, hallways, and large black birds. Find out more at
Jacket designed by Jessica Handelman
Jacket illustration/photograph copyright © 2012 by Plainpicture/Glasshouse
Author photograph by Christina Kennedy
SIMON PULSE • Simon & Schuster, New York
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Take Me There
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This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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First Simon Pulse hardcover edition October 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Carolee Dean
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Dean, Carolee. Forget me not / Carolee Dean. p. cm.
Summary: Told from separate viewpoints, Ally discovers that she may have tried to kill herself, and Elijah, recalling his own suicide attempt, tries to give Ally a reason to live and escape from the spirits that haunt their high school.
[1. Novels in verse. 2. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 3. Emotional problems—Fiction. 4. Dead—Fiction. 5. High schools—Fiction. 6. Schools—Fiction. 7. Popularity—Fiction. 8. Haunted places—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.5.D43For 2012
ISBN 978-1-4424-3254-3 ISBN 978-1-4424-3256-7 (eBook)