True, False, None of the Above poetically explores what it means to write, read, and teach literature in a world that--at turns--rejects, embraces, or shrugs indifferently at the spiritual.
This is a book on the intersection of words and belief, on how books mark and mirror our lives, and how sometimes the journey we experience on the page leads us to faith.
2017 Illumination Medalist Award for Education Category!
Early Praise for True, False, None of the Above
In True, False, None of the Above, Maddox offers us a brilliant, witty, and vulnerable garland of poems. Here is the voice of a teacher, a poet, a mother and wife, a woman of faith bearing witness to a deep and lasting Truth, summoning--among others--the likes of Dante, Hopkins, Dickinson, Eliot, and Frost, each calling out to the other, often at scintillant cross-purposes, all set choiring to this magisterial teacher's gentle bidding." --Paul Mariani, University Professor of English, Boston College, author of God and the Imagination: On Poets, Poetry, and the Ineffable
"In the preface to her book True, False, None of the Above, Maddox describes the experience of literature--whether reading, teaching, or creating it--as a 'confrontation with reality.' And her poems indeed confront a range of uneasy truths, from adultery and natural disasters to tooth extraction and raising teens. Maddox builds on the shared imagination of writers and readers, richly and deftly, to deepen and challenge our spirits." --Tania Runyan, author of Second Sky"
In some of these poems, Marjorie Maddox riffs on the poetry of other writers. Sometimes she sings like an angel, even about illness and death. She wields forms brilliantly, and she tells delicious stories about what goes on in her classroom. Everybody who relishes good poetry should buy this book. But if you're a teacher--or if you've ever sat in a classroom anywhere--True, False, None of the Above will make you laugh out loud." --Jeanne Murray Walker, Professor of English, University of Delaware, coeditor of Shadow & Light: Literature and the Life of Faith
"In poem after poem, Marjorie Maddox creates a rich environment in which the best teaching (and she is always a teacher) takes place in dialogue, even though conversations are not always neatly resolved. But she also consistently and convincingly points to what we need: The real, the spiritual, the Real." --Jill Baumgaertner, author of What Cannot Be Fixed
"The poems of True, False, None of the Above are unsettling. They are also richly rewarding. They challenge and ultimately overcome our conventional understandings of the spiritual" from "Poetic Voices: Teow Lim Goh and Marjorie Maddox"--Glynn Young, author of Poetry at Work
"The poems of Marjorie Maddox speak for us poets and lovers of literature...."--Mary Harwell Sayler
"As she proclaims in the opening poem of the collection: “I’m not talking about who you should be / but are. Let’s start with the essence of seed / and see what sprouts from there.” And this is a book about how things “are,” not how we wish they were, written by a poet in middle-life, a woman with the difficult responsibilities of being a mother, a wife, a college professor, and a daughter of aging parents. While this collection claims a wide and diverse path, the poet’s voice and vision, her spiritual yearning, draws together the elements of a life lived with careful attention, of a poetry infused with compassion and humor that readers in and out of school will welcome."
—Todd Davis in Image Update
“…Maddox’s poems bite into the fruit of daily living and learning, searching out the beginnings of faith and knowledge and wasting nothing in the experience, even relishing those hard bits we are usually apt to spit out: “But isn’t the seed better / its tough, hard case / beneath the juice?”” —David Bauman, “Beyond Multiple Choice” in Whale Road Review
"Literature enthusiasts will celebrate the book's generous references to poetry and prose writers....Although warning and tragedy darken the page with "what creaks and topples in this world,/threatening to uproot even our deepest/fibers", Maddox carries her thread of hope until the final classroom poem: "A student I thought asleep/starts to read,/his thrush of a voice/syncopated by the bird's insistence." We welcome the closing, a recognition that ordinary things can sustain us spiritually...."—Mary Mallek Haines, Anglican Theological Review
"....This volume reminds us that poetry and religion were once fireside conversations, as daily as dishes, as sacred as children—and as necessary and unexpected as grace."—excerpt of radio review by Camille-Yvette Welsch on WPSU's BookMark
"True, False, None of the Above reads like a dinner party of literature, theology, and creative writing professors sitting around a large table surrounded by leather-bound books and old vinyls, sipping wine or whiskey, swapping stories that both bemoan and boast about students and the task of teaching and un-teaching. . . . [poems] invite the authors. . . to the table to share both their wisdom and cynicism about the world in all its comedy, tragedy, and fairy tale; to share in our human seeking after the question of truth; and to demonstrate engaging those questions and truths through writing -- and in turn, teaching and reading, and . . . everyday living."-excerpt of Renea Mckenzie's review in TTC
"In poem after poem, we see that we are all savagely in the middle of something, of our disordered lives, of a world which is tearing itself apart right in front of us. Marjorie Maddox does not flinch. She never has. She is a witness. And so may we be."—excerpt of David Craig's review in Windhover
"The poems in Marjorie Maddox’s True, False, None of the Above are amusingly erudite. Nearly all of them allude to other pieces of literature and other writers, from Dante to Hawthorne to Hopkins to Flannery O’Connor. While they take life seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they accept the foibles that so often characterize human beings....Taking tradition seriously, the book also recognizes how relationships between writing of the past and present create a living text." –excerpt of review by Lynn Domina" "
"My classroom door was decorated with a line from Marjorie Maddox’s poem, “On Defining Education”....I printed those words out in black ink and glued them on orange and green construction paper. I wanted my students to know I believed there is possibility and beauty not only in who they could become, but who they are right now..." excerpt of "This Is Only A Test" by Callie R. Feyen in The Cresset