Yvy Angel, author of To Care For You Is What I Do, is a British woman who has been a “foster carer” (foster parent) for 25 years. She grew up in foster care herself, and her sympathy and understanding for children in these circumstances is apparent. These poems are simple, but their focus on the unvarnished lives of this marginalized population makes this book special.
Angel’s attitude toward her charges is one of acceptance, humor, love, and patience, shown in these lines from the title poem: “I’ll let you see I’m not afraid / Or looking for a friend. / To care for you is what I do. / You have a chance to mend.” These poems are also refreshingly free from religious rhetoric: They focus on the children and show a judgment-free understanding of their defenses, fears, and needs.
Several poems are persona pieces with simple statements that reveal the reality of the kids’ lives and dreams, such as the poem “Remember: Don’t Question Me” written in the voice of Susanna, age 16: “I mostly drink whiskey. I’m often quite rude. // I like motor bikes and I’ll have one someday. / Why don’t you ride with me? Far, far away / To the woods or the mountains. We’ll have so much fun.”
Angel also includes several poems about brain chemistry that she says she has used with children, especially teenage girls. The poem “Dopamine” begins: “We all love our Aunt Dopamine;/ She can be bouncy or serene. / Loves a treat and when it comes / She smiles, relaxes, giggles, hums..”
This is not a book for readers looking for literary sophistication or innovation — there’s nothing dazzling here in terms of literary technique — but it is accessible to all and would be especially heartening for those in foster care or those providing foster care, social work, or direct services to vulnerable youth.
Also available as an ebook.