Thursday, July 18, 2019

Where No Man Can Touch, A Review

Good Poetry Friday Everyone,

UPDATE: Author Pat Valdata has a few copies of her book left. Her website works for ordering. 

This week's round-up is hosted at Carol's Corner. There's lots of poetry fun there to enjoy. First, I need to give you a tissue alert for her original poem, I Will Love You Well. Oh, my....what a beauty.

I have another book review to share.

Where No Man Can Touch (West Chester University Poetry Center 2015) by Pat Valdata was recommended to me by poet-author Laura Shovan. Laura saw that I was working on some persona poems and thought I might get some ideas from Pat's exquisite work. 

I hope so! The book begins with Ms. Valdata's dedication,

--Dedicated to all the women pilots who preceded me and made my own flying possible.

The fifty-six poems of this book are of fifty-six women record holders of flight--a reminder of the shoulders upon which we stand. From balloon flight to dirigible to bi-plane and glider to helicopter, determined women steadily pushed into the the very male dominated field of flight. It wasn't easy for most women. But, with the difficult moments and situations is a great deal of humor and heroism and nerve. 

Harriet Quimby in cockpit of plane. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

Though the women in this book are from a variety of nations including France, the Soviet Union, United Kingdom, United States they all share wonderment for the feeling of being freed from the ground to be in the vast sky. I became so curious about these women I started combing Library of Congress for photographs of some of them. Aren't they amazing writing prompts all on their own?

Harris & Ewing, photographer. MILLER, MISS BERNETTA. MOISSANT AVIATRIX. IN BLERIOT PLANE. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

As someone who has recently learned about the Night Witches of World War II, I especially enjoyed the short poem Red Stars and Nigh Witches in the voices of Lydia Litvyak and Katya Budenova. But there are many, many other details of women's history tucked into these poems...bloomers and flappers and barn stormers, Bendix racers and more. Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart make appearances...but it's nice to see them as part of a larger collection of women breaking flying records.

Bain News Service, Publisher. Ruth Law arriving at N.Y. plane. date created or published later by Bain. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

Before I leave this post I would like to point out that this is a poetry collection for adults...not a kidlit novel in verse or biography in verse. Although, I will absolutely make Where No Man Can Touch available to my middle school students as we return to school. Furthermore, this poetry collection is a winner of the Donald Justice Prize, Iris N. Spencer Poetry Award from West Chester University. Each poem stands on its own as the collection builds. 

I thoroughly enjoyed how much I learned about poetry and aviators in this book. 


  1. I'm sure my hubby would love this book. He is besotted with planes - and has been for as long as I've known him! Love the pics, too. You are right about the stories in them!

  2. What an inspiring group of women! I love this line: "How I hated covering my plum satin!" Nerves of steel and a sense of style. Thank you for sharing this collection with us, Linda. I'm sure it will inspire you!

  3. Here's a fun word for you -- an aviatrix is a woman pilot. I learned that word when I put Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman together in a poem for JPL/Ntl. Geographic's THE POETRY OF US. I will look for this book. I come from an ag pilot dad who took us for Sunday "drives" in a Cessna.

  4. Love all of this, especially "I would've waited for some warmer weather. . ." showing she had to show up! I know I will enjoy it, have read of those Night witches & fiction by Elizabeth Wein like Code Name Verity. Few wrote about them, and now I'm so glad they are. Thanks very much, Linda.

  5. Linda, this book would be a fascinating read for me. I love history and always eager to learn more about women in flight. I wonder if the Air and Space Museum will feature this book or similar ones about women? Thanks for sharing this wonderful tale of grit, determination, and passion.

  6. You really whet my appetite with your review of "Where No Man Can Touch," it looks like a marvelous collection of women aviator poems Linda–thanks also for sharing the pics! I have a friend who is a pilot and I know she'll love this book.

  7. I want this book! I earned my pilot's license when I graduated from college and read everything I could about the 99s -- the early women pilots, mostly in the US. My all-time favorite research paper was one I wrote for a women's history class in which I compared how women pilots talked about themselves with how the popular press described them. Just from the glimpses you give, I see I still have much to learn!

  8. Thanks for the fascinating peek into this book and the wonderful photographs. (I love the steady gaze of Miss Bernetta Miller in her photo!) I was fascinated by your reference to the Night Witches in an earlier post this summer and now have another area to explore. Your enthusiasm for learning and research is contagious!

  9. Thanks for introducing us to this collection. I tried to find it in my library, but it wasn't there. I tried to make a purchase suggestion, but couldn't find it for sale anywhere!

  10. This sounds like a terrific collection. Like Cheriee I tried to find it at my library, but it's not there. Nor is it on Amazon. When I followed the link you provided to the author's website, I found the link there goes to a page that no longer exists. Any idea where we can buy the book?

    1. I contacted the author. Is there a link on the website to contact her directly? I can pm you the address I used to contact her.

    2. She does have a contact page on her website. Thanks!

  11. A friend's daughter is a pilot, so I forwarded your post to her. Sad to see that the book is so difficult to find. Our library doesn't have it either. She's a navy pilot, so maybe it will be in their library collection. On another note, I thought I should let you know that Skila Brown has a book of poems about sharks titled Slickety Quick. I'm requesting it, curious to see if I'll like it as well as Clackety Track.

  12. What a wonderful post, Linda! Thank you for tracking down the fantastic photos, too. Our beautiful next door neighbor is a fighter pilot in the Marines, as was the young woman she bought the house from. They amaze me.

  13. Oh jeez, this is wonderful, Linda. I love how you've put this tribute/review together with the quotes and pictures! Such an inspiring group of women. To connect my post to yours and "add" to the collection, here is a video of "Amelia" (by Joni Mitchell) about Amelia Earhart. It's off the same album as the song I posted this week—"Hejira"!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!