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Butterfly to the Skies: The Courageous Life and Inspiring Poetry of Carrie Ella Barney 1854 to 1873


Product Description

Butterfly to the Skies reveals the challenging life and impassioned writing of Carrie Ella Barney (1854-1873), a newly re-discovered American poet with family ties to the Smith Barney financial empire. She was a contemporary in time and talent of Emily Dickinson, a renowned 19th century poet from Amherst, Massachusetts.  

Carrie Ella was raised by wealthy abolitionist parents using their home as a “station” on the Underground Railroad in Sandusky, Ohio. During most of her 18 years of life, she endured the horrific adversity of tuberculosis but still had the fortitude to write intellectually demanding and intensely emotional autobiographical poetry. Every line of verse overflows with her wisdom forged by an agonizing illness. It led to a life long on pain, short on joy, and stirring in feeling, thought, and hope.     

Her poetry digs deep using stark language, allegory, and metaphor when exploring the mysteries of life, death, God, and the enduring human spirit. She persuades each of us to open our mind, heart, and soul to consider issues eternal in any century. Subjects addressed in the book include the following:

  • Poetry by One Girl, Teenager, and Young Woman
  • Abolition of Slavery
  • American Civil War
  • Underground Railroad
  • Spiritualism and Religion
  • Tuberculosis
  • Barney Family
  • Triumph over Adversity
  • Mortal Life vs. Immortal Soul
  • Sandusky, Ohio in the 1860’s and 1870’s
  • Emily Dickinson

You will experience in this book the joyful and agonizing life of Carrie Ella hidden for well over a century but now revealed publicly in all her spirit, pain, and hope. This exciting tale unfolds through the singular beauty and unique story-telling power of poetry. The 31 existing poems forged by Carrie Ella – each interpreted in this book – are not private to her alone. The life of this one girl, teenager, and young woman speaks to us about age-old issues of human existence as relevant to us now in this or any other century as they were during Carrie Ella’s own 18 years of living.

Carrie Ella’s enduring gift and legacy to us all – first immortalized in print from 1866 to 1873 – came from her Washington Street home in a small, Ohio town on the shores of Sandusky Bay near Lake Erie. Her story and words had to wait ever so patiently for the day when her writing would be rediscovered and reintroduced to the world.

The purpose of this book is to announce the arrival of that day.

About the Author

Paul makes his home in Manhattan living in an apartment a bit larger than a bread box.

His life-long commitment to the printed word and the First Amendment began on two wheels in junior high school. He delivered by bicycle a Long Island daily paper while growing up on the north shore of Suffolk County in New York. The next step years later was to write news and feature articles as a reporter for a hometown paper. This was his first professional experience in writing after graduating from Suffolk County Community College and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

As a student at New York Law School, he was a writer and editor on a law journal that published his scholarly article on international law. The article was awarded the Ernst C. Steifel Award for Comparative, Common, and Civil Law.

He was selected while a law student to litigate and advocate for low-income clients in federal administrative trials and the Federal Appellate Court. Paul also enrolled in graduate school part-time at Baruch College, City University of New York, while attending law school full-time in a joint degree program. He received a Master’s degree in Public Administration, and earned membership in the Pi Alpha Alpha national honor society.

After law school, Paul represented people of low income in court followed by three years in Harlem in the domestic “Peace Corps” program called VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America). Paul worked with community leaders starting in 1993 to co-found the next year a nonsectarian, nonprofit, Harlem land trust. Paul serves today as the pro bono attorney and treasurer with the land trust. It has a large and diverse membership reflecting the many people in the neighborhood of various races, cultures, incomes, and religions.

Most of Paul’s working life was in the nonprofit field while he continued his passion for writing. Two other books are finished but unpublished: a critique of legal education in the United States; and a very personal account of race in America from his Harlem experience. He will soon choose a topic for his next book.

Other Details

Paul Joseph Coppa
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