Amanda Hamilton: Poet in Where the Crawdads Sing

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Who is Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing? What role does her poetry play in the story?

Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing, is a local poet who is relatively unknown. She is also Kya’s favorite poet, and Kya recites her poetry for comfort in times of emotional stress.

But it turns out that Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing, has a hidden true identity.

Discovering Amanda Hamilton, Poet in Where the Crawdads Sing

In Where the Crawdads Sing, poetry is an important part of Kya’s life. When Kya met Chase she was surprised by how much she wanted to be with him. As she boated home after meeting with him, she drifted in the open water and stared at the sky. She recited poetry from memory, including one by Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing. The poem was about love being set free from its cage and allowed to wander the shore. It made her think of Tate, and the old hurt and anger roiled up inside. 

What Kya didn’t know was that Tate hadn’t abandoned her, at least not in the way she thought. Tate was ready to leave Chapel Hill as planned the day before the Fourth of July, but his professor at the lab invited him to join a birding expedition over the weekend. He would be the only student in a group of renowned ecologists. There was no way he could refuse. This was one of the first times Kya used poetry by Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing, for comfort.

A Game Revived

In July 1969, Kya found a copy of her new book on seabirds in the mailbox. She carried the book into the forest, where she planned to look for mushrooms, and a familiar sight made her stop dead in her tracks. On top of the old stump was a milk carton. 

Inside the carton was an antique compass and a note. The note told of the compass’s previous owner, Tate’s grandfather. Kya hadn’t seen Tate since giving him the shell book long ago and had continued to hide when she saw him on the water. She felt her heart opening, but she still felt the sting of abandonment. She put the compass in her bag and thought about how she could repay him.

Despite herself, Kya often searched for Tate on the water just to see him. One morning, she watched as he passed unsuspecting in his boat while she lay undercover in the brush. His blonde hair glistened under a red cap. She recited a poem by Amanda Hamilton about the delusion of love. Once again, Kya turned to Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing, to help her express her emotions.

Amanda Hamilton’s Poems Help Kya

In her time of great trouble, Kya continued leaning on Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing, to help her cope with her difficult life. Jodie drove Kya home from the jail. She was anxious to see her shack and the environment that had saved her all those years. She rushed into the shack and touched every possession. Jodie had a bag of crumbs waiting for her, and she ran to the beach, tossing crumbs to her seabirds and crying with joy. 

Kya waited for Jodie to leave before she returned home. She tried to paint, but the images were dark and angry. Kya didn’t know what to do with all the furious emotions she felt, and she was suddenly remorseful for the way she’d treated Jodie. She sank to the floor and cried. Later, Kya found a pelican feather on the beach. It reminded her of the one Tate had given her. She recited a poem by Amanda Hamilton about trying to break free but being haunted by her lover’s eyes. This shows that In Where the Crawdads Sing, poetry is a way that Kya expresses herself.

Who is Amanda Hamilton, Poet in Where the Crawdads Sing?

After all the mourners had left, Tate walked to Kya’s studio and labeled the samples she hadn’t gotten to yet. Her looked at her collection, fifty years in the making, and knew he would keep it just as she’d left it. She’d wanted it donated to Tate’s lab, but he wasn’t ready to let go yet.

Tate went back to the cabin and started preparing food for the birds. He stirred a pot of mush absentmindedly, thinking of Kya. Then, he saw something that brought him back. Next to the kitchen stove lay the wood pile Kya had always kept stacked high, even in the warm months. At the edge, he noticed the new tiles they’d installed didn’t reach underneath the pile. 

Tate leaned down and moved the wood aside until he saw a cutout in the floorboards. He lifted the boards and revealed a hidden compartment encompassing a dusty cardboard box. Inside the box were several manilla envelopes, all labeled “A.H.” and a smaller box. The poems of Amanda Hamilton lay inside each envelope written in Kya’s hand. Tate couldn’t believe it. His wife was the poet and had secretly reached out to the world, sharing her most private feelings, and no one had ever known. It turns out Kya had been Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing the whole time.

Amanda Hamilton, the poet in Where the Crawdads Sing, is a part of what keeps Kya going through difficult times. Even though Amanda Hamtilon, the poet in Where the Crawdads sing winds up to be Kya herself, it shows how much Kya valued poetry, and that in Where the Crawdads Sing, poetry helped her connect with nature and herself.

Amanda Hamilton: Poet in Where the Crawdads Sing

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Delia Owens's "Where the Crawdads Sing" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Where the Crawdads Sing summary:

  • How Kya Clark's abandonment as a child affected her through her entire life
  • How Kya discovered love despite steep obstacles
  • The murder trial that embroiled Kya's town, and the ultimate truth behind the murder

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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