I've always suspected I was a dog in a past life. These poems only ignited that suspicion. I love Mary Oliver's poetry in the way I love William EggleI've always suspected I was a dog in a past life. These poems only ignited that suspicion. I love Mary Oliver's poetry in the way I love William Eggleston's photographs; they both have a unique way of describing/displaying what many find to be "the ordinary." Read this in one sitting, next to one of my favorite dogs, Clarence, while simultaneously missing his recently-passed companion, Rhoda, and thinking about whether I could write poems about the dogs I've encountered thus far in life. ...more
"Three Things To Remember" "The Moth, The Mountains, The Rivers" "Was it Necessary to Do it?" "The Morning Paper" And the last lineA few new favorites...
"Three Things To Remember" "The Moth, The Mountains, The Rivers" "Was it Necessary to Do it?" "The Morning Paper" And the last line of "For I Will Consider My Dog Percy": "For often I see his shape in the clouds and this is a continual blessing."...more
I hope this isn't copyright infringement by sharing one of my two favorites from this collection (which I finished in one sitting after work today)...I hope this isn't copyright infringement by sharing one of my two favorites from this collection (which I finished in one sitting after work today)...
IF I WANTED A BOAT by Mary Oliver
"I would want a boat, if I wanted a boat, that bounded hard on the waves, that didn’t know starboard from port and wouldn’t learn, that welcomed dolphins and headed straight for the whales, that, when rocks were close, would slide in for a touch or two, that wouldn’t keep land in sight and went fast, that leaped into the spray. What kind of life is it always to plan and do, to promise and finish, to wish for the near and the safe? Yes, by the heavens, if I wanted a boat I would want a boat I couldn’t steer."
After spending a little over 48 hours in DC last weekend, wherein I saw the MLK memorial illuminated at night just before seeing the movie Selma (bothAfter spending a little over 48 hours in DC last weekend, wherein I saw the MLK memorial illuminated at night just before seeing the movie Selma (both the night before the day we nationally honored MLK and both of which I can't get out of my head), and reflected on how ground-breaking it felt walking those same grounds 6 years ago for President Obama's Inauguration, it seemed only natural to read Brown Girl Dreaming this week.
In our current sad state of affairs, where it disgustingly seems as though we've reverted back to the Civil Rights era of 50 years ago (with the repeated, senseless police brutality, people who were outraged that a Hunger Games character was played by an African-American girl in the movie and weren't shy about sharing their appalling, blatantly racist opinions, people ignorantly bad-mouthing the President...and then there was the Lemony Snicket author, who made an implied racist joke *while Woodsen was accepting the National Book Award*...ugh.), it was refreshing to read the eloquent and honest words of a woman, who grew up in both the north and south during the 60s and 70s, weave together her memories of family and ancestry, turmoil and revolution, friendship and passion, and the importance of listening and storytelling.
Woodson was quoted as saying it was her mission "to write stories that have been historically absent in this country’s body of literature, to create mirrors for the people who so rarely see themselves inside contemporary fiction, and windows for those who think we are no more than the stereotypes they’re so afraid of." This is why I'm excited to put this book on the "New Books" display in our library. I actually didn't even know the book was comprised of free verse poetry until I flipped through it on Tuesday because all I had read was that it was for "middle grades;" but I'm glad I took a chance and ordered it because, as far as I'm concerned, poetry is for every audience. And this is an important collection worth sharing.
I wanted to like this given the subject matter and that it's written in verse, but it was really cheesy and some of it rhymed and some of it didn't, mI wanted to like this given the subject matter and that it's written in verse, but it was really cheesy and some of it rhymed and some of it didn't, making it quite frustrating to read. ...more
Wow. Girls from Nepalese towns are sold to sex traffickers in the red-light district of Calcutta. This book, written in verse, is narrated by one suchWow. Girls from Nepalese towns are sold to sex traffickers in the red-light district of Calcutta. This book, written in verse, is narrated by one such girl, Lakshmi, in her struggles through hope, disbelief, and despair. It's a fast read, and I cringed through the whole thing. This is really happening places, and there is nothing remotely humane or okay about it. ...more
I was hoping to use this book as another example for students to check out to learn more about how teenagers reacted to 9/11, but I had a hard time foI was hoping to use this book as another example for students to check out to learn more about how teenagers reacted to 9/11, but I had a hard time following the storyline, and I'm not sure how much the free verse format would appeal to students if it's already kind of unclear what's going on in the narration. ...more
When I saw this on our "New Books" shelf at the library, I liked the cover, so I read the inside flap, saw the phrase "...Tula discovers the banned boWhen I saw this on our "New Books" shelf at the library, I liked the cover, so I read the inside flap, saw the phrase "...Tula discovers the banned books of a rebel poet..." and thought, "How appropriate being Banned Books Week. Then when I flipped through and saw the whole book was poetry, I immediately checked it out for weekend reading.
Maragarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, who wrote this book of poetry from the point of view of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (a.k.a. Tula) as well as characters from her novel, Sab, which "was one of the world's first abolitionist novels and the earliest one written in Spanish...also the only known Latin American abolitionist novel that combines pro-emancipation views with feminist themes" and was banned in Cuba.
I liked the backstory of this book and its significance in the world of banned literature more than I enjoyed the format of the story in poems.
Here is a "found poem" created by smashing together parts of various poems in the book that stood out to me:
Everyone knows that girls who read and write too much are unattractive. Men went quiet females who listen, not loud ones who offer opinions.
She warns me that no rich man will ever fall in love with a girl who loves books, but I don't care. I will never marry a man who thinks girls should be stupid.
So we send her to the library, a safe place to heal and dream...
The kitchen air grows thick with soot and smoke, the remains of my words inhaled as we breathe the ashes of my poems.
I don't know how to destroy the invisible part of a verse.
Words find their own way into the shared rhythms of our separate lives.
Will my words always be glowing coals instead of leaping flames?
I smile politely, but a secret verse grows in my mind, telling me to run, join the nuns, flee to the library, open my own book-shaped portal to an imaginary world of freedome and fairness....more
In preparation for speaking to high school students during Teen Read Week about what it was like to be a teenager in NYC during 9/11, I wanted to notIn preparation for speaking to high school students during Teen Read Week about what it was like to be a teenager in NYC during 9/11, I wanted to not just talk about my own experiences but recommend books for them to read more about that point of view if interested.
I read this cover to cover during a good chunk of a weekend commute to MI. It brought back a lot of memories, a few of which I hadn't thought about in a really long time.
This book is actually the script for a play performed by Stuyvesant students in February, 2002, based on transcripts of interviews the student actors recorded of other students and staff after the entire school population was temporarily displaced as the school was transformed into a triage unit.
Some people don't like the fact that these transcripts include all the "uhs" "likes" and "umms," but I think for what it exists to document, it's a perfect way to do so.
I liked the "staging notes" at the end. Really helped me visualize the production in all it's power with simplicity. I've never had a desire to direct a play until I read this....more
I've had this book on my "to-read" list since I heard Michael Cart talk about it at the ISLMA conference last October. When I saw Mr. Anderson rated iI've had this book on my "to-read" list since I heard Michael Cart talk about it at the ISLMA conference last October. When I saw Mr. Anderson rated it 5 stars a few days ago, it shot to the top of my to-read list. I checked out a copy from the library this morning and finished reading it in less than an hour.
Everyone should read this book of poetry, which, as a collection, is called a "song for Matthew Shepard," the 21-year-old college student who was kidnapped, beaten, and left for dead tied to a fence in rural Montana in October, 1998 all because he was gay. These poems, which are each written from a different point of view (including the moon, the fence, the killers, the cops, etc.), are incredibly moving, nauseating, and powerful. Newman uses a variety of poetic forms and includes an explanation of those forms in the back of the book, in addition to a list of relevant resources.
I have a lot more to say about how meaningful these poems are, but I'm going to save those thoughts for a blog post, so for now I will leave you with a paragraph taken from the author's Afterword:
"I have tried my hardest to imagine the last hours of Matthew Shepard's life before he lost consciousness. It is impossible to fathom the raw fear he surely felt as he begged for his life. As a poet, I know it's part of my job to use my imagination. It's part of my job as a human being, too. Because only if each of us imagines that what happened to Matthew Shepard could happen to any one of us will we be motivated to do something. And something must be done."
I loved this book. Two of the reasons can be found in the author's note at the end. 1) "I extend this idea to all: How much do we know about those aroI loved this book. Two of the reasons can be found in the author's note at the end. 1) "I extend this idea to all: How much do we know about those around us?" and 2) "I also hope after you finish this book that you sit close to someone you love and implore that person to tell and tell and tell their story." This book is written in short, eye-opening poems and spans the year of 1975. The story is told from the perspective of Há, a Vietnamese girl who flees Vietnam with her family, near the end of the war, and ends up in Alabama. The fact that it's written in poetry works really well because a lot of the details are based off the authors own memories, so it flows really well in the way that short bursts of detailed memories often do. It's hard not to empathize with Há's desire to go back to war-torn Vietnam, when none of the kids are nice to her, their evangelical neighbors practically force them to get baptized, English is impossible to learn, and she has no idea whether or not her father is still alive. Having just traveled to Vietnam this summer, I particularly felt a strong tie to this book because of how it felt to be an American there only 40 years later. Highly recommended. For all ages really....more