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One Hug in a Huge World. . .

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Image from Shel Silverstein’s “Hug-Of-War”

I don’t know how people see me in general. I cannot look with another’s eyes to see the external me, and this has always been a sort of frustration for me. Because I am inwardly-driven.

Introspective. Reflective.

Questioning to the point of self-frustration. Sometimes even to the point of self-loathing. This idea. . .how do people see me? Am I doing enough to project a likable, trustworthy personae? Am I okay?

It’s not this way with small children, however. Never has been. If a small child sees me in a restaurant, it is little time at all before there are peeks around a high chair or a small face peering over the top of a booth. Sometimes, I create trouble for a child by proximity. Small children. Small animals. Do they see something I do not see?

It’s no time at all before we are engaged in some kind of quiet play. Smiles. Silly faces. A finger wave. There’s a connection. Sometimes, you just have to accept that to some other person in this world, you are seen as a viable playmate.

I’m the last person you would expect such a reciprocal expression from. . .I’m 6’3, 250. I’m quite foreboding having spent some time in the gym as a younger person. But there is no fear in these small children. . .none.

It’s really quite humbling. But it does invite and afford glimpses into a self that I don’t recognize in passing. And it almost always happens in passing.

Today was Maddie’s 12th birthday. The plan was to go to The Olive Garden for lunch. Maddie would sit with a friend and Noah and I would sit at a near-by table to allow for some girl-conversation without the intrusion of Daddy and Big Brother. Before we took our seats at a table, this small child turned in his chair to squeal at me. Big toothy grin, delightful squeal. Hands out-stretched. It’s not my first time. This happens.

And then IT happened.

The mother of this child in response to his outburst slapped him across the mouth and turned him in his chair to face his own group.

And I was struck in the moment. I turned red about my lips. My mouth. I could feel my face on fire. And something broke within me.

I know it was not my head, because if it were, I would have been over that seat taking matters into my own hands (please see the description above–I also see myself as being strong enough to defend myself and others if need be).

It was my heart. I am not always aware of my heart and the multitudes it might contain. Not in public moments like this anyway. Oh, sure, I can be moved to tears by human moments captured in film. I do cry openly at the endings of books. I am moved by read-alouds in front of students when they are moved by something they are experiencing for the first time even if I have experienced it over seventy times.

My heart was slapped. And the reverberation came of Noah’s having witnessed the slap. His teenage head shaking from side to side. The look upon his face that read, “Did you see that, Daddy? Did you see what happened to that baby?” And my return look that must have read, “Yes. I saw. Go ahead. Eat your salad. It will be okay.”

Since, we were seated back-to-back, I could have written the whole event off as a chance event that we just happened to witness. We are here to celebrate. We are here to enjoy a meal that we don’t always get to have.

But a slap just doesn’t go away. Slaps are processed. Especially by the inward. The introspective. The clumsy oafs who grab daisies by the petals and lack the understanding of brokenness.

The group behind us left before we finished our meal. But the mother left with baby carrier with a smaller child leaving a grandmother to tend the toddler.

When the toddler passed my chair, he playfully grabbed my shirt hem. I turned to him. I looked at him and I smiled. He smiled back. Big toothy grin. Chubby toddler fingers. Brown skin. Beautiful.

His grandmother called him by name, but I didn’t catch it. Perhaps this is better  for me in the end. He becomes archetypal. Any child.

Any child reaching out. It’s a moment one cannot afford to lose.

The little boy immediately gestured “Up.” You’ve seen children do this, right? “Up.” It’s a universal gesture.

The grandmother smiled and said, “Baby, this gentleman doesn’t want to pick you up.”

And I said. “Yes. Yes I do. I want to pick him up.”

I turned my chair and let that little brown baby sit right on my lap. Wouldn’t you know that close cut brown-haired head found itself nuzzled right into my chest and armpit.

What are you going to do? I kissed him on the forehead. I told him he was a good boy. That I believed that he was a really good, good boy. Beautiful boy.

And that was it.

Taking his grandmother’s hand, he walked out of the restaurant. And into the world outside of restaurants. Outside. Where the world presents equal parts slaps and equal parts hugs. But. . .every now and then. . .a chance encounter with a person who reads the heart of others better than he may read his own will come your way.

We cannot lose the chance to express a little bit of love in this world we live in. We are in this together, kid. Who knows. . .one day we might run into each other again. You will read my heart and remember. And you’ll want to hug me. I can do that. I’ll be ready. And you’ll tell me, “You said I was a good, good boy. You’ll told me I was beautiful.”

And I’ll reply, “I remember. I did. You are.”

That’s it. No reading connection here, unless we might count our hearts as a kind of text. And for this, we are led to stories we share. And the connections we invite via the books we share. A close-reading of the heart. The names of the people we meet. . .and we touch. . .and we love. . .inscribed in the margins.

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Galley Review: FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (3/2015)

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This is a review of the Advanced Uncorrected Galley of FISH IN A TREE. This review is based upon an uncorrected text and any quotes from the book that appear within this review will have come from the galley edition of FISH IN A TREE.

When our twelve-year-old Maddie was just a little bit younger, she came home from school one day wanting to share a joke she had recently read at her school.

Not heard.

Read.

Always an appreciator of a good joke, I told Maddie to go ahead and share the joke. Maddie recited with the delivery of someone who has just gotten “off-book” with his or her lines:

“Everyone is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Maddie thought this was a joke. I thought it was probably the very best idea she could have read, internalized, and recited for her entire 6th grade year.

But, it’s no joke. And to unpack how Maddie may have thought it was initially is an exploration of Maddie’s empathic processing, her enjoyment of wordplay, and, certainly, her deep, deep affection for the random and the silly. . .I mean, a “fish in a tree?”

“A mind movie flickers in my brain of an angry fish at the bottom of the tree, banging on the trunk with its fin and complaining that it can’t climb it” (159).

I know about fish in trees. I have seen them. They continue to present themselves when the wind blows just so through the leafy greenery of the summer season, but seen them even more when those leaves turn to brown, and orange, and red. And they are laid most bare when those leaves fall away.

They are fish in trees and you would hardly notice them for all of the birdcall in the boughs. Except that they speak differently. They move differently. Everything about them, including their ill attempts at managing a pencil. . .different. Oh, they know all about bubbles.

They make them. They’ve never been asked to fill them in.

And read? While others are reading the skies for boundless opportunities and the conditions of the ground for landing and plucking, they have been content with the current. The warm waters. They imagine again the schools to which they once belonged before they were flung into foliage unfamiliar.

“I wish she could understand my world. But it would be like trying to explain to a whale what it’s like to live in the forest” (29).

Ally Nickerson is the protagonist of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s newest title, FISH IN A TREE which is set to release from Nancy Paulsen Books in March of 2015. The opening scene of the book puts the reader right into the classroom wherein Ally is being asked by Mrs. Hall to write a page about herself for the new teacher coming in. Ally’s page is full of doodles.

“The rest of the class is getting tired of me again. Chairs slide. Loud sighs. Maybe they think I can’t hear their words: Freak. Dumb. Loser” (3).

I love Lynda’s use of punctuation here. Doesn’t it seem that these labels come with their own sense of finality? You’re a ______. Period.

Mrs. Hall is preparing to leave to have a baby. A simple mistake in card selection on Ally’s behalf upsets the classroom party and becomes just another of Ally’s classroom disruptions. Lynda puts the reader right in that place early on of  ”sympathy” for Ally as she chooses a card based upon its appearances and not for its intended message.

Ally cannot read.

“No matter how many times I have prayed and worked and hoped, reading for me is still like trying to make sense of a can of alphabet soup that’s been dumped on a plate. I just don’t know how other people do it” (10).

I’ve never had a problem with reading. Most of my problems with my early education came with presentation. The Paul before the first day. Raised as a Jehovah’s  Witness as a child, I was “other.” I was the one who went to the hallway during birthday parties. I never recited the pledge as a child though I knew it by heart for internal recitations over the period of thirteen years and pledged flawlessly as a new recruit with the United States Navy years later. Teachers had expectations of me before the first bell. I would only be able to do so much of a holiday-themed project. I would have to be considered before celebrations and class plays could come to fruition.

It’s funny how “fishers of men” often fail to look in the trees above them.

This week, I received a well-intended email from a parent of a student I am going to have in class this year. The email was to assure me that I had the parent’s full support and backing (which I do appreciate). The subject of the email was described as a “good kid” but “somewhat lazy.”

Oh.

Fish.

I see you.

Period.

“Since the day of he mystery boxes, I keep thinking about how good it felt to do something right. To fit in.

That’s what I want. To feel like everybody else” (97).

I never wanted to be “lazy” either, young man. But that is the perception over time that is the product of submitting plain pumpkins crafted from paper strips and secured with a staple, turkeys without Pilgrims, and construction paper pine trees that are cut in a matter of minutes (often times without inspecting for indwelling fish).

Young man, when Mr. Hankins was in 2nd grade a teacher told him, “If you cannot do the same work that the other children are doing, perhaps you shouldn’t go to this school.”

I wasn’t “lazy.” I was merely trying to stay afloat.

You ever try to swim in a tree?

And that is why I will greet you at the beginning of the year and we will celebrate the shininess of your new school year scales and forget about those other types of scales. Those pesky human scales that only know some kind of binary system of pass and fail.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt celebrates teaching and lead learners in her new book in the character of Mr. Daniels, the new teacher who takes over the classroom in Mrs. Hall’s absence. Mr. Daniels has a sense about him to do what I heard is one of THE best interventions for protecting the smartest voice in the room (which is the room according to Kylene Beers) by “shutting down the put-downs” during one of his first interactions with the class (37).

From this point in the book on, the reader gets to experience how Mr. Daniels sees his “Fantasticos” and how they interact as a community within the classroom. From unspoken cues to quiet celebrations of work, Lynda’s book is a celebration of teaching and what a gift it is in this regard.

Ally has to deal with her challenges and her bullies throughout the book, but she also makes some good friends along the way. Here, Lynda does a super job of creating a sense of creating any tree you might find anywhere in the world with Suki, Keisha, Albert, and Oliver taking supporting roles. And readers will not want to miss one of Ally’s most wonderful gifts in a scene that happens before a big recital.

Lynda creates a wonderful family structure for Ally with a long-suffering mother and a highly-supportive brother, Travis (a character I will not spoil for you here, but I want you to know about Travis the way I want you to know about a wonderful companion text for FISH IN A TREE called IF SHE REALLY KNEW ME). Ally’s father is deployed with the Army, a reality that will resonate with many young readers and helps to really bring what Ally has by way of gifts for survival in the tree to light.

“But, now, on top of all of those other big wishes that I carry around, I now have one more. I want to impress Mr. Daniels. With every tiny little piece of myself, I just want him to like me” (57).

Lynda paints a picture of teaching that includes quiet, subtle guiding, public encouragement, apology when mistakes are made, and celebration of even the smallest of achievements.

Because Ally’s internal voice is not coming from a student who wants to disrupt class or classwork. These are the voices of students who, like Ally, have spent years “staring into. . .stomachs while they have sat at their desks while they are told what is wrong with them” (57).

Lazy is just another label, young man.

Look up. See me. I am a tall as a tree. I am your teacher.

 

God help me. I’ve never been good with labels.

But I am pretty good with kids. And I am excellent with words. And stories. And books. My certification appears at the bottom of this post should you need to see my credentials.

“And I think of words. The power they have. How they can be waved around like a wand–sometimes for good like how Mr. Daniels uses them. How he makes kids like Oliver feel better about ourselves” (185).

Maddie has come to a realization that this is actually a quote often attributed to Einstein. That is is a comment upon how children learn vs. how children are assessed of the learning that should have happened based upon curriculum and criteria.  She has come to the realization this is a poster hung in the room of someone who believes in the unique nature and qualities of each student in the classroom.

And this realization all comes of the same growth process we have all gone through, doesn’t it?

I am her father. I want her to keep looking up.

For paper posters. For potential paradigms. For a person’s possibilities.

I want her to see the fish in the trees.

Oh. . .my credentials:

 

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To be celebrated by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, with the pages of a book like FISH IN A TREE, is all the affirmation I need to have a super school year. I’m not going to shake the tree; I am going to climb up inside of it and take a branch.

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“Read” (Parody of Magic’s “Rude”)

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It’s summertime. . .and it’s been a while since we have dropped a parody on the crowd. It looks like Magic has the big hit this summer with their song, “Rude.” Well. . .it sounded so much like “read.”

I just couldn’t help myself. Crank up the song. Sing along. Create your own reading anthem. 

 

“Read”
It’s Monday morning. He jumped out of his desk, and put on his game face.
Stepped into the aisle like it’s not a “No” yet, and presented his best case.
Thumped on the cover with his heart in his hands
to ask the question
‘Cause he knows that you are a leveling man yeah yeah:

Can he read what he wants for the rest of his life? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause he needs to know.
You say it’s not on his level and he starts to cry.
Tough luck, kid, but the answer is NO!

So, is this the way you want to lead?
There’s something in these books he needs.
Why can’t you just let him read?
I hope he reads these books anyway.
Read these books;
read these books anyway.
Read these books;
yeah, you heard what I said.
Read these books.
He’ll be in the Nerdy Community.

Why can’t you just let me read?

You must understand the power of choice.
No readers without it.
Release the power to girls and boys
standing at that bookshelves.
Or they’ll go away–
another year from now–
Can’t you hear their plea
They’ll read whatever you allow.

Can she read what she chooses for the rest of her life? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause she needs to know.
She’ll read what you bless till the day that she dies (or 3PM)
But, even knowing this, the answer’s still no!

Is this how you were taught to read?
Letting someone else take the lead?
How hard is it to see her needs?
I hope she reads those books anyway.
Read those books.
Read those books anyway.
Read those books.
Invite her to have their say.
Read those books.
She’ll be in a Nerdy Community.

Why can’t we just let them read?

Can they read freely for the rest of their lives? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause they need to know.
The books that you bless will be the books that they’ll try.
Good luck as your readers begin to grow!

C’mon, let’s just let them read.
It’s the best approach to reading, indeed.
Sit back and just watch them read.
They’ll read those books everyday.
Read those books.
Read those books everyday.
Read those books.
Even on summer days.
Reading those books
as part of a Nerdy Community.

When we going to let them read?
When we going to let them read?

 

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National Poetry Month: 20/30: “If Not for Franki”

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“If Not for Franki”

 

If looking for a voice that says, “You should come too”

not one that just says “Just do the best that you can do;”

for one instance of another belief in your ability:

Franki

 

If looking for that brand new title your kids will love

not just one more book under the desk to shove

for building a little reading excitability:

Franki

 

If  looking for a model of sharing resources,

not just handouts, programs, or bills for courses

for feeling that you are one within a large community:

Franki.

 

If looking for one to beat weekly in Bejeweled Blitz

not being able to top you, knowing it gives her fits,

for knowing that if she ever did, it would be with humility:

Franki.

 

And here are some quatrains

I might not have had otherwise. . .

 

If not for Franki.

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Using Cinquain to Draw Summary from Books and Reading Part II

Their Eyes

On Tuesday, we posted a few pieces from our work with Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. I have added those to this post, but I have added a few new pieces that I got to draft with my other classes in order to really draw out this idea of using the cinquain of a means of drawing deeper connections to the text to invite personal responses that approach the analysis we want our readers to be doing at the higher levels of learning.

I’m still working with the idea to clarify how it meets the CCS or other State Standards in an effort to codify vs. poetically-render my idea here for use in the classroom. But I cannot help myself. As much as I would try to claim otherwise, I am a poet at heart.

Using Garland Cinquain to Analyze a Character from a Book

 

Chapter Two of Their Eyes Were Watching God:

 

Tender

kisses with boys

can lead to big trouble;

it must mean you’re a woman now,

changing.

 

Married?

It’s too early.

She knows nothing of it.

Couldn’t she wait just a bit more?

Too young.

 

To want

to be a tree–

want what nature promised,

waiting for pollen–bumblebees.

Marriage.

 

Unknown.

How she got here–

the mysteries of she–

born of another tree and time:

Nanny.

 

 Needful

for saftety now,

alone in the world

without a father or mother.

Girl.

 

 Tender.

It’s too early

want what nature promised

born of another tree and time

Girl.

 

Using Garland Cinquain to Analyze a Character’s Feelings from a Moment in a Book

 

Chapter Five of Their Eyes Were Watching God

 

Big Train

south to Maitland,

with Jody by her side,

ready to go rule the world.

Moving.

 

 Carry

her brand new dreams.

There’s a new town waiting,

everything she’s dreamed of inside.

New chances.

 

 Arrive

to find little

more than roots and dirt roads–

less than what she expected.

Dismayed.

 

 The speech

she wants to give

is quieted, quickly,

a voice as big as the world

building.

 

 Ready

to speak out now.

She’s aching to be heard.

This is what a woman sounds like

silenced.

 

 Big Train:

her brand new dreams–

more than roots in dirt roads–

a voice as big as the world

silenced.

 


 

Using Garland Cinquain to Explore a Minor Character (Symbolic) from a Book

 ***NEW PIECE***

Matt Bonner’s Mule

 

Skinny.

Most all raw-boned

Brutes are commanded daily.

Come up is seasoned with rawhide.

Worker.

 

Rib bones

used for scrub boards;

he’s fixed up for laundry,

clothes hanging on hock bones to dry.

Resigned.

 

Master

Waits with the whip;

there’s a field to be plowed.

Fighting inches in front of plows.

Submit.

 

Daily

mistreatment.

Always another job

to be done with an old mule’s back.

Nightly.

 

The feed

is the day’s wage

for the work that is done.

But tomorrows’ is not promised,

servant.

 

Skinny—

used for scrub boards.

There’s a field to be plowed,

to be done with an old mule’s back:

servant.

 

 

Using Garland Cinquain to Explore a Minor Character’s Role in Driving a Story Line

***NEW PIECE***

Logan—

lonely’s limit—

a story’s bit player

meant to last just one season:

husband.

 

The land

meant to protect

is simply a framing

of a young girl’s limitations,

the home.


 

The man

she wants to love,

he lacks the pretty bloom,

is hard to love the way he’s made:

burden.

 

Seasoned

like long winters

threatening her green time;

there is no springtime within him.

Ripened.

 

Fence rail,

the beckoning.

Simply a boundary,

like a page that comes to an end.

Chapter.

 

Logan—

meant to protect,

he lacks the pretty bloom.

There’s no springtime within him.

Chapter.

 

Using Cinquain to Analyze a Setting or People within a Setting

Fum’blin’

around time’s toes.

Porch-time interactions–

all ’bout da day’s nuttinness,

talking.

Stum’blin’

wit dey own thoughts,

arguin’ about dis-and-dat,

from da sun rise til da sun set

over.

 

Bum’blin’

wit opinions

playin’ da dozens

til someone gits reconciled

fin’ly.

 

Crum’blin,

the sun goes down

back inta da same earth,

and da sun pays ‘im rev’rence

passing.

 

Mum’blin’,

it’s beyond dem.

Each to dey own thoughts

words changed with the earth and wit the sky

Amen.

 

Fum’blin

wit dey own thoughts

til someone gits reconciled

and da earth pay ‘im rev’rence.

Amen.

 

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National Poetry Month: 17/30: “Spine Poem”

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I thought to share this spine poem with the group today if you’ve not seen this on Facebook or Twitter. It’s the “spine poem” I put together of the resources I had pulled in advance of the NCTE-sponsored #nctechat. With five minutes before the chat was to begin, I thought, “Hey, a spine poem would make a nice feature image for the chat. Not only would we showcase some resources, but we could demonstrate that words are everywhere (this is really important when we find ourselves without the ability to find words).

Now, one of the drawbacks of spine poetry is that one has to silently communicate the intended line breaks that might get lost to the viewer on the other side of the poetic transaction. I’ve tried to scatter stack these before and it becomes a Jenga-like lesson in physics (particularly gravity). This is why I like to print my poems alongside of the stack (something I learned from appreciating Bob Rascka’s LEMONADE. Show the art. Share the poem.

 

“The Power of Poems”

 

Nurture

independent voices.

 

You know who:

 

poetry people.

 

People I’d like to keep–

hand in hand–

poem-making;

awakening the heart.

 

Let them be themselves:

 

word playgrounds.

 

 

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National Poetry Month: 16/30: “I’d Love to Hear That Song Again”

 

 

 

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I kind of woke up this morning thinking about the residents I worked with in the long-term care facility. How their favorite songs were hymns I did not know when I started but have become the soundtrack of my quiet heart. Songs like “Church in the Wildwood” and “The Old Rugged Cross.” They are etched in my mind as the earnest renderings of voices that had sometimes lost their polish with memories that sometimes fumbled a word.

With nothing lost in translation.

During National Poetry Month, we try to throw out these poems as quickly as possible with any thought of revision coming much later (if ever). I got up at 5:30 this morning thinking about residents. . .and villanelles. How are these two subjects for waking thoughts. And I had one more subject weaving through both of these. That I could have just enough creativity to render this:

 

“I’d Love to Hear That Song Again” (A Villanelle for Easter)

 

I’d love to hear that song again,

from a choir that meets once a week,

oh, how He came to save all men.

 

How he came to earth already knowing when

it would be His life that they would seek.

I’d love to hear that song again.

 

How He’d come to carry all man’s sin,

with mercy mild and mercy meek.

Of how he came to save all men.

 

Of the night he spent in the garden,

when the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

Oh, I’d love to hear that song again.

 

The sweet prayer for passage sent and then

it was only His Father’s will to seek.

Oh, how he came to save all man.

 

How all fell silent on earth and in Heaven,

but not a moment dark and bleak.

I’d love to hear that song again

oh, how He came to save all man.

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Using Cinquain to Summarize Reading: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD

Their Eyes

Remember the Cinquain Poem? These–like haiku have our young writers flicking out their fingers or rapping on desks as they count the syllabic invitation for each line. It’s fun to watch, no? To review, the cinquain poem is set up like this:

2 syllables

4 syllables

6 syllables

8 syllables

2 syllables

You might have students think of this like a phone number. Rattled off like 2-4-6-8-2. . .

A “Crown Cinquain” is a poem with a singular subject or focus that has five of these cinquain stanzas as the body.

Wait. . .it gets better.

A “GARLAND Cinquain” is a poem with a singular subject or focus that has six of these cinquains, but the sixth is comprised of lines from the other five. So the first line comes from the first, the second line comes from the second. . .

The garland cinquain can be a little tricky for those new to the form, but it can encourage revision during the writing process as students attempt to create that sixth stanza as a summary while revising the other stanzas to fit the overall idea. Now. . .we can parse out together how this encourages new words and experiences for the summary of reading experience, or I can just show you a couple from my own attempts today.

I’d like to encourage you to give students a chance to play with this poetic form as a means of summary as it might lead to new insights into their take-away from the reading. If we look at each stanza as a paragraph, what we really have here is a poetry to prose connection that can provide students with an elementary scaffolding to a piece that would need a little stucco and paint to bring it around to a fully-constructed summary (whew. . .National Poetry Month has me equating early drafts of essays to little houses being built upon the foundations of understanding).

Chapter Two of Their Eyes Were Watching God:

 

Tender

kisses with boys

can lead to big trouble;

it must mean you’re a woman now,

changing.

 

Married?

It’s too early.

She knows nothing of it.

Couldn’t she wait just a bit more?

Too young.

 

To want

to be a tree–

want what nature promised,

waiting for pollen–bumblebees.

Marriage.

 

Unknown.

How she got here–

the mysteries of she–

born of another tree and time:

Nanny.

 

Needful

for saftety now,

alone in the world

without a father or mother.

Girl.

 

Tender.

It’s too early

want what nature promised

born of another tree and time

Girl.

 

Now, this rough-draft stuff that I created up on the board while writing with students. But look a little more closely at the poetic accident that came of the drafting (and this is what I am excited to see you find with your students should you choose to do this activity). There are little mini poems within the poem. More than the “garland” here, what I found when I look at the first and last lines of each stanza is this “Found Poem”:

 

Tender.

Changing.

 

Married?

 

Too young

to want

marriage.

 

Unknown

Nanny.

 

Needful girl.

 

Tender girl.

 

This is where I might ask myself, “Do I see summary in these stanzas?” and “Do I see how the culling of my own words in this format pulled something entirely-other from my having read this chapter?”

This is where I touch my chin to my chest repetitively.

Later in the day, in a completely-separate block, I was able to draft this “garland cinquain”:

 

Chapter Five of Their Eyes Were Watching God

 

Big Train

south to Maitland,

with Jody by her side,

ready to go rule the world.

Moving.

 

Carry

her brand new dreams.

There’s a new town waiting,

everything she’s dreamed of inside.

New chances.

 

Arrive

to find little

more than roots and dirt roads–

less than what she expected.

Dismayed.

 

The speech

she wants to give

is quieted, quickly,

a voice as big as the world

building.

 

Ready

to speak out now.

She’s aching to be heard.

This is what a woman sounds like

silenced.

 

Big Train:

her brand new dreams–

more than roots in dirt roads–

a voice as big as the world

silenced.

 

Found poem? Yep. Two poetic accidents in one afternoon of playing around with a poetic form. Let’s see if  our found poem speaks to Chapter 5 of Zora Neale Hurston’s book.

 

Big Train

moving.

 

Carry

new chance.

Arrive

dismayed.

 

Ready.

 

Silenced.

 

Big Train:

 

Silenced.

 

I don’t want this post to go too long. I want you to have a chance to go out and play with some piece of text that you are sharing with students to see if this type of summary may lead to new breakthroughs with your students. I think we are all going to be surprised.

And if the stanzas lead to scaffolding for an extended prose response? From where did the words come? Inspired by the reading, yes? But the words come from within our readers.

Can you think of a better point of origin?

Happy reading and writing, friends! Thank you for visiting the blog.

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National Poetry Month: 15/30: The Nothing-To-Do-Day Drawer (Part III)

image

 

Keeping that cinquain formatting for today. Still exploring contents of the drawer. What might be fun in revision is to try a “garland cinquain” form wherein six cinquains are linked together with the sixth being made up of lines from the other five. Line one from cinquain one, line two from cinquain two. . .

 

Crayons,

a brand new box.

I open up the flap.

Every color is standing tall

pointing.

 

Comics,

just a couple.

I read them quietly

and dream of life in Riverdale,

teen-aged.

 

Candy

in a paper sack

from a quick trip downtown.

Choosing one kind was difficult.

So sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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National Poetry Month: 14/30: “The Nothing-To-Do-Day Drawer” (Part II)

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Yesterday, we explored the cinquain format for our poem introducing the idea of the nothing-to-do-day drawer. Today, I thought we would try a “crown cinquain” wherein five stanzas of the cinquain approach come together to make one poem.

 

Wooden

yellow pencils,

waiting to do their work,

drawing shapes or writing stories,

today.

 

Paper,

white, blue-lined,

a flat and sturdy mat.

Maybe I will write a poem

for Dad.

 

Buttons,

round mysteries,

in a little tin box

I wonder where this one came from?

Old coat?

 

Brushes–

painting today?

I flick hairy bristles

and I  think blue, green, and brown thoughts:

world.

 

Old Maid,

in a worn box,

waiting for one more game,

another chance to make a match,

lonely.

 

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