I wrote this song for some friends and then realized that while some of the lines are specific to my group of close friends, the message of friendship is wider. I include friends in my networking spaces, like CLMOOC in this idea of finding people you can trust. I put the “demo” label on a lot of songs recorded quickly like this …
(Note: The image I found and used as inspiration is not a Creative Commons licensed image, so I have left a note for the photographer, in hopes they will make a change that allows me to embed their lovely image — you can view the image directly with this link. UPDATE: The photographer wrote back, giving me permission to embed their photo. I am grateful for the response.– Kevin)
Random Access Poetry: Day Twenty One
All small paths
locate you into
divide of wood or
stone or dreams
bridge the gap
between what is
possible in this
moment and what
Let me begin with one of the first poems in this intriguing collection of free verse narratives of fictional characters who are making their way to Washington DC in August 1963 to protest for Civil Rights.
For All, 1963
If you contend the noblest end
of all is human rights, amend
the laws; The beauty of the sun
is that it shines on everyone
In Voices from the March on Washington, by J. Patrick Lewis and George Ella Lyon, the poetry sings the stories of the people who gathered to be part of the 250,000 protesters.
The poets here invent some fictional characters — a white teenager from the midwest, a young black girl from the south, a lawyer from the north, a Japanese internment survivor from the West — and brings their voices into a mix that will remind you of how far our country has come, and how far it has yet to go.
I started this book, thinking it would be a non-fiction collection, and so was pleasantly surprised to find myself immersed in poetry of all stripes. The poems dig deep, from those who are not sure why they are on the bus, to those on the bus being attacked with objects against glass windows, to those doubting whether MLK’s famous words are enough, to those making connections between races in ways that would have been impossible in the communities from which they departed. All are changed by the experience.
So is the reader, and this book is appropriate for any upper elementary to middle school classroom.
Today is Poem In Your Pocket Day — so either write your own poem to bring around with you or find a favorite or maybe discover something new. There are lots of resources at the Poets.Org site.
Before our April break, I handed out a poem to every one of my students. We read them and I had them fold them up, put them in their pockets, and carry some words around with them. A few students were a bit befuddled but others were appreciative and curious.
I wrote this poem as a riff of my CLMOOC poet friend, Raymond, the other day, and so, while I made it digital, I also hand-wrote it out, and this is the poem I will carry with me today. I lifted the first line from Ray’s poem — a Lunch Break Sonnet.
The middle is a spring
all wind and fury
and unpredictable worry:
You keep me covered
while I hold you tight
Love is what gets us
through the night
We’re lucky in that we live in a vibrant literary community in my small Western Massachusetts city. There are writers and illustrators (and filmmakers and artists) everywhere you turn. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not far away (just a town over the river and Eric Carle himself is local) and I took some time yesterday to head to the museum to see their special exhibit on graphic novels.
I really appreciated an entire museum room, dedicated entirely to the art of the graphic novel, and the Out of the Box exhibit was well-done, with visual timelines and examples of graphic stories across history along with a pretty diverse representation of featured writers and artists from the field. In addition, there was a rich library of graphic novels, and a few kids were scattered in corners, reading stories. (I wrote down a few titles I want to read myself).
I also really appreciated a display that invited museum participations to create and add a page to an ongoing community graphic novel on display. Tutorials were included on elements of comics. You could make your own frames and add to the story (which, to be honest, was a little odd and strange and non-linear), and I spent as much time enjoying the work of kids and adults in that collaborative graphic novel/comic strip writing piece as I did the formal displays.
In a few weeks, we’re having graphic novelist Jarrett Krosoczka come to our school to present to our students about the art of graphic novels (you have to read his Hey, Kiddo, if you haven’t done so already), and how art and writing come together to tell stories. Our plan is to have all of our sixth graders create their own comic/graphic novels celebrating a “support staff” member at our school, based on Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series. It will be fun way to honor and recognize the work of those who are critical to a school community.
So, I grabbed a few pics from his display (he’s local, too) to share with students before his visit.
I still fondly remember the Words & Pictures Museum that was in our city’s downtown. It was created and supported by the guys behind the Teenage Ninja Turtles, after their indie comic hit the big time. Both men began their careers here in our city. The museum was in this circular building structure, so you wandered your way from top to bottom, with walls covered in comic art. Too bad it had to close.