Blackout Poetry

I am about to introduce Blackout poetry to my class for student teaching. Personally, I have been meaning to do this for a while. So when I decided I wanted to teach a lesson on poetry, this was one of the first things that came to mind as I was coming up with activities. This works well with my lesson as I am not only teaching the students to differentiate between poetry and prose but I am also teaching them to identify literary devices and the ways they help us understand text a little better. I was going to do this the old fashioned way with newspaper clippings and permanent markers but then I suddenly came across this cool interactive feature on the New York Times website.

Here’s the link if you would like to try it out:¬†Searching for Poetry in Prose

Screenshot (30)

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INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO WIND A WATCH by Julio Cort√°zar

Death stands there in the background, but don’t be afraid. Hold the watch down with one hand, take the stem in two fingers, and rotate it smoothly. Now another installment of time opens, trees spread their leaves, boats run races, like a fan time continues filling with itself, and from that burgeon the air, the breezes of earth, the shadow of a woman, the sweet smell of bread.

What did you expect, what more do you want? Quickly. strap it to your wrist, let it tick away in freedom, imitate it greedily. Fear will rust all the rubies, everything that could happen to it and was forgotten is about to corrode the watch’s veins, cankering the cold blood and its tiny rubies. And death is there in the background, we must run to arrive beforehand and understand it’s already unimportant.

National Poetry Month: Week 2- Maya Angelou

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Photo Credit:Still I Rise poster by Kathrine Kelly
http://www.kkelly.us/still-i-rise-project/

National Poetry Month: Week 1- Pablo Neruda

Love feeding on love… What a nice thought.

If You Forget Me

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Photograph by Abigail Dienner; Temple Photojournalism
http://smcsites.com/photography/tag/temple-photojournalism/

The Book Thief

I picked the book up as I waited for the student I agreed to tutor at the library.¬†The Book Thief, I whispered to myself. It sounded interesting. Another Holocaust book. For some reason, I like reading books about the Holocaust. They are sad and heartbreaking but they also provide another side to the story. Last summer, I read The Boy in Stiped Pajamas and it was told in the viewpoint of a nine year old Nazi boy. The story was both wonderful and heartbreaking. I cried at the end. But that’s something I know that will always happen. Holocaust stories almost never have a happy ending no matter which side the story is from.

I liked the way The Book Thief was written. The narrator of this book is Death and that in itself is so intriguing. Many times, the words are just so beautiful and poetic that I can’t help but post some excerpts here:

Death is poetic.

“So many humans.
So many colours.

They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of each other. There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-coloured clouds, beating, like black hearts.

And then.
There is death.
Making his way through all of it.
On the surface: unflappable, unwavering.
Below: unnerved, untied, and undone.‚ÄĚ

Death feels emotions (o_O)… that’s a whole different perspective.

‚ÄúI carried him softly through the broken street with one salty eye and a heavy, deathly heart. With him I tried a little harder. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.‚ÄĚ

Death sees colors. Way more than we do.

‚ÄúPeople observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.‚ÄĚ

Death fears us.

“I am haunted by humans.”

And I think that this is one of my favorite parts of the book:

“As the sky began to charcoal toward light, we both moved on. We both observed the boy as he reached into his toolbox again and searched through some picture frames to pull out a small, stuffed yellow toy.

Carefully, he climbed to the dying man.

He placed the smiling teddy bear cautiously onto the pilot’s shoulder. The tip of its ear touched his throat.

The dying man breathed it in. He spoke. In English, he said, Thank you. His straight-line cuts opened as he spoke, and a small drop of blood rolled crookedly down his throat.”

This book was a phenomenal read. The words were just beautifully written. It’s something I wouldn’t mind reading over again. I like the sound the words make when I read them aloud in my mind. In short, I’ve fallen for this book. I love the words. The poetry. Papa and his accordion. And I have most definitely fallen in love with Rudy Steiner.