Poetry Friday can be enjoyed with Carol at Carol's Corner!
|Home Sweet Home|
No matter what kind of writing I am working with both personally and in my teaching, I always return to saying, “tell the story”. Recently, I have read several books that tell their wonderful stories in verse. They are both written for children, and both are heartbreaking in the telling of memories of place. They communicate more than about being homesick, but rather grief stricken or heartsick for their homes. Thanhha Lai won the National Book Award this year for her poetic novel, Inside Out And Back Again, which tells the tale of a family immigrating to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon. And Karen Hesse, whose book Out Of The Dust won the Newbery in 1998, also wrote Aleutian Sparrow, a chronicling of the removal of the Aleut people from their homes in the Aleutian islands in order to protect them from the Japanese at the beginning of World War II. They were not allowed to return, although the Japanese threat ended in 1942, until April of 1945, only to find their villages looted and destroyed. It can’t be easy to write an entire novel in verse, but these two writers, along with others, create something very easy to read. I’d like to share a little bit from each.
From Inside Out And Back Again:
When the main character’s mother visits a kind of fortuneteller in the New Year:
This year he predicts
our lives will twist inside out.
Maybe soldiers will no longer
patrol our neighborhood,
maybe I can jump rope
maybe the whistles
that tell Mother
to push us under the bed
will stop screeching.
From Aleutian Sparrow:
I was six when I stood outside Alfred’s grandfather’s house,
where the old ways steep like tea in a cup of hours.
Most of us dreamed of going Outside, hungry for a taste of
life beyond the Aleutians.
Few of us truly meant it, few of us ever really intended to
leave the fog and the wind, the sun and the rain, the
hunting and trapping and fishing, the easy welcome
We never thought who we were was so dependent on where
Other books in verse I’ve enjoyed are Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech, Witness, also by Karen Hesse, the trilogy beginning with Make Lemonade by Virginia Ewer Wolfe, and Keesha’s House, by Helen Frost. There are others. Each tells a compelling story like the ones above, and is worthy of recommendations to students who might think they don’t like poetry, but do love to read a great story.