Thursday, November 10, 2016

Poetry Friday - Being Other

           I decided to use this as my Poetry Friday "button" today that I created as my new FB picture. I choose to continue "going high"!  It also fits because I'm going to write about clouds today.



       Thanks very much to Jama Rattigan who is our host today at Jama's Alphabet Soup. I know that she is sharing something soothing and tummy warming for us today, much needed this week.

        Because of the divisiveness of this election time, it feels even more important to me that we read widely, read others' views, and embrace what we can with sympathy. We cannot even approach empathy without knowing something about other experiences, even if it is through imagined stories--prose or poetry. Jama shared the book that I want to share again today here. It is a nominee for the Cybil's poetry awards. And it fills us with the feelings of the words of children who are leaving home, often alone, to make their way to the United States.



       
         The author, Jorge Argueta, is a refugee from El Salvador’s war in the eighties. In his bilingual poetry, he explains the tragic choices confronting young Central Americans today who are saying goodbye to everything they know because they fear for their lives.
           These children immigrating speak with poignant voices in the poems. They mostly travel alone while crossing the border into the U.S. from San Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.

         The cloud theme is found throughout the poems, some Spanish words within the translations and foot-noted. The title poem shows the cloud shapes mentioned in the poem, along with a young boy flying through the sky, with the clouds. "Cornfields in bloom,/pumpkins and watermelons,/parrots and kites,/and the huge San Salvador volcano." Heart-breaking images by Ruano, somber, and even in a crowd, the kids stand in lonely images. That poem accompanying the image of a group walking away from home to the unknown ends with "I look at the sky/and think,/We are like the clouds." 
        I felt a small parallel upon reading this book again since Tuesday evening, I wonder if many of us don't feel ourselves like clouds, floating, anchors cut away, unsure of our destination. It meant more to me to read the poems than the time I read it last week. Also, iIn words and art, Argueta and Ruano are telling of these children on a journey, but now I wonder how many children in our country also feel like clouds.

       In a poem that is cementing a memory as these children say goodbye to their homes, here are final words about a flame tree, "flowers . . . sway in their little red-winged/hammocks."  This particular page captures what the children are leaving and will keep in their hearts. Another of my favorites is the story and illustration of some crossing a desert. The boy in the first poem is carried piggyback by his father. He says: "There is no horse as/ beautiful/or as fast/as my father/Felipe."  On the opposite page, there is one part about singing, how it makes things better as they travel long and hard: "if we keep singing,/we'll scare away all the tiredness/and the fear/and become a song." Alfonso Ruano's illustrations are lovely acrylic mostly double-page spreads, sometimes realistic and sometimes dark and shadowed. 
         You'll need to read this book to learn the full picture told. Jorge' s website is here. The poems were interpreted by Elisa Amado. There is an author's note. Considering the outcome of the election, 
the book has touched me more than I think it would have a few weeks ago. Although it is not the only solace, I find poetry can inspire the kind of courage that I may need in these next years. To learn that others have chosen to face and then triumph over challenges inspires and challenges me to be better. This book of poetry is one not to miss.

44 comments:

  1. Linda, I got an early copy of this book and just love it - so glad to read your post about it. I agree - it's not to be missed.

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    1. Thank you, Julie, happy to hear that you love this book, too.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this book. The sections you shared are wonderful and make me want to experience the book in its entirety. Also, I love the EB White quote.

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    1. You're welcome, Molly. I hope you find it and appreciate the wonderful message, too.

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  3. Thanks for this thoughtful review, Linda. Good point about children in this country feeling like clouds too, uncertain of the future, wondering if they still have a place. Your E.B. White quote is perfect too.

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    1. I loved your review, too, Jama, and feel that this is a book, among others, that all of us should read in order to learn from. Thank you.

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  4. I just bought this book, Linda - and your review makes m so glad that I did. I will be sharing these poems with my students, growing empathy in my classroom, as well all must, for the present and for the future.

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    1. Terrific! I hope you will tell us about the time you and your students read and talk about this book, Tara. It is an important time to look for ways to learn about those we know little about. Thanks!

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  5. Linda, hope is our guide in troubling times. Poetry contains the words that take us to a different place where language is the bridge. May what we face be guided by an eternal hope that words of positivity will bring people together rather than negativity ripping us apart.

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    1. Well you can tell from my post that I agree, Carol. So much depends upon how we all act these next few years.

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  6. Linda, I am so grateful for your review of this book, as refugees are large in my heart. It's important to count our blessings and to remember and to do what we can for the brave, desperate, hungry people in the world who don't have a home or a country at all -- as we sit at our cozy computers and type. Thank you for sharing. xo

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    1. I agree, Irene. I was reluctant to make a big parallel with those spoken of in this book because no matter how much I try to help, I know that my experiences are so little like the refugees. I will continue to fight for what is right to do, however, in every way possible. Thank you!

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  7. I love what you did with that E.B. White quote, Linda. Thank you for your review today, and for continuing to go high. I look to you and others for my inspiration.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle, the quote felt like one I could look to for inspiration in the coming months. I will continue on with determination to make good things happen.

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  8. I need this book.....in my school library....right during the year that I learn that there is zero budget to purchase books or anything! ARGH! However, it's on my wish list. And, I cannot promise that I will stop myself from a personal purchase and donation. This book offers such a bridge to healing by allowing young people to identify with others and begin to speak of what they know. Thank you so much for reviewing it!
    And, E.B. White -- always has the right words!

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    1. I hope that you might at least find it at your local library, Linda and share it for a while. Perhaps a parent group could donate a copy? It is certainly lovely. Thank you!

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  9. Thank you for sharing this. Now more than ever we need to explore, celebrate and embrace all the many cultures and experiences that make our countries so complex. Empathy seems so sadly lacking these days. Imagine being a parent so desperate to give your child a chance at a better life that you send your child alone on a dangerous journey because it feels like their only hope for a safer future? Those of us who were born in safe countries are so blessed - we should never forget how lucky we are, and strive to share our blessings with those who can only dream of what we have.

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    1. It is hard to imagine, I agree, Jane. It's one of the reasons I was touched by this book. Thanks!

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  10. I will look forward to getting this book. It seems so important now to understand and stand in unity with immigrants. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Sounds like a beautiful book, in word and picture! Thanks for sharing, Linda.

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    1. You're welcome, Matt.I hope you'll find it and enjoy it.

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  12. So beautiful! Let's keep singing!

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  13. Love the White quote. Sounds like a great book. I had an awwww moment as I read, "There is no horse as/ beautiful/or as fast/as my father/Felipe."

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    1. It's a sweet page, some small goodness in the middle of hard. Thanks Brenda.

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  14. Linda,
    I enjoyed the poem and feeling of hope it left me with. Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome, Mandy. Thanks for coming by!

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  15. Thank you for sharing this book. It will add to the arsenal of inspiration that we will need. Love what you did with the EB White quote.

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    1. Thank, Julieanne, it is a book for everyone to know!

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  16. EB White has the best words. And you have the hopeful posts, Linda! I look forward to reading Argueta's book - I keep hearing about it. =)

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    1. Thank you, Bridget. I try hard to be hopeful, and act when I can. Enjoy the book!

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    2. These words in your set-up for the book are a valuable take-away for me: "...it feels even more important to me that we read widely, read others' views, and embrace what we can with sympathy." The book you review sounds like one wonderful way to do that. Thank you!

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    3. Thank you, Violet. It is a wonderful book, and one that gives one more look into the immigrant's plight.

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  17. "To learn that others have chosen to face and then triumph over challenges inspires and challenges me to be better." Yes! This sounds like this is a book we need now more than ever. Thank you for sharing it with us, Linda.

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    1. You're welcome, Catherine. This book plus others are available if only many would share them. So worth reading and discussing!

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  18. Thanks for the White quote and for the book review. It sounds amazing.

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  19. I love that whole page from Sweet's book about EB White.

    I'll be on the lookout for this book!

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    1. Yep, E.B. White and Melissa Sweet are going to be making us smile for a long time. Hope you enjoy We Are The Clouds, too, Mary Lee.

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  20. I'm putting this one on my TBR. It looks beautiful. Thank you, Linda.

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    1. You're welcome, Laura. Hope you enjoy it for its beauty and its poignancy.

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  21. Yes! After last Tuesday I also feel a little lost. The floating clouds without an anchor resonate with me. I really appreciated this look through the eyes of refugees.

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    1. Thanks, Crystal. I am continuing to fight for what's right no matter the election outcome. I won't ignore what's happening.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!