Thursday, May 30, 2019

Poetry Friday - Naomi Shihab Nye In My Life

           Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading hosting this Friday, her first I believe, of summer break. Thanks, Mary Lee! Enjoy your summer fun!



                 A month ago, Tabatha invited us to join her for a Poetry Friday full of poetry by Naomi Shihab Nye or inspired by her. Not long after, Nye was honored as the new Young People's Poetry Laureate. It is wonderful that we will hear from her all the year ahead, as will teachers all over the country, and now our celebration today from those who are taking this challenge.
            I taught all the years in an independent school for gifted children. My love and commitment was for middle-school-aged children, often having students for three years, but always for two. The final years I spent with all ages as the literacy coach. I loved teaching but realized that many of my students had few opportunities to know about other lives in our country, our world. Naomi Shihab Nye entered my life when I discovered two of her anthologies, This Same Sky and the flag of childhood, poems from the middle east. I no longer have the first one as I passed it on to a young teacher whom I mentored; both  brought lives from others into my students' lives. For that, and so many more books from Naomi Shihab Nye, I am grateful.


       One poem I have used since discovering it is from the book Come With Me, Poems for a Journey, illustrated by Dan Vaccarino. I often had students write oral histories and poems from their discoveries of new lives different from theirs and sometimes a childhood memory. This poem was a start.


Tío Pete

He was old as a basket
and he carried more
than a basket carries.

Where he was going
tasted green and sweet
as the inside of a melon
that sleeps for days
in the sun.

His pants were gray flannel,
and his sturdy heart a stem.
He remembered when the streets
were made of bricks.

For you he brought the fruit of papaya,
the yellow bell of the tree.
For you he brought a worn leash
to link you to your little dog.
No more little dogs for him.

He was old as a basket
and he carried the days
before you were born.

So you opened
     your door
with a hundred
happy arms.

He sat in a chair
          and made

      a different

           country

               there.          

       One final book I would recommend is Salting the Ocean, 100 poems by young poets. This book is filled with unknown child poets from the years of Naomi's school visits, one I used often to show how wonderful it is to write one's own story in poetry. In her forward, these words inspire: "You are making a map of the days you live."

36 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your passion for teaching and for making sure that poetry was a part of your students' lives! I want to do more with a variety of "where I'm from" poems at the beginning of next year as we explore identity more deeply. I will definitely be using NSN as a model/mentor text!

    (Yes, this is the end of my first week off, but summer REALLY starts next week after I finish three days of math PD!!)

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    1. Ah, yes, you mentioned your Math PD. Hope it goes well, Mary Lee. My older granddaughter (4th) wrote an end-of-year poem from the 'Where I'm From' poem. They were to present their celebration of learning by starting with that. It was wonderful. Poetry sticks for a lifetime so I'm always glad to hear when teachers are sharing & writing it with students. Thanks!

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  2. This is a gorgeous poem, Linda. Thank you for sharing it. The second and final stanzas grabbed me because I could picture the images so clearly.

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    1. I'm glad that you like it, Laura. I do love it, too, its images & the many layers, showing the 'underneath' for students. Thanks!

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  3. I love this poem! I just, last night, copied this one down as a possible for next year's Poetry Pandemonium at my school. It's such a good description of how it feels to have a relative from another land. Thank you for sharing it. I'm sure that your students carry these words with them still.

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    1. How awesome that you chose it to use, Linda. It's certainly special to me. Thank you!

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  4. This one is lovely, and new to me. Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. You're welcome, Ruth. I'm happy you enjoyed it.

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  5. Linda, I love your passion for passing on poetry to all of us as you did for your students. Your grandgirls must really love being in your company. The poem you shared starts off with such a wonderful description. The Same Sky is a great book of poetry. I have to tell you that I have heard Naomi Shihab Nye speak a couple of times and I spoke with her while she was signing a book for me. She is such an amazing person, so friendly and humble.

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    1. Thanks, Carol, I love sharing with the girls and it was a special thing to write with my students, too. Yes, I love This Same Sky, special along with all the others! It's going to be wonderful to see what Naomi Nye shares with us these next years. How wonderful that you got to meet and speak with her.

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  6. Thanks for sharing Naomi Shihab Nye's "Tío Pete" poem Linda. I love the repeating lines,
    "He was old as a basket"
    and where this line goes next
    "and he carried the days
    before you were born."

    Thanks also for sharing a bevy of her books!

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    1. You're welcome, Michelle. I love those lines, too! Naomi has given us many gifts & now more to come!

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  7. He was old as a basket
    and he carried the days
    before you were born.

    So you opened
    your door
    with a hundred
    happy arms.
    Love this poem and especially these stanzas. They remend me of an elderly neighbor we had when I was a child. He would sit out in his lawn chair, and us kids would gather around him to hear stories about the good old days and eat candy.

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    1. Those of us who have those memories are lucky for sure, Kimberly. Thanks for sharing yours.

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  8. This one is so so beautiful, Linda. Great choice for students... rich in language and meaning. Thank you! xo

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    1. You're welcome, Irene. I loved introducing this poem every time.

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  9. I love everything in this post, but that last line will stay with me...You are making a map of the days you live. I want to frame it and hang it where I will see it every day.

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    1. It is wonderful, I agree, Kay! I find many of Nye's words that I want to put right by me for inspiration! Thank you!

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  10. What lucky students to have had you to learn from at such a tumultuous time of life. This poem is so rich, I can't choose a favorite line! Thank you for sharing it today, Linda. I'm saving it for September, too.

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    1. Terrific. I love that you are keeping it to share in the fall, Catherine. It's special to me.

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  11. All her books, I have almost all of them. The ones you mentioned are some of the best.

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    1. I gave some away when I retired, those special for former colleagues' students, hoping they would use them, too. I've learned about some new ones today, like the one you shared, Jone. What a wonderful PF it has been! Thanks!

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  12. Like others here, these lines resonated for me.
    He was old as a basket
    and he carried the days
    before you were born.
    In my case it triggered memories of my grandmother and that moment when I realized that she had lived through times that were stories to me.
    I consider myself blessed that she came to live with our family in the last decade of her life.

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    1. Love that you found a personal connection, Cheriee. Thanks!

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  13. I hadn't read this before -- it's so rich and loving! Thanks, Linda!!

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  14. I just love the idea of being as "old as a basket." I've been known to pick up antique baskets here and there, and often wonder what they have carried and where have they been. Thank you for sharing this poem, Linda. New to me! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com

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    1. I love your thoughts about those old baskets, Christie. I have an egg basket of one grandmother's, a treasure. You're welcome. Happy you enjoyed the poem!

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  15. I know I have the book Come with Me. It's packed up now. My favorite is the last poem about "tearing a map to be close to you." Naomi has such a gift for those last line zingers. Thanks for sharing this poem. I hope I can remember to look for it when we start school again. Do you have any tricks for saving ideas?

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    1. She has given us so much, I agree, Margaret. As for saving, I kept a folder always titled "next year", wrote notes to myself & added poems. That's about it, but it is something I imagine teachers doing. Thanks!

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  16. I always marvel at how inspiring even the intros are to Naomi's books. The one from SALTING THE OCEAN is one I return to again and again.

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    1. So much to love in it I know, Michelle. I love that you know this one. Thanks!

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  17. This lovely one is new to me -- thanks, Linda. And I really enjoyed the glimpse into your teaching years and how you used Nye's poetry with your kids!

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I'm sure I don't know them all either. There are so many wonderful ones!

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  18. I love that first verse, especially. Poetry was such a big part of my teaching life, too, and I am so grateful for poets like Nye who gifted us rich poems to share with children and open their eyes to the glories of poetry.

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    1. She certainly added to my teaching, too, Tara. Thank you!

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