Friday, February 26, 2010
Poetry Friday: Carole Boston Weatherford
Our church was quiet. No meetings, no marches.
Mama left me in Sunday school
With a soft kiss and coins for the offering plate.
from Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford
local SCBWI region is preparing for its annual March conference. The theme is "Creating Diversity in Children's Literature." Poet Carole Boston Weatherford is the keynote author.
I couldn't get Becoming Billie Holliday at the library (too popular!), so I found Weatherford's book, Birmingham, 1963. In the picture book, a 10-year-old girl witnesses the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
Here's what I absolutely love about this book -- Weatherford's poems are paired with archival photos from the bombing and the 1960s civil rights movement. Using photos as a jumping off point for poetry is a powerful exercise (one of my favorite examples is Sharon Old's "I Go Back to May 1937.")
The narrator of Birmingham, 1963, is waiting to sing a hymn at church. She says,
As I waited, four big girls giggled on their way
To the restroom. I would have tagged along
If I thought they'd include me.
This poem faces the photograph of a hymn book opened to the words, "Jesus loves the little chidlren, All the children of the world; Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight."
As with any good picture book, it's the connections the reader makes between words and images -- the things that are not spelled out -- that leave an impression.
There's more poetry to enjoy and share at Check It Out, our Poetry Friday host for this week.