Yesterday, I posted a Portrait Poem lesson. The model poem and painting was "Down Highway 163," from Shonto Begay's lovely book Navajo.
Here is some of that conversation:
Shonto Begay: I want to share the moments we all are compelled to laugh as well as to cry. To fear and to feel the magical caress of stories, that is my intent.
"Down Highway 163" is a stretch of road between Kayenta, Arizona and Moab, Utah, through some of the most spectacular landscape on earth.
HH Fourth Grade: Did you make the painting first, and then write about it? Or did you write the poem and then do the picture?
Shonto Begay: The words came later. Paint with a story or a voice in mind. Heed those magical moments. [Yours] are the Voices that need to be heard. Most of us seem to do it well through the arts.
Shonto Begay: My voice, once forbidden spoken in my language, is now what I will always celebrate -- what I aways have buried deep and safe within, in times it felt threatened, in my youth.
Mr. Begay, thank you very much for your openness and taking this time to share with students. The message you sent them -- about the importance of sharing their voices -- made a huge impression on the fourth graders.
Please visit Shonto Begay's website for more information about his art and writing.