Blackberries grow wild in Maryland.
|Today's Poetry Friday host is Irene Latham
at Live Your Poem. Live it up today -- stop by
Irene's blog for more poetry links.
So far, we've paired:
Shared by guest blogger Janet Wong
I've been working a lot this summer. The educational consulting office where I work part-time is 40 minutes from my home, so much of my summer reading has been audio-books in the car.
Here is my Public Service Announcement for today. Do not listen to Sharon Creech's classic MG novel WALK TWO MOONS on your way to work, especially if you are wearing mascara. You may, like me, find yourself listening to the final chapters of the book, wondering whether you should pull over because you are crying so hard, and eventually arrive at work a bleary-eyed, mascara-smeared, emotional wreck.
|Which cover do you prefer?
There are many middle grade and YA novels about a child who is either searching for a missing parent or in search of information about a parent who has died. WALK TWO MOONS sat on my shelf (yes, I have a paperback copy) for years. Maybe I wasn't ready to read about a grieving child. Maybe listening to the book felt more comfortable.
Did I love WALK TWO MOONS? Yes! I loved the story-within-a-story structure. I loved the voice of Sal (Salamanca). I loved the rich descriptions of settings, people, and first kisses. And grandparents in love -- how sweet is that?
It's those grandparents-in-love that made me enjoy the book, despite my messy tears. Because Sal spends most of the novel with her grandparents, the reader *always* knows that Sal is loved and supported, even though she has lost her mother.
Poetry appears in WALK TWO MOONS. Sal and her class discuss Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls." While some students love the musicality of the poem, Sal and her friend Phoebe (whose own mother is missing), focus on the character of the traveler. Sal and Phoebe are angry that their class is discussing a poem that romanticizes death or suicide. (My HS students often had the same reaction when we studied Romeo & Juliet.)
However, I'm choosing something else to pair with this novel. Blackberry poems. Why blackberry poems? Because of this section of the novel, which helps characterize Sal's mother so beautifully:
One morning when I awoke very early, I saw my mother walking up the hill to the barn. Mist hung about the ground, finches were singing in the oak tree beside the house, and there was my mother, her pregnant belly sticking out in front of her. She was strolling up the hill, swinging her arms and singing...
As she approached the corner of the barn where the sugar maple stands, she plucked a few blackberries from a stray bush and popped them into her mouth. She looked all around her-back at the house, across the fields, and up into the canopy of branches overhead. She took several quick steps up to the trunk of the maple, threw her arms around it, and kissed that tree soundly.
Creech takes this moment and builds the blackberry kiss into a symbol that runs through the rest of the novel.
I have three delicious blackberry poems.
1. Read "Blackberrying" by Sylvia Plath at the Poetry Foundation
2. Listen to "Blackberry Eating" by Galway Kinnell
3. A poem I share with my elementary school students is "Blackberrying" by Crescent Dragonwagon. This poem appears in the (sadly, out of print) anthology FOOD FIGHT: Poets Join the Fight against Hunger with Poems to Favorite Foods. I am only sharing a portion of the poem here, but I hope you will get a copy of the book and read the entire poem.
|Available at ABEBooks.Com
Great for teaching food poems!
by Crescent Dragonwagon
the green arched bramble branches hung thick
with blue-black berries,
summer Christmas trees,
catching at us, we bent to pick
(and only our backs got sunburned)
catching at us, scratching (and we got mosquito-bit too)
now there's a shelf full of blackberry jam
and that night, pie
next winter it will be cold
we will spread that sharp sweet dark
on breakfast toast
and think we remember what hot really felt like
Enjoy the rest of August and the last of the season's blackberries.
Do you have an idea for Summer Reads: Chapter & Verse? I'm still looking for guest bloggers. The series will continue until summer ends on Monday, September 22. For more information, find a full explanation of this series and a sample Chapter & Verse pairing at this post.