April 12, 2016

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Poetry Friday: The Gift Shift

Happy Poetry Friday, Writerly Friends.

It's the holidays! Now that my teens are maturing, they are beginning to make the "gift shift." Their wish-lists are still important to them, but there's less focus on "Whaddya get?" (have you seen the Target ad?) and more on "What did you give?" -- finding a perfect little something for a special friend or teacher.

It's the holidays! Time to overindulge ... on poetry.
You'll find all the poetry treats at Paul's blog,
These Four Corners this week.
Part of my own gift shift is making a small donation to literary organizations whose work I value. For the last three posts of 2014, I'm going to highlight a few of these literary non-profits and invite you to add some of your own.

On my gift list this week are two groups working to promote social justice and diversity in the literary community.


Split This Rock is a Washington, DC based non-profit, known for its large biennial poetry festival. The next one is scheduled for April, 2016. Split This Rock sponsors a youth poetry slam team, organizes workshops, hosts readings, and runs contests. I'm thankful for the organization's focus on "socially engaged poets." You can read more about this non-profit's mission at the Split This Rock website.

You can also donate here. (You can specify that you'd like your donation to be used for youth programming. Watch this video if you'd like to know more.)

Here is a poem about recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri from the Split This Rock blog.

After the Darren Wilson Verdict: Civic Center Park. Denver, Colorado
by Nahshon Cook

When I arrived 
A middle-aged 

shaped woman

With hair as short as ants 
Was telling protesters

How those cops 
In Ferguson

Wanted them to riot. 
She said, They want 

To beat you 
With their sticks 

And take you to jail 
Because the “Establishment”

Has just thumbed 
It's nose at you 

It's amazing how quickly We Need Diverse Books has grown. It started as a hashtag this past April -- a call on Twitter for increased diversity in children's books. Authors, librarians, and readers pointed out that every kid deserves to see him or herself represented in literature. This includes increased cultural and ethnic diversity, but also more (and more complex) LGBTQ and neuro-diverse characters. I am all for that.

One of the things that pushed WNDB from movement to organized non-profit was a panel scheduled for this spring's Book Expo America which pretty much ignored the whole diversity issue. (Read an article about the resulting protest here.)

Although WNDB's Indiegogo campaign closed on 12/10/14 (with over 182% of their goal reached -- hooray!), you can still donate. Go to this page and click on "Donate" to support programs like WNDB's awards and grants in honor of children's author and poet Walter Dean Myers.

You can find Myers' poem, which inspired the title poem of Sharon Creech's novel in verse LOVE THAT DOG, here: "Love that Boy."

I'm hoping Marieke Nijkamp of We Need Diverse Books will visit Author Amok soon! We're trying to work out a good time.

Do you know of a literary organization committed to social justice? Tell us about it in the comments, and I will add it to this post with a shout-out to you.

Enjoy this season of giving, everyone.


Catherine Johnson said...

Great post, Laura. I'm adding this to my Social Justice board.

Author Amok said...

Thanks, Catherine!

Linda B said...

I don't know about Split this Rock, Laura, & here you are sharing a poem from my city! Wonderful. I used to support Reach Out & Read in my classroom, but now I just give donations to it. It's about pediatricians giving books to those who have well visits with their children. Here's the link: Thanks for asking for more. I haven't given anything to We Need Diverse Books, but am participating in several challenges to share those I find & review. Time to offer more-such a need! Thanks for a wonderful post, and idea!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Thanks for the emphasis on giving today, Laura! Your posts are always a gift.
[And how have I gone all these years without knowing Sharon Creech's verse novel title was inspired by the title of a WDM poem? Thanks!]

jama said...

Great idea to spotlight worthy literary organizations, Laura. Split This Rock is new to me too.

Julie said...

I'll be donating to Split This Rock, Linda - thank you for the heads-up. And I'll be keeping my eye on your posts to find other worthy groups.

Linda said...

Laura, I love your post on the "gift shift." I donate to several organizations during the year, but my donations during the holidays go to the needy children who attend my school and their families (and we have a lot of them!). Great post to get everyone thinking about gift giving.

Carol said...

I've done the great gift shift with my book club for the past few years, and this year I am doing it with my niece and nephew. I usually donate to HEIFER INTERNATIONAL, but this year, I may donate to our school library, which really needs books, and especially books that feature other cultures. I didn't know SPLIT THIS ROCK and like Linda, was delighted to find a poem, albeit very sad, from my city. I will be sharing it with our middle schoolers on Monday!

Author Amok said...

Thanks for sharing some of the organizations you give to, everyone. I'll add those to the post today if I can find a link.

Linda (and Carol) -- it's not an easy time, but I'm glad you can use the poem to open up a discussion

Mary Lee said...

Thank you for highlighting the GIVING over the GETTING!

Tara said...

Thank you for sharing Split the Rock, Laura, and these powerful poems. I want to share them with my very complacent sixth graders - there is still so much work to do in this world of ours.