Friday, January 8, 2010

Poetry Friday: Naomi Shihab Nye


When I decided to have install Poetry Friday as a weekly event, I knew that I was going to need some serious poetry resources. I needed a ton of poems to choose from because I had decided to now just offer up any old poem every week, but to choose one that related to whatever text we're reading. This may sound easier than it actually is. It's tough. But, I've expanded my knowledge of poets and poems tremendously in the past four or five months that we've been doing this.

One poetess that I knew about but did not yet completely love is Naomi Shihab Nye. I had read some of her poems before, but had not spent the time and thought on them that they certainly require. Last week, I was looking for some candidates for this week's Poetry Friday. I needed to find something that would relate to Ishmael's current situation in A Long Way Gone. Right now aid workers are attempting to rehabilitate Ishmael and his fellow (and enemy) soldiers. This is their first attempt at working with these child soldiers and it's not going super well. I wanted to find a poem that would capture the essence of what Ishmael must be feeling right now and what it will take to make him acknowledge the fact that his soldiering life is over and that he needs to become a child again, while he still can.

I found the perfect poem in a volume of poetry entitled 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. I had read this collection a couple of years ago and had not had the need or opportunity to return to it since. Luckily, I thought of it in time to find a fitting poem for this Poetry Friday. The one I chose is called "A Single Slice Reveals Them" and it's simple and beautiful.

Here are some links to student blogs, where students type out Shihab Nye's poem and explain its relationship to A Long Way Gone:

Student Blog #1

Student Blog #2

Student Blog #3

All three of these entries demonstrate an understanding of the connection between these two pieces of literature. Thanks for all of your deep thought! Such a wonderful way to end a week.

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