Today is Poetry Friday and the roundup is over at Karen Edmisten’s clever blog with some autumn love.
I started a new book this week, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. This is a beautiful epic history of the Great Migration of Black people from the U.S. South to American cities over seven decades in the 20th century.
The title was inspired by the following poetic excerpt from Richard Wright’s memoir, Black Boy, which documents his life from growing up as a boy in the South to migrating to Chicago as a young man and becoming a writer. It has a history of being banned in the United States for several reasons, the most significant of which is for the historical truth it tells from the perspective of someone who lived life as a black child and man in America:
So, in leaving, I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom . . . And if that miracle ever happened, then I would know that there was yet hope in that southern swamp of despair and violence, that light could emerge even out of the blackest of the southern night. I would know that the South too could overcome its fear, its hate, its cowardice, its heritage of guilt and blood, its burden of anxiety and compulsive cruelty.
Wright, Richard. Black Boy [Seventy-fifth Anniversary Edition]
(pp. 420-421). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
From 1942-1966, Orville Prescott was the chief New York Times book reviewer. After Wright’s autobiography was published in 1945, Prescott wrote: “If enough such books are written, if enough millions of people read them maybe, someday, in the fullness of time, there will be a greater understanding and a more true democracy.”
It’s been 80 years since Prescott’s hope for the fullness of time to come. How many “such books” will be written? How many of those will continue to be banned? When will we “overcome fear, hate and cowardice” as Wright dared to hope?
On a much less significant note, “poetic thinking” was in my poem last week, and it’s in my NCTE presentation next week. I hope to meet you there!
And here is where I’ll be some for some of the other sessions! Do you have any recommendations? Or will you be presenting at any other sessions? I would love to meet you.
F.14 – “Building Networks: Bringing Together Teachers, Researchers, Families, and Communities to Explore, Expand, and Interrogate Writing Instruction” with Sarah Donohue and Margaret Simon and others
H.10 – “Acts of Assemblage: Bringing Art, Science, and History Together in the Storytelling Classroom” with Glenda Funk
I.18 – “Connecting English Language Arts and the Climate Crisis” with Trish Emerson and others
K.19 – “Authors are Real People: Connecting Students to Children’s Book Creators” with Margaret Simon, Sally Donnelly, Mary Lee Hahn, Heidi Mordhorst, Amy Ludwig VanDerWater, Laura Shoven, and Laura Purdie Salas and others.
L.29 – “Relational Poetic Practice: How Poetic Thinking Empowers Teachers to Author Their Own PD” with Sarah Donohue, Mo Daley, Jennifer Guyor Jowett, and me, Denise Krebs
M – 4:00-4:30 – Laura Purdie Salas signing Finding Family