105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: Speak to Me

Speak To Me (And I Will LIsten Between The Lines)I loved this book when I first saw it a year ago. (Pause to look at the date stamped in the back.) Crap, two years ago. I don’t know that I can verify that it captures the feel of an urban school, but I do know that it really captures the feeling of third graders. Feeling pride in an eighth birthday. Worrying about losing a best friend to another girl in the class. Daydreaming. Saving a seat at lunch. Each poem is told from the point of the view of one of the kids in the class, most of whom are African-American. Oh, and the illustrations are also perfect.

So for the last Poetry Friday of Black History Month, I’d like to share a poem from Karen English’s book, Speak To Me (And I Will Listen Between The Lines).
The Reading Boy [Malcolm]

Omar came on Monday
We liked him quick because he can read
As good as the teacher

Tyrell looked at him long and hard
As the river of words flowed out of his mouth
On one breath
The reading boy

Lamont asked to change his seat
To the one by the reading boy
Who sang the words off the page

Teacher asked him a question
And everyone listened
He is the one who reads.
This particular poem means even more to me after seeing an article in the Washington Post Magazine about a third-grade teacher who started at a D.C. school, and realized that none of her students could read yet. In my suburban community, we obsess (it seems) about our kids reading the “right books.” It seems even more ridiculous when you look across the river at a community that needs inspiration and resources.

Liz at Tea Cozy is doing the Poetry Friday round-up today. I think I should get bonus points for writing this post this morning instead of, ahem, showering before work. Hey, I didn’t have time to do both, and I’m only at the library four hours today. Don’t judge me.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like you have your priorities straight. Then again, I also have yet to shower.

Great poem choice, and great collection. It feels like it captures the urban experience, even though I have no real first-hand knowledge.

Erin said...

Mmm, lovely poem. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Do I blog, or do I do housework? Ah, screw the housework.

Michele said...

That's a great poem... I love the image of the river of words - but then I've got word-related river images on the brain at the moment ! I also like the idea of someone singing the "words off the page" - you know that good readers do just that...