poetry as the antidote to terrorism

poet naomi shihab nye, in her letter to would-be terrorists, wrote

Poetry humanizes us in a way that news, or even religion, has a harder time doing.

I have been reading her books, in particular Honeybee and combing through my folders. I came across a link to a letter she published last January – – – Letter from Naomi Shihab Nye To Any Would-Be Terrorists — and she writes to any would-be terrorists:

Our hearts are broken, as yours may also feel broken in some ways we can’t understand, unless you tell us in words.  Killing people won’t tell us. We can’t read that message. Find another way to live.  Don’t expect others to be like you.  Read Rumi.  Read Arabic poetry. Poetry humanizes us in a way that news, or even religion, has a harder time doing. A great Arab scholar, Dr. Salma Jayyusi, said, “If we read one another, we won’t kill one another.”  Read American poetry.   Plant mint.  Find a friend who is so different from you, you can’t believe how much you have in common. Love them. Let them love you. Surprise people in gentle ways, as friends do. The rest of us will try harder too. Make our family proud.
naomi shihab nye

What if poets ruled the world?

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Nana

Addie's high school autograph book, January 1926

Addie's high school autograph book, January 1926

My grandmother, Adeline “Nana” Knowles, passed away early this morning. She would have celebrated her 98th birthday later this month, and she will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her. Among some of her treasured belongings I came across a little autograph book from her high school days.

Inside the album

Inside the album

The little book is chock filled with rhymes written in the most careful cursive penmanship. Her opening entry is as follows:

Go little album, far and near

To all my friends so fond and dear

That they may each write a page

For me to read in my old age.

Adeline V.  Flattery

January 26, 1926

To my knowledge, Nana had this little album close by until very recently. It is a gem, just as she was, and we will miss her.

Happy New Year!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to work on my blog! I am hoping that I can incorporate my work with my students (preservice teachers and elementary children) and be more regular with my postings. Fingers crossed!

Treasure within!

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. elementary school

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. elementary school

Well, I stopped by school to see my classroom for the first time today. It was very exciting! I spent the better part of the day sorting through books and organizing math manipulatives. I picked up my class list in the office, and made a few entries on my “to do” list.

While walking to my classroom, I was struck by the beautiful mosaics that adorn the hallways . It’s amazing what a difference real, student created art (under the expert guidance of local artist Jess Regelson) makes on an environment. They are all magnificent, but this one is especially fun with back to school in mind!:

Inspiration mosaic

Inspiration mosaic

I’m looking forward to the year ahead, but there is much to do between now and August 25th! Yikes, stripes!!

Time of Wonder

Summer always reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books, by a favorite author. Robert McCloskey was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1958 for his beautifully illustrated book, TIme of Wonder. This family story, set in Maine, was McCloskey’s first book to have full-color illustrations. His water colors evoke the feelings of discovery, contentment, closeness, and timeless wonder of a summer vacation spent on Penobscot Bay. The writing is especially beautiful, and the reader is pulled into the words as well as the pictures. I love the way time passes in this book, and the ending, as the family packs up to leave Maine, is lovely:

Take a farewell look at the waves and sky. Take a farewell sniff of the salty sea. A little bit sad about the place you are leaving, a little big glad about the place you are going. It is a time of quiet wonder—for wondering, for instance: Where do hummingbirds go in a hurricane?”

(The part of the story about the hurricane is the best!)

Vincent “The Chin”

Speaking of summer storms, we have had some serious lightening this past week. I always enjoy a good summer storm, but one of my cats, Vincent “The Chin” was very unnerved by the sounds of thunder. He took refuge in the middle of our bed, and stayed there until the storm passed. I don’t have a picture of him being scared, but here he is, being brave: