Monday, August 31, 2015

Rhythm and Resistance

Rethinking Schools has published Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice, edited by Linda Christensen and Dyan Watson.

@pennykittle tweeted about Rhythm and Resistance...

What a resource from ! Can't wait to start reading & writing poetry with students this week.

I always love Penny Kittle's recommendations, so I got a copy and it does not disappoint!

The opening chapters of Rhythmn and Resistance demonstrate how poetry can build classroom community and develop students' confidence in their writing.

The opening poem by the book's co-author "Why Poetry? Why Now?" makes Linda Christensen my new literary hero:

Why Poetry? Why Now?
by Linda Christensen

You ask, "Why a book on poetry? Why now?

Because we stand at the brink of public
education's demise;
because funds from billionaires
control the mouths of bureaucrats,
who have sold students, teachers,
and their families for a pittance;

because curriculum slanted to serve the "job market"
carves away history and humanity,
poetry and narrative,
student lives and teacher art;

because teaching students to write an essay
without teaching them to write
narratives like poetry is like
teaching someone to swim
using only one arm;

because poets are truth tellers and lie breakers
wordsmiths and visionaries
who sling metaphors in classrooms,
in the narrow slices of school hallways,
on the bricks of public courtyards,
and cafes with blinking neon signs
without laying out a dime to corporations;

because new poets are rising up,
pressing poems against windows on Wall Street,
spilling odes down the spines of textbooks,
posting protest hymns on telephone poles,
bubbling lyrics on the pages of tests
designed to confine their imaginations;

because poems hover under the breath
of the boy in the baseball cap,
the girl with a ring in her nose,
the boy with his mom's name inked on his neck,
and the silent ones in the back:
she's the next Lucille Cliffton
and he sounds like Roque Dalton, saying:

"poetry, like bread,
is for everyone."

At a time when students and teachers are smothered by testing, Rhythm and Resistance is a reminder of the larger vision of education. 

Poetry, it turns out, can remind students and teachers alike that their words, their thoughts, and their lives matter.