Monday, August 11, 2014

Fear, Courage, and Poetry

Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell, the creators of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, have designed the coolest image to go with my poem Fear Factor.  It is just the right resource for sharing poetry throughout the year.

They have also given me permission to share the Take 5 lesson they have designed to go with the poem.  If you are interested in another example of an apostrophe poem, a poem in which the poet talks to someone or something, read below.  The Prisoner In Aghmat Speaks To His Chains is a poem that I selected to model this style of writing in my book, Practical Poetry.

Imagine the lesson extensions on this one!  But don't just imagine, put it to good use!

King Al-Mu'tamid, 'The Prisoner In Aghmat Speaks To His Chains'

The Prisoner In Aghmat Speaks To His Chains

I said to my chains,
don't you understand?
I have surrendered to you.
Why, then, have you no pity,
no tenderness?

You drank my blood.
You ate my flesh.
Don't crush my bones.

My son Abu Hasim sees me
fettered by you and turns away
his heart made sore.

Have pity on an innocent boy
who never knew fear
and must now come begging to you.

Have pity on his sisters
innocent like him
who have had to swallow poison
and eat bitter fruit.

Some of them are old enough
to understand and I fear
they will go blind from weeping.

The others are now too young
to take it in and open their mouths
only to nurse.

by King Al-Mu'tamid of Sevilla
Translated by Cola Franzen
from the Spanish version of the Arabic by Emilio García Gómez

Al-Mu'tamid, the "Poet-King" of Sevilla, reigned from 1068 to 1092. He was dethroned and then exiled to Aghmat (Morocco) by the Berber Almoravids whom he himself had invited to Spain to help the Moorish rulers fight Alfonso VI. He died in captivity in Aghmat in 1095. With his exile the great age of Islamic culture began to decline in Spain.
-- Cola Franzen, "Poems of Arab Andalusia", 1989

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Back to School Poem Handout for Middle School

What follows is a rip off, plain and simple.  Michael White, whoever you are, there are copyright laws written to prevent you doing exactly what you did, copy my poems and put them on the internet.

That said, I kind of like your discussion questions, if they are indeed discussion questions.  I like the way they ask students to identify the speaker and speculate about the unknowns.  What I see when I look at these questions are a good map to poetry lit circles that teachers might use at the beginning of the school year to guide students into how to examine a poem closely and discuss it.  I am hoping (sincerely) NO one would consider these to be worksheets that students would complete in isolation, later to be graded. Please don't do that.  That would violate the laws of poetic justice, a much worse crime in my opinion.

So, here's the deal.  If you, Michael White whoever you are, feel free to violate my copyright protections, I think it is only fair to reprint your lessons here from your portfolio produced for your masters degree at Morehead here, for all to share.

Not only did Michael White (whoever you are) print these selected poems, he apparently uploaded one of my entire books onto some site that looks dangerous to me and I have a new computer and I don't want to mess with it.  The book only costs $9 and mystery download sites that require you to "join for FREE" can cost a lot more than $9 in aspirin.  But his handouts are safe.

Visiting his site is fascinating.  He also recommends using my poems as inspiration for short stories, I just couldn't figure out which poems he was talking about, but again, I like the idea.

Similar to musicians, most poets don't make the majority of our income from the sale of our poems.  We do make some, however, so I would appreciate people not uploading entire books, are you kidding me?  We make more from speaking engagements. Speaking engagements come from having books published, however, so we are all interested in keeping books in print.  Publishing entire books on the internet without permission is a definite no-no. (shame on you Michael White whoever you are).

But I do kind of like your discussion questions, reprinted here in direct violation of the copyright notice at the bottom of your website, Michael White whoever you are.  Fair's fair, my friend.