Back in high school, I hadn’t discovered the word “feminist” yet, but I had discovered the word “suffragette.” For my American history research paper in 11th grade/Junior year, I wrote about suffragettes and I wore a pantsuit for my presentation (I had no idea that Pantsuit Nation would be a part of my life sixteen years later, nor that I would still not live to see a female president of the United States). That Spring, for my English III research project, I decided to write about Sylvia Plath. I remembered reading about her for my 8th grade research paper on […]
The story of Sharon Creech’s Jack from Love That Dog (2001) continues. Early in his school year, Jack reveals to his teacher that 1) he hates cats, and 2) his college professor Uncle Bill does not believe that the poems Jack had written in the previous school year are “real” poems because they are short, lack rhyme, a regular meter, symbols, metaphor, onomatopoeia, and alliteration. Thank goodness Jack has Miss Stretchberry as his teacher again because she tells him that all those elements his uncle mentioned are not requirements. A poet writes according to his own images, rhythms, and sometimes chooses elements […]
Best for: People unsure about poetry but looking for a way in. In a nutshell: Collection of poems about life. Not just on mars. Line that sticks with me: “I didn’t want to believe What we believe in those rooms: That we are blessed, letting go, Letting someone, anyone, Drag open the drapes and heave us Back into our blinding, bring lives.” Why I chose it: There’s a poetry square on the summer reading BINGO I’m playing, and I figured, why not start with something from our nation’s Poet Laureate? Review: As I mentioned in the title, I don’t believe […]
“The Best American Non-required Reading” is an anthology of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and graphic novels that is selected by a committee of high school students. As a high school teacher, I was curious to see what high schoolers would select as the best literature. I found their picks interesting and surprising. Wells Tower’s “Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant?” was eye-opening as it was shocking to read about the account of big-game hunting. Tower is open about his bias (anti-elephant hunting) but is objective in his portrayal of the wealthy Americans who do participate in the hunt. He doesn’t villanize […]
Who killed Mr. Chippendale, and why? These two questions drive the narrative in Mel Glenn’s Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?: A Mystery in Poems (1999). Told from the perspectives of various characters representing different sectors of the school and community reacting to the murder of Mr. Chippendale, Who Killed Mr. Chippendale is developed through a series of interlocking free-verse poems. Many characters are introduced, the majority of whose voices are heard once and help to create a nuanced portrait of Mr. Chippendale–a mystery to his own colleagues despite his twenty years of teaching English at Tower High. Read the full review.
My pleasure while reading Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog (2001) just could not be contained as evidenced by the Cheshire grin plastered on my face from the beginning to end of this novella. Related in free verse from the perspective of Jack through dated entries that span a school year, Love That Dog is quite charming and delightful. Read the full review.
I know Gwendolyn Brooks mostly from her poetry, like most of us, and that she wrote one novel and it was this one makes a lot of sense. This is not a traditional novel. It’s mainly impressionistic, meaning meditations of a various set of ideas and vignettes and moments in the life of her protagonist Maud Martha Brown. We begin at the beginning with Maud Martha growing up and experiencing the joys of childhood, confusions at how the world works, seeing a gorilla at the zoo. We move into her adolescence and young adulthood. We see a various set of […]
Interlude! I Could Pee On This is a short book of poetry “written by cats.” I bought it for a friend in love with her cat, and it’s a delight. I mean, it’s not life-altering at all. But it’s a solid laugh, and a quality diversion. It took me all of half an hour to read it cover to cover, so it feels like a bit of a cheat. But I read all the words, and I giggled my face off, and then when I gave it to my friend, she read a whole bunch of the poems out loud […]