Tag Archives: American Lit.

Poem in Your Pocket Day (2017)

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                Walt Whitman. Poets.org

“Poets to Come (Leaves of Grass.90)”

by Walt Whitman, (1819-1892)

Poets to come!  orators, singers, musicians to come!

Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,

But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental,

greater than before known,

Arouse!  for you must justify me!

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the

future,

I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back

in the darkness.

 

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully

stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then

averts his face,

Leaving it to you to prove and define it,

Expecting the main things from you.

#pocketpoem   #ThankYouNEA

Thanksgiving Memories

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This year, I hope to share with you a set of video traditions that have already taken a special place in the hearts of my family, as I’m sure they will in yours.  Of course, they are mostly about food, but be sure to set time aside for that family talking and activities kind of stuff.  There are only so many Thanksgivings.

Now back to food.  Eat it, even if you don’t like it.  Put it on your plate.  Thank you food bringers for caring enough to bring anything.  Bob’s Burgers says it best:

And it’s been covered by the National!

That turkey should not die in vain.

Maybe it’s the gravy that really sets your family Thanksgiving apart.  Bob’s Burgers and The National are here to help us again!

And if you’re still needing to satisfy your family’s quirkiness or willingness to try it all, go Ron Swanson.  If you’ve already satisfied yourself with “the Swanson” – a turkey leg wrapped in bacon – maybe try one of Nick Offerman’s home recipes:

Enjoy!  Best of luck today, tomorrow (for the bold fools who will Black Friday), and this weekend.  See you Monday!

Banned Books Week 2016

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Banned Books Week 2015, courtesy ala.org/bbooks

Banned Books Week 2015, courtesy ala.org/bbooks

Every year, the last week in September becomes the focal point for a concerted effort to celebrate the freedom to read.  In this country, the First Amendment’s right to free speech must contend with a long history of censorship – promoted by individuals, organizations, and government.  Banned Books Week is organized by the American Library Association (ALA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and a host of non-profits, publishers, and legal defense funds.  It is supported by myself, among much of the reading world, and, through this week’s Extra Credit opportunity, by you!

(Check out this cool infographic to learn more: courtesy of Electric Literature)

To receive Extra Credit for Banned Books Week, you must choose one of the following options, and use professional images, symbols, designs, or media:

A) Create a Poster to celebrate the week, using the three requirements below:

B) Create a Handout to share information about banned and challenged books, using these criteria:

  • A list of frequently challenged books (Here’s a resource from the ALA)
  • Reasons why books are often challenged (Resources from the Huffington Post, in 2012 and 2014)
  • A checklist of frequently challenged books – check off as many as you’ve read!

C) Compose a 1 page essay (typed – 12pt font, TNR, double-spaced) on To Kill a Mockingbird as a challenged book.  Why (and where/when) has it frequently been challenged?  What might be ironic about wanting this book censored?  What is your reflection on reading the book – how might you oppose or defend a challenge to this book at our school?

Whichever option you choose, it must be submitted by the end of the week, Friday, September 30.  To be eligible, you must follow the requirements for each option, as well as aim for professional quality (Mom would put it on the fridge, and so would I!).  Successful efforts will be awarded 20pts, and above-average efforts 30pts (each option is worth more than a homework assignment!).  If nothing else, you can celebrate this week by finishing TKAM, and moving on to a new book which, having been published, probably has found someone to challenge it by now!

F(READ)OM!!

Courtesy @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter.

Courtesy @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter.

Back to School 2016!

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Can you believe it?!  Not much sense in thinking backwards now – so let’s go ahead and get started!  Here is the welcome back slideshow airing in the Back to School evening event.  Only those present will hear the soulful tunes and receive the wicked handouts, but all can be redeemed when school officially tarts next week.  See ya then!

 

Poem in Your Pocket Day (2016)

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Edna St. Vincent Millay. Photo credit: Carl Van Vechten. Poets.org

Edna St. Vincent Millay. Photo credit: Carl Van Vechten. Poets.org

“Travel”

by Edna St. Vincent Millay, (1892-1950)

The railroad track is miles away,

    And the day is loud with voices speaking,

Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day

    But I hear its whistle shrieking.

 

All night there isn’t a train goes by,

    Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,

But I see its cinders red on the sky,

    And hear its engine steaming.

 

My heart is warm with friends I make,

    And better friends I’ll not be knowing;

Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,

    No matter where it’s going.

#pocketpoem

April Playlist (2016)

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Charlie Chaplin and a Toe-Tapping Swing

Charlie Chaplin and a Toe-Tapping Swing

April (snow) showers bring new music!  This month’s themes: weather, generations, and perspectives of poetry.

  1. The Blues Brothers (Soundtrack) – She Caught the Katy
  2. Simon & Garfunkel – Cecilia
  3. Ivan & Alyosha – Running for Cover
  4. Jay & The Americans – Come a Little Bit Closer
  5. The Standells – Dirty Water
  6. Caro Emerald – Pack Up the Louie
  7. Spoon – The Underdog
  8. George Ezra – Budapest
  9. 10,000 Maniacs – Like the Weather
  10. They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse in Your Soul
  11. Kurt Vile – I’m an Outlaw
  12. Lucinda Williams – Lake Charles
  13. The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday
  14. Mumford & Sons – Roll Away Your Stone
  15. The Perishers – Come Out of the Shade
  16. George Harrison – Got My Mind Set on You
  17. Queen – Hammer to Fall
  18. First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining
  19. Tomaso Albinoni (Remo Giazotto) – Adagio in G Minor
  20. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – My Lucky Day
  21. Warren Zevon – Mohammed’s Radio (Live)
  22. War Horse Soundtrack – The Scarlet and the Blue
  23. The Lumineers – Ophelia
  24. The White Stripes – My Doorbell
  25. Nina Simone – Feeling Good
  26. Stars – Your Ex-Lover is Dead
  27. KT Tunstall – One Day
  28. BØRNS – Electric Love
  29. Regina Spektor – Us
  30. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Into the Great Wide Open
  31. Gerry & The Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk Alone

Reading Picks: Headstrong, Radical, Pony People

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Women are awesome!  Some people aren’t aware, apparently.  That’s why March is designated Women’s History Month.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing at all if someday we can collectively remember that history has been made by women, too – so you can do your part by checking out the titles below!

The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.

The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. Arthur A. Levine Books. 2015.

Kate Beaton is the magnificent wit behind the webcomic series Hark! A Vagrant, which has been printed in a few best-selling books (and also isn’t appropriate for all ages, especially because some killjoys detest constant giggling).  The Princess and the Pony, great for kids and adults, tells the story of Princess Pinecone, who wants a noble warhorse to ride into Viking-style violence.  For her birthday she gets instead a flatulent, rotund pony.  What happens next is funny and feminist.  Available from Scholastic Book Orders for $4!

Rad American Women A-Z. Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights. 2015.

Rad American Women A-Z. Kate Schatz & Miriam Klein Stahl. City Lights. 2015.

Revolution begins at home!  America may be relatively young on the world stage, but its women have radically changed history.  The 26 women profiled in this book represent science, entertainment, athletics, innovation, exploration – basically all the walks of life that make our country what it is.  Kate Schatz writes the profiles, and Miriam Klein Stahl provides each illustration.  Available from Scholastic for $7, this pocket-sized guide is perfect for bite-sized, yet larger-than-life, world-widening.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - and the World. Rachel Swaby. Broadway Books. 2015.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World. Rachel Swaby. Broadway Books. 2015.

Rachel Swaby was inspired to write this informative, invigorating collection of women inventors, scientists, and explorers after seeing too many get short shrift in their obituaries.  Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter and – more importantly – the world’s first computer programmer (in the 1840s!), is included.  As is Hedy Lamarr, scintillating movie star and also pioneer in radar technology.  And those are just the most famous faces.  This book captures the sentiment of the women’s history movement succinctly: the stories have been there all along, but someone *forgot* to tell the whole truth.  We owe it to ourselves to fix that.  Read well – it’s the best provision for changing your life.

Reading Picks: I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

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I'll Give You The Sun. Jandy Nelson. Dial Books. 2014.

I’ll Give You The Sun. Jandy Nelson. Dial Books. 2014.

This incredible novel is available in the school library again, but I expect it will be checked out soon!  How I managed to grab it for a quick reread is an unfathomable mystery, but a happy opportunity for me to revisit Jandy Nelson’s second book.  Nelson is an incredible talent, and well-deserving of the praise she, and this imaginative, artistic novel, have received.  This is a young adult book in terms of characters and setting, but the language and conviction are definitely skewed for older, retrospective readers.

Jude and Noah are twins, and each tells half of the story in this novel.  Noah’s story describes age 13, when each sibling begins branching out and staking a claim – for art, for romance, for themselves.  Jude’s story is set three years later, and by age 16 both twins have seen their worlds dramatically change.  They’re barely speaking, but somewhere in the space between them are the answers and truths to bridge their fractured universes.  A good novel convinces you to like the protagonists.  In reading this novel – no exaggeration! – I fell in love with the characters.  Nelson captures the voices and personalities of these people so well that it feels like the high school story you never had, but would have jumped for without another thought.

In addition to the characterization and powerful themes, this novel has electric language.  The figurative voice – invisible museums and kaleidoscopic connections – is in the upper echelon of great writers.  It’s John Green on hyperdrive, soaked in Neruda and Whitman.  That said, Nelson is of her own, and you will undoubtedly fall hard for her, Noah, and Jude (especially Jude).  Get ahead of the cultural momentum and read this book before it explodes onto the scene!

November Playlist (2015)

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blogpick_bob'sburgersdance

The November songs – thematic, seasonal, and here for your ears!

  1. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Further On (Up the Road)
  2. Chingón – Malaguena Salerosa (Kill Bill Vol. 2 Soundtrack)
  3. Cold War Kids – First
  4. Amy Winehouse – You Know I’m No Good
  5. The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
  6. Adele – Skyfall
  7. Preservation Hall – Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
  8. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
  9. Imelda May – Johnny Got A Boom Boom
  10. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Refugee
  11. Dire Straits – So Far Away
  12. The Kingston Trio – El Matador
  13. The Book of Life (2014) Soundtrack – Si Puedes Perdonar
  14. The Book of Life (2014) Soundtrack – The Apology Song
  15. Beck – Lost Cause
  16. Sara Bareilles – King of Anything
  17. Alicia Keys – Wait Til You See My Smile
  18. Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin
  19. Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
  20. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
  21. My Brightest Diamond – High Low Middle
  22. The Avett Brothers – I Never Knew You
  23. Priscilla Ahn – In a Tree
  24. John Hartford – Indian War Whoop (O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack)
  25. The Steve Miller Band – Wide River
  26. Mumford & Sons – Dust Bowl Dance
  27. Natalie Merchant – Indian Names (by Lydia Huntley Sigourney)
  28. Dum Dum Girls – Coming Down
  29. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Hate Myself for Loving You
  30. The Black Keys – Gold on the Ceiling
  31. Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart – Old Habits Die Hard (Alfie Soundtrack)

Reading Picks: The Martian by Andy Weir

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The Martian. Andy Weir. 2011. Cover Art: Eric White. Crown Publishing 2014.

The Martian. Andy Weir. 2011. Cover Art: Eric White. Crown Publishing 2014.

One of the best-reviewed books of 2014 is now one of the best movies out this year.  It isn’t hard to see why: astronaut Mark Watney, botanist on the third manned-mission to Mars, is presumed dead after a fierce storm forces the emergency departure of the rest of his crew.  Watney’s not dead, however, but he soon will be if he doesn’t figure out how to solve his food crisis, find a way to contact NASA, plan a way to leave the planet’s surface, and basically survive in an environment incompatible to human life.  It’s a suspenseful read, made more invigorating by Watney’s gallows humor and MacGyver-like acumen.

Author Andy Weir is a former software engineer and NASA junkie, and it cannot be emphasized enough how authentic the depictions in the novel are.  Except for the whole “we-haven’t-gotten-to-Mars-yet” thing, this book is one of the most realistic science-fiction books available now.  It’s so realistic that it’s only sci-fi by technicality – I would file it next to the survival skills handbooks in your library.  Truly, one of the best aspects about this novel (and the movie adaptation) is the free PR it provides for a mind of scientific inquiry.  Not to knock my beloved field of English, but if I was on Mars I wouldn’t stand a chance with only HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs as my “experts” .  This book is good enough to make you pursue a career in STEM, if only to increase your livability as a Martian.

The movie is also impeccable, directed by Ridley Scott with Matt Damon starring as Watney.  Both the film and the book earn a PG-13 rating, for scenes of peril and the use of mature language (being trapped in life-threatening situations can do that to you).  You can pick this one up at any bookstore, the county library, and my now-treasured class copy.  Earthlings might be setting foot on the Red Planet sometime this century, so read this book: it may save your life.

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