|wow. simply wow.|
It may not be readily viewed here, but the young woman on the cover of brown girl dreaming (depicted as a silhouette with light behind her) is opening a book where butterflies are fluttering from within the pages. In the Woodson family, Odella Caroline was the reader. Hope Austine (I love to believe in hope - world's oldest trilogy) was the chemist. Jackie was the tomboy and writer.
And thankfully for those of us who work with teachers and adolescent readers, the writer she became.
I couldn't put the book down; it was wonderful company on my flight from Hartford to Baton Rouge...so much so that I had to jot a few of her lines into my own notebook (they resonated with my Grandpa Spence, a Camel-smoking Navy man whose life ended with, like the author's grandfather, a shortness of breath). Perhaps this is why Woodson's verse, "Tobacco," a theme carried throughout the memoir, hit home with me - the love for her grandfather was obvious, as was my own for Spence.
The old people used to say / a pinch of dirt in the mouth / can tell tobacco's story,she wrote early on. Yet, later she followed the thought with "how to listen #3,"
Middle of the night my grandfather is coughing me upright. Startled.The punch (power of her craft) made me bite my lip. It hit the humanity we all belong to, and 24 pages later in "what god knows," she continues,
At the end of the day he lights a cigarette, unlaces his dusty brogans. Stretches his legs God sees my good, he says. Do all the preaching and praying you want but no need to do it for me.
|Jackie Woodson, Jason Reynolds,|
Steven Bickmore, and Kwame Alexander - NCTE 2014
And I know now words are my Tingalayo. Words are my brilliance.And they are.
On Tuesday, I host an "As In" workshop that will highlight 20+ years of promoting poetry in K-12 schools. It is part of my five-day seminar on using young adult literature to inspire young writers. To know that Jacqueline Amanda Woodson will be nearby has me dreaming, too (and reflecting, didn't Kwame introduce me to her at NCTE last year? Um, I guess he did - see above - and look what's in her hand ---- her book!)
And so I'm thinking about Kermit and his banjo as I write this morning.
Someday, we'll find it. The human connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and me (all of us under its spell, we know that it's probably magic).
La dee dee la dee dee da. What a beautiful world.