Thursday, April 23, 2015

SLSIDY UnConference is Tomorrow

Tomorrow, April 24th, Passages Academy Libraries will host the fourth annual School Libraries Serving Incarcerated and Detained Youth UnConference.  We look forward to an exciting, attendee-driven day!

Friday, April 17, 2015

How To Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop Emcee by Paul Edwards

Where to write?  Use paper or go digital… or keep it all in your head?  Make your own beats or collaborate with a producer?  How to plan your flow in connection with the beat and write it out so you can remember?  These are just some of the essential questions a novice rapper may contemplate and Paul Edwards has solicited advice from over 100 artists-- some of them as well-known as Q-Tip,, and Shock G, some lesser known, and organized their perspectives and insights into four parts: content, flow, writing and delivery.  Within these four parts, topics are addressed by subject matter like content forms (chapter two in part one, including braggadocio, story, abstract and humorous) and rhyme (chapter five in part two, addressing perfect rhyme, assonance, alliteration and consonance, compound rhymes, and coming up with rhymes).  The table of contents is specific and makes subtopics easy to locate.  There is plenty here to keep an interested reader busy and nothing to intimidate besides length--over 300 pages.  While the artists themselves are not always the most articulate, Edwards presents them in their own vernacular.  Teachers might not be happy to read four-letter words in regular use, but younger readers will appreciate the uncensored language.  Backmatter includes an annotated list of interviewees and a helpful index. Recommended for teen patrons who already write or say they would like to write rhymes.  Circulates frequently with Mitchell’s Hip Hop Rhyming Dictionary. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Edwards, Paul.  How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip Hop Emcee. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2009

Bill Batterman expounds on how to use this book to teach public speaking and debate skills on his blog, The 3nr, here.  The post includes an excellent short list of links to lyrics he deems useful to the would-be high school debater.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers poems by Frank X. Walker

Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers poems by Frank X. Walker

This slim volume of accessible poems packs a profusion of potent punches.  For readers interested in learning more about Evers, as well as students of American history, racism, and creative writing, these fifty poems offer a rich experience in several voices.  Educators focused on social justice will appreciate Walker’s clear intent articulated in his introduction:

I believe acknowledging and working to fully understand history can create opportunities to better understand racism.  I offer these imagined poems in hope that art can help complete the important work we continue to struggle with-- the access to economic and social justice that Medgar Evers and so many others died for, and ultimately the healing and reconciliation still needed in America.

Poems like “Ambiguity Over the Confederate Flag” (p.4) and “After Dinner in Money, Mississippi” (p. 29) may be useful to teachers introducing aspects of the craft of poetry.  “Unwritten Rules for Young Black Boys Wanting to Live in Mississippi Long Enough to Become Men” (p.  23) offers a form sure to inspire imitative drafts for the current generation of teens living in the wake of Trayvon Martin and recent events in Ferguson, MO.  Recommended for independent reading for eleventh and twelfth graders due to mature content. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Walker, Frank X.  Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers.  Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2013.

Click here  for an interview with Walker in which he discusses his use of form and craft in Turn Me Loose.  The full text is available via the Project Muse database, currently accessible through the New York Public Library.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Philippe Lardy

This haunting and thought-provoking collection of sonnets is both an elegy for Emmett Till and a call to action.  Nelson urges the reader to remember and to bear witness to our country’s shame and horror and offers A Wreath for Emmett Till as a potential starting point.  In the book’s introduction, Nelson describes the heroic crown structure she used and her purpose in selecting such a strict poetic form.  Each of the fifteen interconnected poems is illustrated in vivid color by Lardy’s dynamic and symbol-laden paintings.  This book is not easy to read for many reasons including the difficulty of the subject matter and the complicated form full of literary and historical references.   Helpful backmatter includes a brief history of Emmett Till’s murder and the subsequent trial, notes on the allusions in each sonnet, and an artist’s note.  A Wreath for Emmett Till is a powerful resource for educators looking to tackle the murder of Emmett Till, the birth of the Civil Rights movement and the current state of race relations in the United States.--Regan Schwartz

A teacher’s guide from the publisher is available here.  A guide from Teaching Tolerance is available here.

Nelson, Marilyn, and Philippe Lardy. A Wreath For Emmett Till. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. Print

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy National Poetry Month!

Passages Academy Library team with poet Reggie Harris at Poets House on 3/13.  Photo by Joe Fritsch

We were fortunate to spend a day with poet. librarian and teacher Reggie Harris (formally known as Poetry in The Branches Coordinator & Information Technology Director)
at Poets House, collecting ideas, poems and inspiration.  We're looking forward to all of the language yet to blossom in our libraries in the weeks ahead.  Thank you Reggie, and thank you Poets House!  We'll be back after spring break on April 13th-- see you then.