Thursday, November 22, 2012

Poetry Friday: Thanku






When I was in high school, I was not a fan of poetry.  The poems we read in English class were complicated and no matter how hard I tried, I never got them.  We spent endless hours analyzing hidden meanings that remained hidden to me even after the teacher explained them to us.  To me, poetry was meant only for the intellectual elite who could comprehend it.

After my first son was born, I decided to earn my degree and become a teacher.  I majored in English and loved reading the assigned short stories, but once again the poems seemed distant and unappealing. 

Then one day while browsing the children's section in a local bookstore, I came across The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes. Being a lifelong dreamer, the title appealed to me. The introduction written by Lee Bennett Hopkins inspired me to read on.  I turned to "Dreams" and like magic, I fell in love with those eight gorgeous lines.

Dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

(Read the rest of the poem here.)

 I read that poem again and again until it became part of me.  It was the poem that changed my life and led me to discover a passion for poetry.


Now I start the school year by reading "Dreams" to my students. I even have a poster of it hanging in the front of my classroom where students see it every day. I want them to carry it in their hearts the way I have. So when I decided to join with Teaching Authors and write a thanku, I chose the two poets who led me to believe in the possibilities of  poetry.


Thanku Langston and Lee

poetry changed me
with words of friendship, dreams, love—
so simple, so true

Thank you for stopping by! Today's Poetry Friday is hosted by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading.






17 comments:

  1. What a wonderful Thanku, Linda. "Dreams" is one of my all-time favorite poems, too. Thanks for joining in our Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving!

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    1. What a wonderful idea to thank those whose words have given meaning to our lives! Thank you, Carmela!

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  2. What a great back story. I especially love the line, "I read that poem again and again until it became part of me." That is exactly what I want for my students…for poetry to become part of them.

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    1. Carol- I agree with you. I wish I'd found poetry sooner in my life because it's been a great joy and comfort to me.

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  3. I have that lovely edition in my classroom. I love sharing so many of his poems with my students. Thanks for this!

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  4. Oh Linda, what a beautiful story about how poetry found you. I don't know about this book. Now that you have shared so many wonderful things about it, I would definitely try to find this in our libraries here in Singapore. :)

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    1. Myra- I hope you can find a copy. It's worth the search. I think you can still find it on Amazon. I know you'll love it!

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  5. Love it! Especially, like Carol said, the backstory.

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  6. That is beautiful, Linda, not only the thanku but the story behind it. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself here, and thank you to Langston and Lee, for giving many of us words to unlock poetry in our own lives.

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    1. Thank you for being my latest poetry mentor, Laura! Your generosity of time and spirit means a lot to me. I'm learning so much from you!

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  7. Dear Linda:

    Your post gave me goose bumps! Thank you. I posted a wee back story on THE DREAM KEEPER on fb. Go to my site to see it?

    Continued love and luck. And always, always "Hold fast..." Lee Bennett Hopkins www.leebennetthopkins.com

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    1. Lee- There are not enough "thankus" in the world to express my gratitude and admiration. : )

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  8. I wonder how many people were turned off by high school and college English classes where one had to find the "meaning" or explore the "themes." I know I was. It wasn't until I discovered children's poetry as a children's librarian that poetry took on another life! Glad to know I'm not alone!

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    1. Diane- We're so fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful children's poetry today!

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