Teaching with Blogs: Amistad Poetry

On Wednesday my class had a truly magical hour with poet Natasha Trethewey who is at our school this year as a visiting artist. Aware of Natasha’s interest in history and primary source documents, I asked her if she would be interested in building on my students’ work with Sarah Margru Kinson, a child on the Amistad. She was.

And so Natasha came and, after leading the class in a close reading of several of Elizabeth Alexander’s Amistad poems from her collection American Sublime, guided them into creating a group poem of their own. After she left, the inspired children created individual Amistad poems and then presented them as collages. Please go see them here; they are quite wonderful!

In a couple of weeks, Natasha will return for a very special Literary Salon during which the children will perform their poems (which we will, of course, podcast).

And so, without further ado, here is the class poem:

Margru

What I remember of home is this:

green – green mangoes, green snakes, green bananas:
brown – my mother, my father, myself, the tree
trunks, the brown earth, the color of my language,
Mende,
the only language I had
to describe these things.

Often I think of
how I came to be here:

my father pawning me, waving goodbye,
his face crumpled, tightened, looking
away from me.

I felt my captor’s white, cold hand
tighten around my wrist as if
he were a solid ghost taking me away.

Now I wish to see again
the green rice fields,
my father’s brown face,
clouds in the sky —
the only white things,

to hear someone speaking my language,
someone saying

Margru.

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3 Comments

Filed under Historical Fiction, History, Reading, Teaching

3 responses to “Teaching with Blogs: Amistad Poetry

  1. Pingback: Teaching with Blogs: Podcasting Literary Salons « educating alice

  2. I feel that Margru written by Natasha is an a good blend of realistic human expressions and natures beauty. It would have looked even beautiful if you had used more specific poetic devices like similies. Any god work and all the best
    You can check on my blog I have mentioed above.
    Regards
    Uday

  3. Pingback: Natasha Trethewey in My Classroom | educating alice

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