“Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.”
– Audre Lorde
This week in our spotlight on Brain Hive’s National Poetry Month theme sets, we’re turning our attention to two books that demonstrate poetry’s capacity to be a vehicle for personal progress and change. The late poet and activist Audre Lorde provides us with the inspiration for this week’s choices. In the quote above, Lorde claims that poetry doesn’t simply allow us to think abstractly about how we would like our futures to be, but that it actually provides real, tangible, concrete structures upon which the future can be built. To Lorde, poetry solidifies and scaffolds dreams.
So today, we’ll be looking at two eBooks that feature this kind of future-building poetry – the kind of poetry that, simply by virtue of its own existence, helps to move us toward something better.
With your younger readers, check out Poems to Dream Together/Poems para sonar juntos, by Francisco Alarcon, illustrated by Paula Barragan (Lee & Low). This bilingual collection of poems celebrates the things that build community: good food, cooperation, an appreciation of nature and education, and of course, the ability to dream. Alarcon emphasizes that all experiences are sweetened when they are shared with the people in our lives. This sentiment is encapsulated beautifully and simply in his last poem, “Dreaming Together”:
a dream / we dream / alone / reality / we dream / together
Read this collection of warm and aspirational poems with your students, and enjoy the conversations it sparks about how we can work to build a beautiful reality together.
Direct your older students’ attention to Teeny Little Grief Machines, by Linda Oatman High (Gravel Road). This novel in verse follows 16-year-old Lexi McLeen as she struggles to swim against the currents of depression and dysfunction after the death of her infant sister. Lexi’s life is chaotic, and her lack of control drives her to the limits of her ability to hold herself together. For her, the poetry she writes and the art she creates provide her with the steadiness and structure she needs to find her way toward something better. She finds hope for her future by writing and painting her way there.
These two eBooks provide two very different versions of poetry’s ability to bridge the gap between the present and a brighter future: one is communal, the other personal. We hope that both visions provide starting-points for conversations with your students this week about poetry’s place in their lives. Questions? Comments? Shoot Molly an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 855-554-4483.