More Black Poetry

Louise Curran on black poets:

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Carter G. Woodson, Father of Black History

For children about six to 10 (or older, I thoroughly enjoyed it), you simply must read the McKissack’s engaging biography, Carter G. Woodson, The Father of Black History

Pero daglo Dagbovie has a 280 something page book or resource online here, Willing to SAcrifice.  I am struggling with reading long text online, so I am not sure how engaging it is for the average reader.  The author wrote Carter G. Woodson in Washington, D.C., which is on Kindle. They may be essentially the same work.  If you have unlimited, it’s one of the books you can read with your subscription.  I am enjoying 90% of it, with some frustration over long breaks for long lists of names with no context (probably I should know them, but I don’t), or for details that are just data (the size of a signboard he put up to advertise the publishing arm of his organization).  It is partially a biography of the man, and partially a biography of his house and the movement housed in his home. You could read the first half for just the biography of the man.

Carter Woodson, Web Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Kelly Miller are all important black scholars, writers, and/or teachers to read about.  THey were to some degree contemporary with each other, in that their time periods overlapped, although Booker T. Washington was almost a generation ahead of the others, and died before any of them.  It’s important to read them for several reasons, but one that interests me is how much they disagreed with each other at different times.  They mostly had the same goals, but very different ideas about how to read them.

One of my favourite stories of Woodson is one I can find the least about.  He went to the Philippines to teach for a few years, and it was there he really began to solidify his ideas about the importance of learning the history of your country and culture. He was apparently very popular and quite successful with his Filipino students because he adjusted the curriculum to meet their needs and he returned to the U.s. because of illness. I’d love to know more about his time in the Philippines.

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Poetry a Necessity Against Materialism

Poetry & Children by Mrs. Alston

IF fairies and flowers are necessary to the growth of a child’s spirit, poetry is not a luxury and it is more than a recreation for leisure hours. It is a necessity, like fresh air and sunshin,e and it is the necessity of poetry and of the cultivation of the poetic spirit that requires recognition if we are to save our children from the asphyxia of materialism.  Some think the war will do this ,because the war, it is  alleged, has altered our outlook and given us higher ideals. But the war will not alter the fact that this is the mechanical age, with schools larger and larger, life becoming more complicated and hurried, and people tending more and more to herd together in crowds. If the war has altered our outlook  and given us higher ideals,  all the more reason that we must teach our children to keep their ideals burning by the fire of poetry. Let children dream their dreams and let us fill their lives with poetry so that their dreams may come, for true poetry teaches them to build mansions not made with hands for the soul to dwell in the stress and turmoil of later years.

Poetry teaches them give things their true values, for the poetic spirit has learned to ‘consider the lilies of the field.’

Poetry and Children, by Madeline Alston. From an Article appearing in The Living Age, volume 299, 1918

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The Little Fish That Would Not Do as It Was Bid

I came across this in a Victorian poetry book for children and had to laugh. The Victorians certainly had different ideas about raising children, didn’t they?

The Little Fish That Would Not Do as It Was Bid
by Ann Taylor
“Dear Mother,” said a little fish,
“Pray is not that a fly?
I’m very hungry, and I wish
You’d let me go and try.”

“Sweet innocent,” the mother cried,
And started from her nook,
“That horrid fly is put to hide
The sharpness of the hook.”

Now, as I’ve heard, this little trout
Was young and foolish, too,
And so he thought he’d venture out,
To see if it were true.

And round about the hook he played,
With many a longing look,
And — “Dear me,” to himself he said,
“I’m sure that’s not a hook.

“I can but give one little pluck:
Let’s see, and so I will.”
So on he went, and lo! it stuck
Quite through his little gill.

And as he faint and fainter grew,
With hollow voice he cried,
“Dear mother, had I minded you,
I need not now have died.”

The poetry book is The golden staircase: poems and verses for children, the poems are selected by Louis Chisholm and it includes several absolutely luscious illustrations by Minnie Dibdin Spooner. You can drool over them here.

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I am currently without a phone and I’m super frustrated. The last episode in this stupid drama of my stupid life is that I was attempting to switch simcards from a working phone that won’t charge because of a bad charge port to a deactivated phone that was going to be activated as soon as I finished switching. The simcard was stuck. I jerked a bit too hard and it flew up into the air (out of the black plastic frame) and landed like Longfellow’s arrow, I know not where. I’m cleaning my closet out, you see. I have open bags and boxes of things that have been sorted, need to be sorted, might have been sorted but I’ve been procrastinating so long I don’t know anymore. I have gone through half of them, no sim card. I’m done. Tomorrow I may just buy a new phone and start from scratch. Suggestions on phones welcome.

Calling myself stupid—– I did this a few weeks ago when the grandkids were here. The story of why I did is long and boring and tedious as well and I shan’t bestow the tedium on you, but the funny thing was I first shocked the grands. “Grandma!!! You’re not stupid. You shouldn’t say that about yourself. Why would you say that?’ Which was all very encouraging and warm fuzzies from hair top to toes, but then when I told them what I had done they were all, “Oh. Yeah. I guess that was- ” they caught my eye and didn’t say stupid, but you know they were thinking it. Kids are adorable.

In connection with becoming a staunch fan of a couple Chinese dramas I mentioned before- Rebel Princess and Story of Minglan, I’ve been reading up on Chinese symbolism, which has some elements in common with western symbols, and some very different. Some of the interesting things:
The peach is used for a lot of things (and peach blossoms and peach wood) but most commonly longevity.
The peacock isn’t about vanity, but about dignity and beauty. The glowworm is also a symbol of beauty and steadfastness. Fish in general are symbols of prosperity, and gold fish are an ‘acceptable wedding present because phonetically the word for goldfish is similar to something like abundant prosperity. Goldfish in a picture are symbols of fertility. An owl does not symbolize wisdom, but impending disaster, and spiders are good omens- one sliding down or descending on its string is a blessing from heaven and in one area at least a spider symbolizes a son returning from far away or at least a visiting guest, and the narcissus is connected with the immortals and can symbolize a married couple. Of course, this all assumes my sources are accurate. for the above, I used a dictionary of chinese symbols, by Eberhard.

I finished Ming Lan and love it. I am still watching Rebel Princess, and it continues to be absolutely gorgeous and well done in every possible way. It’s fascinating to me that the Chinese title has nothing to do with a princess or her being a rebel- it’s called Monarch Industry, which better suits, IMO, the general theme of the series, which is that the monarchy is essentially just a business, and each powerful family is trying to make it their own personal family business. The princess is not really much of a rebel. She lives true to the values she was taught as she grew up, but what she did not know is that almost all the adults around her only gave lip service to those values, they expected her to outgrow them. I love it for many reasons, but one of them is not that huge in the whole picture, but still I adore that this princess is not a warrior princess. She doesn’t have any idea how to fight at all, not physically, and a couple times where circumstances compel her to try, she’s not very good at it, and cannot bring herself to deliver a killing blow. She leaves the fighting to her warrior husband. What she is good at is fighting through diplomacy, negotiation, reading the room, loyalty to her husband and their values, and through her commanding presence and dignity, which she never loses. Her costumes, which are so scrumptiously beautiful and stunning are every bit as much her armour and war garments as her husband’s sword and chest armour. There are two or three warrior maidens for those who like that sort of thing.

I just find it tiring and tiresome because it’s so phony and unrealistic and yet it’s in every show with any fighting, that girls can physically fight as well as men. No, they really can’t. And it’s so unrealistic that it’s like including a real werewolf as a regular character in Dragnet or an Agatha Christie series (I don’t watch language shows anymore, so I don’t know which recent ones to pick).

Another Chinese drama I enjoyed was The Longest Day in Chang’an. It’s a little bit like 24, in that the city of Chang’An is facing a terrorist attack and they have to catch the terrorists and stop them from implementing their plan by the right hour. Only it’s set in the Tang Dynasty, 618 to 907, and the lead detectives are a partnership between a Taoist priest who runs a sort of intelligence agency and is a close friend of the Crown Prince, and a death row inmate released for a day to help with the investigation. The plot is full of twists and turns and is sometimes funny, often sad, always adrenaline boosting, and the series is fascinating. SEveral of the songs for the soundtrack are poems by Li Bi, a Chinese poet who lived in the era. The set of the city streets took half a year to build. The cast read the book on which the script is based three times. I watched it because one of the side characters is the lead male from Rebel Princess, and he plays a different character here.

He’s pretty good. Really good. But he’s absolutely superb in Rebel Princess and so is his female counterpart. I can’t find the gif again, alas, but some other fan posted a picture of him staring down a character who needs to die with the line, “I am measuring you for a coffin and I want to be really precise.” His cutting glance really does seem as though it could draw blood.

I am not sure if I am reading books as much as buying them these days, but I have several going. H is for Hawk, This Sceptered Isle- Empire(I confess I love the audio more, but I kept wanting to look up quotes so I bought the book, too), a fairy tale in Spanish, which I can translate one page a day, a book about Chinese fantasy genres in Manga and movies, I finished a couple novels by Thomas Love Peacock, proto-Victorian and Victorian. I’m reading Macbeth, and slowly going through the English translation of a Chinese novel called The Red Chamber. It’s an abridgement of a five volume series the author spent something like forty years writing. Later I hope to tackle the full set.

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