Saturday, December 3, 2011

Poem in Your Post: Out Loud!

This week rocks:  Our first week of the 2011-2012 Poetry Out Loud extravaganza at our school! 

What's Poetry Out Loud?  A nationwide poetry performance contest in the United States, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (and our national government: whoda thunkit in this day and age?). 

And I get the amazing honor of leading my students in a journey through many poems from around the world and across the ages as we sample and select those we want to make our own through performance.  Theater background meets passion for literature: How lucky am I? 

Never heard of it?  Find out more here, and then get it going in your local 'hood! 


Shawntay Henry performing
Robert E. Hayden's "Frederick Douglass".
Most movingly perfect dramatic performance:  Shawntay Henry, "Frederick Douglass" by Robert E. Hayden
Click here to see it:
Poetry Out Loud : Learning Recitation

Frederick Douglass

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,   
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,   
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,   
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more   
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:   
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro   
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world   
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,   
this man, superb in love and logic, this man   
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,   
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives   
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.
                        Robert E. Hayden 

Here's Hayden reading his own poem.   So wonderful to note the differing performances, the perfection of both renditions.

IMHO:  Most light-hearted yet mature performance: Jackson Hille, "Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins

Click here to see it:
Poetry Out Loud : Learning Recitation


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

And here's a throw-down for the holiday travel season, one that's enriched my life every year for many years: Take along a short poem to memorize at the airport and in the air, on the train or bus, in the auto, or on the hoof.  Somehow, taking a new poem into your heart and memory during the transitory moments - and taxing wait-time - of travel works perfectly and offers rewards year after year after year.

MFB, in abundance, out loud,

p.s.  As always, I encourage you to leave a poem in the comments below, or to post one on your own blog and leave the link for us. 

1 comment:

Sidne said...

oh this is great. going on to the sight to check it out.

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