It’s the kind of book you read in one sitting. A page turner. So many life lessons told in carefully chosen, impactful words.
Nikki Grimes wrote this novel in tanka poems. (A tanka poem follows the syllable pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7) Garvey struggles to fit into the mold his father wants for him, that of an athlete. Instead Garvey has a passion for space, chess, and chorus. Garvey also struggles with his weight and constant belittling by classmates. He finds companionship with Joe and Emmanuel and learns more about himself through them.
It doesn’t matter
how wide I am when I sing.
Like Goldilocks, I
have finally found what fits:
my high tenor is just right.
by Nikki Grimes
It doesn't matter
where I go, or what I do
words bubble in me.
Whether in notebook or screen
telling stories is just right.
If you are like me, and most of the country, you are inspired by the work of Amanda Gorman. Her poetry from the inauguration and Superbowl moved me and deepened my belief in the power of words. I am compelled to read everything I can get my hands on that tells about her life. The Time magazine with Amanda on the cover is in my stack of Spring Break reads.
One thing I have learned about Amanda is that she recites her mantra with hand motions before she performs as a way to set her intention and steady her mind. She explains her mantra as part of her TED talk.
I am the daughter of black writers. We descended from freedom fighters who broke through chains and changed the world. They call me.
This got me thinking about my life.
Whose shoulders do I stand on? My parents and extended family definitely laid the foundation for my life. I grew up learning the value of hard work, faith, dedication, honesty, frugality, and independence. My father was a teacher, and many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were also in the education field. At our annual family reunion, teaching is always a topic of discussion. I had many mentors right in my family to seek advice from as I navigated my first years of teaching.
What do I stand for? Making a difference in the lives of kids is my mission. I believe learning through books is a fundamental way to do this. Reaching all students through word and story are important to me.
Amanda Gorman’s inspiration and these thoughts have lead me to create my own mantra.
I come from a family of faith-filled educators who made this world a better place. I do that too, as I reach and teach young minds through the power of words. My work matters.
Whose shoulders do you stand on? What do you stand for?
When I hear those words, my body releases. The day’s practice is over, and it’s time to lay in silence and allow the body and mind to internalize all that was learned in the session. Just like sleep restores the body, savasana restores the spirit. I can draw in the things I learned about my body, my soul, my life from the last 50 minutes. I can set an intention for how I will live, even better, outside the four walls of the studio.
In this particular practice, our instructor ended with one of her favorite poems by Remi.
Don't go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don't bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.
It spoke to me. This last year of being inside. This last year of missing so many things for myself, but more importantly my children. Trying to see the silver lining when heavy grey clouds loom overhead. But, we don’t have to be outside to see flowers. They are inside us. And they will remain inside us after this pandemic and into the next difficult thing. We must seek to find the flowers. Find a place to sit on a petal and be okay with the stillness. Then we will see the beauty in us, around us, and through us.