Friday, September 9, 2011

Poetry Friday: In Praise of Poignancy

Today seems like a good day to return from hiatus. The television seems intent on reminding me that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is Sunday. There's certainly no escaping it. As a classroom teacher, I have made certain to discuss the events of that day with my students every year at this time. However, I teach 10-11 year olds, children who will never know what that day was like. Alas, we discuss it anyway. They watch TV, too, so I know it's as inescapable for them as it is for me.

In my mind, poetry exists for moments in time such as 9/11/01. Where else can you turn to in such times? How else can you attempt to make sense of something so insensible? Whether it's by reading or writing, the poignancy poetry is capable's a powerful thing. Words are failing me here. I suppose I'm proving my point.

I'm rambling. It's as if I forgot how to blog! For this Poetry Friday, I want to share a poem I shared last year on the 9th anniversary of the attacks, a poem I think every American needs to read:

Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100
by Martín Espada

for the 43 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 100, working at the Windows on the World restaurant, who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center

Alabanza. Praise the cook with the shaven head
and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye,
a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo,
the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle
glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.
Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap
worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane
that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua,
for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.
Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked
even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish
rose before bread. Praise the bread. Alabanza.

You can read the rest of the poem by clicking here. If you're a teacher and you need other resources to help you teach about 9/11, you should examine these:

Not all are poetry related, but I think all are worthwhile and in all you can find poignant memories and thoughts to read (or write) about.

Secrets and Sharing Soda is where you'll find the Poetry Friday Round-Up. Be sure to check it out. And stay tuned as I dust myself off from hiatus and try to start blogging about poetry again on a more regular basis. There are some subscription options in the sidebar that I hope you consider taking advantage of! Thanks for reading!


  1. Glad to have you back! I could spend all day looking at the Library of Congress collection. Thanks for all the links.

  2. Thanks for the links. I ran out of time on Friday to do what I'd planned, and somehow it seems appropriate that real-life-in-the-moment won out with 9 year-olds (I, too, am struggling with what to say and how to say it because my students weren't born...and added to that, my class represents at least 5 nations) but I think it might even be better to process after they've experienced the media hoopla. And I think I'll bring it to their level with the animated story corps clips. Perfect: There was violence. Real and ordinary people died. Now we need to work for peace.