Thursday, March 3, 2011

Poetry Friday: Women's History Month Countdown

Not only is Poetry Friday here. It's also HERE! Welcome to the first ever Poetry Friday to be hosted at The Small Nouns. 

For those of you new to The Small Nouns--welcome! Take a look around, enjoy, leave copious amounts of comments, and by all means subscribe to my RSS feed. And for all you wonderful fellow bloggers out there, why not take the time to add The Small Nouns to your blogroll? I'd really appreciate it and will certainly reciprocate.

Since it's a special day, I wanted to start a special series of posts dedicated to Women's History Month. And since nothing spurs discussion like a countdown (I'm still ticked that Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" beat out Tiffany's "Could've Been" in my best friend's Top Hits of Fifth Grade, I was a dork), I decided to countdown my top ten favorite female poets.

Now, I need to admit that I'm not very good at limiting myself. I'm the guy who sneaks 12 items in the express lane and whose Top Five Movies list has ten movies on it. Et cetera, et cetera. So I'm limiting myself in this case to poets no longer among the living. It's still a daunting task, but I'll do my best. And of course, feel free to disagree or join in in the conversation by leaving a comment.

Without further ado, I give you my number 10 poet...Lucille Clifton.

I think the first Clifton poem I ever read was "homage to my hips." I was a poetry novice at the time and its frank voice and pure honesty really stood out to me. What a powerful piece, a bellowing from the mountaintop of independence and freedom. "So this is what you can do with poetry," I thought.

Another poem that is dripping with honesty and pride is "won't you celebrate with me:"

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand

Read the rest here. "i made it up." How great is that? And how true? My fifth graders loved reading this poem last year and it became an instant favorite. I think students of higher grades would enjoy it, too. The Poetry Foundation has a complete Poetry Guide for this one, including writing ideas, discussion questions, annotations, and teaching tips. Be sure to check it out.

So many of Ms. Clifton's poems strike a chord. She passed away last year and her powerful voice is surely missed. You might also enjoy:
There are many, many more. And many of them are painful and sad. But they're all beautifully written and so, so honest. Let me know which favorites of yours I've missed.

And now it's your turn, friends. Please use the little gadget-thingy below to leave your link. Thanks to all and happy Poetry Friday!


  1. Lucille Clifton is a great choice! Have you shared her "the poet" with your 5th graders? I think they would like it.

    My posts will be up after midnight. Thanks for hosting and have a great day!

  2. Ben, Thank you for hosting! I enjoy your lists and look forward to following this one through the month. Happy Poetry Friday! A.

  3. Nice to have Poetry Friday here! Thanks for being our host.

  4. Hi, Ben--nice to meet you. If Lucille (former Poet Laureate of my state of Maryland) is your Number 10, I can't wait to see who comes in 9 through 1!

    I expect you know that she wrote several books for children, poetry picture books about Everett Anderson. Your 5th graders are "too old" for these books, which makes them perfect mentor texts.

    Thanks for hosting, and I'll be back later this weekend to enjoy as many of the posts as I can squeeze in!

  5. Thanks for hosting. I saw the link to Tsujimoto's book on teaching poetry to adolescents. It's a fabulous book. I'm so glad to see it noted here. Sounds like you're doing a great job with your fifth graders.

  6. I love Lucille Clifton's poetry. Thanks for sharing one of hers today.

    At alphabet soup, I have two cookie poems that were written in response to a prompt, and I've announced the winner of my No Soup for You Giveaway.

    Nice visiting your blog, Ben. Thanks for hosting today and have a nice weekend :)!

  7. Thanks for hosting, Ben! I enjoyed this post and the links to poems, and I look forward to coming back for numbers 9 to 1.

  8. Celebrating with you -- love the Clifton poem and plan to share it with my daughters.

    And thanks so much for hosting -- I'm in today with Marianne Moore.

  9. Ooo I love Lucille Clifton!! We have a picture book of hers called The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring. I am going to get it out and read it again this weekend.

    Can't wait to see who your other favorite women poets are!!

    I have some spring haiku up today. Thanks for hosting!!

  10. Thanks for hosting -- just posted my link! Happy Friday!

  11. Love your idea of a top 10 countdown of female poets. Your friend's top hits of 5th grade sounds like fun, too. Sorry, but I was in love with Michael Jackson in the 5th grade, too. In fact, I even wrote a poem about him around that time...and actually mailed it to him! Thanks for hosting today!

  12. Thanks for doing the roundup this week!

    At Wild Rose Reader, I have two slightly different versions of an original acrostic poem about March.

  13. What a stellar idea. I'm guessing even now at your other 9!

    I'm in today with some serious thinking about Error and Comedy---provoked by a viewing of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors at the Folger Theater.

  14. Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday. And celebrating Women's History Month with poems!

  15. Dont know how I got here but so pleased I did..this is a fabulous blog with great content and lovely poems

  16. Thank you for hosting. I love Lucille Clifton.

  17. Thanks for hosting! I love your countdown idea, and look forward to seeing the rest of your top 10!

  18. Can't wait to see who else is on your top ten list! I don't think I know enough about poets and poetry to have a top ten list at all, let alone one comprised of just women. Thanks so much for hosting!

  19. Thanks for hosting.
    My selection is "Days to Celebrate: a full year of poetry, people, holidays, history, fascinating facts, and more" written and edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins with illustrations by Stephen Alcorn

  20. Thanks to all for the wonderful comments! It was a pleasure to host and I can't wait to do so again soon.

    It appears the countdown is a hit...stay tuned for numbers 9 through 1!

  21. Thanks for hosting last week, Ben--and I love that poem!

    here on this bridge between
    starshine and clay,

    She makes that scary place so, so beautiful!

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