Thursday, June 11, 2020

Honoring Nikki Grimes, Poet

You can see the animated version of the card above at Buncee.

I recall one NCTE a few years ago when Poetry Friday friends were seated around a table enjoying the camaraderie of friends. Nikki Grimes was part of that group. We chatted about poetry and life. I was one of Nikki's fans so I listened carefully. Following this evening event, I was lucky to spot her at an author's signing for her new novel in verse, Garvey's Choice that won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. 

To prepare for Day 3 of my graduate school summer institute for teachers, I reread Garvey's Choice. I knew that it would be an appropriate book to be included in a text-set for a mini-unit on adolescent bullying, self-identity, and/or family and friend relationships. As I read through the book, I grew to care about Garvey as a person and student. He, like many middle year and early high school teens, is perplexed by internal conflict emanating from his relationships with his family and lack of friends.  This book is beautifully-crafted and seamlessly written in the tanka form of poetry. Nikki Grimes shares sensitivity toward her main character and visibly illustrates the growth of Garvey's identity from a boy taunted for years about his weight to one who takes pride in whom he is. You can see the Garvey's growth of self-confidence in the found poem I created with selected lines from Nikki's book.

Fill in the puzzle of me.
Fear is the flip-flop in my belly.
I take a breath. 
I'm suddenly feeling brave.
Now "fat boy" insults glide
right off like raindrops.
I'm a balloon of song,
reaching the edges of space.
Somehow, music makes me full.
Listen to my dreams.
I choose what words to let in.
Set to face a new morning,
I stand Taller.
The perfect size is happy.
Designed by ©CVarsalona, 2020
with lines from Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes

💖

I listened to Nikki read "Jabari Unmasked" from One Last Word, which she says is one of her favorite books. You can listen to her video here.  I look to Nikki's work as a model for my own Golden Shovel poem writing. Below is my poem using Nikki's line, ."..still, the world needs the dreams we offer," as both the title and strike line for my poem.


Thank you Irene Latham for suggesting that we honor Nikki Grimes and her work this week at the Poetry Friday Roundup. I am heading over to the celebration at Irene's blog, Live Your Poem, where she is hosting today. I am bringing my Buncee card, this post, and grilled peaches cake because it is a Poetry Friday party for Nikki Grimes.

Poetry Friday Roundup Celebration

Note: I still have a draft of a Golden Shovel poem for Day 5 of Kat Apel's #PoetryPepUp challenge but it is still not ready for sharing. I will post the Golden Shovel poem/image poem I created above on social media noting Kat's engaging challenge last week. 

30 comments:

  1. Carol, first what a wonderful post. I like your striking line for the golden shovel. You have a snapshot of today in that. And, the poem of many lines from Nikki's work is great to read as well. That last line is perfect! You must have had fun pulling all those lines out, playing with them and sorting them into something new.
    And, I received your wonderful poetry swap package today! I love it! I can't wait to share with our poetry friends. Swaps are so fun! Thank you

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    1. I am surprised that my package to you came so late. My husband and I believe that the pandemic has really affected the postal service. I am so glad that you enjoyed the packet of poetry. Yes, my golden shovel poem is dedicated to today's life that seems to consume me. As for Nikki's poems. I am amazed at how much she can say in such a short space. Her tankas really get into the character's thoughts. Ah, to be able to write with such a sense of character's voice!

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  2. It's a beautiful celebration of Nikki's words, Carol, and grilled peaches cake certainly tops it off with flair! I had forgotten about Garvey's Choice, yikes, & now you've reminded me how wonderful that tanka story is. I taught that age of students and Nikki got it so right, as your poem's lines begin with "Fill in the puzzle of me./Fear is the flip-flop in my belly." Thank you!

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    1. Linda, thank you for you comments and the quick story about using Garvey's Choice in your classroom. Nikki is such a gifted writer and this morning I have indulged myself by reading through the beginning of the celebration posts. Have a great weekend.

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  3. Two wonderful works to celebrate and spotlight Nikki's words. Well done, Carol.(And grinning at you, still polishing last week's golden shovel. I have a couple of earlier attempts here, too, that I am still polishing.) 'I'm a balloon of song' / 'I choose what words to let in.'💜 And I love 'the aspirations of youth wrapped in new dreams'. Dreaming and creating a better world.

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    1. Thanks for dropping over to read my post, Kat. As soon as I finish the apple polishing, I will send you my golden shovel about the lilacs in my garden. I am in the process of placing today's golden shovel poem on instagram with a link to your challenge.

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  4. Thank you for the introduction to Nikki's book, Garvey's Choice. Your found poem makes me want to read it all the more. And I love your final line in your golden shovel poem - "unsure but hopeful, bring what we can offer". Yes. :)

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    1. Bridget, I think you will enjoy Nikki's book. It is a quick read but packed with emotion. This golden shovel poem seemed to roll out nicely for me with minor rewrites as opposed to the one I have been writing and revising for over a week.

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    2. Fill the puzzle of me. What a great line! And grilled peaches cake sounds divine. Thank you, dear Carol. xo

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    3. To Irene Latham: Thank you for hosting such a fine party today that honors Nikki Grimes. There are so many of Nikki's poems and books being shared that it is a feast for the eyes. Then, there is the grilled peaches cake with whip cream that is a crowd-pleaser. Have a great weekend.

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  5. Grilled peaches cake sounds so scrumptious! Recipe? I had forgotten how much I loved Garvey's Choice. You captured the voice in your selection. And your golden shovel speaks of this time. The striking line gets lost in your poem which I think is a good thing because we focus on your message.

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    1. I sent you the recipe, Margaret. There are several steps to this cake which means it is time consuming. Garvey's Choice is such an outstanding book with great voice. It is hard to believe that it flows so beautifully and has a deep message within such few pages. Thank you for the comment on the striking line and I am glad that you liked the poem.

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  6. Fabulous post, Carol. Love both poems and appreciate your intro to Garvey's Choice (another title to add to my TBR list!). What a great card and of course I'm drooling over the grilled peaches cake!

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    1. The grilled peaches cake is tasty but as I said to Margaret, it is time consuming. My TBR list is stacked all around me, Jama.

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  7. Thanks for a great post, Carol. I have not read Garvey's Choice but am putting it on my TBR list now. And a timely and inspiring golden shovel!

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    1. Thanks for joining me Buffy. When I sat down to write this golden shovel, it flowed out. This is probably because I have been caught up in the pandemic stress mode for so long here on Long Island. While it was revised several times it spoke to me and I am glad that I could relate it to the times.

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  8. Yum! Not just two great poems, but peach cake, too! Garvey's Choice became a keystone book for one of my students several years back who was going through the same issues, so I have a special place in my heart for that one. And of course, I, too, love golden shovels!

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    1. Thank you for making my Saturday morning special with such a "sweet" comment, Mary Lee. I am still apple polishing one of the golden shovel poems I started for Kat's challenge.

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  9. A beautiful tribute to Nikki and her work, Carol - by now you know your card inspired my post on "soul shine." It was instantaneous; I had a different idea for writing and changed it on reading this post! She really is a wellspring of inspiration, as evidenced by your captivating lines here. In your first poem these lines so resonated with me:

    I'm a balloon of song,
    reaching the edges of space.
    Somehow, music makes me full.
    Listen to my dreams.
    I choose what words to let in.

    It communicates the vital importance of having an outlet, of the nature of art in lifting the soul, and the power of choice. The golden shovel strikes deep ... especially about the aspirations of the young during these troubled times, whispering of hope in "new dreams." And better tomorrows. THAT CAKE - it's astonishing! Mouthwatering! An edible poem! I think I must try it.

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    1. Fran, I was touched that you added my name to the beginning of your post. I knew that your post would be a celebratory one and that you should be included in our Poetry Friday community's tribute to Nikki Grimes. Nikki's way with words is truly inspirational, as evidenced by the found poem of her words. We all need to listen to the dreams of youth. They are betwixt and between now in this new normal state of living, as the adults are too so having an outlet like you say is essential. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  10. Garvey's Choice is such a wonderful book! I love the found poem you created of individual lines from Nikki's poems. What a cool activity this would be for kids to trace character growth through any novel or novel in verse!

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    1. Oh, I like that thought, Laura. I will definitely share this activity you thought of with the teachers at my graduate school Summer Institute at the local college.

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  11. Thank you for a lovely post!

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    1. Thank you, Ruth, for stopping by. I was telling my husband yesterday how your country has had the longest running turmoil and school closures this year. This is so sad. My wish is that hope flies in on wings to shift the course of what is happening everywhere.

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  12. Loved hearing Nikki read her poem "Jabari Unmasked–" so powerful, as is your found poem from "Garvey's Choice." Such a rich, and overflowing Nikki-filled post, thanks Carol!

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    1. Michelle, Nikki is a remarkable writer. Thank you for stopping by way early in the morning.

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  13. Hi Carol, thanks for sharing this lovely tribute to Nikki. I loved hearing her read "Jabari Unmasked" and also enjoyed both your found poem and your golden shovel--which honors Nikki and also captures the feeling of this time.

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    1. Thank you, Susan for stopping by. I appreciate your comment.

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  14. Your prayer-like poetic offering is lovely, Carol. I just want to say, "AMEN!" at the end. Well done! -- Christie

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    1. Christie, thanks so much for stopping by. I just came home from a quick visit to Virginia. It was our granddaughter's 3-year-old birthday. I am hoping to write my slice but the trip drained us.

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