Thursday, April 14, 2011

ROOTS AND BLUES by Arnold Adoff

Poetry Tag continues with a book review of a new book of poetry connected to yesterday's book review.

Today’s tagline: Poems about another pair

Guest Reviewer: Deanne May

Featured Book: Adoff, Arnold. 2011. Roots and Blues; A Celebration. Clarion. ISBN: 978-0-547-23554-7

Deanne writes: In Roots and Blues: A Celebration, Arnold Adoff explores the evolution of blues music in African American culture as well as its impact on singers and listeners. Beginning with the songs of those being transported from Africa across the ocean during the slave trade and ending with blues music in modern times, Adoff uses lyrical poetry to engulf readers with the pure emotion of this genre of music.

Adding visual beauty to Adoff’s words are R. Gregory Christie’s enchanting acrylic paintings. The rhythm and flow of the poems in Roots and Blues allows for a smooth reading while evoking sensory images through the use of rich vocabulary. Perhaps the most interesting element of this book is the unique layout in which special attention was paid to spacing, line breaks, and the placement of the poems on the page. Readers will enjoy this historically rich exploration of how blues music came to be.

Due to its complex vocabulary and, at times, abstract nature, Roots and Blues: A Celebration would be best suited for use with high school aged students and beyond. Though one usually associates use of poetry with Language Arts curriculum, Roots and Blues would make for an excellent teaching tool in any music or music history class. This book represents the history of blues music in a historically accurate, yet emotionally riveting manner. Roots and Blues could provide an engaging alternative to reading a traditional textbook about the same topic. To explore the use of blues music in African American culture during various points in history, educators can select poems that represent each time frame being studied. For example:

Slave Trade (taken from p. 10)

in rags in blood in dark death of daylight.
To survive the passage across the ocean from
life to living hell to life in hell means
of old

Behind the eyes

the fingers strum
homeland strings and memory of my history

remains as strong as steel.

Always: this melody of words is journey home.

Tomorrow’s tagline: More poems about African American history

[You can still purchase your own copy of PoetryTagTime, an e-book with 30 poems, all connected, by 30 poets, all connected and downloadable right now at Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for your computer, iPad or phone. Just 99 cents. Don’t miss it.]

Image credit: Clarion; PoetryTagTime

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell and students © 2011. All rights reserved.

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