Friday, April 16, 2010

Poetry Tag: Pat Mora is IT

Yesterday featured the powerful poetry of Marilyn Nelson. Next she tags Pat Mora, who makes these connections, “At the words, ‘My fingers remember the ebony and ivory keys,’ in Marilyn Nelson's rich selection (from MISS CRANDALL'S SCHOOL FOR YOUNG LADIES AND LITTLE MISSES OF COLOR), my fingers also remembered the cool smoothness. I savored the images and the silence in Marilyn's poem that is redeeming and triumphant, her final line of hope, a blessing, a surprising truth Marilyn creates and shares. Silence can also be lonely, sad, isolating, the sadness I see in the eyes of students of all ages-- students striving to enter the power language in our country of diverse languages.” Here is her tender and bittersweet poem.

by Pat M

My mom worried tha
t I was sick
or changing, “¿Porqué estás tan quieta?”
I hurt too much to tell her. I was shrinking
in that school. I couldn’t speak
All my intelligence and feelings trapped inside,
en español. Quiet. I was the newest
so knew no words. All day I listened and looked
down hoping no one would ask me a question.
I hid so deep inside, I’d lose myself for days,
forget the sound of my own voice.
At home, I was silent more and more, my mouth
too sad to speak.
When I’d hear español, oh!
It surrounded me like a comfort,
una frazada, the syllables soothing
me, slowly tha
wing my wounded self,
the stranger inside.

© 2010 by Pat Mora. Published in Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love by
 Alfred A. Knopf

Five fun facts about Pat Mora
*she grew up on the Texas/Mexico border
*her first language was Spanish
*she once was a radio talk show host
*she launched the national family literacy initiative El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children's Day/Book Day celebrated every April 30
*she has a new book for adults, Zing! a book of letters on creativity to educators

Look for these selected books by Mora:
*Confetti: Poems for Children (Lee & Low, 1996)
*Uno Dos Tres, One, Two, Three (Clarion, 1996)
*Tomás and the Library Lady (Knopf, 1997)
*This Big Sky (Scholastic, 1998)
*My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults, 1984-1999 (Pinata Books, 2000)
*Love to Mama: A Tribute to Mothers (Lee & Low, 2001)
*Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!: America's Sproutings (Lee & Low, 2007)
*Join Hands; The Ways We Celebrate Life (Charlesbridge, 2008)
*Dizzy in Your Eyes; Poems About Love (Knopf, 2010)

Check out Pat Mora's blog, too.

Next up: Naomi Shihab Nye

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2010. All rights reserved.

Image credits: Pat Mora Photo Credit: Cheron Bayna;;;;;;;


Jane Heitman Healy said...

Thanks for this beautiful poem, Pat. It clearly shows the importance of language to us as individuals. How can we express ourselves to others without it? Our hopes, dreams, triumphs, and frustrations roil and boil inside us until they are constructively expressed through language--or destructively expressed through violence. Let's keep teaching and using language to avoid destruction.

Mary Lee said...

This poem breaks my heart for all of our new-to-this-country ELLs.