If you haven’t yet had a chance to join the BCTELA summer book club, don’t worry: you still can! The coordinated date has been extended to July 6th.
This year we are reading about theories of Place-Based education. As this topic is still emerging as a area of study, we will be reading four articles rather than a single text.
Let us know if you have questions. If you’re ready to read, please download the form and send it to the address you’ll find at the bottom. We will send you the articles. The first two will be discussed on Twitter on July 9th, and the second two on August 11th (see the Important Dates in the sidebar to the left).
Posted by Celia Brogan
We are halfway through Poetry Month! In a change from last year, this April we are focusing on specifically BC literatures in support of the ABPBC’s Read Local BC campaign but luckily, when we look around poetry features prominently in the local cannon.
Today I would like to continue a thread started yesterday and share another iten created by the intersection of Local + Maps + Story.
A Verse Map of Vancouver ed. George McWhirter (photographs by Derek Von Essen) is a beautiful volume of poetry and photographs whose aim is to celebrate and “represent the city’s places and principal features in poetry.” (from the introduction) It’s not meant to be exhaustive, but a snapshot of the city (so to speak: the actual photographs often are more portrait-like than snapshot.)
I love the idea of a verse map. Should you be inspired by this idea, the breadth of topography might vary: from covering a region or your entire town, to remaining on within the bounds of the school property.
Another book that could fall within the Local + Maps + Story thread, and is simultaneously smaller and larger in scope, is Gulf Islands Alphabet by Bronwyn Preece (Illustrated by Alex Walton). This picture book is a poetic description of the Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea, featuring an alphabetic sequence of alliterative passages accompanied by rich watercolour illustrations. It differs from A Verse Map of Vancouver in that it covers a wider area, but does so with a single text. It’s another option to inspire a way for students to engage with their geography through poetry.
(One drawback of this text for me is the minimal mention of First Nations’ current and historical use of the area as well as not enough information about marine life. These two aspects can serve as entry points for a critical reading.)
If you have a local resource of this sort for your town or area in BC, please share it in the comments!
posted by Celia Brogan
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed by John Vaillant.
I love this book. The prose are poetic to the extent that I have used passages as prompts in an art class. The story opens with a mystery and proceeds to weave together strands of natural history, botany, political and economic history, adventure, cultural history, and social activism.
Every time I try to book talk this title I fall down some sort of rabbit hole: I can’t quite seem to ever tighten my description of the book enough and end up rambling. I could tell you that it’s the life story of an culturally important and botanically unique tree, from germination to felling, but that’s only one piece. I could tell you that it’s the story of a man named Grant Hadwin, who worked in the BC lumber industry and who suffered from a (probable) mental illness, who made headlines with his actions when he took a stand against logging practices in BC. But the book is so much more than that! I could also say that this text provides a lyrical and informative portrayal of geologic history, the history of human culture and the history of economic development of natural resources in BC (which is pretty great since that last topic can at times be a little dry). But those threads don’t constitute the whole text either. Look! It’s happening again!
Make this book one of your summer reads this year (but keep a set of post-its near by!)
posted by Celia Brogan
I realized a few years ago that I like what I have decided to call “Farm Literature.” There may be an industry name for this but I’m happy with mine. Farm Lit is, for me, a book about someone’s experience living on a farm–hobby or sustenance–or other intimate experience with the food we eat. That’s not a exhaustively vetted definition, and has been developed as I read books I holistically add to the category.
When a local angle is added to the farm/food aspect, I feel even more fulfilled. Here are three titles from my bookshelf you may want to check out:
Home: tales of a heritage farm by Anny Scoones is a collection of stories about the ten years she spent living on and restoring Glamorgan Farm. The farm is on the Saanich Peninsula, on the South end of Vancouver Island and was threatened by development when Anny bought it. She restored it and made a point of raising heritage breeds and growing heirloom vegetables, opening the workings of the farm to the community.
Wise Acres: Free-Range Reflections on the Rural Route by Michael Kluckner. Kluckner, a notable watercolourist and Vancouver historian, moved with his wife from a house in Vancouver to a hobby farm in the Fraser Valley. The book is a darkly funny chronicle of the couple’s experience adjusting to farm life, including animal husbandry.
The third title I’ll share today is a bit different. You may have heard of The 100-Mile Diet: a year of local eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. The authors generated a huge amount of press when they spent a year eating only food that was grown or produced within 100 miles of their homes in Vancouver. Whereas the first two titles are a microcosm of BC food-life, sharing the day-to-day at the production end of the chain, The 100-Mile Diet shows us a broad view of the myriad aspects of the food industry in BC (and not even all of BC–how might this story differ if it was based in Smithers, or Kelowna, or Nelson?) from the consumer’s end.
Looking at local sources of food can be an inspiring way to get to know the land where we live. The people who feed us from our land are often unknown to us in the lower mainland. It’s not as anonymous in smaller communities, but time spent with our students on this topic can’t help but enrich their literacies of place.
This week I’m introducing found poetry to two classes of 6/7s.
There are many variations of the rules of found poetry: whether the poet must only use words from the found text, or if she can add her own; whether the found words/phrases must be used in the order they appear in the original text, or if the poet has license to move them around; whether one original text is used, or many. Its up to you what constraints you put in place. I used this lesson from ReadWriteThink and this description from poets.org to focus my instructions to my students.
I gave each student a short text, or excerpt. I chose six texts so each student at every table had a different one. I asked them to read it through once, then go through it again and underline strong words and phrases, then I asked them to make a list of what they underlined on a piece of paper in the order the bits appear in the original. That’s as far as we got in the first period.
In the second period they each read through their list and some chose to add additional bits from the original text as they felt necessary. I told them about the variations in ‘rules’ and let them, as writers, make their own choices regarding the “purity” of the text and the order of lines. They have started to construct their poems.
We’ll see what my young writers come up with…
I want them to consider the ‘story’ and voice in their original text as they construct something new. I want their new piece to have a distinctly different voice–and possibly a different story–from the original. The example by Reznikoff in the link above from poets.org is a great snapshot of what it could be.
The texts I chose were not simple texts. In fact, they are not ones my 6/7s would have anywhere near their fingertips. The texts I chose were:
You may notice some addition April-related thematic work here (cherry blossom festival, Earth Day). I though I may as well get these NF texts to double as thematic exposure too 🙂