I’m reading Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson to my students. I love this book and this author.
My students love Woodson. They know her from Each Kindness, The Other Side, and ShoWay. A few know Brown Girl Dreaming.
I read and we talk about it; we study the structure and the meaning. It’s an accessible way to discuss craft, to notice small things a writer does.
Yesterday, we read the poem that describes how the central character, Lonnie Collins Motion AKA LoCoMotion, got his name. Lyrics from the song are in the poem. I read it this part and hear the song. But my students have no context.
So I share.
But then they got serious. “Is this during the sixties?”
“Was there segregation?”
They’re noticing. Starting to name not just what’s happening but how Woodson puts her words together on a page. And what words are standing out as important. Reading a verse closely and finding a line or two that stands out to them.
I ask, “What’s the verse name? Where is it located?”
“Verse?” They say.
“That’s a poem. It’s like a chapter in a novel in verse,” I say.
“It’s in the last, what do you call it?” T says.
“Stanza,” I say.
They are learning poetry. And loving Locomotion.
I found this audio interview of Woodson from the Poetry Foundation made after she was named the 2014 Young People’s Poet Laureate. She reads several poems from Brown Girl Dreaming, and from Locomotion. If you haven’t heard this, it’s well worth the listen.
After my students hear this, they’ll love her all the more.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life March Challenge. Read more slices here.
And thank you to Robyn Hood Black for hosting Poetry Friday at Life on the Deckle Edge.