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Teaching About Haiti

Page history last edited by msward 8 years, 11 months ago

Reading Between the Lines: Beyond Haiti's Headlines

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS: 


 

Introduction:

Edwidge DanticatThe Philadelphia Free Library's One Book, One Philadelphia Selection Committee has chosen Edwidge Danticat's Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work for its 2012 selection. The Haitian American writer and MacArthur Genius Grant winner's collection of essays takes its name from Albert Camus's last published lecture in which he stated, "To create today is to create dangerously." The book illustrates the struggle of making art in exile—and what it's like to exist in a country constantly in conflict, where even the act of reading means taking a stand against oppression.

 

One Book, One Philadelphia is a joint project of the Mayor's Office and the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes reading, literacy, library use, and community building by motivating tens of thousands of people to read an annual featured selection. Marking the tenth consecutive year for One Book, the 2012 program runs from January 25 to March 17, 2012.

 

As part of this program, Edwidge Danticat be visiting Haverford High School to speak with students on March 16th.  This unique opportunity will give students an opportunity to interact with an author they've read.  What follows on this page is a collection of resources for students, parents, and teachers to learn more about this prolific author and her native country of Haiti. 

 


One Book, One Philadelphia Author Comes to Havertown!

 

 

Edwidge Danticat, author of the 2012 One Book, One Philadelphia book selection Create Dangerously will talk about her book, answer questions, and sign copies on Friday, March 16th at Haverford High School.

 

Book Discussion
9:15 am, Haverford High School
(Open to the Public)
200 Mill Road, Havertown, PA

Click here to register for the BOOK DISCUSSION

 

Reception and Book Signing
11:00 am, Haverford Township Free Library
1601 Darby Road, Havertown, PA

Click here to register for the RECEPTION

 

Registration is required for both events, please use the above links. If you'd like to attend both events, please register for each individually.  

For more information, contact Mary Bear Shannon 610-446-3082 ext. 216 or shannon@haverfordlibrary.org

 

More about Create Dangerously:

In this deeply personal book, the celebrated Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and exile. Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, here Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horrors that drove them from their homelands. Combining memoir and essay, these moving and eloquent pieces examine what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis.

 

Create Dangerously is the February selection for our Reading-a-Round Book Club. Copies of the book are available, please contact Samantha Shepherd by phone at 610-446-3082 x203 or by email at shepherd@haverfordlibrary.org


 

About Edwidge Danticat:

Edwidge Danticat immigrated to Brooklyn when she was 12 years old from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Lauded for her rich evocations of her homeland and the diaspora of its people, Danticat won a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009. Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work traverses the lines between memoir, essay collection, and criticism, reflecting on art and exile while examining what it means to be an immigrant artist from a country in crisis. In addition to several children's books, her other works include the short story collection Krik? Krak!, memoir Brother, I'm Dying and novels Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Farming of Bones, as well as essays, works of criticism, and numerous contributions to anthologies. Danticat has taught at New York University and the University of Miami.         -taken from the Free Library of Philadelphia's website

 

  • "A Year and A Day" is Danticat's reflection on the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake which was originally published in the New Yorker.

 

Danticat on Writing


 

Introduction to Haiti:

Danticat speaks about how it may be easy for the general public to get stuck on the tragedies that Haiti has faced and miss the beauty and the art that thrives in Haiti. We lose the stories, the lives, and individuals when we do not look beyond the headlines.

 

The Children of Haiti

 

 

Even prior to the January 2010 earthquake, more than 500,000 orphan children wander the streets of Haiti's cities day and night. Known as the "soulless" and forgotten by their own people, the do what they must to survive each day. Children of Haiti follows three teenage boys as they reflect on their country and their lives, while sharing a common dream of education, government assistance, and social acceptance.

 

Watch the full documentary online by clicking HERE.

Watch Children of Haiti - Trailer on PBS. See more from Independent Lens.


 

Texts:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Books

Short Stories

  • Danticat, Edwidge (21 June 1999). "The Book of the Dead". The New Yorker: 194–.
  • Danticat, Edwidge (24 November 2008). "Ghosts"The New Yorker 84 (38): 108–113. Retrieved 16 April 2009.

Film

  • Poto Mitan - Writer/Narrator, 2009

 


 

Lesson Plans:

The lesson ideas and materials below have been collected HERE in a printable format.

Reading Between the Lines: Beyond Haiti's Headlines

 

Geography


 

Learning to Read Critically 

SOURCE: Adapted from Dan Kurland's  www.criticalreading.com          

 

Facts v. Interpretation

To non -critical readers, texts provide facts.  Readers gain knowledge by memorizing the statements within a text.

 

To the critical reader, any single text provides but one portrayal of the facts, one individual’s “take” on the subject matter. Critical readers thus recognize not only what a text says, but also how that text portrays the subject matter.  They recognize the various ways in which each and every text is the unique creation of a unique author.

 

A non-critical reader might read a history book to learn the facts of the situation or to discover an accepted interpretation of those events. A critical reader might read the same work to appreciate how a particular perspective on the events and a particular selection of facts can lead to particular understanding.

 

What a Text Says, Does, and Means:

Non-critical reading is satisfied with recognizing what a text says and restating the key remarks.

 

Critical reading goes two steps further.  Having recognized what a text says , it reflects on what the text  does  by making such remarks.  Is it offering examples?  Arguing?  Appealing for sympathy?  Making a contrast to clarify a point? Finally, critical readers then infer what the text, as a whole, means, based on the earlier analysis.

 

These three steps or modes of analysis are reflected in three types of reading and discussion:

    •  What a text says     – restatement
    • What a text does    – description
    • What a text means  - interpretation   

 

Goals of Critical Reading

Textbooks on critical reading commonly ask students to accomplish certain goals:

    • to recognize an author’s purpose           
    • to understand tone and persuasive elements
    • to recognize bias

 

Notice that none of these goals actually refers to something on the page. Each requires inferences from evidence within the text:

    • recognizing purpose involves inferring a basis for choices of content and language
    • recognizing tone and persuasive elements involves classifying the nature of language choices
    • recognizing bias involves classifying the nature of patterns of choice of content and language 

 

Critical reading is not simply close and careful reading. To read critically, one must actively recognize and analyze evidence upon the page.

 

Implications For Reading

To non-critical readers, texts provide facts. Knowledge comes from memorizing the statements within a text. To the critical reader, any single text provides but one portrayal of the facts, one individual's “take” on the subject. The content of a text reflects what an author takes as “the facts of the matter.” By examining these choices, readers recognize not only what a text says, but also how the text portrays the subject matter.

 

The first step in an analysis of a text, then, must be to look at the content, at the evidence for an argument, the illustrations used to explain ideas, and the details presented within a description. Not that any particular author/text is necessarily wrong. We simply recognize the degree to which each and every text is the unique creation of a unique author. That uniqueness is defined by choices of content, language and structure.

 

Critical reading thus relies on an analysis of choices of content, language, and structure. 

 

What to Look For?

Critical readers are consciously aware of the choice of content.  They look at the content, at the evidence for an argument, the illustrations used to explain ideas, and the details presented within a description.   That uniqueness is defined by choices of content, language and structure. .  They distinguish between assertions of fact, opinion, and belief.  They are aware whether evidence consists of references to published data, anecdotes, or speculation, and they evaluate the persuasiveness of a text accordingly.

 

Critical readers are aware of how language is being used.  They notice whether a text refers to someone as a "bean counter" (no respect) or "an academic statistician" (suggesting professionalism), whether some is said to have "asserted a claim" (with confidence, and no need for proof) or "floated a claim" (without backing, as a trial balloon).  And they draw inferences from the choice of language they observe. 

 

Critical readers are aware of the structure of a discussion, both in terms of the movement of ideas from beginning to end and in terms of the relationship of ideas throughout the discussion.  They distinguish between assertions offered as reason or conclusion, cause or effect, evidence or illustration.  They recognize patterns of contrast and distinguish whether contrasting ideas are shown to be dissimilar, competing, or contradictory.

 

All authors confront three areas of choice:

    • the choice of content
    • the choice of language
    • the choice of structure

Choices must be made in each of these areas, and each choice contributes to the thought of the text as a whole.

 

Personal Essay

Book Excerpt: The Best American Essays Of 2011

Edited by: Edwidge Danticat

 

Introduction by Edwidge Danticat

Through recent experiences with both birth and death, I have discovered that we enter and leave life as, among other things, words. Though we might later become daughters and sons, many of us start out as whispers or rumors before ending up with our names scrawled next to our parents’ on birth certificates. We also struggle to find, both throughout our lives and at the end, words to pin down how we see and talk about ourselves.

 

When my brothers and I first learned, in the fall of 2004, that our father was dying, one of my brothers bravely asked him a question which led to my father narrating his life to us.

 

“Pop, have you enjoyed your life?” my brother wanted to know.

 

Stripped bare of any pretense1 and fully vulnerable, my father gifted us with his life experiences to do with as we pleased. We could use them, as such statements are often said to do, to inform, instruct, or inspire ourselves, or we could simply revel2 in them, or in the fact that he was even sharing them with us, then move on.

 

Seven years later, we have still not moved on. I can’t say that I remember every single word my father uttered on his deathbed, but every story somehow feels like it’s still within reach.

 

Such is the power of the stories we dare tell others about ourselves. They do inform, instruct, and inspire. They might even entertain, but they can also strip us totally bare, reducing (or expanding) the essence of everything we are to words.

 

Having written both fiction and nonfiction, I sometimes have my choice of the shield that fiction offers, and perhaps bypassing it, when I do, leaves me feeling even more exposed. As most people who take on this task know, along with self-revelation often comes self-questioning of a kind that is perhaps more obvious in some essays than others. When we insert our “I” (our eye) to search deeper into someone, something, or ourselves, we are always risking a yawn or a slap, indifference or disdain. How do we even know that what interests or delights us, alarms or terrifies us, will invoke a raised eyebrow in someone else? Perhaps the craft, the art, in whatever form it takes, is our bridge. We are narrating, after all (as my father was), slivers of moments, fragments of lives, declaring our love and hatred, concerns, and ambivalence, outing our hidden selves, and hoping that what we say will make sense to others. … “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” the novelist and essayist Joan Didion famously wrote. We also tell ourselves stories in order not to die. And at any moment these stories can change.

 

“Introduction” by Edwidge Danticat from THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2011. Introduction copyright © 2011 by Edwidge Danticat. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

 

Vocabulary:

1Pretense - (noun) A false appearance; an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true

2Revel – (verb) Engage in lively and noisy festivities

 

What Do You Know About Haiti?

What I Know:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I Want to Know: 

What I’ve Learned: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questions I Have: 

 

History of Haiti 

 

Learn more about Haiti’s past at http://bbc.in/haitipast

Haiti became the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in a series of wars in the early 19th century. However, decades of poverty, environmental degradation, violence, instability and dictatorship have left it

as the poorest nation in the Americas.

 

A mostly mountainous country with a tropical climate, Haiti's location, history and culture - epitomized by voodoo - once made it a potential tourist hot spot, but instability and violence, especially since the 1980s, have severely dented that prospect.

 

OVERVIEW

Haiti achieved notoriety during the brutal dictatorships of the voodoo physician Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, or "Baby Doc". Tens of thousands of people were killed under their 29-year rule. Hopes that the election in 1990 of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former priest, would herald a brighter future were dashed when he was overthrown by the military a short time later.

 

Although economic sanctions and US-led military intervention forced a return to constitutional government in 1994, Haiti's fortunes did not pick up, with allegations of electoral irregularities, ongoing extra-judicial killings, torture

and brutality.

 

A bloody rebellion, and pressure from the US and France, forced Mr Aristide out of the country in 2004.

 

Since then, an elected leadership has taken over from an interim government and a UN stabilization force has been deployed. But Haiti is still plagued by violent confrontations between rival gangs and political groups and the UN has described the human rights situation as "catastrophic". 

 

Meanwhile, Haiti's most serious underlying social problem, the huge wealth gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority, 1% of whom own nearly half the country's wealth, remains unaddressed.

 

Many Haitians seek work and a better life in the US or other Caribbean nations, including the neighboring Dominican Republic, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants.

 

Furthermore, the infrastructure has all but collapsed and drug trafficking has corrupted the judicial system and the police.

Haiti is also ill-equipped to deal with the aftermath of the tropical storms that frequently sweep across the island, with severe deforestation having left it vulnerable to flooding. It also lies in a region prone to earthquakes.

 

Natural disaster struck with full force early in 2010, when the capital Port-au-Prince was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake - the country's worst in 200 years.

 

Tens of thousands of people were killed and much of the capital and its wider area devastated, prompting a major international aid effort.

 

Two years later, with the country still struggling to recover from the earthquake, an outbreak of cholera added to Haiti's woes.

 

SOURCE: BBC WORLD SERVICE: Country Profile - Haiti

 

 

 

AT A GLANCE

 

Politics:Democratic rule was restored in 2006, two years after a violent revolt ousted former leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide; bitter divisions persist. Presidential, parliamentary elections were held on 28 November 2010

 

Economy: Economy in ruins, unemployment chronic, severe deforestation

 

International:The UN has deployed peacekeepers; international aid is seen as key to recovery

 

 

HAITI DISASTERS

1770 - Earthquake devastates Port-au-Prince

1842 - Quake destroys Cap-Haitien, other cities

1935 - Storm kills 2,000

1946 - Tsunami kills 1,790

1954 - Hurricane Hazel kills hundreds

1963 - Hurricane Flora kills 6,000 in Haiti and Cuba

1994 - Hurricane Gordon kills hundreds

1998 - Hurricane Georges destroys 80% of crops

2004 - Floods kill 2,600

2004 - Tropical Storm Jeanne kills 1,900

2007 - Tropical Storm Noel triggers mudslides, floods

2008 - Three hurricanes and tropical storm kill 800

2010 - Quake hits Port-au-Prince, killing tens of thousands

2010-11 - Cholera outbreak kills nearly 6,000

Sources: AP, US Geological Survey

 

 

 

Learn more about Haiti’s past at http://bbc.in/haitipast

 

 

 

Beyond the Stereotypes 

An interview with Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat

April 8, 2011

Award-winning author and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and came to the U.S. when she was 12. Her works, including The Dew Breaker and her latest, Create Dangerously, often deal with the complexities and tensions of life as a new arrival in a strange world. Rafael Pi Roman, from the WNET program “Sunday Arts,” spoke with Danticat recently. Here is part of their conversation.

Watch Edwidge Danticat on the Struggle of Haitian Immigrants on PBS. See more from Need to Know.

 

VIEW VIDEO AT: http://bit.ly/danticat

 

As you watch this video, note how Ms. Danticat responds.  Jot some notes about how she answers the following questions:

 

  1. Why do most Americans not know Haiti beyond the stereotypes and traumas?

 

  1. Why has Haiti disappeared from newspaper headlines after such traumatic events a relatively short time ago?

 

  1. What examples/evidence does Ms. Danticat use to support her opinions?

 

  1. What is Ms. Danticat’s assertion about how we treat the poor?

 

Beyond the Headlines 

 

A Year And A Day

by Edwidge Danticat

Published in the New Yorker, JANUARY 17, 2011

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2011/01/17/110117taco_talk_danticat

 

In the Haitian vodou tradition, it is believed by some that the souls of the newly dead slip into rivers and streams and remain there, under the water, for a year and a day. Then, lured by ritual prayer and song, the souls emerge from the water and the spirits are reborn. These reincarnated spirits go on to occupy trees, and, if you listen closely, you may hear their hushed whispers in the wind. The spirits can also hover over mountain ranges, or in grottoes, or caves, where familiar voices echo our own when we call out their names. The year-and-a-day commemoration is seen, in families that believe in it and practice it, as a tremendous obligation, an honorable duty, in part because it assures a transcendental continuity of the kind that has kept us Haitians, no matter where we live, linked to our ancestors for generations.

 

By this interpretation of death, one of many in Haiti, more than two hundred thousand souls went anba dlo—under the water—after the earthquake last January 12th. Their bodies, however, were elsewhere. Many were never removed from the rubble of their homes, schools, offices, churches, or beauty parlors. Many were picked up by earthmovers on roadsides and dumped into mass graves. Many were burned, like kindling, in bonfires, for fear that they might infect the living.

 

“In Haiti, people never really die,” my grandmothers said when I was a child, which seemed strange, because in Haiti people were always dying. They died in disasters both natural and man-made. They died from political violence. They died of infections that would have been easily treated elsewhere. They even died of chagrin, of broken hearts. But what I didn’t fully understand was that in Haiti people’s spirits never really die. This has been proved true in the stories we have seen and read during the past year, of boundless suffering endured with grace and dignity: mothers have spent nights standing knee-deep in mud, cradling their babies in their arms, while rain pounded the tarpaulin above their heads; amputees have learned to walk, and even dance, on their new prostheses within hours of getting them; rape victims have created organizations to protect other rape victims; people have tried, in any way they could, to reclaim a shadow of their past lives.

 

My grandmothers were also talking about souls, which never really die, even when the visual and verbal manifestations of their transition—the tombstones and mausoleums, the elaborate wakes and church services, the desounen prayers that encourage the body to surrender the spirit, the mourning rituals of all religions—become a luxury, like so much else in Haiti, like a home, like bread, like clean water.

 

In the year since the earthquake, Haiti has lost some thirty-five hundred people to cholera, an epidemic that is born out of water. The epidemic could potentially take more lives than the earthquake itself. And with the contagion of cholera comes a stigma that follows one even in death. People cannot touch a loved one who has died of cholera. No ritual bath is possible, no last dressing of the body. There are only more mass graves.

 

In the emerging lore and reality of cholera, water, this fragile veil between life and death for so many Haitians, has become a feared poison. Even as the election stalemate lingers, the rice farmers in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley—the country’s breadbasket—are refusing to step into the bacteria-infected waters of their paddies, setting the stage for potential food shortages and more possible death ahead, this time from hunger. In the precarious dance for survival, in which we long to honor the dead while still harboring the fear of joining them, will our rivers and streams even be trusted to shelter and then return souls?

 

A year ago, watching the crumbled buildings and crushed bodies that were shown around the clock on American television, I thought that I was witnessing the darkest moment in the history of the country where I was born and where most of my family members still live. Then I heard one of the survivors say, either on radio or on television, that during the earthquake it was as if the earth had become liquid, like water. That’s when I began to imagine them, all these thousands and thousands of souls, slipping into the country’s rivers and streams, then waiting out their year and a day before re-emerging and reclaiming their places among us. And, briefly, I was hopeful.

 

My hope came not only from the possibility of their and our communal rebirth but from the extra day that would follow the close of what has certainly been a terrible year. That extra day guarantees nothing, except that it will lead us into the following year, and the one after that, and the one after that.

 

Reading Between the Lines

Adapted from Trent Lorcher’s lesson at www.brighthubeducation.com and Dan Kurland's  www.criticalreading.com

 

Inferences

My cousin used to hold his three fingers up and tell me to read between the lines. I had no idea what he meant until I had a teacher mention that reading between the lines is another expression for making inferences. Some call it making an educated guess.

 

Inferences are not random. While they may come about mysteriously with a sudden jump of recognition, a sense of "Ah ha!," inferences are very orderly. Inferences may be guesses, but they are educated guesses based on supporting evidence. The evidence seems to require that we reach a specific conclusion.

 

Evidence is said to imply; readers infer. However, inferences and assumptions are not the same thing. An assumption is what I think. An assumption is a synthesis of my experiences as well as my knowledge which I can rightfully debate. Inferring is figuring out what an author wants me to think. An inference should be based mainly on references in the text that lead me to a conclusion.

    • When making inferences, you are making a logical guess using evidence from the text, your own knowledge, and common sense.

    • Making inferences also involves finding deeper meanings in events and situations, meanings that are not explicit.

    • When you make an inference about the future, it is a prediction.

    • Developing skills in making inferences and making predictions is a critical aspect of becoming a master of words and of literature.

 

Strategies for Making Inferences

    • Look for details that reveal important aspects of setting, plot, and character. 
    • Use common sense and prior knowledge to make connections. 
    • Analyze a character's actions and words to determine his or her values. 
    • Pay attention to how the narrator or characters make inferences. 
    • Analyze your thought process and determine whether or not you are using faulty logic or jumping to conclusions.  
 

Practice

Take a look at the two cartoons below.  What is happening in each? What inferences can you make about the artist’s intent?  What evidence can you cite to support your inferences?

 


 

Reading Between the Lines: Inferences in Danticat's short stories 

 

Reading extension:

Check out this film adaptation of Danticat’s short story

http://vimeo.com/26077229

 

“The Missing Peace”

 

A short story by Edwidge Danticat

Taken from her collection titled Krik? Krak!

Find the story online at http://bit.ly/missingpeace

 

Important Definitions:

    • Inference- making a judgment about something based the information presented
    • Assumption- making a judgment about something based on previous experience

Inference Question

It says

(Text clues)

I know

(Background knowledge)

So I infer

(My inference answer)

 

How does the narrator’s grandmother treat her?

 

Some clues can be found on pages 106-108, 109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Gallant, the visitor, tells Lamort, “They say a girl becomes a woman when she loses her mother,” she said. “You, child, were born a woman.” Why does the visitor say this?

 

Some clues can be found on pages 114-116

 

 

 

 

What is the significance of the purple blanket?

 

Some clues can be found on pages 112, 114

 

 

 

 

What does the title mean?

 

Some clues can be found on pages 118-119

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry of Haiti

 

Betrayal by Léon Laleau

This haunted heart that doesn’t fit

My language or the clothes I wear

Chafes within the grip of

Borrowed feelings, European ways,

Do you feel my pain,

This anguish like none other

From taming with the words of France

This heart that came to me from Senegal?

 

 

Encounter by Marie Thérèse Colimon-Hall

I’d say: ‘How are you?’

And you: ‘Fine, thanks.’

I’d say: ‘We don’t see you anymore.’

And you: ‘I’m very busy.’

 

A pause…I’d begin again very softly

‘Tell me…’And you, not hearing

My mumbled words

Would go right on unsuspecting

Oh, (politely) you don’t have your big straw hat anymore!

But…No, not anymore. I’d answer

And you, do you still like sugared almonds?

--Listen to that tune from the house opposite.

 

Then we would each go off across the city

Carrying in our hearts, full with silent sobs,

The bitter burden of unspoken words

And the empty pride of having kept our pain.

 

 

Tourist by Félix Morisseau-Leroy

Tourist, don’t take my picture

Don’t take my picture, tourist
I’m too ugly
Too dirty
Too skinny
Don’t take my picture, white man
Mr. Eastman won’t be happy
I’m too ugly
Your camera will break
I’m too dirty
Too black
Whites like you won’t be content
I’m too ugly
I’m gonna crack your Kodak
Don’t take my picture, tourist
Leave me be, white man
Don’t take a picture of my burro
My burro’s load’s too heavy
And he’s too small
And he has no food here
Don’t take a picture of my animal
Tourist, don’t take a picture of the house
My house is of straw
Don’t take a picture of my hut
My hut’s made of earth
The house already smashed up
Go shoot a picture of the Palace
Or the Bicentennial grounds
Don’t take a picture of my garden
I have no plow
No truck
No tractor
Don’t take a picture of my tree
Tourist, I’m barefoot
My clothes are torn as well
Poor people don’t look at whites
But look at my hair, tourist
Your Kodak’s not used to my color
Your barber’s not used to my hair
Tourist, don’t take my picture
You don’t understand my position
You don’t understand anything
About my business, tourist
“Gimme fie cents”
And then, be on your way, tourist.

 

 

Boat People by Félix Morisseau-Leroy

We are all in a drowning boat

Happened  before at St. Domingue
We are the ones called boat people

We all died long ago
What else can frighten us
?
Let them call us boat people

We fight a long time with poverty
On our islands, the sea, everywhere
We never say we are not boat people

In Africa they chased us with dogs
Chained our feet, piled us on
Who then called us boat people?

Half the cargo perished
The rest sold at Bossal Market
It’s them who call us boat people

We stamp our feet down, the earth shakes
Up to Louisiana, down to Venezuela
Who would come and call us boat people?

A bad season in our country
The hungry dog eats thorns
They didn’t call us boat people yet

We looked for jobs and freedom
And they piled us on again: Cargo—Direct to Miami
They start to call us boat people

We run from the rain at Fort Dimanche
But land in the river at the Krome
Detention Center
It’s them who call us boat people

Miami heat eats away our hearts
Chicago cold explodes our stomach
Boat people boat people boat people

Except for the Indians—
What American didn’t get here somehow
But they only want to call us boat people

We don’t bring drugs in our bags
But courage and strength to work
Boat people—Yes, that’s all right, boat people

We don’t come to make trouble
We come with all respect
It’s them who call us boat people

We have no need to yell or scream
But all boat people are equal, the same
All boat people are boat people

One day we’ll stand up, put down our feet
As we did at St. Domingue
They’ll know who these boat people really are

That day, be it Christopher Columbus
Or Henry Kissinger—
They will know
us
We who simply call ourselves
People

 

Poetry Analysis 

T.P.C.A.S.T.T. is an abbreviation for a style of poetry analysis.  Each of the letters stands for a step in the analysis process.  
You will use this format and our knowledge of glossing and critical reading strategies to analyze a poem in your packet.  
Plan to write between <strong>3-4 sentences</strong> on each particular element using the TPCASTT method (unless otherwise directed).&nbsp;
Write your responses on a separate sheet of paper.
<ul style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; " _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;"><li><strong><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">TITLE</span></strong><span _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;" style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; "> --&nbsp; Examine the title <strong><em>before</em></strong> reading the poem.&nbsp;&nbsp; Is the title significant?&nbsp; How does the title prepare readers for what is&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; " _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">to come in the poem?&nbsp; What might the poem be about?</span></li><li><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; " _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;"><strong><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">PARAPHRASE</span></strong><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;"> -- Translate the poem into your own words.&nbsp; <strong>Resist the urge to jump to interpretation</strong>.&nbsp; A failure to understand what happens literally inevitably leads to an interpretive misunderstanding.&nbsp; In the space below, rewrite each line in your own words.&nbsp; You are paraphrasing, not summarizing.&nbsp; Your paraphrase should look like the original poem (not in paragraph form).</span>&nbsp;</span></li></ul><pre style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; " _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">
</span></pre><pre style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; " _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;"><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;" _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">
</span></pre><span style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif; " _mce_style="font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', sans-serif;">
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Resources for Teachers:

Teaching for Change has posted this free reproducible for teaching about Haiti   The American Immigration Law Foundation has posted this lesson plan for teaching Edwidge Danticat's Behind the Mountains Here's a fantastic wealth of teaching materials put together by the National Writing Project.
The Artists for Peace and Justice have recently opened Haiti's first free secondary school.  Learn more about the Academy for Peace and Justice.  In the News is a collection of recent media coverage about Haiti.  This collection, put together by the Artists for Peace might serve as a great starting point for students to explore what has been happening in Haiti since the earthquake.   And here's a fantastic collection of pieces written about and written by Danticat found in the New York Times

 


Visitors to our site:


This collection has been assembled by Ms. Jennifer Ward, Haverford High School English teacher.  If you are interested in more information or have questions, please do not hesitate to email her.

 

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