Tag Archives: Oregon Association of School Libraries

His tongue to paper

15 Oct

Oh man!

Last night I got to hear Jason Reynolds speak.

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He was the closing speaker at the Oregon Association of School Libraries conference.

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Once, I was a member of OASL and even served on the conference committee. This time, I just showed up for the culminating event.

Though he said he wasn’t feeling well and he clearly sounded congested, Jason Reynolds spoke powerfully. He made us laugh and cry.

He is a storyteller and he told us his story. What he did right and, perhaps more significantly, what he did wrong.

He told us how Queen Latifah inspired him and how he learned to write poetry. At times. he spoke directly to the kids in the audience about writing past the people tells them they aren’t (good enough, white enough) or that are wrong with them (their accent, their clothes) and just be them,tell their own stories.

Because it was an encounter with Christopher Myers, author, illustrator and son of Walter Dean Myers, that helped Jason Reynolds. Meyers told him he needed to tell his own stories to put his tongue to paper.

On October 24th, Jason Reynolds’ newest book Long Way Down,  a novel in verse,  comes out. I already have a hold on a library copy.

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Publisher’s Summary: An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

 

A Good Time Was Had By All

27 Apr

Every year the Oregon Association of School Libraries holds a big Fall conference. And every Spring, each region hosts a small conference. Fortunately for me, as the region 1 rep, I get the pair up with the region 4 rep to plan this conference. We decided on a poetry theme, since the one day event would take place at the end of April,national Poetry Month. Then came the scramble for presenters. I think we did a great job and ended up with a fun & informative day for people, who have some really great ideas to take back to their buildings.

First up was Nancy Sullivan, librarian at Madison High School in Portland. She shared her experience with poetry slams, which started small 10 years ago and has now gone city-wide with Verselandia.

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Tickets to this event, which is this Tuesday, April 29th,  are only $10! You can buy them HERE! I already have my ticket. Maybe I’ll see you there.

We followed Nancy;s presentation with on e by Deborah Vaughn, who is the Oregon coordinator for Poetry Out Louda contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. 

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Although the official contest is designed for high school students,we all went away with ideas on how to make poetry recitation work at any level.

I was the last presenter before lunch. I shred what I’ve done with NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month.

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After lunch, attendees shred their favorite poetry idea then rotated through three stations:  looking at online poetry resources,  browsing a selection of poetry books selected by  Multnomah County Library’s School Corps, creating a pocket to celebrate poem in your pocket day.

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It was great day and a good time was truly had by all.

 

Things are looking up: A Slice of Life Story

8 Apr

I had a great idea. Celebrate poetry at the April 25th conference Kiva & I were planning for the Oregon Association of School Libraries. We could celebrate the William Stafford centennial. We could invite Oregon;s poet laureate. It would be fantastic.

But everyone I asked to present said no, or didn’t get back to me. I promise to be better about getting back to people. Slowly things started to come together. Then we had some technology glitches with the registration. Is the universe out to doom this conference?

Fortunately, we have a full slate.

On Saturday, April 26, 2014, the place to be is Parkrose High School for a day-long workshop centering around National Poetry Month! Our fabulous conference runs from 8:00-3:00 and the cost of $30 (with the early bird special–otherwise, it’s $35) covers breakfast, lunch, and a variety of poetry-themed sessions. Check these out:
  • Learn how to start a poetry slam at your school! Nancy Sullivan, librarian at Madison High School, will present her journey in bringing slam poetry to Madison, and how it has evolved into an all PPS high schools slam! 
  • Poetry Out Loud is in the house! Come hear from these pros about their state-wide poetry performance competition and how to teach kids of all ages to take the stage!
  • Adrienne Gillespie will present some quick and easy ideas for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). Get your students fired up about this nation-wide celebration!
  • Idea Share Swap Meet! Bring your favorite, most successful poetry lesson, large or small, and leave with tons of ideas that have worked in other libraries.
  • Come browse the best of new poetry books for students of all ages. Leave with lists of your new favorite Must Haves!
  • Poetry Webliography: check out a glittering array of the best of poetry web sites! We’ve curated sites sure to fire up your poetry muscles!
  • Ready to get crafty? Come and create a bedazzling pocket to celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day! We will have you covered with denim, hot glue guns, and decorations galore. Come make a denim masterpiece which you can then stuff with poems for your students to choose from. Craft it up!
  • Vendors! Visit with our fabulous vendors, there to assist you with every library need you can imagine.

 

And today, finally, we have a registration link that works.

Things are looking up.

 

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