Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poetry Friday--Pablo Neruda

I first became really interested in Pablo Neruda's poetry after I attended a Nancie Atwell conference about her book Lessons that Change Writers. She used Pablo Neruda's poems to teach her students about odes to ordinary things.

I recently picked up a collection of Pablo Neruda's poetry. It's huge and it will take me months to get through it all, but that's what I love about poetry--it's okay to indulge slowly.

Several months ago I purchased a picture book biography, To Go Singing Through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda written and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray. This is a beautifully written and illustrated book that really celebrates the man who was known for his words. Ray uses the words of Neruda throughout the book. She uses his poetry and his prose to tell his life story. Neruda's words are written in italics while Ray's words are in regular type. They flow seamlessly together. Ray really celebrates where Neruda came from--a small village in Chile. Neruda was nurtured by a well-known poet, Gabriela Mistral. Even though Pablo's father wanted him to do well in math, it was the beauty of language that really helped Pablo find his voice.

I purchased this book with the hopes of using it when I teach poetry. I have been wanting to work on odes with my students, and I always like to give a human side to the writers I teach. This books will definitely fill that need. I can't wait to share Neruda's poems and his story with my students this upcoming school year.

I leave you with Neruda's own words:

Ode to the Dictionary (this is from the middle of the poem)







what a marvel

to pronounce these plosive


and further on,


unfilled, awaiting ambrosia or oil

and others,

capsicum, caption, capture,

comparison, capricorn,


as slippery as smooth grapes,

words exploding in the light

like dormant seeds waiting

in the vaults of vocabulary,

alive again, and giving life:

once again the heart distills them.

Dictionary, you are not a

tomb, sepulcher, grave

tumulus, mausoleum,

but guard and keeper,

hidden fire,

groves of rubies,

living eternity

of essence,

depository of language.

Poetry Friday

This week's round up is at Chicken Spaghetti.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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