Reba Short, Director of Theatre & Education
I love poetry. I love finding poems that I can say out loud, and discover meaning as I go. As a trained actor I truly enjoy finding words that I can rhyme and play with. I like it when words can sound the same, if they’re rhyming, or maybe if they are alliterations. Poetry offers a chance to play with language. For the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, where we’re playing and imagining all day long, an opportunity to play with language is like opening a new toy chest, what will we find in here? I’m looking forward to celebrating National Poetry month with everyone…and playing with words as much as we can! My Shel Silverstein books are out and ready for use!
When I was young, I sought out poems I could play with–funny or silly poems. As an adult I seek out poems that make me feel—sad, inspired, angry, ready for action, full of light—when I open a book of poetry, that is what I’m looking for; a poem that packs a punch. I want poems that take my breath away, make me a new person, make me see the world in a different way, remind me what’s important.
In order to be great educators, we have to be continually inspired by the subject that we teach. We all have favorite poems, and we all have poems that inspire us on a deeper level. For the month of April, we’ll be sharing our favorites on the blog. This is our chance to share what inspires us as Museum & Theatre educators with the community, and some of the parents and care givers of children we see acting in our Dress Up Theatre, or creating masterpieces in the Explore Some More Room.
Last year Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, presented at the Association of Children’s Museums National Conference. He was the final speaker of a long an inspiring weekend—but his talk stood out as visionary and dynamic. He presented a way of caring and educating children by valuing their time, and what they have to say. At the end of his talk he shared his poem Take A Stand, which is to me a call to action. This poem is a reminder of what drew me to arts education and how deeply important safe places for children are in our community.
Take A Stand: A Poem by Geoffrey Canada
Maybe before we didn’t know,
That Corey is afraid to go
To school, the store, to roller skate.
He cries a lot for a boy of eight.
But now we know each day its true
That other girls and boys cry too.
They cry for us to lend a hand.
Time for us to take a stand.
And little Maria’s window screens
Keeps out flies and other things.
But she knows to duck her head,
When she prays each night ‘fore bed.
Because in the window comes some things
That shatter little children-dreams.
For some, the hourglass is out of sand.
Time for us to take a stand.
And Charlie’s deepest, secret wishes,
Is someone to smother him with kisses
And squeeze and hug him tight, so tight,
While he pretends to put up a fight.
Or at least someone to be at home,
Who misses him, he’s so alone.
Who allowed this child-forsaken land?
Look in the mirror and take a stand.
And on the Sabbath, when we pray,
To our God we often say,
“Oh Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham,
I come to better understand,
How to learn to love and give,
And live the life you taught to live.”
In faith we must join hand in hand.
Suffer the children? Take the stand!
And tonight, some child will go to bed,
No food, no place to lay their head.
No hand to hold, no lap to sit,
To give slobbery kisses, from slobbery lips.
So you and I we must succeed
In this crusade, this holy deed,
To say to the children in this land:
Have hope. We’re here. We take a stand!