English, History and Sociology teachers know that poetry can be an extremely useful tool to get a classroom discussion started. Today’s Mira Look is about a collection of Latin American poems that will no-doubt help your classroom kids learn, explore and discuss not only the different styles of poetry, but the places and themes the authors are presenting. Messengers of Rain: and Other Poems from Latin America by Claudia M. Lee (illustrated by Rafael Yockteng) is a wonderful collection of 64 poems. Representing famous Latin American poets, such as Octavio Paz. Messengers also focuses on women and indigenous writers, sections of most cultures that are still under-represented in literature. From Amazon:
“This anthology of poems introduces readers to an eclectic mix of new and established Latin American poets. The beautifully illustrated collection from 19 Latin American countries features traditional pre-Columbian work that is represented alongside contemporary poetry, and a significant portion of the book comes from the indigenous community. […] the poems range from celebrations of nature and nonsense to musings on politics and magic.”
I don’t think it’s a downfall that the Spanish language version of the poems are not included, since unless you are very well versed in comprehending Spanish, the poems would be difficult to understand in their native language. The English translations are easy to read and have taken into consideration poetic meter so as to keep close to the original rhyme. Additionally, the book includes an index and brief bio of the poets which is a very useful tool to become familiar with names and cultures we may not know.
Another wonderful Americas Award Winner (Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Commended Awards), Messengers, appropriate for ages 9 and up, would be a great addition to any lesson plan focusing on Latin America, be it history, politics, natural landscape or peoples. Poetry seems to be ever less studied in schools today, which is a shame since it offers such a unique and beautiful insight into ourselves and the spaces in which we inhabit. Bring that poetry back into your classroom, Shakespeare, Rumi, Paz and Juana will thank you.
I would sign off in iambic pentameter if I knew how,