For my English summative at school, I was tasked with writing a blog post summarizing two interesting units of my choice. I learned and discovered interesting things in the Poetic Journey and expanded my learning in the novel All American Boys. Here it is!
During our poetry unit at school, we learned about Gord Downie from the Tragically Hip, wrote our own poems and read Shakespeare. The greatest lesson I took out of this exciting unit, was the impact poetry can have on people- different views, emotion and storylines.
The very first thing we did was analyze the song Wheat Kings by Gord Downie. It tells a story of one of Canada’s darkest moments: when David Milgaard was unjustly convicted of the rape and murder of Gail Miller. The song tells the story very well; my favourite line is “A nation whispers “We always known he’d go free.” You can sense the relief of all the people that were following this event. I love when I read something and it evokes emotion in me because different people feel different things and it makes the line more powerful.
When we made our own presentations, analyzing one of the Tragically Hip’s songs, we were able to get to feel the emotion and see the images created by the lyrics. We also got to know Gord Downie through his music. There were so many different ways people interpreted the words and presented their presentations. I think this is because poetry is open and there’s no one particular way to write, read, and view the themes.
When we wrote our own poems, we communicated something to ourselves and/or the readers. I wrote mine about the War of 1812. One line of the poem is “Fire’s fever swallowed the city’s fresh skin and vein.” This brings the image of the city, York, on fire and crumbling to the ground. You can see the events unfolding in your head even though you weren't physically there.
When we read the Shakespearean play King Lear, we were able to precisely sense what each of the characters saw, heard, touched, tasted and felt. This was made possible by using poetry to communicate the deepest meaning. I learned how different words can be interpreted differently. One example is the blindness within the characters. Most people interpreted that as the characters being unaware of what’s happening, physically and mentally. I interpreted it as the characters affected by this were scared of something or someone.
One of the best parts of poetry is that there are no rules, except for the fact that it has to make sense to you and the reader- if there is one. You can make up words or put two together. For example, here are some words I created- idositiy, image-root, rainbow-ouse and clenzy. You don’t need periods and the list just goes on. The lack of rules only exists in poetry.
All American Boys
All American Boys was the book chosen for the high school students in the Global Read Aloud. The main problem in the novel is the police brutality towards black people. In the novel there are two main characters: Rashad and Quinn. Rashad (black) was buying chips from a store and was wrongly mistaken for stealing the snacks. The police officer started to beat him, even though Rashad was unarmed and had his hands up. All the characters start taking sides, one side says that the police officer reacted on his biases towards black people and the other says that the police officer was just doing his job.
Quinn (white) was a witness of the beating of Rashad and knows what he saw wasn’t right but he’s also extremely good friends with the police officer, Paul. Quinn is caught between the two sides, but at the end he realizes that he deserves to stand up for what he believes. Quinn decides to stand with Rashad and joins a protest at the police station, with Rashad. The interesting part in the novel is that the two characters never actually meet.
Reading this novel has opened my eyes up and has made me more curious about the fact that racism still exists in modernized countries, where we say there is no racism. This novel didn’t only teach me that, but also introduced me to the Black Lives Matter movement, which I didn’t know about. The greatest thing the novel helped me realize is that just because you're not affected by it, doesn’t mean that others aren't.
The class read the book out loud together. I think that made the book more enjoyable because I remember more information. I found this very effective because while I was listening, I was able to pause and make connections. I think this is because when you’re reading on your own, you might skip a few words, read too quickly (so you don’t have time to think about it more) and also you might read too much per day (for your brain to gather all the information).
After reading every chapter, the class would answer interesting questions on a global online chat and we could start discussions on the chat, have someone respond or we could respond to different answers. I think this enhanced our learning because we could communicate with other students and educators to get different perspectives.
I didn’t want to stop reading the novel because it was very engaging and well thought out. All American Boys is an amazing book and I would recommend it to anyone.