Sunday, April 18, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 18, Interview with Thanhha Lai


One day last week, we had a day off school because local religious leaders had called for a day of prayer for the lawlessness that is engulfing Haiti. Since I had some extra time, I went through some tabs open on my desktop and did some spring cleaning. I often save longer videos for when I will have time to watch them, and this has been open since last May. In fact, you can tell from the interview that it was recorded last April, during National Poetry Month.

Laura Shovan posted this interview with Thanhha Lai, the author of several books, including the verse novel Inside Out and Back Again, which I've been reading with my seventh graders for years. What a great conversation between two writers of verse novels! Some highlights for me: the question about whether writing verse novels is just a matter of writing prose and then breaking it up into shorter lines, why Thanhha Lai chose to write Inside Out and Back Again as a verse novel, and differences between first generation immigrants (especially refugees) and their children. Highly recommended viewing and listening!


One of the things my students can always relate to in this book (set during the Vietnam War) is the way Hà's teacher in Alabama, with very good motives, shows the class photos from Vietnam and makes Hà upset because she doesn't want her classmates to know Vietnam just for the war that's going on there. My students all have stories to tell of the way people only know negative things about Haiti, a country that they know is beautiful, is wonderful, is home. (I wrote more about that here.) As you read my words about problems here, know that there is much, much more to this country than its problems. 

This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All


Linda B said...

I agree about only knowing the bad parts of a place, can be applied in so many areas! I had a parent long ago who spent time in Haiti doing art & teaching children there. I'm not in touch anymore but she shared some time and information then to my class & we were enchanted. This was before the earthquake, sad to say, & I don't know if she continued. Thanks for this good reminder, Ruth.

Kortney Garrison said...

I've been thinking a lot about verse novels...thanks for the link to the interview!